Eastern Canada’s USDRS wrapped up it’s sophomore season campaign with an exciting final event at GBM over the past Labour Day weekend….
The Napa/Autopro presented Ultimate Showdown Drag Racing Series, which hosted a total of five events during 2016 spread out between Cayuga Dragway and Grand Bend Motorplex, made some very positive strides forward as a relatively new racing organization. And speaking of strides forward – it was exactly that too for the USDRS’s newest Pro Mod season champion – Derek Hawker.
Hawker, who is based from the Eastern Ontario community of Corbyville, was a picture of consistency throughout the season campaign and it was that tendency and strategy which eventually landed him the title.
Hawker won two series races overall in 2016 – both at and including last weekend at Grand Bend Motorplex. Driving his steadily improving and supercharged 1968 Firebird, Hawker and his team were simply not to be denied this weekend during their clinching performance.
After qualifying fourth, they were for sure the most consistent overall during eliminations. Derek ran back to back laps of 6.009 secs and 6.036 secs to defeat Wes Goddard and Bruce Boland in the first two rounds.
Hawker, who was the points leader entering the event, in fact clinched the title following his round one win because his nearest points threat – Rob Atchison (who had qualified #1 at 5.974 secs) was upset by Spencer Hyde in that same round.
Hawker put some icing on his season’s cake in the final when he sped to an impressive 6.010 secs at 236.39 mph to defeat Jeff Roth’s new Willys which had it’s best finish of the season with the R/UP placing.
“In qualifying we shredded a belt and broke the crank trigger but we got that fixed,” said Derek, who finished 3rd in USDRS points in 2015. “First round we were up against Wes Goddard. I was real nervous as he has that car running right and is a great driver – and I knew I had to win. The last time we ran him we had a jetting issue and a bit of a leak, so that played on my mind before the run but all was well this time.. I was late on the light but managed to get it hooked up and off we went for the win ( 6.009). That win also got us the 2016 USDS championship. No added stress there…! Next round we were against Bruce Boland, it was great to have him back at the track – but I was still happy to beat him. He had a mishap with his chutes mid track and I got the win (6.036). Ill take it! Last round, we had Jeff Roth. They made a bunch of changes to their new car and got it running great. Jeff lost traction and I kept on for the win! The best part – All the parts are still in the motor! We kept Willy in line for tuning and the team did a great job!”
“I want to thank my beautiful bride Corrie for all the support in all this,” he added/ “Our team – Willy Kerr, Paul Millar & Wayne Heisler for busting their ass all season! There is no “I” in team, i’m just the dummy who hits the gas pedal! I need to also thank Al Billes for all the support & engine work and Ajax engine for the machine work. Thanks to Scott Sager for coming outta retirement to have some fun. Vanishing Point built some of the most bad ass cars on the planet – that’s for sure! We also got great support from Empey Tire, NGK and everyone at Hawker Construction.”
Derek’s colourful tuner – Willy Kerr – also added in his thoughts on the season.
“I need to thank Corrie & Derek Hawker, the crew Paul Millar, Wayne Heisler, Scott Sagar for giving me such a great car to tune. We struggled a bit at some points this season — but we had the hot rod we needed when it counted. Derek drove like a mad man on a mission to pull off this championship! It was a great way to end the USDRS season. A big thanks too Brennan Shortall for his photographic wizardry throughout the year.”
The Grand Bend Motoplex event also featured concluding action in the series’s other marquee Top Sportsman and Top Dragster class categories.
Taking home the very lucrative $10,000 to win Top Dragster versus Top Sportsman Shootout final round was Michigan’s Ken Langlois. Driving his nitrous-injected Chevy Corvette, Langlois topped Watertown Ontario-based lady racer Shawna Woodstra in that final showdown.
Langlois had first taken the measure of a 27-car Strickland’s Top Sportsman field (the largest of the season) beating fellow Michigan resident Ricky Atkins in that final round.
Woodstra, who also made the Shootout final round at the season-opening USDRS event back in May (at Cayuga) had won over the Nick & Dan’s Collision presented TD class. Shawna prevailed over Toronto’s Tony Positano in that side of competition.
The USDRS season finale also included a Top Eliminator class – which features competition for TD and TS racers that did not qualify for their eliminators. Ontario’s Mike Leger, driving his Chevy Lumina defeated the Chevy Camaro raced by Ian Hill in that final round.
The next date of significance for the Napa/Autopro USDRS — will be their season ending celebration – which will happen on Oct. 15th. DragRaceCanada will provide some additional details on that in the near future.
Posted with files by Bruce Biegler & Brennan Shortall
Photos by Bruce Biegler, Brennan Shortall and Blake Farnan