The highly-anticipated 2015 edition of the NHRA Lucas Oil Canadian Open fell victim to the elements last weekend…..
After about three months of mostly hot and dry weather that has B.C. in drought conditions, it was time for the annual NHRA Lucas Oil Canadian National Open at Mission Raceway Park, probably the most anticipated race of the year. But of course, the much-needed rain chose race weekend to make its appearance, making Saturday afternoon and evening the only time it was dry enough to run over the three scheduled days.
With over 20 Nostalgia Funny Cars on the premises, and the welcome addition of an eight-car WDRL Unique Concrete Pro Mod series show, the action was hot in the very cool air. By late afternoon, the temperature was barely above 20C with corrected altitude of 600 feet, and by 8 pm, for the last session of qualifying, the temp was about 17 and the CA was nearly equal to the actual altitude, which is to say, sea level. It was one of those magic Mission weather situations, and the racers ate it up.
The Pro Mods had three sessions of qualifying scheduled, and the first saw Jeff Doyle in his new turbo Firebird by RH Race Cars set personal bests as he continues to dial it in, a nice 6.13 at a booming 250 mph. Shane Molinari in the NHRA-regular RH turbo Camaro was again on hand in test mode, trying to find downlow performance consistency to go with the top end power, and his first run looked good, but there was no time because he rolled the beams with a faulty trans brake.
The second round saw Molinari with another good run, 6.05/248, while Jay Syvertsen drove his screw-blown ’57 Chevy to a 6.11/243 in his first full run of the season.
Round 3, in the crazy air and with 77F track temperature, saw Joe Delehay improve on his first two traction-challenged runs with perhaps the pass of the season at Mission so far, a 5.92 at 241 that set the track record for PM. Molinari almost got a five with a 6.00/249 that shows they are ready to hit the NHRA trail again, while Doyle ran 6.14/247.
Of the Funny Cars, five were of the nitro variety. Eight were expected by the track, but Tim Boychuk, driving Twig Ziegler’s Satellite in a match race in Seattle on Friday, had the A-arms in the front suspension fail under braking, which made a mess of the front end. So, of course, they couldn’t make it, and neither did two others. Nor did a few U.S. cars who had raced at Edmonton the week before, who might have been expected to race at an NHRA Heritage Series show at a good track they knew, and virtually on the way home.
In any case, the five cars who showed up made a grand total of seven runs – one each in the first round, and one last pairing at 9 pm, due to attrition. Four of Western Canada’s best cars ran solid fives, Claude Lavoie leading at 5.80, followed by Tim Nemeth (5.84), Ryan Hodgson (5.89 at top speed of 251), and Nathan Sitko at 5.94. But they all paled in comparison to Kris Krabill in Bucky Austin’s well-funded Firebird from Washington, who laid down a sweet 5.67 at 244, for low qualifier.
The last run of the night saw Hodgson (5.90) and Sitko (5.96) make a nice side-by-side run for the fans that had hung in there, and it must be said that what the nitro cars lacked in numbers, they made up for with performance up to the level of the track and the weather conditions.
Two different Nostalgia Alky FC groups were at Mission, as usual at this event, and the Alberta-based Rocky Mountain FC guys were led by Cal Tebb at 6.83 on the 6.80 index, with Cory Kincaid at 6.57 and Joey Steckler at 6.63 bombing the index, not so surprisingly in the conditions. The U.S.-based NWBBFC group was led by TAD veteran Kim Parker at 6.76 on a 6.75 index.
The forecast for Sunday was lots of rain, and it did arrive, so there was no racing that day. The WDRL Pro Mod management have decided to complete their elims during qualifying at their next Mission event the end of August, part of the Smoke Fire and Thunder jets and wheelstanders event. So, that will be a double-header for them.
This was an event that had much promise, and it delivered with some great performances. But ultimately, the short Nitro FC field and then the rain put a big damper on the proceedings.
Post and photos by: Gerry Frechette