Canada, Sweden and the Caribbean earned major wins during the 3rd event of the season for the marquee 1/8th mile PDRA circuit…

The late night of racing at the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) Spring Nationals paid off for pro class winners Mattias Wulcan (Pro Extreme), Tommy Franklin (Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous presented by MoTeC), Melanie Salemi (Andy McCoy Race Cars Pro Boost), Trevor Eman (Extreme Pro Stock), and Travis Davis (Drag 965 Pro Extreme Motorcycle).


Perennial Pro Boost contender Melanie Salemi (a native of Orillia Ontario) charged to her 2nd career PDRA victory and her first win since the 2015 Rockingham fall race. Racing out of the seventh spot, Salemi drove the Buffalo NY-based Strange Engineering-backed “Purple Reign” ’68 Firebird to consecutively quicker runs through eliminations.

“It felt really good to get the win tonight,” Salemi said. “I went to a couple big finals last year and it was disappointing that we couldn’t come out on top for those, but coming here with even tougher competition, I think it’s really awesome that we were able to pull it together tonight.”

Ontario’s Melanie Salemi qualified #7 and ran her best time of the event in the final to win in Pro Boost class racing

Driving a G-Force Race Cars entry built by her brother-in-law, Jim Salemi, and tuned by her husband, Jon, Melanie first ran 3.796 at 195.91 to beat Jerico Balduf in the opening round. She improved to a 3.758 at 197.89 unopposed when points leader José Gonzales ran into problems. Quicker still, Salemi posted a 3.746 at 198.41 over “Turbo” Todd Moyer, then a 3.732 at 198.24 to defeat GALOT Motorsports driver John Strickland’s 3.756 at 195.23.

“We actually struggled when the cool air came to us this weekend,” Salemi admitted. “We had a good car in the heat, so hopefully we can continue that on for the rest of the summer.”

Brandon Snider was the low qualifier in Pro Boost – his 3.721 secs was low ET for the class


Past European Pro Mod champion Mattias Wulcan earned the Pro Extreme win in just his third race in the United States. The Swedish driver made strides at the Valdosta and Benson races, then managed to string together three quick passes during Saturday’s eliminations at Darlington.

Past European Pro Mod champion Mattias Vulcan – won in P/X

“It’s amazing – a dream come true,” Wulcan said. “We’ve been thinking about this for a couple years, and we decided in December to come here to run Pro Extreme. I was able to get my whole crew to come with me. We’re regular workers and we do this in our spare time. It’s a huge sacrifice for my crew. It’s a great feeling to win with them”

Wulcan qualified third and made his way past Wesley Jones and past world champion Jason Scruggs before meeting low qualifier Mike Recchia in the final round. Wulcan’s ’69 Camaro moved off the starting line first, allowing his 3.604-second pass at 209.50 mph to defeat Recchia’s 3.555 at 212.46, which stood for low et of the event.

“These are the fastest cars in the world. I drove a Pro Mod in Europe. We won the 2014 FIA championship, then we went to Qatar and tried going 200 meters (roughly 660 ft). We started liking that, then we crashed our old Pro Mod car. We had thought about switching to the screw blowers, so that was the time to make the move. That move paid off today,” Wulcan added.


Defending PDRA world champion Tommy Franklin managed to pull off a clean sweep of the weekend, qualifying No. 1 and recording low et of three rounds in the process of winning his first Pro Nitrous race of the season.

Defending PDRA champion Tommy Franklin won in the ferocious Pro Nitrous category.

Franklin posted a 3.706 at 204.17 to qualify No. 1, but he was looking for more out of his Pat Musi-powered ’69 Camaro. He found what he was looking for in a 3.699 at 203.90 second-round victory over John Hall. Franklin backed down his “Jungle Rat” entry to run a 3.711 at 204.62 over Lizzy Musi, then a 3.722 at 203.71 to defeat Randy Weatherford’s 3.732 at 198.59.

“We just tried to pick away at it,” Franklin said of his eliminations strategy. “We actually started to get some power with the cool air rolling in so we slowed it down to get it down through there. The 3.69 was nice. Getting the No. 1 qualifier and the win is awesome.

“Like always, I thank the Lord, my crew, my family, all of my employees taking care of things back at home, and all of the fans who come out and watch the PDRA. It’s one heck of a show.”


After doing battle with some of the toughest drivers in Extreme Pro Stock, Aruba’s Trevor Eman can now add a PDRA trophy to his impressive trophy case.

Aruba-based Trevor Eman won in the Extreme Pro Stock with his Mustang.

“We’ve been doing this for a while and we’re always chasing a championship, of course, but we have managed to win a race with all of the different sanctioning bodies we’ve raced in,” Eman said. “We won a race in the IHRA, won a race in the ADRL, and now add to that winning a race with the PDRA.”

Eman qualified his ‘11 Mustang in the fifth spot and raced past Dwayne Rice, Benson race winner Chris Powers and class veteran Cary Goforth before facing 2016 World Finals winner Buddy Perkinson in the final round. Though Perkinson grabbed a starting-line advantage, Eman drove around him with a 4.079 at 176.33 over Perkinson’s 4.175 at 170.00.

“Today was a tough day. Qualifying didn’t go too well for us yesterday. We put a good run in finally after making some big changes today. Every run after that just kept getting better and better. It was a long, exciting day.

“The team worked really hard today. I have a team that wakes up at 7 o’clock in the morning, works on the car all day, and here we are standing in the winner’s circle at 2 a.m. almost 20 hours later. My hat’s off to the team. They did a phenomenal job today. Adam and Andy (Lambert) from Precision Racing Shocks helped us really well today and they put us on a different direction that I think really helped us. We’re very excited for what the car’s doing now and we look forward to the next race,” Eman concluded.

Dillon Voss picked up the win in East Coast Auto Transport Extreme Outlaw 632 at the class’ second of four races with the PDRA and in the PDRA’s sportsman classes, Dwayne Silance won Magnafuel Top Sportsman and Matt Cooke won Lucas Oil Top Dragster. The Campers Inn RV Pro Junior Dragster win went to Jarrod Kissinger on a holeshot over Nicole Zuccarelli. MegaCorp Top Junior Dragster driver Kaylee Love earned a runner-up finish in the completion of the East Coast Nationals and won the Spring Nationals race over Brooke Miller in the final round. Tim West earned the Edelbrock Bracket Bash win with his 4.529 run in the final round.

The 2017 PDRA Tour continues in two weeks at the PDRA North-South Shootout, June 1-3, at Maryland International Raceway in Maryland.

Posted by Nate Van Wagnen
Photos by Joe McHugh

With offices in Pittsboro, North Carolina, and Saltillo, Mississippi, the Professional Drag Racers Association is the top sanctioning body in the United States for the sport of eighth-mile drag racing. The PDRA’s professional categories include Pro Extreme Motorcycle, Extreme Pro Stock, Pro Boost, Pro Nitrous and Pro Extreme, the quickest doorslammer class in drag racing. The 2017 PDRA schedule consists of eight national events. For more information on the PDRA, visit