Canada’s own Tim Boychuk emerged victorious over a feisty field of floppers at Mission Raceway last weekend!….
The 24th Annual Lucas Oil B.C. Summer Classic at Mission Raceway Park had, as its feature class once again, Nostalgia Funny Cars. This year’s entry was much improved over the past couple of years, with some 28 floppers on the grounds, covering three different series.
The headliners were the Nostalgia Nitro AA/FCs, running in the NHRA Hod Rod Heritage Series event. Only two cars in the top ten in points attended, those of Kris Krabill (leader) and Ryan Hodgson, (5th) with, again, none of the California teams making the tow. However, making up for that was the presence of two IHRA-regular teams from this corner of the continent, Tim Boychuk and Mark Sanders, booked with the help of legendary promoter Bill Doner, who was in attendance. With four other solid cars, a good eight-car field was the result.
The cool summer weather B.C. has been enjoying continued into Saturday, and qualifying saw cloud and low 20s for the first session. Sanders set the pace early with a 5.67, but Hodgson beat that with a 5.66 at Top Speed of the Meet 255.75 mph, while Boychuk blew the motor on a 5.99. Nathan Sitko gave the driving lesson of the day with a two-wheels-up (both front AND side) no-lift 5.87, Jay Mageau ran a 6.46 with no chutes, hitting Sanders’ car at the turn-off with only minor damage to both cars, and Tim Nemeth continued to have problems, going up in smoke.
For the night session, it had cooled off even more, with little humidity and 500-feet of corrected altitude at the sea-level concrete track, so fans were ready for big numbers, but they didn’t happen. Boychuk had a new engine and shut off early to a 5.93, Kris Krabill was on a pass but spun at half track and shut off, Mark Sanders launched with a .959 60-foot but also shut off way early (5.90 / 195), and Ryan Hodgson’s team elected not to run when their 5.66 was not bettered.
Sunday dawned warmer and clear, and would reach the high 20s, but with little humidity. Tim Boychuk threw down the first shot in Round 1, beating Sitko’s 5.95 with a 5.74. Hodgson easily beat Nemeth’s 6.31 with a 5.80, Sanders got loose at half-track but drove through it with a 5.76 to beat Clint Thompson, and Krabill pedalled slightly to a 5.85 to beat Mageau.
So, the semis would have two IHRA race winners in Sanders and Boychuk, versus the two NHRA hitters in Krabill and Hodgson, all cars having run solid fives within .11 seconds of each other in Round One. First up, it was the top two AA/FCs in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, and Sanders stayed hot with a winning 5.75 from his Mustang to the 5.85 by Krabill in Bucky Austin’s Firebird. Then, it was the top two AA/FCs in Canada, both from Edmonton, Boychuk having once driven for Ron Hodgson, of course. Boychuk nailed the tree with a .013 RT en route to a winning 5.81, while Hodgson left at a normal .157, and ran a losing 5.73, low ET of eliminations. Fantastic racing.
The ‘all-IHRA’ final (the last thing NHRA might have wanted at their race) saw Boychuk launch with a great .932 60-foot and disappear down track with a 5.79 / 243, while Sanders’ car got a bit loose at half-track and fell off to a 5.84, blowing the engine in the shutdown. For Boychuk and the Happy Hour/NitroMoose team led by veteran Twig Ziegler, it was the third victory of the summer, but the first with an NHRA Wally trophy to show for it.
“When we left Edmonton we felt quite dampened moving on to Mission,” said Tim Boychuk. “It was a real disappointment not to go rounds at our home track at Castrol Raceway during the IHRA event — but we held our heads up.”
‘Winning at Mission was a real morale booster, for sure,” he added. “We feel reprieved now – at least we won one in Canada this summer. I’m not sure where that reaction time came against Ryan in the semi-finals but we’ll take it anyways. We’re going to head to Seattle – but will not be heading back east to finish the IHRA series as the distance is hard to compensate for.”
The Rocky Mountain Funny Cars out of Alberta have been a staple at this event for years, but with the economic situation in that province, it was going to be tough to have more than five cars at Mission. Several years ago, RMFC was formed out of a split with the original IBAA series, some of whom led by Darrell Webb reportedly wanted to run their own smaller events and/or didn’t want to run any quicker. But with the encouragement of the Edmonton and Mission track operators, Webb was invited to bring his and a couple of other cars over to make a full field. There is more to the story, but instead of the expected eight cars, there would be nine that would race in Round 1, and a four-round event would be the result.
RMFC raced at Mission on a 6.80 index, and four cars went under that in qualifying, so the car that ran a 6.801, Darrell Webb’s Lucas Oil Cuda, would be the number one qualifier. With Joey Steckler (6.79) and Shane Reykdal (6.71) too quick, and quickest qualifier Norm Kolwich too slow (a 7.99 loss), the field was thinned to five cars for Round 2.
There, Cal Tebb had the single at 6.89, IBAA’s Scott Bourdin won at 6.92, and in the closest race of the day, Webb ran a perfect 6.800 – and lost to Jimmy Fersch’s holeshot 6.82. In the semis, Fersch pushed too hard and broke out at 6.74 beside Tebb’s 6.90, while Bourdin staged the Acadian and shut off. The final was all Cal Tebb as his orange GTO laid a .09 holeshot on Bourdin and cruised to the win, 6.93 – 7.00.
The third Alky Funny Car group was the NWBBFC series out of the U.S., who put on a great show with 11 cars, all but one of which had American drivers. The one exception has always been veteran Brent Murray from Parksville, B.C., whose “Damn Yankee” Mustang is a mainstay of the group.
This series runs on a 6.75 ‘tuning target,’ and a ‘Chicago-style’ format that sees all cars run the first two rounds, and the quickest winning run from each round, not below 6.75, come back for the final. Well, Murray ran 6.64 and 6.75 to find himself in the final against 2015 champ Greg Howland, and took full advantage, winning 6.74 – 6.86. He picked a good time to win at the only Canadian track the series visits, because he took home a Wally, too, as this entire weekend was an NHRA National Open event.
With the rescheduling and rainout disappointments the past couple of years, fans deserved a great weekend of Funny Car racing and got it, as the nostalgia floppers put on a show that will be hard to equal next time.
Post and Photos by: Gerry Frechette