Mission Raceway Park’s reputation for super fast performance was once again evident during last weekend’s NHRA Lucas Oil BC Summer Classic….
During the 25th annual NHRA Lucas Oil B.C. Summer Classic event at Mission Raceway Park which has become the must-attend event for fans of Funny Cars – more history was made.

Once again, the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series for Nostalgia Nitro Funny Cars was on the program, along with two separate Nostalgia Alcohol FC circuits, all 24 cars racing for NHRA Wally trophies.

There were seven Nitro cars on hand, with the main protagonists for NHRA Heritage points, Ryan Hodgson and Jason Rupert, included, along with Bobby Cottrell, the new driver in Bucky Austin’s car. One might have hoped a few other cars might have made the trip up (or down, in the case of Stephen Densham who was in Edmonton the week before, and sent his father Gary to spectate at Mission), but it was a great field nonetheless, with six of them having run 5.60s before.

For the first time, the event schedule had the FCs running on Friday (qualifying) and Saturday (elims) evenings only, to see if more fans could be enticed to attend. The strategy didn’t work so well on Friday, as, after a day of rain sprinkles that ended just in time at 5:00 pm, a smattering of people saw two good sessions run. In the first session, Cottrell fired the first shot, a nice 5.64 at a track record 261 mph, while Hodgson had troubles at the top end (broken piston, sneezed blower, body damage) but still put down a 5.78. Rupert went up in immediate smoke, and the teardowns in the Hodgson and Rupert pits, for different reasons, were extensive.

The second session, with great conditions, saw just about everyone improve, with Rupert getting in the game at 5.72, Mark Sanders and Tim Nemeth with 5.80s, and Tim Boychuk into the fives at 5.92. Cottrell didn’t run, the team figuring their 5.64 was secure. Perhaps the run of the session, though was the one laid down by Nathan Sitko, as the car was pulling hard, until the blower belt made its exit. It was by far the best the car had run to that point, and the numbers low-down projected out to a mid-5.70 run. It was a 6.20 at only 148 that came up on the clocks.

Once again on Saturday, it sprinkled until late afternoon and was cloudy all evening (despite the forecast saying clearing by noon), but it stayed dry and cool, resulting in fabulous racing conditions with corrected altitude in the mid-three figure range and air temperature of about 20C. A nearly-full house was ready for fast racing, and they got it with an awesome Round One in NNFC. The nitro hung heavy at the starting line, as Rupert led off with a track-record 5.62 defeating Sitko’s 5.90, and then it was the battle of Edmonton, Hodgson versus Boychuk, a reprise of their meeting in the semis last year. Hodgson avenged that holeshot loss with a good 5.75 victory, while Boychuk had issues at the top end and a 6.09. Cottrell had the bye run and ran an easy 5.78, and Mark Sanders ran a 5.69 / 237, loose and smokey at the finish line, to barely hold off Tim Nemeth’s charging 5.78 / 246, in a great duel.

Round one of NNFC featured this titanic match up between Canadian class hitters – Tim Boychuk and Ryan Hodgson.

With the four Round One favourites all advancing into Round Two, the two match-ups would be good ones. First up, Jason Rupert took on Ryan Hodgson, with big ramifications for the NHRA points standings, and the American repeated at 5.62 / 258, while the Canadian lost with a good 5.66, having played catch-up with the car’s set-up after the Friday damage. The other race saw Cottrell drop the hammer with a new track and Canadian record 5.56 at 260 mph to beat Sanders’ troubled 5.83.

So, the final had all the makings of an awesome race, with the two fastest cars on the West Coast this year duelling in perfect atmospheric and track conditions. The anticipation was sky-high, and the race lived up to it, with identical reaction times to the hundredths, and the cars nearly equal all the way down. At the end, it was Cottrell with another track, Canadian and NHRA record, the second quickest NNFC run ever, a 5.530 secs @ 259.14 mph to barely beat Rupert’s equally stellar 5.563 @ 254.23 mph. It was the quickest NNFC side-by-side run ever and also a NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series national record. With his runner-up Rupert took over the NHRA Heritage points lead.

Bobby Cottrell and Jason Rupert made history in the NNFC Final – producing the quickest ever side-by-side pairing for the category!

The Rocky Mountain Nostalgia Funny Car circuit from Alberta was on hand once again, running on a “hard” 6.75 index here, and Joey Steckler took the early qualifying lead at 6.77 after both Al Weich and Cal Tebb broke out. The second run saw Steckler as the only one in the sixes, repeating at 6.78, so he was the clear favourite heading into elims.

The yellow Vette easily won Round One at a 6.87, but it was the other three match-ups that told a bigger story. Jim Fersch and Call Tebb lined up for what figured to be a close one, and it was that on the clocks, Fersch taking it 6.78 to Tebb’s 6.82, both at 203. But it wasn’t so close on the track, as Fersch left on an obvious “shot in the dark” .003 light. He should have bought a lottery ticket after that.

Jim Fersch’s “Bulldogger” Cuda from Alberta ran well and was a fan favourite during Mission Raceway’s annual major FC feature.

Troy Sitko in the White Trash Duster took on Norm Kolwich, and once again the Duster did all sorts of wild gyrations getting off the line. After getting way out of the groove next to the wall by half track, it looked like Sitko was shutting it down, but then realized that Kolwich was having problems of his own. Back on the throttle he went, out of the groove again until near the finish line, and it was actually a close race, 8.23 – 8.38, both in the 180s. And then, “Wild Al” Weich quietly ran a 6.79 single to put himself into the picture.

The semis saw the two winners on the track break out. Steckler ran a 6.72, advancing Weich’s 6.88, while Fersch seemingly had his race in the bag against the ill-handling Sitko Duster, but threw it away with a 6.74, advancing Sitko’s bouncing-around 15.73!

Calgary’s Al Weich (far lane) won the 6.75 indexed Rocky Mountain Nostalgia Funny Car title over Troy Sitko.

The gifts for Sitko ended in the final, as once again, the car could not leave the line and get down track cleanly, and Weich ran an eased-up 7.20 / 150 for the victory and the Wally trophy.

The third group of FCs from the Northwest BB/FC circuit put on their usual great show on a “soft” 6.75 index, minus the sole Canadian in the group, Brent Murray, who won last year. In the final, Kim Parker, last seen here in June wheeling her A/Fuel dragster to a stout 5.19, ran a 6.64 to lose to defending series champion Greg Howland, who broke out less with a 6.74. That is two finals at Mission this year with Wallys up for grabs, and Parker lost them both.

Kim Parker beat Greg Howland in the event’s BB/FC class eliminator.

In addition to the great Funny Car program – the Lucas Oil B.C. Summer Classic event also hosted an official NHRA Division Six National Open highlighting both some NHRA class racing as well as Mission Raceway’s very own track eliminators.

Official NHRA “Wallys” were also up for grabs during both the Saturday and Sunday event schedules.

The very formidable RAD Torque Machines team – fronted by Abbotsford’s Dan Provost, enjoyed a lucrative weekend with it’s team drivers winning multiple event titles.  Dan Provost (top) Al Quigley and Zack Clarke all made their way to victory lane.

On Saturday the Super “indexed” Shootout titles went to BC-based racers Mike Shannon (Kelowna) and Al Quigley (Aldergrove) respectively. Also picking up wins were Zack Clarke (Super Quick), Jason Gibson (Top) and Josh Schmanke and Sydney Jung in Junior Dragster racing.

Sunday’s NHRA class car event titles wins went to Rick McKinney (Super Stock), Al Hampton (Super Comp), Mike Shannon (Super Gas) and Dave Wakefield (Super Street).  Also winning were Dan Provost (Super Quick), Mike Bedoworth (Canada West Doorslammers) and John Carpenter (Open Comp). ET bracket racing titles included James Kennedy (Super Pro), Derrick Johnstone (Sportsman), and Jason Gibson (604 Top Street). Brody Lake won the Junior Street event while Emily Girard and Sydney Jung were winners in Junior Dragster class racing.

Recent NHRA Jegs All-Stars event participatant Rick McKinney (Richmond) wheeled his Oldsmobile to victory in Super Stock

Posted with files by Gerry Frechette and Bruce Biegler
Photos by Gerry Frechette and Bruce Biegler