Newcomers Shine at Mission Lucas Oil Series Event

Ray Martin and Steve Gasparelli had never run alcohol cars at Mission Raceway Park before, but that didn’t stop them from taking victories during the marquee NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, Lordco Auto Parts feature event here this weekend….. 

Martin is no stranger to racing, running a fast Top Sportsman Corvette, but this was his first actual race event in Top Alcohol Dragster, and he chose a good car to be in, the nationally competitive one of Steve Federlin from Oregon. It was a short field, only six cars, and Shawn Cowie was on everyone’s mind at his home track.

The TAD final went to Ray Martin (near lane) over troubled Joey Severance

The Alaskan served notice by running a 5.33/265 in his first qualifying run, and then a 5.29/267 in the first round on a beautiful 16C afternoon for racing. He had the bye in the semis (a mere 5.34), and then an eased-up 6.34 win in the final when opponent Joey Severance had a major mechanical issue at the hit, oiling the first 100 feet of the track.

In Top Alcohol Funny Car, it was also a short field of six, and California’s Steve Gasparelli was entered, apparently intending to run Division 6 this year. He showed he will be a factor all season, running an off-the-trailer 5.62/257 to be No. 2 to Clint Thompson’s 5.61, and then ran 5.75 and 5.68 to make the final with Thompson, beating him handily, 5.71 – 7.01.

The first visit ever to Mission Raceway for 2nd generation driver Steve Gasparrelli (near lane) produced victory in TAFC

 The quick runs in TAD and TAFC notwithstanding, the single most impressive run of the event, and probably of the season so far, was the one turned in by Calgary’s Jirka Kaplan in Competition Eliminator qualifying. Given he had run more than a second under his index at Mission several years ago in his little AA/AM T-Roadster, no one should have been surprised when he ran a 1.096-second-under 5.974 to qualify No. 1 by more than four-tenths. It was the first run ever in the fives in NHRA Comp, fittingly by a “real” Comp car and not a Pro Mod, and another milestone performance at Mission.  

Calgary's Jirka Kaplan had the run of the event -- hitting the first ever "5" in Comp elimiinator

Of course, Comp being Comp, he couldn’t get away with running fives in eliminations, so his races consisted of catching his opponents by 1,000 feet at the most, and then getting off-and-on the throttle and trying to coast to the line ahead of the other car. It worked until the final with Jeff Lane, when the little 370-inch BAE Hemi didn’t react to the throttle, and Kaplan lost by inches.

There were only two Canadian winners on the day. In Super Stock, Richmond’s Rick McKinney in his Cutlass had both a better light and a better run against his index, to defeat Calgary’s Charlene Gullett in her very similar car. That car, ironically, used to be owned by McKinney’s late buddy Rick Johnston, and he admitted to feeling that RJ was with him in his car. In Sportsman Motorcycle, Al Omond of Surrey had a relatively easy time, with opponents fouling in the second round and final, and getting a single in the semis.

 More Canadian Highlights

In TAD, Don St. Arnaud ran solidly, improving his times to a best of 5.37/269 in the first round, but a bit of shake in the semis slowed him to 5.45 and a loss to Severance. Greg Sereda had a completely new engine combo, the ubiquitous BAE set up, and ran two career bests, a 5.68 in qualifying, and a nice 5.54/257 in a first-round loss to Severance. Veteran fast altered driver Brent Murray from Nanaimo got into Hugh Ridley’s car, and qualified with a nice 5.43 before losing first round. Ashley Bart in Kenny Gilmour’s car had a weekend to forget, pitching blower belts and not making a complete run in four tries.

Fast rising Canadian racer Don St. Arnaud ran well again during the Mission LODRS

In TAFC, John Evanchuk had the new body and injection system, and the latter caused problems with the idle adjustment, to the point that CC Bill Moore had him leave in high gear just to be safe in his final qualifier. He was up to speed in Round 1, running quicker than Clint Thompson at 5.72, but losing on a holeshot. Ken Webster couldn’t find the 5.60s he’d need to play with the big guys, running 5.75 in qualifying, but falling off to a 5.83 to lose Round 1.

Several Canadians were runner-ups. Other than Kaplan and Gullett, they included David Rastad in Stock, Craig Cawte in Top Sportsman, Stefan Kondolay in Top Dragster, and Rusty Stevenson in Super Pro.

Posted by:  Gerry Frechette 

The following are the final results from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Lordco Auto Parts event at Mission Raceway Park:


W:  Ray Martin (Anchorage Alaska) – 6.347 secs 152.85 mph

R/U: Joey Severance (Woodburn OR) – 16.24 secs  64.33 mph


W:  Steve Gasparrelli (W. Covina, CA) — 5.712 secs 255.89 mph

R/U: Clint Thompson (Klamath Falls OR) – 7.019 secs 152.05 mph


W:   Jeff Lane (North Bend, WA) – B/MSA 8.079 secs 166.23 mph

R/U: Jirka Kaplan (Calgary, AB) — AA/AM, 6.540 secs 173.64 mph


W: Rick McKinney (Richmond, B.C.) — SS/LA 10.848 secs 116.76 mph

R/U: Charlene Gullett, (Calgary, AB) — GT/JA 10.510 secs 124.68 mph

The Super Stock final round was all Canada & all Oldsmobile!


W:  Dallas Glenn, (Covington, WA) C/SA, 10.614 secs 113.79 mph

R/U: David Rastad  (Maple Ridge, B.C.) L/SA, 12.083 secs 106.59 mph


W: Emmett McKillop, (Lynnwood, WA)  8.947 secs 165.92 mph

R/U: Rick Dearinger (Port Angeles, WA)  8.962 secs 171.10 mph

 SUPER GAS  (9.90)

 W:  John Dalrymple, (Sunnyside, WA) — 10.108 secs 131.86 mph

R/U: Greg Hehr (Ravensdale, WA) 10.906 secs 105.07 mph


W: Josh Dalrymple, (Sunnyside, WA) 12.589 secs 86.95 mph

R/U:  Jess Dale, (Bonney Lake, WA) — Broke.


W: Al Omond, (Surrey, B.C.) 8.419 secs 146.17 mph

R/U: Doug Rathbun, (Oak Harbor, WA) 8.582 secs 151.66 mph

Canada's Al Omond won the Sportsman Motorcycle eliminator



 W: Robert Matthews (Gig Harbor, WA) — 7.515 secs 176.78 mph

R/U: Craig Cawte, (Cranbrook, B.C.) – Broke  


 W: Paul Nero (Eugene, OR)  7.323 secs 176.64 mph

R/U: Stefan Kondolay (Chilliwack, B.C.) 7.594 secs 167.13 mph


 W: Al Chinn, (Auburn, WA) 9.459 secs 137.82 mph

R/U: Rusty Stevenson (Fort St. John, B.C.) 7.847 secs 166.60 mph

(Photos by:  Gerry Frechette)