Cayuga Dragway’s 7th annual Canadian Nitro Nationals again helped to satisfy the palates of discriminating drag racing fans last weekend!…
The annual event which has grown to and is now clearly recognized as one of the top independent drag racing events of the season for Canada each summer, featured great series racing as well as booked in NHRA level nitro cars and jet car exhibition racers.
The Napa/AutoPro Ultimate Showdown Drag Racing Series presented it’s second of five season events and that feature had a very surprising pairing in the Shelborne Fuels-presented Pro Modified class final round.
While pre-event expectations were certainly that circuit racer names like Bruce Boland, Rob Atchison or Derek Hawker would be battling for the title – in fact it was a couple of emerging USDRS drivers Wes Goddard and Chris Brohman who did.
Goddard (from Guelph) topped Brohman (from Hagersville) in a championship round battle of two Chevy Camaro cars. Goddard earned his first career Pro Mod class victory for himself and his car owner Fred DeJonge with a winning 6.137 secs at 247.79 mph while Brohman slowed.
“It was a bit surprising for us that we won this early with our new race car,” said Fred DeJonge post race. “We qualified #7 so we certainly were not the fastest car out there — but we got lucky and the car got better. Everyone on our team has worked so hard — so it’s kind of nice that the sport tossed us all a bone!”
Goddard defeated two faster qualified cars in rounds one and two taking care of both Hawker and Atchison to advance to the final.
“I can’t say enough about our team (also including Frank, Mike and Rob) and the series itself,” Fred added. “The USDRS is an awesome Ontario home grown series that is certainly on it’s way up. We all want the sport to grow and they are giving us the exact platform to make that all happen.”
Brohman, who is a second generation driver (son to Jack) had advanced to his first ever Pro Mod final round by first upsetting Bruce Boland (low qualifier at 5.910 secs) in round one. He then got a single when opponent Mike Stawicki (driving for Jay Santos) had a parachute malfunction on the starting line in the semi final round.
The Napa/AutoPro USDRS also presented rather ferocious eliminations involving Top Sportsman, Top Dragster and Outlaw 10.5 class categories.
A major takeaway from that action was Hampton’ Ontario’s Mike Leger who once again scored the overall TD/TS Shootout event title racing his nitrous injected Chevy Lumina. Leger, who also accomplished that at the season opening race here back in mid May, collected another cheque for $10,000 for his weekend’s efforts!
Leger outran New York’s Billy Leber in the lucrative title battle round hitting a winning 7.770 secs at 181.67 mph to hold off Leber’s dragster which ran 7.259 secs at 181.32 mph.
Leger had previously won the Strickland’s TS portion when he beat Lui Ramundo in that final and Leber had prevailed in the Nick & Dan’s TS class final winning over fellow New Yorker Robert Bauer.
TD racing was highlighted by Burlington’s Glen Vardy who sped to both low ET and top speed to Q#1 at 6.044 secs at 229.70 mph. Quebec’s Sylvain Nadon who entered his first ever USDRS event, set top speed and low ET in TS racing his cool Mustang to a 6.683 secs at 207.66 mph.
Oakville’s Tony Presto scored in the event’s Bill Briggs Outlaw 10.5 class 1/8th mile feature. Racing his emmensley popular and super cool supercharged Chevy II – Presto topped the feared nitrous-injected Chevy Camaro driven by Phil Sliskovic in the final. Tony ran a winning 4.339 secs at 186.92 mph when Sliskovic had a red light foul start. Sliskovic had been the low qualifier with a super fast 4.047 sec time.
Presto had defeated Peter Palladino’s Corvette and William Devine’s Mustang in earlier competition.
The Canadian Nitro Nationals provided a overflow capacity crowd with a great dose of nitromethane on Saturday night as four Top Fuel dragsters and four nitro Funny Cars paired off for two rounds of exhibition runs.
While none of those cars came close to reseting any track records – it was Smax Smith (Ayr Ontario) who was credited with the quickest and fastest time of the event. Racing for his car owner Bob Leverich – Smax roared to a 4.84 secs 297 mph full quarter mile run.
Through the weekend fans enjoyed some great jet car racing action that included the return of the awesome and earth shaking Shockwave triple-engined jet truck as well as the competition debut for Cayuga’s own Track Manager Neale Armstrong in his new “Northern Warrior” dragster. In fact Armstrong beat his class mentor Lou Pieria in back to back match ups.
The event also hosted the 2nd round of season racing for the NDRA alcohol Funny Car circuit. Five cars were on hand for round one and that eventual title went to Cayuga Dragway regular Vince Rastelli (from Gasport NY). Vince rolled his Chevy Corvette-bodied car to an upset past Tyler Scott in the final winning a 5.899 secs to 6.259 secs decision.
Scott had been the event’s low qualifier – running the Larry Dobbs owned Chevy Monte Carlo to a very impressive 5.716 secs at 247.11 mph for both low ET and top speed.
Titles within the event’s ET bracket racing programs went to Kevin Battista (Super Pro) Jarrod (Modified), Justin Buileau (Street) and Mike Marnuk (Bike/Sled) on Saturday. On Sunday it was Dustin Taylor (Modified), Tim Knight (Super Pro), Juliana Cline (Street), Dan Earl (Bike/Sled), Mark Stein (RCC Turbo Bike) and Michael McCallum (Junior Dragster).
“Overall our 7th Canadian Nitro Nationals was a rousing success,” confirmed Cayuga Dragway’s co-announcer & Media Director Rob Potter. “That was more then a sell out Saturday night and we got lots of comments about all the great improvements that Uli Bieri has made. Everyone at the track is very optimistic and pumped about the future for this facility.”
The event did unfortunately include a couple of serious incidents and everyone at DragRaceCanada wishes speedy recoveries for both Steve Jacwic (crew chief for Rob Lapierre) and Bike racer Curtis Beck.
Posted by Bruce Biegler
Photos by Brennan Shortall – John Marechal – Bruce Biegler