Drag racing’s budding 1/8th mile Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) hosted it’s most successful event yet last weekend in North Carolina….
Home state drivers Todd Tutterow and Rickie Smith won in Pro Extreme and Pro Nitrous, two of the top three classes featured at the 2nd annual PDRA Spring Nationals at the state’s historic Rockingham Dragway. Also picking up a huge Pro class win was Anthony Disomma in the Pro Boost category.
Tutterow, from Yadkinville, NC, had neither the quickest or fastest car all weekend, qualifying his GALOT Racing ’69 Camaro 12th in NAS Racing Pro Extreme and posting the slowest pass among the winners through each of four rounds of racing. Polesitter Jason Scruggs led the 16-car field with a 3.54 at 217.42 mph, compared to Tutterow’s 3.63 at 209.04-mph qualifying effort.
Regardless, it never held him back as “King Tut” denied Dubai’s Mustafa Buhumaid his second-straight PDRA victory in the Pro Extreme final.
“We kind of got lucky,” Tutterow acknowledged. “We struggled all weekend here with this car but we made it to the final and I’ve always said if you can make it to the final you’ve got a chance to win the race and that was definitely true here this weekend.”
In the opening round of eliminations, run Saturday night with the event concluding on Sunday, Tutterow went 3.66 to beat Wesley Jones, who ran a career-best 3.58 at 211.30 to qualify fifth, but had his hands full just keeping his ’41 Willys on his side of the race track.
Round two saw Tutterow slow a little to 3.71 seconds against the ’71 Mustang of fellow North Carolinian Terry Leggett, who had to shut down early with tire spin. That set up a semi-final match between “King Tut” and Jose Gonzalez of the Dominican Republic, who in the previous round posted a 3.61 pass at an astounding 227.84 mph that marked the highest speed ever attained by a doorslammer race car over an eighth mile.
Gonzalez ran into traction problems in the preferred right lane, though, allowing Tutterow to advance to the final with a 3.72 run at 209.07. Waiting for him was Buhumaid, who started from the number-three position and set low ET of the meet with a 3.52-seconds blast at 217.39 mph in his Friday-night win over David Reese. Buhumaid then defeated teammate Bader Ahli in round two with a 3.58, the quickest run of the round, before ousting defending class champion Bubba Stanton from the semis with another 3.58 pass.
It looked like Buhumaid was poised to score his second PDRA victory after securing his career first at the series’ season opener last month at Ennis, TX. However, an early start at the starting tree (-.084) negated his third 3.58 in a row and allowed Tutterow to coast to the win in 4.63 seconds at just 111 miles per hour.
“He redlighted and I saw it so I didn’t want to chance it and just shut it down and coasted on down here. We didn’t have a great weekend, but this makes up for it,” Tutterow said of the win. “I want to thank my crew for sticking with it and we had Mr. Wells (GALOT team owner) here, too, so it’s always good to do well when he’s here.”
A pair of home-grown champions settled the Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous final at Rockingham Dragway, as back-to-back reigning NHRA Pro Mod World Champion Rickie Smith from King, NC, prevailed over current PDRA Pro Nitrous Champion Jason Harris from Pittsboro, NC.
“It don’t get no better than that,” Smith declared after winning with a holeshot. “Right here in the Carolinas you just had the number-one guy in PDRA versus the number-one guy in NHRA. How much better do you want?”
Smithfield, NC’s Jay Cox led the way in qualifying with a 3.74 at 200.35 mph, representing the first 200-plus pass in his career, though he improved to 3.72 at 202.55 in the opening round of eliminations to also set low ET for the class. Smith ran 3.79 at 197.31 to place sixth in qualifying, while Harris uncharacteristically needed his fourth and final qualifying run just to break into the 16-car field with a 3.81 at 199.64 that placed him 12th.
Smith easily handled Jim Sackuvich in the opening round of racing, then met up with past class champion Stevie Jackson in round two. Jackson went straight to fully staging his ’69 Camaro in an attempt to unsettle “Tricky Rickie,” but the veteran driver rose to the challenge as both left with nearly identical reaction times. After that it was all up to Smith’s ’69 Camaro to get the job done, outrunning Jackson’s machine by 15-hundredths to the eighth-mile stripe. “Yeah, I tried, but Rickie was ready for me. I’ll get him next time, though,” Jackson promised.
Smith then got past John Camp after both suffered traction problems in the semis, while on the opposite side of the ladder Harris got past Pat Stoken, Mike Castellana and Cox in the semis.
In the final Smith left with a .037 light leading to a 3.82 pass at 199.61 mph against a .062 leave by Harris, who ran 3.812 at 199.05 mph. The margin of victory was 12-hundredths of a second.
“We put an automatic in the car and that was something for me to get used to; I mean, I’m used to doing that left foot action,” Smith revealed. “And we’re getting it done with a Pat Musi 903. That used to be a big-ass motor; now I’ve got the baby motor out here. But it done good; the biggest thing was the track was a little crappy, but that probably helped me here.”
Driving his twin-turbocharged ’67 Shelby Mustang, New Jersey’s Anthony Disomma finished on top of the Precision Turbo Pro Boost qualifying list with a run of 3.80 seconds at 210.24 mph. He then went a little quicker in the first round of racing to beat Jim Bell with a 3.79 at a potential record 213.33 mph, though he would have to back it up within one percent to make it the official top speed.
In round two Disomma slowed to 3.82 at 202.09, but it still was enough to beat Tylor Miller and his supercharged ’69 Chevelle before round three saw him go 3.81 at 211.13 to beat a traction-challenged Rick Fleck in his ’41 Willys.
The final was a match-up of twin-turbo’d ’67 Mustangs as Kevin Fiscus’ similar ride started from the third slot on the qualifying list and made it past the cars of Doug Winters, Jeremy Ray and John Strickland in the semis. A month earlier in Texas, Fiscus defeated Strickland in the Pro Boost final of the PDRA’s 2015 season opener.
This time, a .021 advantage off the starting line determined the outcome as Disomma’s 3.856 at 211.30 beat the 3.851 at 205.63 put together by Fiscus. It came at a cost, though, as a backfire right at the finish line blew the intake sky high off the top of Disomma’s 528-cubic-inch engine. The good news was his final-round speed officially secured the record for Disomma.
“I just saw a big flash but I didn’t know what happened. I saw something pop out of the hood and now part of the hood’s gone,” he said. “We made good progression each pass. My guys worked hard and it paid off today.”
In the other PDRA eliminator categories, reigning 2014 Pro Extreme Motorcycle Champion Eric McKinney was a winner and top qualifier Phil Esz in the debut of Pro Open Outlaw. Sportsman class victories went to Ronnie Proctor in Top Sportsman, Bo Upton in Top Dragster, and Preston Tanner and Samuel Peterson in Pro Jr. Dragster and Top Jr. Dragster, respectively.
The PDRA returns to action Apr. 30-May 2, when it visits Thunder Road Raceway Park, near Shreveport, LA, for the inaugural PDRA Cajun Nationals.
Posted by: Ian Tocher
Photos by: Bruce Biegler & Steve Embing
To view DragRaceCanada’s extensive photo gallery from this event — click: HERE