Talk about early season head-line hunting! Canadian Lucas Oil TAD racer Don St. Arnaud dropped a lot of jaws earlier this month during the NHRA opener in California…..
The very successful Alberta-based construction businessman clocked in with what may very well prove to be one of the most impressive single runs of the entire 2015 season!
Consider this. Driving his Brad Hadman chassied injected nitro car – St. Arnaud clobbered a very long standing NHRA terminal speed record for NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster. During Saturday’s first round of eliminations he ran a stunning 285.35 mph – which he backed up for an official record with an earlier in the event 282.75 mph. Not only did that eclipse one of the longest held speed records in NHRA history (Bill Reichart’s 284.75 mph was set 8-years prior) – it was also the fastest speed ever recorded in the stepping stone to the Pro’s TAD class. We also understand that with that, Don became the first Canadian racer in history to hold a national record in NHRA’s TAD category.
But for anyone that has been following St. Arnaud’s career — you might have foreseen this performance — because in recent seasons he has bantered back and forth with Ontario’s Jeff Veale for the classes fastest runs of the season. Both drivers have topped the 280 mph plateau mark — multiple times.
Arnaud was also credited with low ET of the event at the Pomona Circle K Winternationals — when his (career best) 5.221 secs time paced the field. Don’s event winning quest was however cut short by eventual event winner and defending NHRA Lucas Oil World Champion Chris Demke in round two — but still the repercussions of his on-track accomplishments are still being felt.
“On that record run we actually backed the car down a bit because we knew we were facing the #16 qualifier,” Don revealed. “But as I was sitting there waiting in the staging lanes – the air was getting better and better. One of my crew guys leaned in and said – this car will likely run a twenty – so hang on and good luck!”
Following the run Don admitted he was having some trouble coming to grip with the reality that he was now the fastest racer in class history for this particular class on our particular planet.
“We had run over 282 mph twice before, and to be honest I couldn’t tell any difference because the car was running so smooth and straight,” he continued. “I’m not sure the speed has sunk in yet. We’ve really only been at this for six seasons so to do that well is really quite an accomplishment. Setting a national speed record is something I might have dreamt about – but for it to actually happen is amazing.”
Don was quick to credit his talented crew for the performance and for the way the car has been set up. After splitting with his former crew chief (Javin Marvsich) early last year St. Arnaud reformed his team’s personell, which included bringing in new members Eddie Fishley and Ty Brown.
“As a team we’ve become more self sufficient and it’s more of a tuning by committee approach,” Don added. “I’m fortunate that everyone around the car is very knowledgeable. We’re certainly full of optimism about 2015 after coming out of the gate the way we did.”
St. Arnaud’s accomplishment is however just the latest feather in the Canadian cap for NHRA injected nitro cars. For whatever reason our country remains a performance leader for that particular class/car configuration. In addition to St. Arnaud and Ontario’s Veale Racing, Canada can boast other top echelon cars from Quebec’s Daniel Mercier, and also from the team’s owned by Clif Bakx and Doug Doucette who are both from the province of Manitoba.
Post and photos by: Bruce Biegler