Canadian drag racing leaves very lasting impressions during the NHRA’s season-opening Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals….

British Columbia’s Justin Bond and Ontario’s Scott Wildgust both made the swift Pro Mod field at Gainesville. Justin, wheeling the Bahrain 1 Racing /JBS Motorsports Camaro, qualified #3 and then set low ET (5.653 secs) while winning his round one.   But a tardy RT in round #2 versus eventual winner (Jose Gondzalez) – did prove to be consequential — as that nullified an equally impressive 5.657 secs.  Wildgust (below) made his much anticipated NHRA Pro Mod class debut in the all new Smokies Garage ’69 Camaro. Scott  qualified #16 at 5.812 secs and 249.49 mph — before bowing out to Pacific Northwestern Mike Thielen after round one.

Smokies Garage team owner Mike Clark had an “extremely impressive first impression” while racing for the first time within NHRA’s Factory Stock Showdown eliminator. In fact Mike qualified #1 for that program running his Dodge to a category leading 7.824 secs ET!  Mike’s initial event quest did include a round one win-light however his quest then ended in round #2 when he experienced a starting line miscue.

Ontario’s Jeff Veale had an extremely strong run in the GTA-based Veale Racing/Napa sponsored injected nitro car — emerging the top finishing Canadian overall at Gainesville with a runner-up finish.  Jeff and his father Gary, who had qualified #16 certainly found their stride during eliminations  while defeating Matt Cummings, Karen Stalba and defending NHRA Lucas Oil World Champion Julie Nataas.  But the final round saw him fall to the fairy tale* event story for winner/newcomer Joe Maynard by a 5.275 secs to 5.311 secs margin. *Maynard’s amazing event win came during his first NHRA national event entry!

Canada was very well represented in TAD racing by two other formidable Canadian cars at Gainesville with both Clif Bakx’s (top photo) and Chatterson Racing  machines making the field – both qualifying mid pack.  Driver Todd Bruce (from North Dakota) roared to the #9 position in “The Bull”  but lost to Karen Stalba in round one. Jeff Chatterson qualified #11 but lost out to Jackie Fricke in the first frame.

As he most certainly almost always does – Canadian Jason Kenny (above and below) finished deep in the Sportsman Racing event program on Sunday. In fact Jason went to the semi final rounds racing in both Super Gas and Super Comp!

Pro Stock class racing featured for the first time in modern day NHRA history – two Canadian drivers entered for an event — with Ontario’s Eric Latino and Sienna Wildgust making qualifying attempts. Both drivers fell just short of the demanding bump (6.592 secs) but their efforts and presence were appreciated and impressive to say the least!

Sienna Wildgust was credited with some big history too – becoming the very first female Canadian-based Pro Stock driver in NHRA competition

The Canadian-based Paton Racing Top Fuel dragster continued it’s important role of indoctornating new drivers into the speedy class. At Gainesville — it was young driver and Florida home state native Cody Krohn behind the wheel for his first time.  The talented Paton Racing operation coaxed Cody and the car to a best of 3.850 secs to qualify — but they lost out to event winner Shawn Langdon in round #1.

Arguably Canada’s premier all time Top Dragster class driver Al Kenny (a native of Kingston ON) had another strong run at Gainesville – qualifying #6 and then advancing to the 3rd round in class competition.

And for sure maybe the biggest pleasant surprise for Canadian racing at the season opener was delivered by non other then British Columbia’s Stan Sipos – who entered for the TAFC eliminator – racing this Chevy Camaro. Stan (from Victoria) ran some high 5.5 secs in his first event back – coming after a very long absence. DragRaceCanada will post more details on this racing development (which includes Hall of Fame Les Davenport!) – coming in the near future.

Posted by Bruce Biegler

Photos by Dave DeAngelis 

To view more event photos from NHRA Gainesville – link to the LMLC Media event photo gallery:  HERE