Bumps, bruises and controversies – all included within Mission Raceway’s marquee independent annual event…..

With the beginning of COVID Recovery Stage 3 in B.C. on July 1, the timing was perfect for the first big drag race since 2019 at Mission Raceway Park, as the ninth annual Doorwarz event went from July 2-4. With no limits as to crowd size and mask wearing, it was just like old times. Making things even better was the perfect 30-degree sunny weather, a week after the 45-degree heat that caused so many problems in B.C.

Another welcome development was that this would be the first race at MRP to be live-streamed on You Tube and Facebook. All involved did a very professional job of it, with several cameras, banks of computers and screens in the control room, and a drone that appeared to be able to fly at least 100 mph and turn on a dime. It followed many bracket races all the way to the finish line.

As usual, Pro Mods were the headliners, and the West Coast Pro Mod group was on hand with 12 cars. With five rounds of qualifying scheduled, four of them in the cooler air of Friday and Saturday nights, it figured that the teams would each be able to find at least a couple of good runs to tune for eliminations. And that was the case, with the top five all under four seconds, led by Regina’s Mike Gondziola in his nitrous Corvette that has been the car to beat in the last few Doorwarz events, with a strong 3.83. Gary Urlacher, Dean Bettenson, Jordan Lazic and Joe Delehay all slotted in between 3.90 and 3.97 on the eighth-mile. 

A car that should have been in that group was the turbo Mustang of Surrey’s Dal Sangha, but various issues had kept him to a best of 4.81. For the last round after 11 pm on Saturday, you knew he wanted to join that 3-second group, but fate had other plans. The run looked good, but suddenly, at the eighth-mile finish line, the car made a hard left from the right lane into the wall, and was utterly destroyed in the horrendous crash. Dal was transported to hospital, and remains there with serious injuries from which he is expected to recover. All our best wishes to Dal and his family.

Surrey’s Dal Sangha was a topic of concern for all at Mission Raceway last weekend – after he endured a major crash during qualifying.

Also destroyed was all the eighth-mile timing equipment, and the concrete block, in that left lane, so a lengthy repair project ensued that was not completed until noon on Sunday. The track crew did a fantastic job in rebuilding the timing and safety systems so that we could have a race to watch on Sunday.

Unfortunately, the crash and repairs gave rise to a few issues on Sunday. The schedule was to be delayed by three hours, with the first time trials at 12:10 pm. The five Pro Mods that were left in the lanes after Sangha’s crash were given the opportunity to make their fifth and final qualifying run around 1:00, and then it would be into Round One. Unfortunately, the three-hour delay included the Pro Mods, and while there were perhaps not as many fans as might have been hoped for earlier in the afternoon, there were definitely way fewer sticking around in the hot sun to see the first round at 4:30 pm. Being the feature cars, it was perhaps not unreasonable for the teams and the fans to have expected the event organizers to have run them sooner, like around 2:30 or so. 

In any case, with maybe 200 fans in the stands, the 11 remaining Pro Mods came out and one might say that the five match-ups and one single were not the high-water mark for Pro Mods at Mission. Maybe there was a big cloud over the pits after Sangha’s crash, but the highlights were Jordan Lazic setting himself up as the favourite in his blown ’57 Chevy with a 3.99 in the heat, and good passes by two cars that were not going to be near the 3’s, Dan Vogt’s nitrous Corvette at 4.34, and Tom Meheden’s nitrous Beretta at 4.31 that was, unfortunately for him, run beside Lazic.

Round Two at 6:20 pm in front of dozens of fans saw the three winners being the only ones clearing the finish line under full power. Jordan Lazic stepped up again with a 3.94 to easily beat the turbo Firebird of Kelowna’s Eric Horvath, still sorting out the combination with a 5.74. Dan Vogt had a single when Gary Urlacher didn’t show and ran it through to a 4.49. And in the David vs Goliath race, maybe the biggest upset of the day, it was Nick Duda in his first Pro Mod race in what some would call an Outlaw  10.5 car with big tires, or a Junior Pro Mod with a single-turbo small-block Chevy in the Mauney-built ex-Stott Corvette, versus Gondziola’s feared Vette. Gonzi once again got loose and shut off to a 4.35, while Duda motored right on down there with a very impressive 4.06 at 183. 

The semis at 7:30 pm saw Duda get his second single which he accomplished by simply staging, while the Lazic vs Vogt duel was a good one that saw the ’57 Chev from Kelowna again step up with a great 3.95 at its best speed of the day, 192, to just beat Vogt’s strong 4.18. 

With a bevy of 3-second runs to his name, nobody was betting against Lazic in the final at 8:25 pm, and indeed, Duda got way out of shape and just saved the car from the wall, so Lazic wouldn’t have needed nearly a “3”. But as Duda was saving the car and coasting through at 4.54, Lazic was sitting at the start line, not having moved. The reason for that was not clear, but Nick Duda had won Pro Mod at Doorwarz and the $5,000 cheque, and it was well-deserved.

Nick Duda’s Corvette topped Jordan Lazic in the WCPM final round.

As usual at Doorwarz, the long-running and well-organized Canada West Doorslammers Series (now presented by Paradise Homes Construction & Development) was on hand, and with a couple of dozen cars out there, the fans had lots of action to see on the full quarter-mile. We don’t have round-by-round results, but in the final, it was Brian Ritchie’s ’69 Chevelle taking on Andy Hatton’s ’69 Camaro. Things went Ritchie’s way, as despite being slower off the line by .038, he ran right on his 7.98 dial-in, while Hatton broke out with an 8.50 on an 8.53 dial. 

Brian Ritchie’s ’69 Chevelle won the CWDS feature.

The past few Doorwarz editions saw the “Outlaw” classes, 10.5 and 275, gain a lot of fans and be a big part of the event. For this year, 10.5 had morphed into something called Big Tire – No Time, and despite there being a bunch of competitive cars from B.C., if past Doorwarz was any indication, exactly none of them showed up to their home race. Three cars did appear, one from Alberta breaking on Friday, and it was left to the two Chevies from Regina, piloted by Doug Hesch and Wade Bulych, to do battle. Except that Bulych’s car broke after the burnout, and Hesch singled to the win. We can’t tell you the exact time he ran, but a secret qualifying sheet showed that they were both running in the 4.40-4.50 range earlier. One has to think that most fans would like to have known what the times were.

Regina Saskatchewan’s Doug Hersch was the “NT” feature winner.

As for Outlaw 275, run only on Saturday, 15 good cars qualified, and Justin Gallant was the clear pace setter, with three runs in the mid-4.70s. No one else was close until Steve Skokin ran a 4.78 in his semi win, setting up what would be a close final. Except that it wasn’t run, because it was to have been after the Pro Mod session that saw Sangha crash. Gallant and Skokin agreed to split the purse, because the latter couldn’t be there on Sunday to run.

With his Mustang – Steve Skokin was a split winner for X275 class racing.

There were several other classes on hand, including Electronics, Non-Electronics, a few Junior Dragster classes, and several motorcycles, including two Nitro Harleys. The highlights included Nate Gagnon running a 6.37 on his Harley on Saturday, and newly licensed Emily Gerard winning Electronics on Saturday night, and then barrel-rolling her nice Undercover dragster in the shutdown, only an hour before Sangha’s wreck. She walked away and came back Sunday to collect the trophy and cheque.

Despite barrel rolling her dragster the night before Emily Gerard (Electronics winner) was able to come back to collect her cheque.
Mission Raceway class regular Martin Rachel claimed the Box Bracket ET title.

So, it was great to get back out to the track and enjoy racing again, and despite the wrecks and a few glitches, Doorwarz 9 will go down as an event to remember — for a number of reasons. 

Posted by Gerry Frechette

Photos by Gerry Frechette and Les Puchala

Link to our “Doorwarz” event photo gallery posted at LMLCMedia : HERE