Saskatoon’s Mike Gondziola shines at Mission Raceway Social Distance Shoot-Out sessions…

With all the major events canceled until the end of August (as things stand today) in this year of Covid, Mission Raceway Park is holding test sessions to give racers the opportunity to get their cars out to the track for some runs.

The various independent racing groups in the region are jumping at the opportunity, willing to pay their share of the track rental fee to put on racing events in front of no fans and a limited number of others. Social Distance Shootout #1 happened the end of May as a bit of a test run with some fast door cars and lousy weather, and now, Shootout #2 has been completed this past weekend, originally scheduled to have been the major Doorwarz event, with more door cars and only one day of wet weather.

Mike Gonziola rolled his show-stopping nitrous injected C7 to a Pro Mod victory at Mission Raceway last weekend.

Leading the line-up, as always, was the West Coast Pro Modifieds group, with 12 cars on the property to run two rounds of their season championship. In testing on Friday, using only half the Mission quarter-mile, three cars (those of Mike Gondziola, Steve Horne and Joe Delehay) got into the 3-second range, and a couple more were close.

Saturday dawned cool and blustery, and the forecast was for rain later, but they got in two rounds of qualifying by late afternoon, and Jordan Lazic from Kelowna wheeled his blown ’57 Chevy to low ET of the weekend, a 3.83 at 196 mph, backed up with a 3.92, so he figured to be tough. Also getting into the threes was Gondziola with a 3.92, but the conditions were tricky and more were capable of it.

The plan had been to run a full set of eliminations on Saturday night, but they only got Round 1 in before the rain came again at 8:30. Nine cars made the call for first round, which meant a four-round race and no chance of getting it all in by 10:00 pm even if it had stayed dry. Only a few of the cars ran up to their potential, especially Gonzi with a 3.88 out of his nitrous Vette from Saskatoon, taking down another Saskatchewan runner, Ross Faure in his blown Willys. Of note, Tom Meheden in his ancient nitrous Beretta from Calgary ran a good 4.19, but coupled with a 1.15 light, he didn’t have a chance against Kelly Madore’s blown street-driven Chevelle at 4.24.

Sunday was clear and warm, and the plan was to run two qualifying rounds combined with the second and third rounds of Saturday eliminations, and then run the Saturday final later in the season. Eight cars would line up for Round 1, which would make a nice easy three rounds – or so one might think. Delehay at 3.93 and Gonzi at 3.94 were the two quickest Sunday qualifiers and the two finalists for Saturday’s race, but when their respective opponents Jordan Lazic and Dave Springman broke, it was decided the two would run their Sunday bye runs side-by-side, as the Saturday final. It was all anti-climactic in any case, as Delehay’s blown Camaro had big shake and Gonzi powered to a 3.95 for the double victory. 

Meheden beat Madore with a consistent 4.19, but the race between Kerry Stone and Steve Horne was a strange one, in that the clocks were totally dead, registering neither a time nor a winner in what was a very close race. So, it would have to be re-run, adding an extra round of sorts to the schedule. Horne took that race with a strong 3.92.

Round 2 started with the Battle of Calgary, as Joe Delehay again shook hard, handing the upset win to Tom Meheden who ran his career best 4.15 at 174 to win. And then came the race of the weekend, Gonzi versus Horne. The Corvette had a slightly better light, but the Willys had the better 60-foot to take the lead. Gonzi poured on the coals, though, to take the close victory, 3.90 / 197 (top speed of the meet) to Horne’s 3.92 / 185.

The final was again not close, as Gondziola did his usual thing, running a 3.89 / 196 to handily defeat Meheden, who, for the second day in a row, was way late on the tree (.961) and threw away an otherwise good and consistent 4.19 that would not have beaten Gonzi with a .001 light.

In Outlaw 10.5, Steve Nicholson from Aldergrove BC was the one to beat after running a 4.01 in qualifying, and he made it to both days’ finals, beating Nick Duda in the first one with a 4.11, and losing to Paul Glandon’s Alberta Pontiac when he fell off his pace with a 4.38 to Glandon’s 4.34.

Steve Nicholson (far lane) and Paul Glandon each scored Outlaw 10.5 eliminator wins.

In X-275, Daniel Rodrigue from Yarrow, BC also made both finals with similar results. In Saturday’s final, he lost to Edmonton’s Neil Richards, while on Sunday, he beat Richards in the semis, and Justin Gallant in the finals with a 4.89.

Racing his X-275 Chevy Malibu Daniel Rodrigue from Yarrow, BC won the class on Sunday.

The Canada West Doorslammers had 12 cars make first round on Sunday, and the finals came down to Mark Thompson’s very cool ’54 Studebaker out of Coldstream BC up against the ex-Pro Stock Camaro of Jan Christensen. Each cut his slowest light of the day, and each broke out, but Thompson broke out the least with a 7.537 on a 7.54 dial to take the win.

Mark Thompson’s very cool ’54 Studebaker was the CWDS event title winner.

Posted by Gerry Frechette

Photos by Gerry Frechette and Courtesy of MRP