Canada’s largest annual Lucas Oil presented drag race event is completed at Mission Raceway….

Once again this year, NHRA and Mission Raceway Park elected to run the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event, the 26th annual Lordco B.C. Nationals, Canada’s biggest NHRA race, as a double header for all but the two alcohol classes, with two complete races June 20-23. 

With an unfavourable weather forecast for Sunday, the second race was completed on Saturday, and the winners were led by Top Alcohol drivers Shawn Cowie and Brian Hough.

For Cowie, who has won this event the past three years on the way to runner-up finishes in the NHRA Lucas Oil Top Alcohol Dragster Championship, it was his race to lose, as the three other cars in attendance weren’t running the kind of times he was. One of them, the A/Fuel car of  Kim Parker, has been in the five-teens at Mission, but had issues this year, holding it back. Of the other two, Casey Grisel from California ran well with 5.30s including a 5.35 in the final, while Red Deer, Alberta’s Mike Quayle is still working out the combination on a limited schedule, with a best of 5.66.

Cowie ran 5.23, 5.19 and 5.21 in qualifying, and then 5.20 and 5.21 in elims, all from 277-279 mph, to leave no doubt. Afterward, he claimed to be running it “safe” and decided not to risk the parts to try to run quicker than his 5.15 best in the great weather (cloudy, below 20 degrees, little humidity, sea-level conditions.) 

Hometown star – Shawn Cowie – continued his impressive winning ways at Mission Raceway last weekend.

As for Top Alcohol Funny Car, there were only two cars entered, but they were two of the best, the 5.30s-capable Camaros driven by Brian Hough and Chris Marshall from Oregon. Hough ran 5.52 and 5.50 in qualifying after testing in the 5.40s, while Marshall had only one complete run, a 5.54. So, on paper, the final should have been a close race, but Hough unloaded a 5.43, the new track and Canadian TAFC record, while Marshall blew it up in a big way on what looked like a good pass.

Only two TAFC racers showed at Mission (but both were high quality cars). Brian Hough (near lane) topped Chris Marshall for the event win.

In the 11 other eliminators, the pickings were slim for Canadians in the first race on Friday, with only five finalists over three categories. In Super Gas, it was the two veterans, Casey Plaizier of Stony Plain, AB and Ed Hutchinson of Victoria, B.C. meeting up in their Corvette roadsters. For Hutchinson, he had the better light (.007 to Plaizier’s .014) and all he had to do was run like he did the previous few runs. But he went .007 under at 9.893, making Plaizier’s 9.937 the winner.

Friday’s S/G final saw two Canadian drivers featured with Casey Plaizier beating Ed Hutchinson

In Sportsman Motorcycle, Mission regular Al Omond of Abbotsford fouled out to a runner-up finish, while in Pro ET, relative newcomer Lorenz Schwarz of Langley drove his Monte Carlo to the victory over Chris Stone’s Dart, with a .009 light and a run .004 over his dial, for a 13-thou package.

Things improved for Team Canada on Saturday, with nine finalists in seven eliminators, and four of them taking Wallys home. The biggest news was the all-Saskatchewan final in Super Stock, with Saskatoon’s Sheldon Erfle taking on Regina’s Grant Singer. Erfle had beaten two of the Northwest hitters, Jody Lang and Cody Lane, in his GT/JA Olds, benefiting from a break-out and a red light along the way, before taking a close decision over Caitlin Setters in the semis. Meanwhile, Singer was lucky that his first two opponents broke out and fouled, before he put it together in the SS/BS Camaro with great leaves and right-on-the-dial runs to make the final. There, both drivers broke out, but Singer’s .022 foul made it academic, and the Wally was won by Sheldon Erfle.

Saskatoon’s Sheldon Erfle won Super Stock on Saturday in his consistent Olds Achieva.

Mike Shannon from Kelowna, B.C. has won his share of NHRA races in both Super Comp and Super Gas, but he has sold his Corvette (to Josh Mellof who went a few rounds on Friday) and converted the SC car to run Top Dragster. After losing in Round 3 on Friday with a shut-off run, he took it all the way to the winner’s circle on Saturday. He got lucky in Round 3 when his opponent fouled, and had the single in Round 4, but in the final he out-reacted and ran closer to his 7.04 dial than his opponent did, for the decisive victory.

Recent convert to Top Dragster – Mike Shannon (from Kelowna, B.C) – came away a winner racing his RPM Automotive dragster.

Top Sportsman saw Joe Mellof of Maple Ridge, B.C. make his triumphant return to racing after several years off putting his kids through junior racing and tending to his business. In his newly-acquired ’08 Pontiac GXP, he benefited greatly from his first four opponents cutting relatively slow reaction times, until the final. There, Tom Patterson of Lorette, Manitoba, who went eight rounds over the course of the weekend, fouled by only .003 seconds to hand the win to Mellof.

Joe Mellof of Maple Ridge, B.C (near lane) made a triumphant return to drag racing – winning in TS with his newly acquired GXP.

In Super Gas, Calgary’s Dave Archambault had his new ’57 Chevy roadster out and running consistently, but cut his worst light in the final and lost despite a 9.902, while in Super Street, Langley B.C.’s Brad Vinje broke out by one thou. Even if he had run 10.900, he still would have lost by 3 thou, based on RT’s.

Veteran Mission Super Pro runner Martin Rachel of Surrey, B.C. took the very narrow .012-second victory in his ’78 Malibu over Dylan Hough, 16 year-old son of Brian, in his first race out of Junior cars, in his new SC dragster. Al Omond once again made the final in Sportsman Motorcycle, and once again lost, this time on a double break-out. 

Martin Rachel of Surrey, B.C. took the very narrow victory in his ’78 Malibu over young gun 16-year old Dylan Hough – in Super Pro racing.

So, in summary, the Mission Lucas Oil event was once again a success, in terms of everything but number of entries in the alcohol classes, a situation which seems to be getting common at West Coast events. There are more than enough TAD cars both in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest to have made at least an eight-car field here, although we doubt there are eight TAFC cars left in the area — bottom line — not a good situation.

Ryan Warter (from Seattle) scored in NHRA’s Competition eliminator category driving that team’s timeless “Joint Venture” F/SM Camaro.

On the other hand, the growth in Top Dragster and Top Sportsman is exciting, and it was good to see so many racers make the trek over the mountains from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The double-header concept appears to be working well, and we expect to see it continue.

Posted by Gerry Frechette

Photos by Gerry Frechette and Les Puchala

To view the RAD Torque Systems presented LMLCMedia event photo gallery from this race – click :  HERE