A post race synopsis from an annual top Canadian racing attraction – direct from fabled Cayuga Dragway!!….

The biggest concern heading into the 14th annual Nitro Nationals at TMP, was the weather — All week the forecasts were sketchy but come Friday morning the pits were filled with race cars of every type.

The very formidable 2-car Paton Racing Team with drivers Todd Paton and Cameron Ferrè got top billing for the Canadian Nitro Nationals. Ferre (bottom photo) recorded the quickest time of the event at 3.99 secs.

Day one began with an afternoon of testing and tuning for a good portion of the cars in attendance. By 8 pm the stands were filled with eager drag racing fans!

First up, The True North Gassers and they put on an excellent show! Straight axles cars with early and mid fifties Chevys, Willys, and a 62 Ford Econoline pickup that hauls ass.

Numerous category “Gassers” were in attendance

Blown AA/GS cars rumbled to the line after the TRG gang were done bringing the house down. John and Aaron Reid run the circuit with their killer 33 Willys JAR Racing. They lined up against the beautiful 48 Anglia of Brian Spotts named “It’s CRAZY”. JAR won that 8th mile duel. Next the 41 Willys of Ken Sherwood against the 49 Austin of the Kirker Bros out of Western New York. The SPUNKY MONKEY Wills turned on the win light. Completing this round of double A Gas was a pair of 51 Henry J gassers, one powered by a Hemi and the other a big block Chevy. Andrew Kimber in the Punisher tangled with Michael Campolucci wheeling the HEMI J.

An interesting match race involving George Monahan’s Arrow Funny Car with injected HEMI powered going against Perry Carey in the BLACK GOLD front engine dragster. The flopper spit out the drive shaft after a wicked burn out leaving Perry to make a single. With a small dose of pop the headers were belching flames as he flew down the historic Cayuga quarter-mile.

Next we moved seamlessly into Nostalgia Alky Funny Cars and they did not disappoint.

Jon Wall drives the vintage “Firebird Monza” Funny Car

Krista Massarella in the family’s Temporary Insanity Monza went at it with the IRON OUTLAW Mustang of Jami Russell. Another Monza had Jon Wall at the controls of the historic FIREBALL MONZA. Krista ran her first 200 MPH pass at last year’s event .These old school funny cars looked like they did in their era, unlike some today.

The small block high winding Fords of Chad Stevens and his brother Damian were next followed by the CJR Hell Cats of Kris Jacobs and Cory WIlliams. These two completely smoked in the starting line with awesome burnouts followed by 9 second bonsai blasts down the quarter mile.

One of the CJR Hellcats smokes in the starting line at Cayuga!

The crowd loved it but now it’s JET CAR TIME! Neale Armstrong with new graphics on the NORTHERN WARRIOR Jet Dragster laid down a fantastic  low 6-second pass setting the stage for the HELL FIRE Jet Truck of Russ Lethbridge. Russ pushed the over three ton beast to 215 MPH!

Day two dawned with no rain but heavy humidity. Running a bracket program along with the show made for a long day for everyone involved.

Can Am Super Stock and Stock were the first cars I called to the lanes and 30 entries made the first round. When the dust had settled for the final round we saw Tony “The BANDITO” Valerio’s 68 stick Camaro dueling the legend, Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame inductee Chuck Nagy in his Barretta. Nagy took the close win and stopped on the return road to toss t-shirts into the crowd. A class act.

Can Am Stock/Super Stock circuit winner – Chuck Nagy

Top Fuel was next called to the lanes and the Fast Eddie Racewear Engineered Racing sponsored team consisting of Todd Paton and Cameron Ferre soon had their candles lit and stunning the sold out crowd with amazing performances. The unforgettable Smax Smith wheeling the Leverage Family dragster made a single as the other Mob car was ailing.

The fans sure love the Nitro Cars and Paul Noakes in the Gary Kraus owned AA/FA took on Marc White in the Drastic Plastic to continue to give them their fix.

Mark White (top) and Paul Noakes wheeled the event’s featured AA/FAs.

Rob Brown astride his NITRO Harley Davidson blasted down the track after a monster burnout! 8.05 @152 was his time.

Nostalgia Funny Cars appeared next with the Iron Outlaw Mustang ll recording a 6.94 @198 only to lose to the Temporary Insanity’s 6.88 @203. The uber cool Vega called Generation X with Robin Stambaugh behind the butterfly took on the FIREBALL MONZA. Both cars had trouble on the run but still performed amazing burnouts!

Long time Ontario-based racers Larry Sinke and Fred Speight have teamed up with a Fiat altered with HEMI power and they matched up against Larry Dobbs alky Funny car with Ryan Stack at the controls. The altered proved no match for the fliptop as Stack ran 6.03 @211.11 to seal the deal.

The new Fiat campaigned by Fred Speight and Larry Sinke – made it’s Nitro Nationals event debut.

A couple of turbo Suzukis pulled into the waterbox next. Jesse Vanbetlehem and Regan Pallett laid down some killer passes with Regan’s 7.34 @190 being the best. Jesse has gone 204 in the past.

The double A Gassers ran next and put on an excellent show for the fans and they were followed by the True North Gassers with their unique slant on the sport. They have fun!!

Continuing with the show, Paul Bhawan with his 79 Datsun 280ZX sporting a huge turbo attempted to harness all that power and on his second attempt put down a serious four second eighth mile time.

A JR Dragster exhibition featuring Kami Scott, Carter Daniels, and Payton Kiss against Cole Ferri followed. Cory Williams and Kris Jakob finished off the early show with a smoke show for the ages.

The brackets ran in between show times. Super Pro, Mod, Street, Bike/Sled and Juniors did not have enough time to complete eliminations so the money was split.

OUTLAW 1/8th Mile/ Fast 16 Shootout was tried for the first time at this event (below photo) and looking at the entries, fast door cars, altereds, and dragsters, this class will continue to grow.

The second show mirrors the first with the addition of the Wheel-stander of Rick and Piper Ream. It’s a 1950 Bullet Nose Studebaker Fire Truck spewing sparks from the front fenders and flames out the back combined with the wailing siren and flashing lights and fireworks shooting out to the top. What a show! The fans ate it up!

This unique wheel-stander owned by Rick and Piper Ream. is a 1950 Bullet Nose Studebaker Fire Truck!

Round #2 Nitro comes next! Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame member Paul Noakes rode the Pegasus to a win over the Drastic Plastic.

Top Fuel kept the fans in the stands as both Smax and Aidan Heatley Smith in the Ant Hill Mob car lined up together with Smax getting the victory with an off pace 9.21.

Aidan Heatley-Smith drives the Ontario-based “Ant Hill Mob” Top Fuel car.

The Paton team are racing this year in memory of “The Captain” Barry Paton who passed away earlier this year. Todd Paton and Cameron Ferre left the line as one and while Todd had to lift early — Ferre made an impressive 3.99 secs 1000 ft pass with the header flames glowing!

Neale Armstrong in the now Engineered Race Service sponsored Jet Dragster laid down a 6.228 @ 256.66 followed by the last run of the day, and the event it turned out. Russ Lethbridge ignited the crowd with an amazing display of power. The timers read 7.732 @ 215.72 for the HellFire big rig.

Neale Armstrong (top) and Russ Lethbridge closed out the racing each evening.

Fireworks capped the evening and just like that — another Nitro Nationals is in the books.

Some personal observations — I have never seen so many t-shirts tossed into the stands by races and TMP staff. The entire staff worked their tails off and I am proud of what our team accomplished. Special congrats to Joe and Robin Ferrari on their engagement and Happy Birthday to FJ Smith.

In closing I am grateful the weather held for two thirds of the race and look out for next year!!

Posted by Rob Potter
Photos courtesy of Stacee Richards & John Brown