NOTE: Refresh this page each time you visit it to ensure you see the latest updates
The latest update as of May 30, 2010
Day three at the Mission Raceway LODRS event
Good morning from the (not yet) sunny lower mainland of BC. The rain has stopped overnight and while the sun isn't forecast to break through until 1pm - and then only with "cloudy with sunny breaks" the temperatures will be in the mid-teens all afternoon and the next batch of wet stuff isn't due until late tonight. So, if the hard-working (and trust me, they'll more than earn their wages today) crew at Mission Raceway can do their magic and get the track in racing condition before noon, we just might get the first full event on the Division Six Lucas Oil Series calendar, done and in the books.
So I'd better put away the keyboard, grab the camera bag and start making tracks to the track if we're going to witness the race. Next update will be this evening, but most of the photos (hoping to take quite a few today) will have to wait until Monday for posting. Since I'm supposed to be at work that day, that could be somewhat problematic too. Wait and see. Wait and see. And if you can't make it out to the track, then follow the action with the reports on Drag Race Central.
10:00 pm update:
The race that refuses to die.. or finish is "scheduled" (and considering the weekend from hell that we've already endured, to use the word schedule in conjunction with this race is really a stretch) to be completed tomorrow. In the interests of "objective" (hey, it's Wilson writing, who could be more objective... other than four or five billion other inhabitants of this warm rock) reporting, we will be there to witness the conclusion, or attempted conclusion, or whatever it morphs or mutates into, bright and early starting Monday morning at 9am. While we're at it, maybe you'd be interested in some mining stocks, or buying a bridge before you'll swallow that "conclusion" statement.
Anyways, enough invective and bile for one evening, and we'll revisit this topic tomorrow after we see what develops. To say that this has literally been the race from hell is putting it mildly. The only saving grace is that so far, no one has been hurt, and the damage to the race cars has been fairly minimal.
Our first two views are of the track as the crew works at getting it ready for the scheduled 9am start.
While first indications are that all is well, a closer look downtrack shows water coming up under the rubber, like on Friday, necessitating a long, laborious scraping operation. Not a good omen for the day. On the right, we've got Don St. Arnaud's crew chief, Javid Marusich downloading and interpreting the data from the Racepak computer.
Two more views of the St. Arnaud pit area, with Serge Dion (left pic) working on the A/Fuel engine.
Turning our attention across the way to Comp Eliminator standout Rob Harrison, we see his partner, Al Lougheed, looking somewhat apprehensively at "Igor" (the engine), while in the right-side pic, we see the whole crew huddled and discussing their next move.
Before we move on, here's two more pics from Harrison's pit area, with Rob himself in the driver's seat on the right.
Okay, one more shot of Al staring intently at Igor, while Rob adjusts the air conditioning inside the car. Moving on, in the right-side pic, we've got the Sitko crew preparing the car for their second qualifying attempt.
Showing that even the "stars" can get their hands dirty, Nathan (on the right) packs his chutes. In the right pic, we've got a crewman (Dave, but I forget his last name) working on Howie Stevens' new C/A Ford Mustang.
Further down the road is the Ashwell Racing pit area, with two brothers (both drive the car) and their father Jeff, working on their ever-improving alcohol funny car.
As the clock ticks past 10 am, we turn our attention trackside and see the final preparations being made before local racer Leo Grocock, burns out and catches us off guard as he's almost out of the frame before we clicked the shutter.
As Grocock backs up from the burnout, with Bob Hafner de-icing the injector, everything looks fine. But a look at the right pic shows that all is not well behind the starting line, as Leo is shutoff with a minor oil leak.
After a quick cleanup (told you it was a minor leak) the next pair is fired, and out comes Bill Edwards Jr. blazing the hides, while in the other lane, Mike Austin backs up in the Federlin car.
On the left, Edwards pulls up to the starting line with his father/crew chief Bill Sr. directing and in the right pic leaves the line hard.
Two views of Ashley Bart, burning out and backing up prior to her first ill-fated qualifying attempt.
On the left pic we've got Ms. Bart launching the car, and if you click to see the full-size version, you'll notice that the slick(s) has grown substantially in the first few feet of the run, which ended with the blower backfiring at the 60 ft. mark, triggering the automatic parachute release and aborting the run. In the right pic, a happeir sitaution, with Joey Severance lighting 'em up on the burnout.
On the left is Shawn Cowie starting to back up after the burnout, while on the right is Severance pulling into the stage beams.
And here's the aftermath of that pairing: after Cowie nearly crashed in the right lane, racing was halted for another inspection and subsequent further scraping, dragging and spraying of both lanes to make for a safer playing field. Not helping matters at this point were the increasing temperatures which were actually working against the track. With nothing else to do while the work was being performed, it was time to cruise the staging lanes looking for photo ops, starting with the St. Arnaud A/Fuel Dragster.
Despite the delay the throng assembled around Greg Sereda's car seem to be in a jovial mood, as are the folks talking to flopper pilot Rob Atchison, as he relaxes in his van.
In the left pic, we've got driver Jeff Ashwell and long-time Northwest alky/nitro crew chief Norm Christianson talking shop. On the right, we've got Atchison's funnny car, waiting for action.
With nobody in the way, we're able to move in for a closer look at Atchison's 481X (Alan Johnson Chev) combination. A real "one-off" in NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car racing. Just across the lanes is the Ashwell Racing car with their new paint scheme.
Down the lanes a bit we encounter Clint Thompson's very quick car with another different engine combination, albeit far from the rarity of Atchison's Chev. It's an MBR (Miner Brothers Racing) combination, an evolution of the Fontana/Arias engine and it's definitely working for them.
Before we move on, here's another 3/4 rear view of Thompson's 5.5-second flopper. Then it's a pair of drivers discussing the conditions, with Brian Hough on the left and John Evanchuk on the left.
Moving on, we've got two more people talking about how much drag racing sucks, an undientified local photojournalist (who goes by the name of Bill J.) and on the right, now-nitro funny car pilot, Tim Nemeth. Then it's time to look under the hood of Nemeth's new '70 Mustang. Not exactly stock, is it?
Back to the cars, and here's two views of Tim Nemeth's nitro flop, and in case you think we've suddenly started shooting in black and white, note the red fire bottles on the car. Yes, the paint scheme is definitely monochromatic and Tim, no offense, but I'm still not totally diggin' it.
Moving back trackside again, we can see the crew still hard at work, pushing brooms and grooming the surface. No timeline yet announced on when we'll be back in action though.
Two more shots of the work progressing on the track, with the tractor dragging up and down, and the bobcat scraping up the loose rubber.
Now we've finally got some action to shoot, and to start off, it's Greg Sereda, coming (back after the burnout) and going (down the track).
Another pair of shots, this time Jeff Ashwell going (on the burnout) and coming (back to the starting line).
Yet another pair of Ashwell shots, with Todd directing Jeff into the staging beams (left) and launching (right). By the way, at this point the sun is almost breaking through and conditions are the best we've seen since Thursday.
"Big" John Evanchuk thunders through the burnout in his beautiful "Red Wolf" funny car, then backs up to the starting line.
Only one to a customer in this pairing, as on the left we've got Brian Hough burning out, while to the right is Nathan Sitko backing up after passing a random hitchiker on the track.
Brian Hough backing up alongside Nathan Sitko in the left pic, while on the right, his wife Mindy guides him into the pre-stage lights while the crew looks on intently.
And we've got action, as Hough leaves hard enroute to an early shutoff. Now we're onto the Nitro Harleys again, leading off with a burnout shot, and even though I don't know any of the bikes/riders, I can spot many-time champion, Ron Houniet, in the background.
Either someone has overcooked their burnout, or backfired a very large BBQ in the left side pic. On the right is another unidentified competitor. I'm presuming that since the harleys were brought in by the track as an exhibition class, their performances and details aren't being posted on Drag Race Central.
More harleys, burning out and launching.
Guess what? Yes sir, more harleys.
And we finish the harley parade with a rolling fog bank on the left and a pair of hogs leaping off the line on the right.
Back to the four wheel action, with Tim Nemeth's nitro car burning out and backing up.
On the left is one more look at Nemeth's car as he prepares to launch, and then, with the qualifying session(s) over, it was time to head for the pits and do a damage survey. First stop: Sitko Family pits, where the presence of the entire Hugh Ridley indicated that everything was not well at all.
The presence of a spare long block on the tray and ready to move into the engine bay indicates that this is serious, and the enlarged crew rapidly disassembling and disconnecting everything connected to the engine confirms it.
One last look at the thrash on the Sitko car before we move on to the work going on in the Ashley Bart pits.
On the left we've got half the crew scraping the gasket remnants off the base of the blower, while a damaged piston lays forlornly on a work table. A dropped valve due to the instant tire spin on the starting line appears to be the culprit.
To the left, we've got the partially disassembled engine in Bart's car and on the right her "411 Bart" cowl rests in the grass.
Back to the staging lanes in the sun, and we spy the only SS/AH '68 Barracuda on the grounds, Mike Booker, from Washington state. Great classic hemi super stock car, and it runs as well as it looks. An 8.53 e.t. is pretty fair.
Out on the track we've got Washington's Shawn Blair with his SS/JA '68 Dart, burning out and then bringing the wheels up.
Next up is (almost) local Jim Isherwood from Sumas, with his classic '67 Belvedere SS/DA. Runs low 9's and does great wheelstands. Unfortunately, waiting for the exact moment to catch the shot caused me to almost miss it. Oops again.
Here comes Mike Booker with his mid-8 second 'Cuda, staging and standing up for the photographers.
Two pairs of wheelstanding super stocks now; wsinning the altitude contest is Seattle veteran Alan Falcone (who's barely in the picture on the left.
In the best possible pairing in qualifying for Top Dragster, we've got BC's Neil Lachelt in the purple and white flamed car, and Washington's Quentin Chambers in the red car. The two quickest and fastest cars in the class.
We've seen the wheelstanding super stocks, so now it's time for the wheelstanding comp cars. First up (on the left) is Jeff Lane in the very competitive Hancock & Lane B/SMA Cobalt. The right side pic is Gary Anderson in his F/SM Cavalier.
By the way, can you believe that Wilson is actually taking pictures of Chevrolet vehicles with Chev engines? Will wonders never cease? Or is the first sign of early onset dementia? Who said "too late for that"?
Not quite as high up in the left pic is Brandon Huhtala in his C/A Cutlass, while local favourite Bob Marshall is not even off the ground with his very quick B/AA GXP. Oh he's smoking the tires too. Oh, it's a burnout. That explains it.
Now he is going to be mad: accidentally (okay, I flat out missed it) clipped the fender on Marshall's launch, but I did catch Phil Cocuzza's California A/SMA Cobalt in full flight.
Here's two views of Delta's Terry Spargo in his mid-6 second A/AP Cavalier; firstly backin up and airing out the interior after a burnout, then launching with the wheels up just like the small block guys.
Calgary's "Rickie D" lights the tires up big time again, (yeah I know, zoom out a little more), then backs off less than 100 ft. off the starting line on another aborted pass.
It's Harrison time, as North Vancouver's Rob Harrison thunders through another burnout, then backs up under the direction of wife Dolly.
Yeah, yeah, two more pics of Harrison, backing up still, then launching so quickly that we couldn't keep him entirely in the frame. Did I mention that he's almost a neighbour of mine? Oh, it's that obvious?
Moving into Top Sportsman qualifying (I think, because the schedule is so screwed up no one knows what's happening) we've got Alberta's Jason Padd in his Camaro on the left and Daryl Hemley in his low 7-second Cavalier on the right.
Quite a contrast between these next two shots; on the left is Bob Israelson's 200-mph '63 Corvette, while to the right is something I haven't done for a year or two: take a picture of the ground. Stuff happens; what can I say?
Moving back to the staging lanes for a look at the cars and drivers before the final qualifying session in Top Alcohol Dragster and the first round of eliminations in Top Alcohol Funny Car, we first spot the Shawn Cowie - Mundie's Towing car, from the front and rear.
Moving on we see the local dragster of Leo Grocock waiting in the lanes, while in the right side pic, we've got (left to right) Lori Hafner, Paul Tarasenko and Leo himself, suiting up.
On the left we see Division Six Tech guy Dave Dowhanik checking the fuel, while car owner Bill Edwards looks on. In the right pic we've got fan-friendly Dale Carlson posing for a souvenir picture with a couple of spectators.
Rick Bart (Ashley's dad) jumps out of her dragster as they stop in the staging lanes in the left side pic, while in the middle pic, part owner Bob Meek kneels to check over the engine before their run and on the left side, we've got Ashley getting into her firesuit while father Rick gets the Hans device ready to strap on her.
Finally we've got some on track action for the fast cars, and Mission's Leo Grocock leads off. On the left we can see him backing up after the burnout and everything looks fine, but on the right, just after the launch, it looks like some serious trouble is brewing, doesn't it? You've got to check out the full-size image to really see what's happening.
On to Shawn Cowie, laying down a big burnout, then launching to a low-qualifying (for now) 5.40 pass.
There's still a few dozen more pics to come, but I need a break. Check back later for more updates.
Dale Carlson in the Hugh Ridley T/AD burns out hard and launches hard.
A pair of Alberta cars are up next, with Greg Sereda's blown alky car burning out on the left and Don St. Arnaud's injected nitro piece backing up on the right.
Back to a single subject now, with Mike Austin burning out and launching in the Steve & Patty Federlin T/AD
"What not to do when your husband is burning out": Here, Mindy Hough is walking down the track on the "hot" side of the wall, with her back to the car while hubby Brian is burning out. I'm not going to say anymore about this on this page today. In the photo on the right, everyone is safely positioned behind the car as it launches
Ontario's Rob Atchison (the long-distance award winner - if there was one anymore) burns out (most of the smoke happened after he passed my vantage point), then launches hard.
On the left, first-time visitors to Mission Raceway, the Ashwell Family team from Oregon, with driver Jeff pulling into the staging beams and on the right, many-time Mission competitor, John Evanchuk, puts the "Red Wolf" car through the burnout.
Here's two shots of a first-round matchup between fellow Edmontonian's Nathan Sitko (white car) and John Evanchuk (red car). In the left photo, they're staging and on the right, they're side-by-side at the 200 ft. mark, before near-disaster struck Sitko, when an oil leak put the car nearly sideways before Nathan saved it.
In the left pic you can see the pit-sdie grandstand is still reasonably well occupied, despite the starting to look threatening weather, while the cleanup crew (right pic) deals with the aftermath of Nathan Sitko's first round pass, and you can see by the numbers still on the scoreboard that it wasn't exactly stellar, once the oil started getting under the tires.
After the cleanup it was on to the first round of Nitro Harley eliminations with a launch and burnout in the first pair of pics.
Two more harleys; one launching and one burning out.
Back to the pits for a quick check and there's a buzz of activity in Rob Harrison's space as the Division Six tech people are certifying him for another national record: this time for 176.12 mph in J/A, and he already holds the e.t. record in the class at 7.61. On the right is former longtime Div. Six tech director, Jerry Valentine, enjoying being back at the races as a spectator.
Before we leave the Harrison pits, here's another shot of the team, with partner Al Lougheed leaning against the trailer, while Rob Harrison fills out some of the record certifying paperwork. To the right, we've got... Warren Johnson? Well, it was Warren's car before local doorslammer veteran Bob "Koko-Motion" Kokotailo bought it. It was on display to help the "Make-A-Wish" foundation.
While the track was down for yet another rain shower, something of a summit meeting was occuring on the starting line, involving the starter, the division director and the track manager. When things got going a little later, first out of the box was comp eliminator star Robbie Harrison, seen here whipping "Igor" through another punishing burnout.
And here's Harrison's first round opponent, fellow North Shore resident Howie Stevens, out with his three-years-in-the-making '09 Mustang (hold on, the math doesn't add up...). Unfortunately for Howie, he was so anxious to beat Harrison that he red-lighted away his chances and gave Rob a free pass into the quarter-finals.
Two final shots of Rick DiStefano's new Camaro, prior to another aborted pass in the first round. If he can just get the car launched and through low gear.....
Now onto Top Sportsman, with Cranbrook's Andy Cawte burning out in his very chopped '57 Chevy on the left, while veteran Bob Israelson smokes the hides in his '63 Corvette on the right.
Finally on to the first round of eliminations in Top Alcohol Dragster, under very dark and very threatening skies as you can see, and the first pair out of the lanes is Joey Severance (seen in these two photos) and Dale Carlson.
In the left photo, we see the first pair of T/AD's staging, with Dale Carlson on the left and Joey Severance on the right. In the photo on the right, a wheelstanding Joey Severance leaves the starting line.
As the skies grew ever darker, Mike Austin came out in the Federlin (against local Leo Grocock) and got some serious wheel speed going at the start of his burnout in the left side picture, while he leaves hard with the front wheels just off the ground in the right-side pic.
Yes, this is the last pair. Featuring two local racers at opposite ends of the spectrum: on the left, we've got a leaking Leo Grocock being pushed back from his first round of eliminations attempt, while on the right, Rob Harrison leaves with the wheels up for an automatic first round victory over a red-lighting Howie Stevens.
To see previous updates go to the What's Old page