The sixth of eight events on the MalloryPrint.com Southwest Heritage Racing Association tour brought the series to Ardmore Dragway in Ardmore, Oklahoma to headline their 9th annual Ardmore Dragway Reunion on Saturday, August 30th. With all five SHRA classes in action, over 100 cars packed the pits eager to do some old school drag racing on a hot and humid summer afternoon in southern Oklahoma.
Tera W. Graves, Bee Godwin, Dusty Rose, Russell Cook & Joe Elmore came into the event leading the points standings of their respective classes but by the conclusion of this event some new names found their way to the top of the charts. Nostalgia Eliminator teams felt the pressure in Ardmore as just two events remained to earn Shootout points during qualifying and some drivers were in critical need of points to earn a spot in this special race within a race later this season.
In the 4.65 index Nostalgia Eliminator 1 class, Tera W. Graves came into Ardmore with a firm grasp on not only the series points lead, but also the lead in the Good Vibrations Motorsports NE 1 Shootout standings. W. Graves was able to qualify third with a clean 4.754 at 147 mph and would take on number six qualifier Dale McKee in first round. Jason O’Neill wheeled the “Bad Behavior” blown altered to a 4.751 at 144 mph to qualify second and earn a date with Adam Smith in round one. Chris Graves, winner from Ardmore Dragway back in May, put the “Blown Inheritance” front engine dragster in the number one qualifying position with a 4.69 at 150 mph and would face Steve Matthews in the opening round. San Antonio winner Richard Brady rounded out the top half of the eight car field as qualifying concluded.
First round action got underway with Gary Ballard and Richard Brady squaring off in their beautiful injected slingshot dragsters. Ballard stepped up to a 4.81 at 142 mph, but it came up just short to Brady’s winning 4.75 at 146 mph. Steve Matthews lit the red bulb at the starting line with a close -.012 reaction time, while Chris Graves laid down a 4.69 at 150 to advance. Matthews’ 4.78 earned him the Hayden Enterprises “Closest to Index Rd. 1 Loser” bonus. Tera W. Graves posted a stout .001 reaction time, which earned her the Good Vibrations Motorsport “Quick Light” bonus and coupled that with a 4.69 at 149 mph to get around Dale McKee’s 4.94 at 141 mph. In the final pair, number two qualifier Jason O’Neill ran into problems after his burnout and was forced to shutoff, allowing Adam Smith to solo into the semi-finals with a 4.85 at 144 mph in the “Adam Bomb” blown dragster.
The semi-final kicked off with Richard Brady and Adam Smith bringing their front engine dragsters to the line. Smith took a nice starting line advantage but his 4.84 at 145 mph wasn’t enough to hold off Brady’s hard charging 4.75 at 144 mph as Brady moved into his second straight SHRA NE 1 final round. Husband and wife duo of Chris & Tera Graves were out next to see who would advance to the finals to face Brady. Chris Graves used a bit of starting line strategy to gain the reaction time advantage he needed as his 4.68 at 150 mph took out Tera’s 4.68 at 149 mph. Graves moved into his second final of the season and hoped to sweep Ardmore Dragway in 2014 with a win, while Brady and company aimed to win their second straight NE 1 event victory.
The sun had set and the NE 1 final round was set to go down under the lights at Ardmore Dragway after a hot and full day of racing. Graves and Brady came to the line after side by side burnouts and at the flash of amber, Graves took a slight starting line advantage. Brady pulled ahead early but Graves closed the gap and at the stripe Graves’ 4.730 at 149 mph was enough to take the win over Brady’s very close 4.739 at 144 mph.
Chris Graves made up ground on his wife and points leader Tera W. Graves but still trails the leader by sixty five points with two events remaining this season. Brady has catapulted into the top ten with back to back finals and Steve Matthews, Dale McKee and Jason O’Neill round out the top five. The Good Vibrations Motorsports NE 1 Shootout standings are very tight at the bottom with Steve Dunkin and Gary Ballard currently in the field in seventh and eighth, but Clay Cunningham, Ron Muncy and Kenny Stroud all have a fair shot at a position in the top eight. The qualifying efforts of these particular racers will be critical at the next SHRA event, Oct 4th at North Star Dragway in Denton, Texas.
“I’d like to thank the staff of SHRA and Ardmore Dragway for yet another great event. My crew did an awesome job today and we had a good hot rod and good tuning calls from my dad David. Thanks to my partners Rich Howell and Allen Meyer for their support and to my sponsor Competition Sales of Dallas. It’s been three long years with this car but I think we finally got a handle on it and hope to rack up another win or two before the season ends,” said Graves.
NOSTALGIA ELIMINATOR 2:
The 5.00 Nostalgia Eliminator 2 category brought it’s largest field of the season to Ardmore Dragway as defending series Champion and points leader Bee Godwin had to be on his game as competitor Tommy Drozd was steadily making up ground with a class leading four final round appearances heading into Ardmore. Godwin’s 5.02 led the field of nine with his second number one qualifying effort of the season, which also earned him the full sixteen points towards the Meyer Enterprises NE 2 Shootout which he also leads over Tommy Drozd. Ted McCord wheeled the “Senior Moment” injected nitro slingshot dragster to the number two qualifying position with a 5.035 followed closely by Drozd’s 5.036. Thomas Hixson and the “One Wild Ride” team secured the number four spot with a 5.11 as the teams returned to the pits to prepare for the opening round of eliminations.
The first round was underway with a competition bye run for Tommy Drozd who posted a 5.21 at 107 mph to advance after his opponent Rick Taylor was unable to fire. Drozd cut a .017 reaction time earning him the Howards Cams “Quick Light” bonus. Thomas Hixson, who was racing with a heavy heart after the tragic loss of his son Wesley earlier in the summer, earned a first round win with a 5.09 at 117 mph over Bruce Bruno Jr’s 5.54. Mike Mauldin, in his first SHRA appearance of the season, snuck past Ted McCord who’s 4.94 at 130 mph broke out to Mauldin’s winning 5.21 at 131 mph. Bruce Dodson used a 5.14 at 133 mph to take out Russell Ballew’s 5.44 at 124 mph and Bee Godwin posted a 5.04 in a bye run to move into the second round.
Round two of NE 2 started with a bye run for Mike Mauldin who was semi-final round bound in his first SHRA start of the season as his 5.22 at 131 mph moved on. Thomas Hixson and Bee Godwin were out next in a great match-up that was decided on the starting line as Godwin went -.003 red, wasting his 5.02 at 135 mph while Hixson advanced with a 4.98 at 137 mph. Tommy Drozd used a holeshot to win with a 5.18 at 126 mph to Bruce Dodson’s quicker but loosing 5.14 at 133 mph as Mauldin, Godwin and Hixson moved into the semis.
With Godwin out, Tommy Drozd had an open door to close ground in the points chase and with a bye run in the semi-final that gap started to disappear for Godwin. Drozd laid down a 4.95 at 132 on his bye run to move into the final round to face the winner between Thomas Hixson and Mike Mauldin. Mauldin was off the line first, but Hixson had the ponies at the top end as his 5.08 at 124 drove around Mauldin’s 5.20 at 131 mph. Drozd was heading to his class leading fifth NE 2 final round while Hixson was making a memorable trip to his second final of the season.
For Hixson this final meant the world, with the memory of his son Wesley on his mind as he hoped to pull of the win in honor of him. Drozd had the chance to not only steal the points lead from Godwin, but add to the damage with a win in Ardmore. The cars came to life and after their burnouts the crews sent the cars to the line. At the flash of amber it was all over for Drozd who jumped the gun with a red light, while celebration erupted on the starting line as the “One Wild Ride” team watched Hixson click off a 5.07 at 130 mph to earn their first SHRA NE 2 event win of the season.
“Eight weeks ago after my life changed forever, I decided I was finished racing. I could not imagine working in my shop much less driving a race car. With the help of my racing and firefighter brotherhood, and their words of encouragement, I decided to get back in the car. I would like to dedicate this win to my son, Wesley, who I love and miss so much. I know he was there with me. I would like to thank my crew Scott LaFleur and Ken Drake, SHRA, Mallory Screen-print, my sponsors Red Truck Promos and FDT’s, along with the many other sponsors of the series. Thanks to all the racers that stopped by our pits to welcome me back. Keeping my mind occupied is the best therapy right now, doing something I truly love, it was a great win for us!” said Hixson.
In the 5.50 index Nostalgia Eliminator 3 class, Dusty Rose entered Ardmore the hottest driver in the class with four final round appearances and two wins helping him maintain his points lead over defending class Champion Doug Morrison and the points hungry Gary Mitchell. Ron Walden set the pace in NE 3 with a “perfect” 5.50 at 124 mph followed closely by Dusty Rose’ 5.51 and Carl Johnson’s 5.53. Doug Morrison, Michael Anderson and Charles Cathcart led the top half of the twelve car field into eliminations. After qualifying in Ardmore, Dusty Rose maintained his points lead in the AlkyDigger.com NE 3 Shootout standings. Carl Johnson made the 272 mile trip to Ardmore, earning him the Harry’s Hot Rod Truck & Accessories Nostalgia Eliminator “Long Haul” bonus.
In opening round action, Ron Walden took the win over a red lighting Robert Springstead. Charles Cathcart also benefitted from a red light, this one from Don Holley, which sent Cathcart to the next round. The red bulbs kept coming as Rick Carrell moved on after Michael Anderson left too soon. The fourth pair of the round brought two green lights to the table as Gary Mitchell and Doug Morrison squared off in a huge match-up. These two entered Ardmore tied for second in the NE 3 points standings. In a double break-out, Mitchell’s 5.48 at 124 advanced over Morrison’s 5.47 at 121 mph. Morrison’s .018 reaction time earned him the Competition Products “Quick Light” bonus. Carl Johnson took the round win over Don Madron who had issues on the starting line. Dusty Rose closed the round on a bye run where he laid down a 5.47 at 121 to advance.
Gary Mitchell and Ron Walden kicked off round two of NE 3 with Walden having issues at the starting line, his 5.56 at 111 losing to Mitchell’s 5.62 at 113 mph. Mitchell secured the number two position in points at this point. Dusty Rose and Rick Carrell duked it out in a great race, a double break-out, with Rose’ 5.49 at 119 mph advancing over Carrell’s 5.46 at 122 mph. Charles Cathcart’s luck continued as another red light sent him to the next round, this time by Carl Johnson, who’s -.019 ended his day despite a nice 5.53 time slip to Cathcart’s 5.70 at 117.
The semi-finals of NE 3 were ready to go with young gun Dusty Rose lined up against veteran drag racer Charlie Cathcart. Rose had to play catch up off the line but his 5.65 at 108 mph held off Cathcart’s 5.74 at 117 mph as Rose was final round bound in Ardmore. Rose would take on Gary Mitchell in the final as Mitchell benefitted from a bye run, posting a 5.49 at 124 to advance. Mitchell looking to take his first career SHRA event win, while Rose and the “Foggy Mountain Special” team hoped to win their third NE 3 event of the season.
A friendly rivalry between Dusty Rose and Gary Mitchell had been developing all season and this one meant a lot to both racers. Mitchell, starving for an SHRA win, while Rose hoped to keep the bragging rights for himself. The cars came to life and anticipation mounted on the starting line as the cars crept into the beams. Rose took the starting line advantage but Mitchell was closing the gap by half-track. At the stripe, Mitchell broke out with a 5.48 at 124 mph while Rose posted a 5.51 at 113 mph to take the win light.
Rose and company now hold a comfortable lead in the NE 3 Championship standings with Gary Mitchell proudly representing the number two spot and Doug Morrison rounding out the top three. Tight close racing has been the story in NE 3 all season and that will surely continue in the final two events of the season and extra drama will unfold at the SHRA Finals in November for those battling in the AlkyDigger.com NE 3 Shootout.
A great turnout of 43 cars invaded Ardmore Dragway’s SHRA Old School No Electronics class with Joe Elmore leading the points entering the event. Parts attrition unfortunately kept Elmore from attending this event, which opened the door for top fivers Jim Baughan, Stephen Foster, Brad Thompson and Sam Barker to make a move. In the opening round, Brad Thompson and Sam Barker made an early exit while Foster and Baughan moved into round two. Gary Hinkle lost first round with the best package, earning him the Equipment Sales & Service of Texas bonus.
By the quarter-finals, six cars were still alive as Jay Casey was set to take on Mark Renfroe in the first pairing. Renfroe went -.004 red as Casey moved on in his 1967 Ford Mustang with a 6.57 at 103 mph. Johnny Richmond brought his 1978 Malibu up against John Wilson in his 1967 Camaro. Wilson jumped the tree with a -.047 light as Richmond cruised to the round win with a 6.90 at 97 mph. In the final pair of the quarter-finals, Virgil Gaither snuck past new points leader Jim Baughan as Baughan went -.019 red.
The semi-final of Old School No Electronics kicked off with Jay Casey taking out Virgil Gaither with a 6.61 at 100 mph on a 6.57 dial. Casey moved into the final round to take on Johnny Richmond who had a bye run and posted a 6.91 on a 6.90 dial in what shaped up to be a great final round match-up.
Johnny Richmond’s Malibu and Jay Casey’s Mustang crept to the starting line, the winner leaving with the big pay day and first career SHRA event win. Richmond had the reaction time advantage with a nice .003 and was dialed a 6.91. At the stripe, Richmond’s 6.92 at 95 defeated Jay Casey who dialed a 6.59 but broke out with a 6.58 at 103 mph. Congratulations to Johnny Richmond on his first SHRA event win.
Jim Baughan was able to go three rounds in Old School No Electronics competition and assumed the points lead by thirty one points over Joe Elmore. Stephen Foster, Brad Thompson and John Wilson round out the top five and all stand a chance at the 2014 class Championship with two events remaining.
OLD SCHOOL ELECTRONICS:
A strong field of twenty eight entrants came to compete in the SHRA Old School Electronics bracket at Ardmore. Russell Cook entered the event as the points leader with Bobby Taylor, Jim Baughan, Dean Johnson and Keith Darrow securing spots in the top five. Jim Baughan, yes the same Jim Baughan who’s leading the No Electronics class, lost in the opening round of Electronics at Ardmore, but held onto his position in the top five. Tom Sutton lost first round with the best package in his 1963 Nova, earning him the Equipment Sales & Service of Texas bonus. Larry Young made the 377 mile trip from El Campo, Texas with his 1962 Chevy Nova which earned him the Robinson Restoration & Service Bracket “Long Haul” bonus.
By the quarter-final round of Old School Electronics, seven cars remained as T.J. Clements was ready to take on points leader Russell Cook. In an extremely good race, Cook’s 5.874 on a 5.87 lost to Clements’ 6.416 on a 6.41 but Clements had .003 advantage on the tree and needed all of it to take out Cook. Wes Breiten red lit by -.006 in his 1965 MG to send Dean Johnson to the next round who went 5.401 on a 5.40. Ross Ragland took the win light with a 7.57 on a 7.56 in his Vega after Barney Thurman broke out with a 5.20 on a 5.22. Rhonda Trietsch moved on in a bye run in her 1967 Camaro with a 5.69 at 120 mph in her first career SHRA appearance.
T.J. Clements continued his terror on the SHRA regulars as he took out Ardmore winner from May, Dean Johnson, in the semi-finals in another incredible race. Johnson was .001 on the tree and put together a 5.413 on a 5.40 dial but lost to Clements’ stunning 6.410 on a 6.41 as Clements moved into his first career SHRA final round. Rhonda Trietsch also advanced to her first career SHRA final by taking out a red lighting Ross Ragland as we were now guaranteed a first time SHRA winner in Old School Electronics.
In the final, Clements kept with his dead dial performance as he posted a 6.407 on a 6.40 dial to take the win over a Trietsch who broke out with a 5.71 on a 5.72 dial. Congratulations to T.J. Clements on his first career SHRA event win and with that win, Clements catapulted to a tie for fourth in the points standings with Jim Baughan.
It was a full day of old school drag racing at the 9th Annual Ardmore Dragway Reunion. Congratulations to all the class winners and new points leaders. Just two events remain in the 2014 SHRA season as North Star Dragway will host the Fall Nostalgia Nationals on Saturday October 4th in Denton, Texas and the Texas Motorplex will host the SHRA Championship Finals on Saturday, November 8th in Ennis, Texas.
The MalloryPrint.com Southwest Heritage Racing Association would like to thank title sponsor Mallory Screen-print & Embroidery, Good Vibrations Motorsports, Meyer Enterprises, AlkyDigger.com, Hayden Enterprises Specialty Wheels, Equipment Sales & Service of Texas, The Hitchin’ Post Restaurant & Truck Stop, Robinson Restoration & Service, Harry’s Hot Rod Truck & Accessories, Competition Sales of Dallas, Howards Cams and Competition Products for their support of the 2014 racing season.