Recapping The Tulsa Raceway Nitro Nationals!


Osage Casino Tulsa Raceway Park hosted it’s annual Nitro Nationals event on a spectacular weekend in northern Oklahoma and racers were welcomed by sunny skies, temperatures in the low 90’s and plenty of competition with a heavy field of nostalgia drag racing machines on the property.  Headlining the event were the DRO Nitro Nostalgia Funny Cars, A/Fuel Dragsters, Central States Superchargers and Southwest Junior Fuel series.  This combined with bracket classes, the SDRA series, classic “Pin-Up” contest and a nitro flavored “Cacklefest” proved to be a perfect attraction for the nostalgia drag racing fans of the southwest.

Qualifying Highlights:


Photos by Chris Graves –

Friday night hosted two professional qualifying rounds featuring the Nitro Funny Cars and A/Fuel Dragsters with some great header flaming runs under the lights, plus test and tune for eager class racers looking to get in on the action.  Brian Stewart’s “Bear Town Shaker” led the field after two sessions with a strong 5.76 at 241 mph with series points leader Shawn Bowen and team “Violator” a close second at 5.78 at 249 mph.  Ronny Young and the famed “Blue Max” qualified third with a 5.79 at 254 mph with John Hale rounding out the seven car field heading into Saturday’s eliminations.

Nitro Funny Car Final Qualifying Order:

1.  Brian Stewart – “Bear Town Shaker” 1976 Mustang II – 5.76 @ 241

2.  Shawn Bowen – “Violator” 1977 Firebird – 5.78 @ 249

3.  Ronny Young – “Blue Max” 1978 Arrow – 5.79 @ 254

4.  Dennis Taylor – “Evil, Wicked, Mean & Nasty” – 6.18 @ 197

5.  Bazz Young – “Down Under Thunder” 1969 Camaro – 6.22 @ 226

6.  Doc Halladay – “Telstar” 1978 Arrow – 6.48 @ 214

7.  John Hale – “Mike Burkhart” 1969 Camaro – 7.49 @ 129


In the A/Fuel dragster class, six cars from across the country came to thunder in Oklahoma in their injected nitro and blown alcohol entries running heads up and quarter mile!  After two qualifying rounds, California based Kin Bates and his U.S. Air Force injected nitro slingshot was the top qualifier with a 6.24 at 223 mph.  Local favorite John Harless and the Grand Prix Auto team were number two at a 6.49 at 218 and Frank Mazi rounded out the field as the teams would hold eliminations starting Saturday evening.

A/Fuel Dragster Final Qualifying Order:

1) Kin Bates – 6.24 @ 223 mph

2) John Harless – 6.49 @ 218 mph

3) David Brown – 8.60 @ 117 mph

4) Bob Alberty – 9.19 @ 91 mph

5) Bill Wayne – 9.59 @ 70 mph

6) Frank Mazi – 12.20 @ 62 mph

155FrankMaziSaturday’s action started shortly before noon with time trials and elimination rounds for the bracket classes which attracted some beautiful machines to the starting line including the “McLaughlin & Holmes” tribute gasser.  The call went out in mid-afternoon to start the two qualifying rounds for the Central States Superchargers and Southwest Junior Fuel teams.  

 The CSS series is a mid-west group of all blown altereds and front engine dragsters running on an eighth mile, qualifying an eight car field on a 4.25 index then holding an open elapsed time, Chicago-style first round bringing the two quickset winners straight to the final.  After two action packed qualifying rounds, Craig Donnelly and the “Booze Brothers” blown 1923 T bodied entry took the pole position with a “perfect” 4.25 at 166 mph.  John Umlauf’s blown front engine dragster nabbed the number two spot with a 4.26 at 162 mph and Aaron Leyda rounded out the top three in the Dale Wilkens owned and tuned “Hemi Hunter” with a 4.29 at 156 mph.  First time CSS competitor Tera Wendland claimed the final qualifying position in her Texas based blown front engine dragster with a 4.50 at 157 mph as she became the first female to compete and qualify with the CSS series as eliminations were soon to follow. 


Central States Superchargers Final Qualifying Order:

1.  Craig Donnelly – 4.25 @ 166

2.  John Umlauf – 4.26 @ 162

3.  Aaron Leyda – 4.293 @ 156

4.  Anthony Whitfield – 4.296 (4.204) @ 160

5.  Mark Bowman – 4.352 (4.158) @ 164

6.  Sean Belt – 4.41 @ 129

7.  Jim Knapp – 4.43 @ 158

8.  Tera Wendland – 4.50 @ 157

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

9.  Cory Holcomb – 4.57 @ 148

10.  Adam Smith – 4.75 @ 145

11. Kenny Stroud – 4.77 @ 143

12. Russell Ballew – 5.81 @ 93

116TeraWendlandIn Southwest Junior Fuel Association, all quarter mile injected front engine dragster action, the dominant force of the season and points leader Odie Coker wheeled his Ronnie Ussery owned and tuned Hemi powered junior fueler to the top qualifying position with a 7.34 at 179 mph.  Coker could lock up his team’s first series Championship in this, their final points race of the season if he could hold off veteran Ron Muncy, who qualified third with a 7.54 at 174 mph.  Ken Hawkins took the number two spot with a strong 7.40 at 179 mph and Tony Patterson rounded out the eight car field with a 8.93 at 147 mph as the junior fuel teams returned to the pits to prepare for their elimination rounds.

Southwest Jr. Fuel Final Qualifying Order:

1.  Odie Coker – 7.34 @ 179 mph

2.  Ken Hawkins – 7.40 @ 179 mph

3.  Ron Muncy – 7.54 @ 174 mph

4.  Mike Millsap – 7.55 @ 174 mph

5.  Brian Briggs – 7.57 @ 175 mph

6.  Mike Buchanan – 7.74 @ 170 mph

7.  Jimmy Scott – 7.89 @ 166 mph

8.  Tony Patterson – 8.93 @ 147 mph

157 Nitro Funny Car Eliminations:

 It was time for eliminations of the feature classes as the nitro powered fabulous floppers took the stage for round one competition.  The first pair brought the beautiful “Evil, Wicked, Mean & Nasty” California based fuel funny car of Dennis Taylor to the line to take on the “Down Under Thunder” entry of Bazz Young.  They blasted off the line side by side and in the closest race of the round, Young’s slightly quicker reaction time and 6.109 was enough to hold off Taylor’s quicker 6.103 quarter mile pass (.004 MOV at the stripe).  Ronny Young and the “Blue Max” blasted to low elapsed time of the round, posting a winning 5.92 to Doc Halladay’s 6.24 in the “Telstar” entry.  A monster match-up rolled up next as the points leader Shawn Bowen set to take on two-time defending series Champion John Hale.  This one was decided on the starting line when Bowen went -.044 red, while Hale clicked off an early shutoff 6.03 at 215 mph to advance.  Brian Stewart moved into the next round on a single sixty foot squirt as the semi-finals were set.

Brian Stewart again benefitted from a bye run in the semis as Bazz Young was unable to make the call due to parts damage suffered in round one.  Stewart again clicked off a winning sixty foot squirt and was ready to take on the winner of the next pair between Texans Ronny Young and John Hale in the final.  This, a rematch of a crucial first round match up from the weekend prior in Martin, Michigan, a race in which Young upset the number one qualified Hale which had big points chase implications.  An intense Texas sized rivalry had quickly developed between these two and the teams were equally hungry for this semi-final round win.  Hale took a slight starting line advantage and at half-track the cars were nose to nose with header flames high.  At the stripe, Young’s 5.81 at 252 mph was just enough to take the win over Hale’s very close 5.85 at 249 mph (.020 MOV). 

213BluemaxWinnerIn the final round, side by side burnouts brought the crowd to their feet as Ronny Young and Brian Stewart’s crew chiefs made their final adjustments and sent their drivers into the beams.  Stewart’s luck ran out as he lit the red bulb on the starting line with a -.252 reaction time as Young’s crew erupted in celebration on the starting line and watched as the “Blue Max” streaked to the win, posting a 5.81 at 252 mph.  This marked the first time since 1984 that a “Blue Max” funny car had made a trip to the winners circle in competition and was Young’s first DRO series victory.  Young and company posted low elapsed time of each elimination round and capped off a great weekend with a memorable and well deserved event win.

“The car just seems to have really come alive in the past few weeks, and is a real threat for low elapsed time at every race.  We just needed a bit of time.  We are so excited about our win at TRP and can’t wait to show everyone what the Blue Max Racing Team has in store for the Fall Nationals and the CHRR 2013,” said Young, who will be making exhibition runs this weekend at the NHRA Nationals in Dallas. 

Despite his early exit in round one, Michigan based Shawn Bowen and the “Violator” team secured their first DRO Nitro Funny Car Series Championship.  Bowen held off a hard fought effort by both Ronny Young and John Hale and was presented with his Championship trophy in the winners circle Saturday night at Tulsa.  Congratulations to the entire “Violator” team on a well deserved title. 


A/ Fuel Eliminations:

Kin Bates and Bob Alberty kicked off the first round of eliminations in the A/Fuel Dragster class action.  Bates blasted to a 6.30 at 221 mph to Alberty’s 7.18 at 188 mph.  John Harless was out next lined up against David Brown.  Harless took the nod with a clean 6.59 at 191 mph to Brown’s 7.87 at 143 mph.  Closing the round, Bill Wayne’s 6.50 at 207 mph was just enough to hold off Frank Mazi’s first career six second pass, a 6.97 at 176 mph.

Bates showed his strength again with a strong 6.34 at 219 mph in a semi-final competition single to advance to the final round to face the winner between Harless and Wayne.  Both drivers clicked off side by side 6.48 elapsed times with Harless earning the win at the starting line to advance to the final against Bates.  In the A/Fuel Dragster final, Kin Bates’ 6.31 at 221 mph was just enough to hold off Harless’ best pass of the event, a close 6.44 at 214 mph as Kin Bates and team took home the Nitro Nationals victory back to California.

Central States Superchargers Eliminations:

194CSSFinalThe quickest eight cars in the CSS series were set to square off in a first round Chicago style shootout, where the quickest two winners would advance to the final round.  First up was a battle between two of the youngest drivers in the field as Anthony Whitfield and Tera Wendland brought their blown machines to the line.  Wendland knew she had to leave on the quicker Whitfield and pushed the tree a little too far, with a -.003 red light as her career best 4.48 at 158 mph fell to Whitfield’s winning 4.22 at 168 mph.  Number one qualifier Craig Donnelly was out next alongside Mark Bomwan in their blown altereds.  Donnelly, in a similar situation, knew he had to push the tree to beat the quicker Bowman, and went too far with a -.010 red bulb as his 4.25 at 166 mph fell to Bowman’s strong 4.06 at 179 mph. 

As the first round continued, Sean Belt brought the nitro burning Fiat bodied “Nitro Madness” entry to the line to face off with John Umlauf’s wicked Missouri blown front engine dragster.  Umlauf took a healthy starting line advantage but his 4.40 at 158 mph was no match for Belt’s header flaming 4.08 at 184 mph as Belt took the nod.  In the final pair, Aaron Leyda and Jim Knapp wheeled their blown altereds to the line, with the winner needing to run better than Bowman’s 4.06 to advance to the final round.  Leyda took this one from start to finish as the “Hemi Hunter” laid down a solid 4.18 at 174 mph to Knapp’s 4.55 at 132 mph.  Mark Bowman and Sean Belt would advance to the final as the two quickest winners in a blown alcohol vs. blown nitro altered showdown.


Bowman’s “Blown Income” entry and Belt’s “Nitro Madness” machine came to life for the final time of the event and the crew chiefs directed them into the beams.  Both drivers were ready, Belt was off the line with a .044 reaction to Bowman’s .055.  Bowman blasted through the eighth mile clocks with a career best 4.02 at 180 mph but it was no match for Sean Belt’s stellar 3.88 at 193 mph as the “Nitro Madness” team owned and tuned by Scott Gaulter took their first CSS series win of the season.  Mark Bowman held onto his points lead by a slim five point margin over Aaron Leyda with one event remaining, September 21st at Kansas International Dragway.  For more info visit

Southwest Junior Fuel Eliminations:

Mike Millsap and Mike Buchanan kicked off the opening round of eliminations for the SWJFA series.  Buchanan’s car was shut off with a fuel leak and Millsap soloed to a winning 7.54 at 174 mph.  Next up, Jimmy Scott looked to upset number one qualifier and points leader Odie Coker.  Coker’s car was also unable to fire due to a failed magneto, as Scott soloed to a winning 12.34 at 156 mph.  Ken Hawkins rolled out next in the Charlie Smith owned “Whiz Kids” entry alongside Ron Muncy.  Hawkins blasted off the line first and never looked back, clicking off a career best 7.36 at 179 mph to Muncy’s 7.53 at 174 mph.  In the final pair of the opening round, Brian Briggs Louisiana based injected slingshot lit the scoreboards with a 7.56 at 174 mph to take out Tony Patterson’s 9.02 at 145 mph.

Semi-final action got underway with Jimmy Scott and Brian Briggs pulling to the line.  Briggs tossed away a career best 7.50 at 175 mph with an unfortunate -.008 red light, as Scott’s 7.85 at 167 mph advanced to their team’s first SWJFA final round for team owner Buster Johnson.   Mike Millsap was out next set to take on Ken Hawkins.  Millsap took a huge starting line advantage and needed it all as his 7.53 at 174 mph upset Hawkins’ quicker but loosing 7.47 at 175 mph.  Millsap was advancing to his first series final in almost two years as we were guaranteed new face in the winners circle this year in the SWJFA at Tulsa.

200MikeMillsapJrFuelWinnerThe call went out to fire up the final round as Millsap and Scott did their burnouts and rolled to the line.  Millsap was out first and held the lead from start to finish, posting a 7.52 at 174 mph to take the event win over Scott’s 7.84 at 168 mph.  Millsap claimed his first win of the season in the final SWJFA points race of the year.  Odie Coker and the Ron Ussery owned and tuned machine held onto their points lead despite an early exit in round one, claiming their team’s first SWJFA Championship.  Congratulations to both finalists and the Champion on their successes at Tulsa!  For more visit

The 2013 Osage Casino Nitro Nationals was a huge success across the board with packed grandstands and a pit area full of unique nostalgia machines of all kinds.  Winners accepted their trophies and champagne with flash bulbs bursting throughout the winners circle and after a post-race concert and celebration, the lights went out on another memorable outing for many in Tulsa. 


About the author

Andrew Wolf

Andrew has been involved in motorsports from a very young age. Over the years, he has photographed several major auto racing events, sports, news journalism, portraiture, and everything in between. After working with the Power Automedia staff for some time on a freelance basis, Andrew joined the team in 2010.
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