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Thanks to All, Now Let's Get to Racing

By Annette Barton

Pullman, Washington - football is over, regional basketball has crowned the champions and it's time to go racing!! We still have snow in the yard but race track schedules and camp spots are nearly set and everyone we know is ready!

As our editor David Marin mentioned in the February issue, Spokane County Raceway honored me and surprised us with a trophy for Photojournalist of the Year. I shoot at the Wall with some VERY talented photographers who have mentored me since 2006 and I honestly owe them my gratitude and appreciation: Herman Marchetti, Dana Winters, Frank L. Smith, Don Ewald; more recently sharing the grit with Pam Conrad, Mike Lepkowicz, Mike Gardner, Troy Williams, Dyan Lover, so many others. I have admired and spoken with the "greats" like Dan Kaplan and Peter Vincent, Larry McFarland for years and truly appreciate their advice. Thank you to all who share the Wall!


Spokane County Raceway - we attended the Awards Banquet for the racers and crew of SCR in January joining over 160 other people for a great evening of chatter, good natured ribbing and mutual admiration. The SCR Motorsports Facility operators Craig Smith and his wife Jean Deife Lewis paid for the catered dinner and the racers and families appreciated that very much. Craig and OJ Stephens "The Hot Rod Announcer" emceed the ceremony as Kevin Red handed out dozens of trophies and jackets. Craig made sure the racers all knew how important their participation and volunteer services are to the success of the entire facility and how much he appreciates the time and energy they donate. Outstanding Dedication to Service award went to Randy Stephen Weaver and Angie Weaver.

The Weavers, along with amazing volunteers too numerous to mention, kept the lanes full and running smoothly all year long.

Craig also announced higher payoffs in 2018 due to sponsors such as NAPA, Odom, Dr. Pepper, Les Schwab, Lucas Oil (free oil!), affordable BP Racing Fuels just to name a few.

The Lucas Oil and BP Fuels sponsored season opener is scheduled for May 12; the Chassis Certification is slated for April 7 as well as Staging Lessons for beginners that day. The Spokane Festival of Speed will be hitting the road course on June 1-3 for those of you who want to see wild action in the turns with vintage Formula cars and amazing road race Porsche, BMW, Mustangs.

Just announced… SCR will be hosting the 1st annual Legends Memorial Racing Series to honor SCR racers who have passed away. Points will not count for the Summit Series but will tally for trophies to be given out at the 2018 Awards Banquet. May 26 - Don Hudlow Memorial; June 23 - Dan Barton Memorial; July 14 - Jim "Sugar Bear" Clark Memorial; July 28 - Monte Thomson Jr. Memorial; Sept. 22 - Virgil Sellers Memorial. If this is successful, every year the track will try to honor 5 or 6 different racers who have passed on during the track's history. Please try to attend at least one!

Renegade Raceway - April 7-8 are the dates for the Pepsi/ Auto Max/Lucas Oil/ Les Schwab sponsored Season Opener firing up the hottest little 1/4 mile track in Central Washington! April 14-15 is the Spring Classic with all of your favorite racers coming in for Summit Series opener! Looking forward to them!

Then on April 28-29, Renegade is proud to bring to town the Northwest Nostalgia Tour with their awesome Gassers, fierce Fiats, and homegrown Diggers. If you miss the racing between this great group of people you will have missed out. Lucky for you, they will be back to Renegade on May 26-27 as well! Also on April 28-29 Summit Series #3 and Eastern WA Member Track #1 will be providing plenty of action both days sponsored by Wright's Insurance Agency and Licensing.

Derek Snelson and his crew meet and greet each of the racers before and after events and have steadily made improvements to the facilities and track surface every year. Racers and fans alike notice and appreciate all of the hard work put in by this wonderful crew. Thank you Derek and Sara!

Yellowstone Dragstrip - another Division 6 track worth the trip to get there is in Acton, Montana near Billings. We have been there once so far and were made to feel very welcome to their beautiful facility. May 25-27 is the Ed Randash Memorial race; June 22-24 YDS hosts the Big Sky Nationals with dragsters, Alcohol Funny Cars, big block and small block mayhem as well as Pro Bike and Sled action. Make the trip if you can... it really is a nice 1/4 mile facility with great pits and grandstands, not to mention vendor food!

Medford Dragstrip -the news from southern Oregon is good: grinding and replacing the top 3" of asphalt surface, 16 feet wide in each lane, is in progress. The new asphalt will begin at the end of the concrete launch pad and extend 50 feet beyond the 1320 mark.

The Kimmel Family Foundation agreed to donate half of the cost and to fast track this project for the 2018 race season, Steve Henry offered up a loan to get going. Steve does need to be repaid sooner than later so a Benefit Account has been set up for TAX DEDUCTIBLE donations at Umpqua Bank. These monies do NOT go into the account for track operation, only for the repayment of the loan to improve the track. Just take cash or check donation to your Umpqua Bank or give a donation directly to Justin or Ann at the track. Credit Card or PayPal can be arranged by contacting the track directly. A new message phone line is in the works right now so watch the Medford Dragstrip website for the new number!

If you live in that area, swing in to the Medford Rod and Custom Show on April 21-22 and check out their booth. Folks there will explain the repaving project, the fundraiser and track news.

Woodburn Dragstrip - be there on April 28 for the 4th Annual West Coast Shootout of Oregon! Racers from the Spokane area attended last year and said it was a well-organized and fun race!

Sage Raceway - a great little 1/8th mile dragstrip out of Idaho Falls, Idaho doesn't have their firm schedule out online as of this writing, but a tentative schedule shows their Season Opener as May 18-20 - also shows it as Armed Forces Day where veterans get in for free. Please watch their Facebook and website pages for the most current schedule. We attended the races there last Labor Day and had a great time! Terry Ray, his wife, daughter and the volunteer staff made us feel welcome and made sure we enjoyed the races. Plus they had a fantastic car show on site as well! Be sure to make the trip at least once down to Sage and see what Terry has going on!

Special mention: Drew Austin set a new ET record for Nostalgia A/Fuel Dragster at the 2018 March Meet - a 5.813. Way to make a point, Drew! His uncle, Bucky Austin, made a point as well by winning the MM Nostalgia Fuel Funny Car Wally for the event!

NHRA Arizona Nationals - Jody Lang won Stock Eliminator for his 29th career National Event win with 20 of those in his impressive Malibu wagon. Paul Nero also won Top Dragster and Trevor Harkema of Couer d'Alene, Idaho won Super Comp. Well done Division 6!

Speaking of the NHRA Arizona Nationals, our friend and fellow photographer Frank L. Smith, took to the wall and shot photos for Groundpoundin.com and gathered this great story for our readers. Following is the story of the "Gold Rush" Pontiac Firebird that runs Division 6 asphalt as told by Jeanne and Doug Jones, owners and driver:

"We purchased the 1969 Pontiac Firebird 400 in 2005 at the Portland swap meet. I was looking for a '69 Camaro but found this car. Everyone had a Camaro and I wanted something different. The second owner had installed a 428 motor with a turbo 400, Doug Thorley headers, and a 950 Holley. I negotiated a deal that included the original 400 numbers matching engine and delivery to Lakewood, WA.

We did some Pro bracket racing at Bremerton and ran in the 12's. We went to the Final round and were the runner-up at the Buick/Oldsmobile/Pontiac race at Bremerton in 2008. We got the bug and decided in 2008 to build a "real racecar" but before I could do that, my wife (and major sponsor) Jeanne insisted that I get some schooling on drag racing. I attended the Frank Hawley course at Pomona and was taught by "Fast" Jack Beckman and Tom Bayer.

After the school, we disassembled the car interior, front fenders and hood, doors, steering column, trunk lid, and running gear. We transported the remains to Ron Piercy for the 6 month fabrication project of Gold Rush. Ron started with the 2X3 twin frame rail chassis with chrome molly funny car style cage, Art Morrison 4-Link in the rear with a Strange Engineering aluminum thru-bolt 4:11 in a Ford 9" rear end and Strange double-adjustable coil-over shocks. Ron did major tubbing for the 15" wide Hoosier slicks on Weld wheels. He also fabricated the interior tin work, installed the Scribner built anti-roll bar, chrome molly tubed Art Morrison front end with adjustable coil-overs, the aluminum fuel cell in the trunk with access door. Ron moved on to the installation of the VFN fiberglass front end, doors, hood, trunk lid with the fabricated wing and struts, and the Lexan windows throughout except the rear window which stayed the original glass. The driver seat was moved back 7" and the dash was brought 6" rearward. The final ride height was dropped "way down in the weeds" as described by Alan Reinhart at a Division 7 race at The Strip at Las Vegas. Ron also installed the huge Be Cool radiator and fabricated the final fit of the front and rear motor plates and rear transmission support. I installed and plumbed the Auto meter gauges and wired most of the car.

In the spring of 2011 we ordered a new bullet to go Super Street Racing in the LODRS. We contacted Jeff Kauffman at KRE (Kauffman Racing Equipment) and told him what we were looking for. Jeff assembled a 535 KRE MR1 block with a 4.350" bore and 4.500" stroke.

When Jeff shipped the engine to us in July of 2011, it was the highest horsepower, normally aspirated, single carb, aluminum D-port head Pontiac 400 block on the planet at 846 HP at 7200 rpm and 727 Lb./Ft of torque at 5500 rpm.

George Scott at Turbo Technology fabricated and installed the new headers. When the new race engine arrived, we mated an A-1 Performance Reid case Powerglide and A-1 6200 RPM Stall convertor. George and Bob connected the Biondo Mega 450 delay box, in-line throttle stop and air shifter, the Racepak electronics and sensors, a bigger Barry Grant fuel pump, two trunk.

The car went next door to Streamline Auto Body for final fit, sanding, and paint. We stayed with the original Aztec gold color and powder coated the rear wing, dash, and isolation plate. The car still has the original black vinyl top.

Our first divisional was in Spokane in 2012. We kept developing our program and decided to head south for the winter and spring to race in 2014. We started at Tucson with the Nitro Jam, moved on to Phoenix, Las Vegas, Spring Fling, Fontana, and Sonoma for divisional races.

We returned to Seattle for the National and divisional. 2015 was about the same but the Tucson race was a National open. We ran the Spring Fling again in Vegas. We also ran the National at Sonoma prior to returning north for the Seattle national again. We went south again in 2016, and ran the circuit including the Spring Fling for the 3rd year in a row. We had some success going to two semi-finals at the Pacific Raceways Super Saturday Series and going to the rain delayed final round of the 2016 Seattle national event, finishing runner-up. We took the 2017 season off to refresh equipment. I first licensed in Super Gas at Pomona and we have raced Super Street at Pacific Raceways national and divisional races, Mission Raceway, Spokane, Boise, Woodburn, Tucson, Wild Horse national and divisional races, Fontana, Las Vegas divisional races and The Spring Fling, and Sonoma national and divisional races.

Bob and Todd Sims have been a huge help to get the car to run right and tuning on the four link rear suspension. They both give tirelessly whenever a racer needs help and straightened my program out more than once. George Scott has also been a big help preparing the car and providing solid racing advice.

We really enjoy traveling to race and be around our racing family and friends and as long as it remains being fun, we will continue to pursue that perfect run."

To finish this month's article before our wonderful and kind editors kill us, we are looking forward to the 2018 racing season and are very hopeful to make a run down to Medford, possibly to Woodburn, for sure the UNFC and Cacklefest at Pacific Raceways, Spokane County Raceway, Walla Walla Dragstrip and Renegade Raceway. Rumors are floating that another dragstrip may be opening in 2018 near Connell, WA, one that the West Coast Shootout promotors are working heavily on.

Please support your local racetrack, your local high school automotive programs, your local car shows and as always, support our US Veterans!!


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