Monday, November 21, 2011

2011 Atlanta Dragway spotlight on the Champions

Three of the four regular category 2011 champs, Jeremy Hancock (Super Pro), Chad Brewer (Pro) and Jim Burford (Sportsman), were repeat champions from the 2009 season.

Super Pro champion Jeremy Hancock was unable to attend the Atlanta Dragway Banquet of Champions, as he was on duty for the Hall County Fire Department. Hancock's wife, Ashley and his dad filled in for him. Hancock thanked Junior Pippin Trucking, who has supported him for nearly 20 years, Sid Neal, PAR racing engines, Ray Biggers, uncle Jonny, the Bank of Paula, his beautiful wife Ashley, son Cooper (his biggest fan) and his Granny Rose. He gave a special thanks to his dad Mark, adding, "this is more than just a father-son relationship. We made great memories that will last forever." Last, but definitely not least, he thanked the good Lord for "allowing all of us to do what we love."

Pro champion Chad Brewer was modest about his fifth track championship (three from another track), saying, "Honestly, driving a new car, I'm lucky to be in the top 10. His year started out rough, with a lot of red lights. By the time the Night of Fire came, he had things well in hand, finishing runner up. He went on to win the National Dragster Challenge for the second year in a row along with finishing second in the 7.50 Index points series. Electrical gremlins attacked his wiring near the end of the year, but friend Tracy Schaffer loaned him her '69 Firebird, enabling him to win the 2011 Pro championship. Brewer thanked Schaffer, the "Mayor of Hickory Flat" and James and Cindy Rice.

Sportsman champion J.D. "Doc" Burford is a medical doctor in Greenville, SC during the week, and a winning racer on the weekends at Atlanta Dragway. He loves the camaraderie he has found at the track, both with the racers and the track personnel, adding, "I'm excited to see all my racing friends and family. I'm fortunate to consider himself a part of this fraternity of racers". He has attended every bracket event, and runs in both Sportsman and the Pro class. One day he was held up by a huge traffic jam, and expressed his appreciation to the track crew for helping him get through tech and registration in time to make the race. Burford derives a great sense of accomplishment from racing, and added it is a total distraction from office work. He thanked mechanics Tom McMakin and Hal Rhodes for all their help with his car.

Motorcycle champ Tim Sutton is a man of few words, but his actions spoke clearly, winning his third championship. Sutton began the year well, but then struggled during the mid-season. He ended the year on a high note, winning a total of five events and then the championship against good friend Jay Rhyne by 20 points (two round wins). He thanked his wife Jennifer, his mom, and also thanked Papa, adding, "When everything else is going bad, he helps you out."

Stan Sinack won the 6.50 Index championship for the second year in a row. For 2011, Michael Goodwin was right behind him every step of the way, but by the end of the season Sinack prevailed, winning several of the events. He thanked his wife Tammie for her support, along with Bill Boomhower, Ed Nalley and "Little Bro" Spencer, who traveled with him to the events and helped.

Woody Bryant enjoyed a banner season, winning the 7.50 Index championship and also finishing fifth in Pro. During the season, he won three races in a row, two of them on the same day. He credited his success to his wife Paula, along with family members Travis Bryant, Wade Bryant and good friend John Norris. About Norris, Bryant said, "I watched John Norris, and then began doing what he was doing….and it works!"  During races they raced each other hard, but each helped the other out with whatever was needed between events, including some long nights working on each other's cars. He then thanked the Atlanta Dragway personnel for doing a great job.

John Norris won the Open Comp Full Body championship for the second year in a row and finished second place in the 7.50 Index class (he was the 7.50 Index champion in 2009). He raced in multiple classes during the events, sometimes in as many as three different classes. When asked how he could race successfully in so many classes, he modestly added, "I'm still young." Earlier in the season, he won his first NHRA "Wally" trophy at the Lucas Oil race. Norris thanked his wife, Tri County Chevrolet, Wade Bryant Automotive, Mayberry Tire & Wheel, the track personnel, and all his friends who helped him this year.

Fifteen year old Wesley Mayfield, the 13-17 Jr Dragster champ, enjoyed a successful year, taking the points lead from the first event and carrying it all the way through the season. In addition to the Atlanta Dragway track championship, Mayfield also enjoyed winning another championship at Montgomery, along with that division's Race of Champions win. When asked if he is going to stay in the class or move up to Super Pro when he turns 16, he said he was not sure, and was thinking about staying until he was 18 because he enjoys hanging out with all of the friends he has made over the years. He thanked God, his mom and dad, Junior Specialties and Motivational Tubing for their help and support. "I guess winning keeps you motivated. I just love to race," added Mayfield.

Austin Carden, the 10-12 Jr Dragster champ, came out on top for the second year in a row. En route to the championship this year, Carden enjoyed winning two "Wally" trophies. One was for the National Dragster Challenge, and the other was for winning the NHRA Division Two Race of Champions. During his speech, Carden thanked God first. He then mentioned he worked really hard to have a good year, and thanked both his dad Matt and Jeff Brown for being awesome crew chiefs. He also thanked his number one fan, sister Alayna. Carden, who also won the 2011 track championship at Silver Dollar Raceway, was treated to a limousine ride to the banquet, and all of his friends got to enjoy it as well. When asked how he had the energy to compete in two series, he simply said, "I don't know, but dad just helped." Carden said he was looking forward to competing in his first Outlaw event the next weekend.

Young Austin Bowden, who just turned 10, enjoyed winning the 8-9 year old Jr Dragster championship. "It's fun, and you get a lot of trophies and stuff," he added. He mentioned he always says a prayer before each race as preparation. Bowden thanked God, and then his mom, dad and brother for giving him the opportunity to do this.