Sunday, April 01, 2012

Tim Glover: Summit ET event at Atlanta Dragway


(Commerce, GA – March 31) Rain ended last week's Summit ET Series event, along with the two previous scheduled Test and Tune sessions, but racers were finally able to compete this weekend.  Storm clouds threatened the event, but went south of the facility, allowing the competition to continue.

            The owner of one of the more popular restaurants in Toccoa, GA (Bell's Drive-In Restaurant), Thomas Bell, enjoyed the first Super Pro win of the 2012 season at Atlanta Dragway.  Bell was on his game with a near perfect 0.007 second react, combined with a dead-on 4.583 at 149.36mph in his '11 Undercover dragster.  His opponent, Ashley Hancock from Commerce, GA was great all night, but broke out in the final against Bell with a 5.178 at 132.05mph (5.19 dial) in her '01 Undercover dragster.  Bubba Rich ('02 Firebird – Gainesville, GA) and Jesse Young ('00 Undercover – Danielsville, GA) were the semi-final finishers.

            Matt Ward from Fairplay, SC enjoyed a close double-breakout win in Pro eliminator against Dickey Forrester of Hickory Flat, GA.  Forrester actually took the big end stripe in his Pontiac powered '68 Firebird four thousandths of a second before Ward, but Ward's '69 Camaro broke out less with a 6.343 at 108.69mph (6.35 dial).  Forrester's mount went 6.700 at 103.36mph (6.72 dial).  Travis Bryant ('67 Camaro – Bowman, GA) was the lone semi-finalist.  "Awesome!  I was struggling with my lights (reaction times) until Chad Brewer pointed out that my new slicks had stiffer sidewalls which were causing me to red-light.  I also want to thank Dickey Forrester for allowing me to use his power today, and my father-in-law Wayne Allen for building my engine.

            Michael Wilson of Tallapoosa, GA went into the Motorcycle final knowing he had very little chance of a win because the front sprocket on his '94 Suzuki had sheared during the semifinal round.  Defending points champion Tim Sutton continued his roll today in Motorcycle, all the up to the final round.  Sutton knew Wilson had been having problems, but to his great surprise (along with the Wilson Gang), Sutton's '83 Suzuki lit up the dreaded tomato-colored bulb with a -0.003 second react, handing the win to Wilson.  "I got lucky!" Wilson exclaimed.  "I just made a lot of racket on the burnout, knowing that was the only chance I had."  His bike slowly cleared the starting line beams after Sutton's red light, with a 2.267 react.  Sutton's mount went on to an otherwise good 8.884 at 149.23mph.  Michael Tlapa ('01 Hayabusa – Loganville, GA) and Jay Rhyne ('82 Suzuki – Athens, GA) were the semi-finalist pair.

            The track announcer was calling Sportsman winner Howard Warren a marathon man by the end of eliminations.  Howard's Douglasville, GA based '72 Maverick was the first big car down the track for time trials, and because he double entered in both Sportsman and Pro, he made a lot of passes (somewhere around 13 total), capped off with a final round victory against 2011 Sportsman champion J.D. "Doc" Burford's Greenville, SC based '08 Corvette.  Warren was a little off pace, posting a 12.17 at 107.04mph (12.12 dial), but Burford's machine broke out with a close 12.598 at 112.99mph (12.60 dial).  "I knew your car was all top end, so I just stayed in it," said Howard to Burford after the event.  "I was about ready to go home after the first round, but figured I would just hang in there.  At my age, I'm going to get all the runs I can!"  Sid Hopper ('88 S10 Blazer – Gainesville, GA) ended his day in the semi-final round.
            Ten year old Trey Butler from Jackson, GA enjoyed his first win in three years of racing after his opponent Dillan Kyle (12 – Gay, GA) turned on the dreaded red light in the 8-12 Jr Dragster final with a -.024 second react.  Butler went on to a 0.01 over 8.98 at 70.19mph.  Kyle's machine was off a little more, carding a 9.02 at 70.52mph (8.98 dial).  Butler's react was also in the minus zone, but because his was the second infraction, the first or worst rule applied, keeping the win with Butler.  Butler's dad exclaimed "Third year, first win!" immediately after seeing his son's win light come on.  Butler is now leading the points (130) over second place holder Austin Carden (80), who finished in the semi-final round.  Butler thanked God, his dad, mom, sister and Paw Paw.

            The 13-17 Jr Dragster finalists were all South Carolina natives.  Robby Pettinato from Fountain Inn, SC took the lead position, winning his first Atlanta Dragway event with an 8.01 at 81.44mph (7.96 target).  Because of a later reaction time than Pettinato, Breanna Fuller (17 – Boiling Springs, SC) pushed her machine just a little too hard, breaking out with a 7.895 at 82.16mph (7.90 dial).  Points leader Maddie Lee (14 – Campobello, SC) ended her day in the semi-final round.  Lee currently has 100 points, and Pettinato has 60.  Pettinato said he wanted to qualify for the Eastern Conference finals held at Bristol.

Sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), Atlanta Dragway is located just off I-85 at Exit 149 in the Banks Crossing area of Commerce, Georgia. Information on all 2012 events, including the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals on May 4 – May6, 2012, may be obtained by calling the track office (706-335-2301) or logging on to