(Commerce, GA – August 3) The weather was great for racing at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, GA, judging by the number of racers attending today's edition of the Summit ET Series. Nineteen year old Jordan Autrey from Traveler's Rest, SC enjoyed winning his first race, in Street ET motorcycle. Three of the final five cars remaining in Super Pro competition were driven by former Jr Dragster standouts; Hank Wilhelm, Ashley Hancock and Wesley Mayfield. Hank Wilhelm went on to win Super Pro, and his sister Katie did well in her class, finishing in the semi-final round of 13-17 Jr Dragster. In addition to the Summit ET series action, Top Alcohol dragster racer Dan Lucas from nearby Cumming, GA tested out a brand new car, to the delight of spectators.
"Thanks to everyone," was one of the first things Super Pro winner Hank Wilhelm from Maysville, GA said after taking the victory against "Fireman Joe" Rampley's Gainesville, GA based '85 Olds Calais. Wilhelm used a slight reaction time advantage, coupled with a closer to the dial elapsed time of 5.146 seconds at 123.70mph (5.13 second dial) in his '96 Ed Quay dragster to take the win after Rampley's car fell off the pace a little with a 5.97 at 115.38mph (5.92 dial). Ashley Hancock ('01 Undercover dragster – Commerce, GA) was the lone semi-finalist. "It's a good thing there wasn't one more round. It (his dragster) almost didn't crank for the final round. I'm going to get a new battery," added Wilhelm.
"I have been in a slump all season, but had some luck today on my side," said Pro winner Randall Roop from Canton, GA. For the final round action, Roop met another Canton, GA racer, Chad Brewer. Brewer left the line in his '68 Camaro with a great reaction time (0.032 seconds) and posted a very good .01 over 7.693 at 87.67mph. Unfortunately for Brewer, Roop and his '95 Mustang GT were on top of their game, with the better reaction time (0.011 seconds) that allowed the two over 6.647 at 99.73mph (6.62 dial) to take the win stripe 0.007 seconds in front of Brewer. Howard Warren ('72 Maverick – Douglasville, GA) and Woody Bryant ('68 Camaro – Bowman, GA) earned the semi-finalist portion of the purse. "Everything fell my way today," Roop added. He thanked his girlfriend Dana Smith for all of her help, along with his parents, "Fuzzy" and Al Baker. He added that Brewer helped him earlier with his tree technique, and said Brewer might not be interested in helping him any more.
Sportsman winner Allen Long from Ballground, GA won the NHRA Division Two High School event a few years ago, won last year's National Dragster Challenge race, and is now better prepared to win the 2013 edition of the National Dragster Challenge, slated for August 10. Long did this with Pop's stock '96 Silverado, laying down a 17.31 at 78.54mph pass (17.26 dial) against Nick Wagner's Jefferson, GA based turbocharged '04 Neon. Wagner tried to catch Long, but broke out in the process with a 13.156 at 98.31mph (13.16 dial). Harold Wilson ('03 Corvette – Winder, GA) ended his day in the semi-final round. Long thanked God first, then his family, and also Pop, for letting him use his truck.
Super Pro Motorcycle winner Jay Rhyne of Athens, GA has a number of wins to credit to his '82 Suzuki, and demonstrated his form again in the final with a tight package of 9.429 at 135.91mph (9.41 dial), along with a great 0.021 second reaction time. Rhyne's opponent was Winder, GA racer Billy Orsino, riding the fastest bike in the house, an '06 Kawasaki. Orsino missed a perfect reaction by a mere 0.004 seconds, unfortunately, the react was on the red light side. Knowing it was already over, he then chose to do a part throttle pass of 9.18 at 100.97mph (8.35 dial). Tommy Saxon ('83 Suzuki – Bogart, GA) went home with a semi-final finish. "Ole Jay Bird racing id doing good!," added Rhyne, who added to his 2013 Summit points lead with the win.
Nineteen year old Jordan Autrey from Traveler's Rest, SC, experienced the thrill of winning his first event, Street ET motorcycle, aboard his '11 Kawasaki. Autrey met Lawrenceville, GA racer Tim Houghland's '02 Superglide in the final, and although Houghland enjoyed the early reaction time advantage, a missed third gear slowed Houghland's bike to an 11.74 at 111.59mph (11.30 dial). Autrey powered on through the finish line with a very good 9.57 at 134.97mph (9.54 dial). Jeff Shropshire ('08 Kawasaki – Dallas, GA) made it to the semi-final round. "Thank you to mom (Jennifer Autrey), my grandparents and Chris Miller," Autrey added.
Ten year old Nate "Hot Rod" Halsey from Clermont, GA scored another 8-12 Jr Dragster win, this time against eleven year old Macey Ludolph of Snellville, GA. Halsey had the race under control from the starting line to the finish line, with a 0.023 second reaction time, coupled with an off the throttle 9.06 at 64.98mph (9.01 dial) for the finish line. Ludolph made a good pass, but was second across the stripe with a 9.03 at 72.25mph (8.94 dial). Jessie Daniel (12 – Loganville, GA) earned the semi-finalist position. "I want to thank God, my mom and dad (Jeff and Lovelle), sister Maddie Kate, engine builder "Little Bill" Gillen, Brittany Hellemn, James and Wallace Wilson and Owen Pitchford," added Halsey. He then dedicated his win to the memory of Amy Glover and Stephen Forrester.
Salina Shanks (16 – Pendergrass, GA) simply stated, "It was all because of God. He's awesome like that," after her 13-17 Jr Dragster win over Maddie Lee (15 – Campobello, SC). Although she was excited about the victory, Shanks' dad, Racers For Christ chaplain Lloyd Shanks, was happier than she was, noting it was his birthday tomorrow. Shank's used an 8.44 at 77.41mph (8.33 dial) for the win after Lee turned on the dreaded cherry colored starting line bulb with a -0.026 react. Her car then did well, carding a 7.92 at 83.02mph (7.90 dial). Katie Wilhelm (13 – Commerce, GA) and Austin Solesbee (15 – Sautee Nacoochee, GA) ended their day in the semi-final round. "That's as cool as can be," added Shanks.
The first round "runner-ups" in the main Jr Dragster competitions were allowed to enter the Jr Dragster Consolation race, and Adrian Wilson (13 – Tallapoosa, GA) earned the final round win against Tori Crowe (13 – Covington, GA). Wilson's times were an 0.011 react and an off the throttle 8.09 at 68.01mph (7.90 dial) after he caught and passed Crowe down track. Crowe's car was experiencing carburetion problems, and slowed to an 8.37 at 70.91mph (8.00 dial). "He found his lights (reaction times) in the consolation race," added happy father Brian Wilson.