Chris Bear Crowned Quick Time Super Pro Champion
Considering that Chris Bear has been racing since he was a child and has earned multiple wins and championships, you might expect to hear him talking about belting in and blasting down track morning, noon and night, but that’s not the case.
It’s much more common to hear him talking about his family, his wife Kaitlyn’s family, how they live near each other and how they spend a lot of time together. He also likes to plan and go on vacations, though he and Kaitlyn had to pass on last year’s vacation because they recently bought a house and focused their efforts on making it a home.
Despite painting, planting and performing all of the other tasks that go along with that, he found time to race on weekends, and as he’s known to do, he found his way to the winner’s circle.
Of greatest significance to him personally, he said, is winning the Sunoco Race of Champions at the North Central Division NHRA Summit Racing Series Team Finals in Indianapolis, making it to the final at the NHRA Summit Racing Series Nationals Championships in Pomona and earning the Quick Time Super Pro championship in Norwalk. And behind him every single step of the way was his dad, Ken Bear, his wife, Kaitlyn, and his friend and Bear Motorsports teammate, Randy Scheuer, Jr.
AJ Buchanan Honored as Lakewood Pro Champion
Because of some issues he had been chasing with his car and combination, AJ Buchanan wasn’t entirely sure that he was going to be able to afford to race in 2015, but after his family, fellow racers and friends rallied to help him reel in the go-fast parts and funds he needed, he rolled his black Trick Flow Specialties-sponsored Mustang out of the trailer.
He was cool, calm and collected as he continuously checked his tires and continuously checked over his shoulder to see where his competition was at the stripe, and as a result, he went round after round.
He earned wins at the NMRA, NMCA and Trick
Flow Specialties King Ford races, and along the way, he overcame some superstitions, including one that had him believing he had to pit by the finish line on the Budweiser side of the track or else lose early, and another one that had him believing he had to wear one of the biker-bar T-shirts his dad bought him or else lose early.
It was his fiancé, Amy Colvin, who helped him overcome the latter superstition, and all she had to do was “forget” to pack one of his biker-bar T-shirts one race weekend.
A third generation racer, AJ confesses that he’s more easily rattled while waiting for bingo numbers to be called than he is while waiting for the tree to drop. That’s just part of what makes the forklift operator for Whirlpool in Clyde, Ohio, a good mentor for his son Brandon “Lil Cannons” Buchanan, who just started driving a junior-dragster, and his cousin, Heather Saalman, who had a remarkable fifth place finish in Lakewood Pro points in 2015.
Rick Poole Applauded as Wiseco/CycleTech Super Bike Champion
After riding his own bike in competition for years, Rick Poole accepted an invitation to ride friend and fellow racer Gary Godwin’s bike in competition for the 2015 season, and with equal parts dedication and determination, he quickly learned how to rev it up and run it down the quarter-mile.
He began advancing through the rounds, and when his good friend Dean Frantz passed away the weekend of Night Under Fire, he declared that he was going after a win in his memory, and he succeeded. It was later, in the winner’s circle, that he and his crew pointed their fingers toward the sky in recognition of their friend in Heaven.
Even more motivated at that point, he went on to win at the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Racing Series North Central Division Finals in Indiana in September, and then advanced to the NHRA Summit Racing Series National Championships in Pomona, California in November. There, he rubbed elbows with professional Pro Stock Motorcycle riders who were also there competing as part of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Rick advanced to the final round where he runnered-up in his class.
Rick, an auto technician who lives in New Franklin, Ohio, with his wife and fellow racer Tabitha, and his son, Austin, also races, describes himself as easygoing, but admits that he runs each race as though it will be his last.
When asked if he felt pressure to back up the championships he earned in 2012 and 2013, he’ll say no, he didn’t. He just wanted to do well for bike owner Gary Goodwin — and for himself.
Rick finished the season with nineteen points and one feature win.
Nick Hastings Hailed as Sportsman Champion
One of the first things Nick Hastings learned when he began racing was that you have to hit the tree as hard as you hit the shifts in order to win, and that you have to adjust, on-time and on-track, if you miss the mark.
It’s his ability to do all of that which sets him apart from other racers.
After winning the Sportsman championship at Summit Motorsports Park in 2014, he was hungry for another championship in 2015, and even though he knew he would be competing against drivers who were just as hungry as he was, he put one foot in front of the other, and charted a course.
Though consistently challenging, it ultimately led him to the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Racing Series North Central Division Finals in Indiana in September, where he won in Sportsman. That earned him a trip to the NHRA Summit Racing Series National Championships in California in November, where he became the NHRA Summit Racing Series national Sportsman champion. We celebrated him locally, and others celebrated him nationally, and in December, he was declared the NHRA ET Bracket Driver of the Year.
As much as he wanted to do well for himself, he wanted to do well for his family and his friends, who were by his side all along, and as proud as he is of himself, he hopes his family and friends are even more proud.
Ask Nick what his interests are outside of racing, and you’ll find that he’s hard-pressed to come up with an answer before laughing and admitting that his only interest at the moment is racing, and that he gives it everything he has. It’s what he feels he excels at, and it’s what he loves to do.
Owen Hoover Celebrated as Advanced Junior-Dragster Champion
Even though he was only ten years old at the time, Owen Hoover can clearly remember the warm summer night he was in the passenger's seat while his dad, Brian, drove the family’s Chevy pick-up past a packed-to-capacity Summit Motorsports Park.
The mess of tools jingling and jangling in the bed of that pick-up threatened to take his attention from the drivers roasting their tires and revving their engines, but he was mesmerized.
So when his dad announced that he was going to return one day soon to race with his pick-up truck, Owen became a committed companion.
It’s a good thing, too, as he was invited to drive someone else’s junior-dragster, and he couldn’t accept quickly enough. Seemingly a natural, he made it to the semifinal at his first race the following weekend, setting in motion a series of successes that ultimately led to his 2015 championship.
It’s meaningful to him, he says, because it’s his first, but it’s especially meaningful to him because it’s something he achieved with his dad as his crew chief. Together, the two shared the same casual and carefree approach to cruising down the eighth-mile.
Friendly and fun-loving, Owen is a favorite among his fellow racers at Summit Motorsports Park as well as his fellow students at the University of Toledo, where he’s a freshman studying mechanical engineering.
When he’s not in his apartment there, he’s at home in Norwalk with his family, including, of course, his dad, Brian, and his mom, Debbie, as well as his sister, Morgan.
Trinity Marshall is Magical as Intermediate Junior-Dragster Champion
As an eighth-grader at Spencer County Middle School in Taylorsville, Kentucky, Trinity Marshall enjoys learning about everything from history to math.
But when she puts down her books, she picks up her trumpet to perform with the school band and she points her bow and arrow to perform with the school archery team, which, by the way, would have disbanded had she not played a role in a fight to keep it.
She’s always up for a game of basketball, football and volleyball, and she often has her nose in a book. In fact, she recently finished “If I stay,” by Gayle Forman.
While it takes her and her family five hours to drive from their home in Sisherville, Kentucky to Summit Motorsports Park, there are many things that make her forget about the distance traveled, including spending time with her fellow racers, the sound of her junior-dragster’s engine roaring to life and feeling the air whoosh over her as she drives down-track.
Trinity — who lives with her parents, Amanda and Rick, her brother, Gavin, two cats and a dog — had a personal reason for wanting to do well 2015, and while she wants to keep that reason private, she will share that she had an enormously emotional moment when she realized she had driven to the top spot in points at the last race of the season.
Morgan Curtis is Magnificent as Novice Junior-Dragster Champion
Morgan Curtis was just four years old when she started watching her dad race.
A few years later, she started watching her sister race, too, and after discovering how much fun they were having, she announced during a show-and-tell session at school — in no uncertain terms — that her sister’s junior-dragster actually belonged to her, and that she was merely allowing her sister to drive it.
While that wasn’t exactlythe case, she did go on to inherit her sister’s junior-dragster when she turned eight, and she used it to drive to a championship at a track in Michigan in 2013 before coming to Summit Motorsports Park in 2015.
Morgan, who stays calm while racing by reminding herself that even if she doesn’t win that day, she’ll likely win another day, is a fifth-grader at Allen Elementary in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She likes to relax at home with her parents, Bill and Sarah, her sister, Kaitlyn and her dogs Timber, Moose and Marley. She also likes to go slot car racing. When asked whether she likes junior-dragster racing or slot car racing more, she’ll smile and say “Junior-dragster racing, of course,” and when asked which two words best describe how she feels when she’s in her junior-dragster, she’ll smile again and say “Happy and proud.”