- Monday 08 July, 2013
Championship Sunday of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals rocks!
NORWALK, Ohio – A treat of a Funny Car final round showdown between Schumacher Racing teammates Ron Capps and Johnny Gray blazed the track with identical double-sided flames in a whole track side-by-side battle, then lit the scoreboard with twin elapsed times of 4.103 seconds at 314 mph.
No one until the win light flashed, to Johnny Gray, this time, on a hole shot decided at the tree by 0.006-second.
On record from previous races, team owner and mentor Don Schumacher tells his racers, “Just fight for it.”
But could there be a little flask of Code-W Schumacher Secret Sauce -- a little to Ron Capps; a little to Johnny Gray – dump it in the Funny Cars, stand back and see what happens?
In the Funny Car final round on Championship Sunday at the 2013 Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, the heat of the fight at the top end should have been shot, framed and hung on the wall.
Until next time.
You know those Schumacher boys.
For RACE RESULTS from the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, part of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, and the Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, click on: I love it!
Fans gathered with a singular purpose: A great time watching live National Hot Rod Association action.
On the north end of the Summit trackside fence, Scott Rosenthal, and his son, Dominic, 14, Badax, Mich., enjoyed a comfort of home – a great view of a big screen T.V. -- with a nitrous twist.
“This is awesome,” said Scott Rosenthal, a mechanic. “I wouldn't trade it for anything. This is the first time I've been here. I used to go to NASCAR but I'll never go back again.”
A visit to the Budweiser pits left an impression on Dominic.
“He got a picture of him with Courtney Force,” Scott Rosenthal said. “He's in love now.”
Scott Rosenthal said that about four years ago his boss, contractor Pat Rooney, Badax, Mich., visited the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. This year Pat Rooney brought the Rosenthals.
Trying to describe the Top Fuel experience, Scott Rosenthal said, “It grabs your chest.”
“You can't describe it,” Dominic Rosenthal said. “You have to see it to believe it.”
Pat Rooney laughs at the question.
“Every time I come down here,” Pat Rooney said, “I bring newbies.”
Wade Augsburger, Akron, Ohio, watched from the Summit fence with campground neighbors.
“We've been camping together for the last eight years now,” said Wade Augsburger, who rebuilds electric motors. “We're scattered, from all over the place.”
Though his favorite racer, Gary Scelzi, retired, Wade Augsburger continued the NHRA Nationals tradition by bringing his grandson Alex Hockman, 8, to experience the Top Fuel roar for the first time.
On August 10, 2013, Alex also attends his fourth Auto Plus Night Under Fire presented by Kelly Services, the Golden Anniversary celebration of Summit Motorsports Park.
Robbie Kordiac, 22, a pipeliner and heavy equipment operator from New Philadelphia, Ohio, usually watches National Hot Rod Association drag racing almost every weekend on television.
But his father, Robert Kordiac, a plumber, brought Robbie to Norwalk on Championship Sunday to watch live action together from the Summit trackside fence.
“It's like an adrenaline rush,” Robbie Kordiac said, adding his friends need to feel the Top Fuel vibration and see NHRA racing for themselves.
Not wanting to miss a thing, fans flocked to the Winner's Circle in the staging lanes.
When the event winners – Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle; Mike Edwards in Pro Stock; Johnny Gray in Funny Car; and Khalid al-Balooshi in Top Fuel – arrived on stage and hoisted their Wally trophies, fireworks shot up from behind them.
Bill Bader Jr., president of Summit Motorsports Park, joined the winners.
“I wasn't sure for awhile if we were going to make it,” Bill Bader Jr. said. “But the good Lord gave us blue sky and sunshine. How about that, Norwalk?”
Summit Motorsports Park earned a reputation from coast to coast for serving a pound of delicious Velvet ice cream for a buck. Racers spread the fame.
“We are starting a new tradition,” Bill Bader Jr. said. “When you win at Norwalk, you will get a very special gift. This is a handmade walnut box, and inside is a billet ice cream scoop.”
Each racer explained the action from his perspective.
Pro Stock Motorcycle event champion Matt Smith, King, N.C., rode his 2010 Buell to victory, breaking a two-year dry spell.
“This Viper bike is running awesome,” Matt Smith said, adding some friendly jabs from another racer in Chicago may have fueled his victory, too. But Matt Smith's win emerged as the first half of some family sweetness.
His father, Rickie Smith, fulfilled a dream of a first father-son dual Wally event minutes later by winning Pro Mod in a 2012 Camaro.
“It's a big accomplishment,” Rickie Smith said. “Matthew's got several more years to race; I don't. The Good Lord has been good to me, won a lot of championships. I've been blessed so much through my wife, my kids. I'm just tickled to death to get it done.”
When asked why he races on two wheels instead of four like his father, Matt Smith said, “He doesn't want to get out of the car, you can see that. I couldn't afford a car. I could afford a motorcycle.”
Rickie Smith said Matt accomplished his racing success on his own, just like Rickie did.
Mike Edwards' Pro Stock win in the Interstate Batteries, I Am Second 2013 Camaro landed his fourth Wally in 2013.
“This has been an awesome year so far,” Mike Edwards said. “First of all I want to give the praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I want to give all the glory to Him.
“I've never done well in Norwalk,” Mike Edwards said. “I've always wanted to win this one.”
For Johnny Gray, several weeks of “stumbling” resulted in his crew's tearing down the front end of the Funny Car and rebuilding it last week.
When asked about the mechanical problems, Johnny Gray said, “I don't have a clue. My job is to get in, shut up, and put my foot down.”
Top Fuel pilot Khalid al-Balooshi raced his second final and bagged his first win of 2013 at Norwalk. Khalid al-Balooshi said he was motivated by a nine-year-old boy, Jacob Delling, Clio, Mich., who beat cancer but remained blind from it.
“This guy, he made my week,” Khalid al-Balooshi said. “He talked with all the racers. He wore an Al-Anabi gold shirt all day long.”
“It was pretty awesome,” Jacob Delling said. “I love the dragster. I got to sit in it. I love (the track). It's the awesome-est track I've ever been to.”
Watching Winner's Circle celebrations, Chris Frey, 30, Columbus, Ohio, said this was his first NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, and he loved the show up close and in person.
“It's awesome with the setup,” Chris Frey said. “This is the first time I've ever seen anything like this. It's a sight to see. I've always seen it on T.V.”
Chris Frey's favorite sensory experience is the smell of the nitro, he said.
“And watching John Force,” Chris Frey said. “He's been my favorite driver since I was a kid. It took me until I was 18 years old to meet him when he raced in Columbus.”
Steve Davis, McComb Township, Mich., watched the Winner's Circle with his sons, Austin Davis, 16, and William Davis, 13, who wore a white T-shirt colorfully signed by racers in the Pro pits.
While Steve Davis said his favorite parts of the NHRA Nationals are the top three Pro categories, the boys chose John Force as the star of the event.
“I love it,” said Steve Davis, who used to race a 1967 Dodge Dart. “We've been to all seven races since it's been here in Norwalk. We haven't missed a one. And we'll be back again next year.”