Seattle, WA. – Chris Demke’s final round race down the Pacific Raceways quarter mile took just over eleven seconds, but it seemed like an hour. After losing traction and multiple throttle pedals, the blower let go and Demke was coasting down the 1320 with parachutes deployed. It was not fun or fast, but it was enough for the victory. In the grand scheme of things it does it matter how, just how many races you have won.
In Friday’s first qualifying session, the Peen Rite / OSI / 801 Racing Dragster laid down a 5.305/271.68 which was good enough for the second slot. Wanting more, they turned up the wick for the second session and ripped off a 5.260 at 271.90. That was good enough for the number one spot, and low elapsed time and speed for the event. On Saturday, a 5.296/269.56 was put up on the scoreboard and they went into Sunday eliminations still in the top spot. The crew, led by crew chief Jerry Maddern, tuner/clutch guy Adam Rhoades, Kevin Watson, Mike Demke and Ronald Mann, had found the electrical issue and cured the car’s bad habits. This weekend they were assisted by Peen Rite’s Mike Garcia and OSI’s Kent Goss.
In the first round of eliminations, Demke was paired up with William Litton. A 5.3612/269.40 was enough to beat Litton’s 5.899/259.16. In second round action, Joey Severance was sent home with a 5.362/268.22 to a close 5.386/267.53. It was on to the finals. Waiting for them was National Point leader Jim Whiteley. The Maddern Racing gang knew they had the tune-up to beat Whiteley, and they prepared for war. They were not prepared for what was about to happen. At the start, both cars rocketed off the launch pad. Demke then went into tire smoke. A couple of quick pedal jobs followed until the supercharger gave up the fight. The crew reacted in disbelief, but Whiteley was in trouble also. Then Demke’s parachutes came out. Whiteley’s shake had him floundering and then his chutes came out also. Both cars were coasting to the finish line.
“It was a helpless feeling,” said Demke. “I didn’t see him, so I put the clutch in and hoped. I actually didn’t think it was going to make it to the finish line. I kept waiting for him to roar by me. I just focused on my win light. When I saw my bulb light up I chuckled. Then Whiteley came by me and I erupted in laughter. It was incredible.”
This is not the way it’s supposed to happen, but it did. Both crews were willing their cars to the line, as each driver could only sit and wait for their respective momentums to get them to the finish line. In what must have seemed like an eternity, Demke crossed the finish line first. An 11.370 elapsed time had captured the victory at just over forty-six miles an hour. Whiteley crossed the finish line with a 11.763/50.91 pass that was equally lethargic. The Maddern Racing Crew went nuts on the starting line, jumping and hugging each other. The Whiteley crew stood in disbelief. This was a final round that would not be forgotten in quite a while. This is especially true for Maddern Racing crewmember Kevin Watson. He was celebrating his birthday on this particular Sunday, and winning the race was the icing on the cake. The team celebrated with party hats all weekend, and even wore them during the victory celebration photos.
The only thing missing from the race winning weekend for the members of the Maddern Racing Team was seeing Mark Niver and having his family at the track. “We really missed Mark, Bobby, Samantha and the rest of the Niver family this weekend,” added Demke. “Having lost Mark two years ago at this track is still fresh in our minds and we honor his memory with this victory.”
Chris Demke and the Maddern Racing Team leave Seattle with a broken race car, a few crushed party hats, and a National Event trophy. The story of the 2012 Seattle Top Alcohol Dragster final round will be told for many a year, but for the Maddern Racing gang, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that an eleven second elapsed time slip is sometimes a great Birthday present.
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