Atlanta Dragway National Dragster Challenge Recap – by Tim GloverAugust 19, 2012 · 0 Comments
(Commerce, GA – August 18) Racers from several surrounding states joined Atlanta Dragway regulars to compete for a coveted “Wally” trophy at the 2012 edition of the NHRA National Dragster Challenge, and everyone gave their best efforts to win, highlighted by the finish line margins in the final rounds. In addition to the regular purse, National Dragster awarded a “Wally” trophy to each class winner. Earlier in the day, a Run for the Money event was contested, and the winners of that were Russell Haskins (Sportsman), Tim Polnaszek (Pro) and Jeremy Hancock (Super Pro). Defending 13-17 Jr Dragster champion Wesley Mayfield made the move this weekend to Super Pro, and after dialing in the delay box, his third pass in a Super Pro dragster on Friday featured a perfect 0.000 reaction time. He backed that up today with a victory in his first Super Pro competition round, running a dead-on 5.022 time on his 5.02 dial. All classes were run on the eighth mile course today, in preparation for the upcoming Summit ET Finals, which will be held at South Georgia Motorsports Park on the first weekend in October.
Two previous Jr Dragster standouts, Jeremy Hancock and Hank Wilhelm, faced each other in the Super Pro final run for the “Wally” trophy. One thousandth of a second separated the two at the finish line, with Hancock crossing the win stripe first with a slight breakout 7.747 second pass at 141.98mph (7.75 dial) in his Commerce, GA based ’05 Undercover dragster. Wilhelm, also from Commerce, broke out a little more in his ’96 Ed Quay dragster, posting a 5.226 at 126.10mph (5.24 target). Danny Dixon (’81 Malibu – Cleveland, GA) and Jacob Rutledge (’79 Capri – Hoschton, GA) collected the semi-finalist portion of the purse. “I’m speechless,” Hancock said at first. He then added, “I won this last year and am happy I could back it up. I want to thank the dear Lord first, and also Junior Pippin Trucking, PAR Racing Engines, Sid Neal Transmissions, Overkill Motorsports, my wife Ashley, son Cooper and the Bank of Paula. I also want to dedicate this win and “Wally” trophy to uncle Johnny for all his help and support.
“It was either go red or have a good light,” Pro winner Ryan Johnson of Pendergrass, GA said to himself before running the Pro final round against Dickey Forrester from Hickory Flat, GA. Johnson not only had a good light, he reacted with a 0.001 second time, and then crossed the top end stripe with a near perfect 6.101 at 115.27mph in his ’82 Mustang (6.10 dial). Forrester could not have asked for much better from his ’68 Camaro, which also carded a dead-on 7.517 at 90.22mph (7.51 dial). Howard Warren (’72 Maverick – Douglasville, GA) and Greg Allen (’80 “Triple Threat” Camaro – Greenwood, SC) ended their day in the semi-final round. “I want to thank the Lord first, and then William Blackie for the tuning and friend Austin Herrington for helping,” added Johnson. “I thought a 0.024 second light was good for an old guy and good for the win. But Ryan….,” said Forrester, smiling and shaking his head.
“This is my first actual Sportsman win,” said winner Allen Long from Ballground, GA after his final round Sportsman matchup against J.D. “Doc” Burford. Long was actually at a slight disadvantage in the reaction time department (0.049 to Burford’s 0.030), but received the win after breaking out less than Burford. Long’s time was 11.073 seconds at 64.17mph (11.08 dial) in his ’96 Silverado. Burford’s Greenville, SC based ’08 Corvette crossed the top end stripe 0.040 seconds in front of Long, but broke out more with an 8.232 at 89.40mph (8.26 dial). Howard Warren (’72 Maverick – Douglasville, GA) was the lone Sportsman semi-finalist. Long, who has been racing Sportsman for four years actually earned his first “Wally” back in 2009, when he won High School class at the 2009 Summit ET Finals. Doug Richardson added, “He won the one that counted,” when asked about it being Long’s first Sportsman win.
Clermont, GA racer Tim Sutton added another “Wally” trophy to his collection by taking the win in Motorcycle class. Sutton’s ’89 Suzuki ran right on target, with a 0.028 react followed by a 5.603 at 125.26mph (5.59 dial). His opponent, David Fletcher of Lawrenceville, GA was so close to victory, but his ’84 Kawasaki tripped the timers 0.001 seconds too early with a -0.001 red light. His bike was also right there, posting a flat out 5.898 at 115.64mph (5.88 dial). “Slick Wicked” racer Angie Young from Anderson, SC, who recently won her 2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 Kawasaki’s “Zero to Hero” promotion was thrilled to make it to the semi-final round in just her third event. The other semi-finalist was Gladys Loney (’84 Kawasaki – Dalzell, SC). Jay Rhyne mentioned that Sutton’s bike came to the track this weekend with broken clutch plates, which they repaired before competition. Sutton thanked Wade Clark and Ed Mazzoline for all their help. Sutton’s wife, Jennifer noted that he now has two pewter and one gold “Wally” trophy.
Twelve year old Wesley Syme from Atlanta, GA has been racing at Atlanta Dragway for three years. Syme enjoyed his first Atlanta win after defeating Austin Bowden (10 – Homer, GA), who has been coming on strong lately in the 8-12 Junior Dragster class points. Syme took the holeshot victory this time against Bowden with an 8.966 at 72.20mph (8.90 dial), due to his 0.09 second reaction time advantage over Bowden. Bowden’s car ran a little off pace with a 9.01 at 72.27mph (8.98 dial). Defending champion Austin Carden (13 – McDonough, GA) was the semi-final trophy winner. Syme has won events at other tracks, including two “Wally” events at Silver Dollar Raceway.
Fourteen year old Austin Solesbee from Sautee Nacoochee, GA took out the “sheriff” in the 13-17 Junior Dragster final. Solesbee’s final round opponent was 16 year old Cole Sheriff of Lula, GA. Solesbee put the winning dead-on 7.906 at 81.94mph pass on the boards, while Sheriff, who actually crossed the stripe 0.05 seconds before Solesbee, broke out with a 7.897 at 82.16mph (7.93 dial). Austin Bowden’s brother, Chris Bowden (16 – Homer, GA) and Paul Charette (17 – Evans, GA) earned the semi-finalist trophy for their efforts. “I want to thank God first, and also my parents Linn and Gary Solesbee. I also want to thank Helton Graphics for the artwork on the car, and Lawson for helping dad tune the car each pass,” added Solesbee.