Dome Valley Oct '12 Race Recap

Dome Valley Raceway was back in business for the October Showdown event at the Wellton, AZ track in late October. Many safety improvements were made to the facility, and the racers were eager to come back to the great Arizona facility. This event saw some huge performances, and close racing. Let’s take a look at the action.

Top Fuel

Three Top Fuelers converged on the Dome Valley track on this October weekend. From the first qualifier, Dennis Rieck and the Hammer Down team put themselves in position to be the team to beat. Dennis ran a solid 2.24/165MPH blast off of the trailer with a cylinder out almost the whole length of the track. The Coldwater Kid Top Fuel team with Matthew Ludlow behind the wheel ran a nice 2.39/144MPH opening pass that would hold up for the #2 qualifying spot. In the final qualifying session, Marcus Norris would make his best qualifying hit running a 2.48/148MPH to head into eliminations in the third spot. But stealing the show in the night session would be the Hammer Down team. Under the lights, with prime track & air conditions, all eyes were on Team Orange when they pulled to the line. What resulted was nothing short of amazing as all eight cylinders were hitting with the candles lit, and the numbers flashed on the scoreboards, 2.163 @ 156MPH with a stunning .897 60’ time. This would be the quickest run in sand drag racing history. As a matter of fact, almost too fast, as the earlier 2.24 was not quick enough to back up this pass, so Dennis would have to run quick enough during Eliminations to back this pass up for a World Record.

The Hammer Down bye run came up first and everyone was watching the track as Dennis Rieck would attempt to back up the World Record. Unfortunately, this run didn’t make it more than 10’ before the rear end broke. So, the Hammer Down crew went back to the pits to thrash for the final round. Rolling up to the line next would be the Arizona-based Coldwater Kid & Pat Norris Racing teams. The Ludlow team had the performance advantage in qualifying with crew chief John Aleman sending them down the track to a 2.39 #2 qualifying effort. However, this match up would see the underdog pull off the victory as Marcus Norris wheeled the Pat Norris Racing entry to the victory with a 2.45/148MPH to Ludlow’s 2.59/130MPH effort. The Ludlow team had a cheap part failure (air line), which caused problems on this pass, while the Norris team ran a near Personal Best effort (2.44) for the win.

Anticipation was high for the final round as most wondered not only if Dennis Rieck could back up his World Record, but if that team could even make it to the starting line for the final round. They would make the call to face off with the Norris team. Sadly this would not be a side-by-side battle as the Norris team made a huge effort to get their Fueler started, but was not able to giving Rieck a single pass to the win. Dennis would go straight down the track with a 2.49/144MPH for the victory. Later it was noted that the team put their spare rear end in the car, and backed it down just to go ‘A to B’ in the final round. Congrats to the Hammer Down team on the huge win in Dome Valley, which also locked up the 2012 NSRA Top Fuel class championship for them.

Dennis Rieck - TF Winner

Marcus Norris - TF Runner-Up

Matt Ludlow

Top Alcohol

The Top Alcohol class saw a pair of entries show up to race off for the victory. Qualifying was good to Craig Sines and the Oregon-based Thunderstruck team has he would take the top qualifying spot with a solid 2.58 pass in Q2. Pedro Villa’s “Express” team showed up off of their great performance at the last Soboba event, and thrilled the crowd with a massive wheel stand in the first qualifying session. Pedro then had some issues, and had to shut off in the second session. Unfortunately for the “Express” team, they were unable to make the call on race day leaving Sines to make a single for the win. This would be a costly win for the Thunderstruck team as they kicked the burst panels out on the way to a 3.04 for the win. Congrats to the Sines/Thunderstruck team on the victory.

Craig Sines - Top Alcohol Winner

TA Winner Craig Sines (Far Lane) vs. Runner-Up Pedro Villa

Fast Fours

Another class that was short on racers, but not on excitement was the Fast Fours category. Aaron Mamer was the only points contender to show up for the Dome Valley event, which ultimately would clinch the championship for the Sidewinder team. Mamer ran a solid 2.93 in qualifying to take the top spot into race day. Mamer’s opponent for the win would be Oregon’s Dave Marcroft. Marcroft came so close to his first 2 second pass with a 3.002 in the final qualifying session. Dave continues to make big improvements with his entry every time out. When the final round came to the line on Sunday, it was all Mamer as he got a nice starting line advantage and ran Low ET of the weekend with a 2.90 to defeat Marcroft’s 3.13. The weekend sweep for Mamer locked up the point’s title for the Fast Fours class for them heading into the Soboba Season Finale. Congrats to the whole Mamer Racing team on a great season.

Aaron Mamer - Fast Fours Winner

Dave Marcroft - Fast Fours Runner-Up

Top Eliminator

Qualifying in the Top Eliminator class was as cut throat as always on this weekend at Dome Valley. We might as well start calling him “Mr. Perfect” as Paul Taylor made his second perfect run in TE action this year with a 2.950 to lead the pack. New Mexico’s Tim Martin ran a strong 2.99 for the second spot while Jim Rossi (3.01) and Billy Morris (3.04) rounded out the top half of the field.

The prime time match up of round one saw the 4-5 qualifiers of Morris and Paul Graham face off. Both of these racers are always capable of runs real close to the 2.95 Index and stellar RT’s. Morris would show his starting line prowess with a .058 to .154 advantage, which enabled him to take the win in a 3.02 to 3.07 decision. It was great to see Las Vegas racer Mark Punos back in action at this event after a major health scare earlier this year. Mark qualified #6 with a 3.06, but a red light would take him out in round one as Jim Rossi advanced past him with a 2.99.

Round two was set up to be a huge battle. Point leader Morris and current second place contender Paul Taylor rolled up to the line. Taylor needed this win to stay in contention, while Morris knew a round win here pretty much assured him his first TE class championship. When the tree dropped, it was Morris again leaving first .062 to .156, and that’s what allowed him to use his 3.04 to force Taylor into a 2.944 break out. On the other side of the ladder, third place point’s contender Jim Rossi would get a single pass as his opponent #2 qualifier Martin broke a rear end in round one. Rossi ran a 3.02 to advance on.

This set up a classic 2 Dolla’ Bill versus Bad Toy TE final round. It would be Morris again with another solid RT, this time .054, which would be the winning ticket as he ran a 2.98 while Rossi broke out, also by .006 with a 2.944. This event victory clinched the first Top Eliminator championship for the Morris Family Racing/2 Dolla’ Bill team. The battle going into the final event will be for second place between Taylor and Rossi, with the Avenal final rounds to be completed there as well.

Billy Morris - TE Winner

Jim Rossi - TE Runner-Up

Pro Bracket Classes

The Pro 1 class came down to a great match up between two of the best in the category as point leader Keith Ahart in the "Second Urge" Dragster squared off with “Eugene the Jeep” of Craig Durning. Craig had everything on his side on this day as he used a great .041 RT and 3.685 (3.67) to take his first win of 2012. Ahart’s runner-up finish locked up the class championship for him.

Craig Durning - Pro 1 Winner

Pro 2 was a battle at Dome Valley from start to finish. The two main points combatants would draw each other in round one in a pair that would essentially decide the championship. George Amos in his BBC-powered Dragster rolled up to the line against Charlie Johnson’s potent "Back N Black" Mopar-powered Jeep. Both drivers were deadly on the tree as Johnson left first .008 to .038, but Johnson took a little too much stripe and broke out with a 4.471 (4.50) to hand the ultra consistent Amos the win 3.977 (3.96). George’s ultra consistent Dragster found its way to the final round against the always tough Yuma local racer Jose Beas in his BBC-powered Jeep. Amos could not be beat on this day as he used a .016 RT and 4.019 (3.96) to turn on the win light. His win was his fourth of the 2012 season in Pro 2, and enough to seal the deal as far as the championship is concerned.

Pro 2 Final Round - George Amos (Near Lane) tracks down Jose Beas for the win

The Pro 3 class planned on trying to track down the always tough Charlie Johnson in the championship hunt at this event. Johnson would earn #1 qualifier bonus points with a .048 RT in a first round defeat of MI racer Buddy Hammett. His closest points contenders would fall early on this day, and Charlie would square off with Yuma local racer Jim Clark in the semi-final round. Charlie would be thrown off of his game as he bounced back out of the guard beam while staging, and Jim took full advantage to take the big win with a 4.577 (4.50). Jim would line up against Oregon racer Donna Huff in an all-Jeep Pro 3 final round. Donna had the starting line advantage .089 to .135 and held for the big win with a 4.702 (4.59). Johnson’s semi-final finish all but mathematically locked up the title for him heading into the Season Finale.

Donna Huff - Pro 3 Winner

Christian Payne backed up his big win in Avenal the weekend before with a great performance in Dome Valley for back-to-back wins in the Motorcycle Pro 1 class. In the semi-finals, Payne lined up against points leader and defending class champion Mark Ratliff. When the dust settled, the win light came on in Christian’s lane as he ran closer to his dial with a 4.363 (4.29) for the win. Payne lined up against the always popular Furry Pro ATV of Brad Olson in the final round. Olson left first .116 to .160, but Christian kept up his consistent ways to score the win with a 4.326 (4.29). This was Christian’s third win of the 2012 season in the MP1 class, and moved him to within 25 points of Ratliff heading into the Season Finale.

Christian Payne - MP1 Winner

After losing the point lead over the prior weekend, Mark Ratliff came back at Dome and took it back in convincing fashion. Ratliff had a solid .055 RT in a round one defeat of Christian Payne to earn the #1 Qualifier Bonus Points. He would then advance past the always tough Matthew Ortiz to meet up with his points rival George Amos in the final round. These two always put on a great show, and this time around was no different. Amos left first .098 to .103, but it would be Ratliff running closer to his dial with a 4.571 (4.50) to take a .037 Margin of Victory to take his second win of the season as well as a six point advantage going into race eight of the series.

Mark Ratliff - MP2 Winner

Sportsman Bracket Classes

The Sportsman 1 category has been a wide open ball game all season with only one repeat winner. This was another wild day of action with the final round being Orange, CA’s Fern McKinney versus Bakersfield, CA’s Sid Payne in an all-Jeep final round. Sid turned on the red bulb knowing he had to throw down a great pass, while Fern ran a stellar 4.277 (4.24) with a .012RT for the win.

Fern McKinney (Near Lane) outruns Sid Payne for the Sportsman 1 win

Sportsman 2 was a wild shootout on Saturday with several big upsets in the first round leaving the field wide open. When the final round rolled around, Stefan Ortega pulled to the line in his Tucson-based Jeep against Tyler Large’s Mesa-based Jeep. Stefan would take a big starting line advantage, which forced Large into a 4.435 (4.50) break out. This would be Ortega’s first Sportsman 2 class victory.

Stefan Ortega - Sportsman 2 Winner

The Motorcycle Sportsman 1 championship hunt tightened up after some intense action at Dome Valley. MP1 contenders Mark Ratliff & Christian Payne are also deciding the title amongst themselves in this category. They would mow through the competition to face off in the Saturday afternoon final round. Payne took advantage of an unusually slow RT for Ratliff to take the win with a 4.566 (4.45) while Ratliff broke out with a 4.442 (4.45). Payne’s second win of the season moved him to within 11 points of Ratliff with one race remaining.

Christian Payne (Far Lane) took the MS1 victory over Mark Ratliff

Another championship race got real interesting after the Dome Valley event as the Motorcycle Sportsman 2 competitors mixed things up. Incoming point leader Grant Hutchinson lost out to Mark Ratliff in the semi-finals while second place Matthew Ortiz was taken down in a very close battle against Jack Vandigriff. This set the stage for a great final where Mark used a .053 RT and 4.585 (4.50) to take a Margin of Victory of .019 for his first MS2 win of the season. Mark’s win moved him to third place in the standings, just 17 points out, while Ortiz sits just seven behind Hutchinson as the series heads back to Soboba to close out the season.

Mark Ratliff (Near Lane) took the MS2 final round win over Jack Vandigriff

Kyla Belville closed out a great couple of weekends by clinching the 2012 NSRA Junior Dragster points title. Belville won the class at Avenal before heading to a final round show down with Ryan Rodriguez at Dome Valley. In this race, Rodriguez pushed the tree just a little too hard with a .003 red light handing Belville her second win of the year and first class championship.

Kyla Belville (Far Lane) was the Junior Dragster final round winner over Ryan Rodriguez

Open Pro Bracket Classes

The Open Pro classes are often the most entertaining classes of the weekend at Dome Valley. Contested on Saturday, these wide open classes offer up pairings that are rarely seen and close battles that we won’t forget. On this day, the Open Pro final came down to two of the toughest west coast Bracket racers of all time as Keith Ahart in his “Second Urge” Dragster lined up against Charlie Johnson’s “Back N Black” Jeep.  These two have countless race wins and championships over the many years that have competed, but rarely face off as they typically run in different classes. When the tree dropped, Ahart got a little antsy during the 1 second handicap on the tree and left early handing Johnson the win. Charlie ran a 4.497 (4.51) for the big victory. The same type of final transpired in the Motorcycle Open Pro class as two of the most prolific ATV bracket racers on the west coast squared off as Mark Ratliff and Mike Brock rolled to the line. Mark would use a slim .044 to .052 RT advantage to help him drive around Brock with a 4.589 (4.49) for the victory.

Charlie Johnson - Open Pro Winner

Mark Ratliff - Motorcycle Open Pro Winner

Photos Courtesy

Event Photo Gallery - Courtesy of NSDN

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