Dome Valley March Madness '13 Race Recap

The Yuma area chamber of commerce couldn’t have dialed up a better late March weekend for the March Madness event at Dome Valley Raceway in Wellton, AZ. Excellent conditions led to exceptional racing all weekend long as racers earned points towards the 2013 NSRA Quality Aircraft Care championship. Read on for the full recap.

Top Fuel

Three quality Top Fuel entries made the trek to Dome Valley Raceway for battle. Qualifying was led by the Hammer Down team of Dennis Rieck as he recorded a 2.214/150MPH in the final session. Dennis was shooting for the current World Record held by Scott Whipple with a 2.22. At that point, he had to run at least a 2.25 to back up the 2.21 for a new record. The Coldwater Kid team entry driven by Matt Ludlow ran a 2.46/152MPH to hold down the second spot in qualifying. Ludlow ran that pass in the first session; they would sit out the rest of qualifying making proper repairs for race day. New Hammer Down teammate Marcus Norris in the Pat Norris Racing team entry did not take the track in qualifying as they sorted out their new combination in the pits. The new Norris/Hammer Down alliance allowed for new fuel system & clutch parts to be acquired in a move to enhance the performance of the Dragster.

Sunday’s round one came around with Rieck having the bye run with the Hammer Down Hemi. All eyes were on the starting line with anticipation of seeing a new World Record backed up. Rieck would go ‘A to B’, but would fall up short of the required back up number as he ran a 2.31/141MPH to advance on. Up next it would be the match up between Ludlow and Norris. The Norris team was ready for action, but unfortunately the chute would pop out while in the starting process handing a single to the Coldwater Kid team. Ludlow’s repairs after Saturday’s pass worked flawlessly as he ran his Personal Best ET with a 2.301/162MPH not only earning the win, but also lane choice in the final. The Norris team would come back for a test pass after re-packing the chute. Norris would make a clean hit shutting off early, but there’s no doubt this team will be a contender in the upcoming races

This would set the stage for an epic final round between the two Quickest and Fastest active Top Fuel teams in the world. Dennis Rieck and the Hammer Down team would put it in the beams alongside Matthew Ludlow in the John Aleman-tuned Coldwater Kid Fueler. When the tree dropped, Rieck took a .120 to .160 advantage and would hold that lead steady through the traps in a 2.36/143MPH to 2.39/141MPH victory. The Margin of Victory was just .067 in one of the closest Top Fuel final rounds in recent history. Congrats to both teams on a great weekend of Nitro action at the sand drags.

Top Fuel Final Round: Winner Dennis Rieck (Near Lane) vs. Matthew Ludlow

Top Eliminator

The Top Eliminator class was a little slim on entries at Dome, but the quality of cars & action on the track certainly did not suffer. Qualifying started off with the bar set really high as in the first pair of Q1 point’s leader Billy Morris in the Morris Family Racing entry ran a great 2.953 on the 2.95 Index. The rest of the field took their shots at the top spot, but Morris would hold on throughout qualifying. Oklahoma’s Dee Trower would qualify second with a 2.98 in the Fast Forward/Trower Racing/B&J Transmissions Blown Small Block Dragster. Third spot would be a great story as “Wild Willie” Swim substituted for Pat Headington behind the wheel of Ralph Adamson’s Yuma-based Blown BBC Dragster. Wild Willie ran a Personal Best 3.01 for the Adamson/Murphy’s Law; he would be followed by Central California’s Marc Whitmore’s 3.11 in the Whitmore Speed & Custom Altered and AZ’s Jamie Carroll in the Carroll Racing Blown Alcohol Dragster with a 3.13.

Round one started with the 4-5 pair as Whitmore and Carroll came to the line. Both drivers would card their personal best ET’s with Whitmore taking the win in a 3.02 to 3.07 battle. Whitmore did a great job of man handling the Altered as it got a little close to the guard rail in the shut down area. Marc would face top qualifier Billy Morris in the semi’s, who ran a little too fast on his round one bye with a 2.928 on the 2.95 Index. Trower would struggle on her bye run with a 3.16 in her screw-blown SBC-powered Dragster. The bummer of the round was for the Wild Willie/Murphy’s Law team as they found a broken block after the Sunday warm up taking them out of competition for the weekend.

The semi-final round started off with the prime time match up between Morris and Whitmore. Morris, going for three wins in a row, left second .094 to .084, but would be able to chase down Marc for a close 3.08 to 3.13 victory. Trower continued to experiment with the Fast Forward Dragster on his semi-final round single as she ran a 3.29 to advance on.

This set up a rematch of the final round from the Dome Valley January race between Morris and Trower. When the tree dropped, it was Morris again leaving first .084 to .194, and the outcome was the same as Billy edged out Dee in a 3.01 to 2.956 hole shot decision. The Morris Family team has won all three races in 2013 and leads the standings over Whitmore, who moved into second place in the standings heading into Race Four.

Top Eliminator Final Round: Winner Billy Morris (Near Lane) vs. Dee Trower

Other Heads-Up Classes

Rod Trower brought his Thunder Oklahoma-based Top Alcohol Dragster to Dome Valley. With the B&J Transmissions crew tuning the BAE Hemi, Trower matched his Personal Best of 2.46 in Qualifying before lowering that number to a 2.445 in Sunday’s action. Rod’s win moved him to within three points of leader Gary Mink.

Rod Trower put on a great show at Dome Valley with his Thunder Top Alcohol Dragster.

John Cronin was the lone Fast Fours entry in the Cronin Racing Meltdown Dragster. John ran a best of 2.97 in Qualifying before running his best pass of the weekend with a 2.950 on Sunday.

John Cronin in the Cronin Racing Meltdown Fast Fours Dragster.

Pro Bracket Classes

The Pro 1 class saw some tough competition on Sunday. The semi-final started off with Riverside, CA’s Bill Meaney in his Larry Minor Motorsports Jeep against Yuma, AZ’s Tommy Zavala. Both racers have had great starts to the season, but on this day it would be Meaney leaving first and running a 3.843 (3.80) to advance on. Bill would face Lamar Bassett in his Phoenix area-based Blown Alcohol Funny Car in the final round. Lamar would leave first .058 to .067, however it would be Meaney getting to the finish line first with a 3.827 (3.80) while Lamar pitched off the blower belt early to a 3.470 (3.30). This would be Meaney’s first win in his first Pro 1 try. Zavala’s semi-final finish moved him into the point’s lead over Bob Cambridge by 12.

Bill Meaney - Pro 1 Winner

Double Up was the word of the day in the Pro 2 class as the final round rolled around. Jose Beas earned a spot in the Pro 2 final round after a win over Soboba winner from earlier in the month Wes Gilmore when Gilmore red lighted. Beas also ended up in the Pro 3 final round. His opponent would be Pro 1 winner Meaney. Bill came around with his Larry Minor Motorsports Jeep trying for his first ever Double Up. When the tree dropped, it was all Yuma local Beas as he left first .047 to .157 and never looked back with a 4.382 (4.35) for the win. Chris Adamson continues to lead the Pro 2 points by 17 over Gilmore.

Jose Beas - Pro 2 Winner

Pro 2 winner Jose Beas came around to try for the Double Up in Pro 3, but he had his work cut out for himself as he had to face off with one of the toughest bracket racers nationwide in Charlie Johnson with his Back N Black Jeep. Johnson, the Pro 3 point’s leader coming in, was on his game all weekend and this battle would be no exception. Charlie left first .042 to .064 and forced Beas into a 4.369 (4.38) breakout while he cruised on for the win with a 4.425 (4.38). This would be back-to-back Pro 3 wins for Johnson as he also won at Soboba earlier in the month. Charlie holds a 20 point lead over Chris Adamson going into Race 4.

Charlie Johnson - Pro 3 Winner

The MP1 class saw some great action in the early rounds. Point leader Mark Ratliff bogged in round one falling to Dakoda Crockett. With his round one win, Mark’s son Garrett took the point lead, but Brad Olson would get the better of him in the semi-final round running a closer to the dial 4.242 (4.20) for the win. California’s Olson lined up in the final round against Arizona’s Crockett on the Spitali Racing Pro ATV. This race would be all Olson with a .066 RT and lifting early to a 4.602 (4.20) win after Crockett bogged off the line. Garrett ended up 4 points ahead of Mark with Olson just 11 back after three events.

Brad Olson - MP1 Winner

MPC Racing would decide the MP2 class final round as the father-son team of Mark & Garrett Ratliff squared off for the title. Both racers dialed 4.50 in what amounted to a heads-up battle. Mark left first .074 to .086, but it would be a double breakout decision at the stripe with Garrett taking the win 4.480 to 4.401. Garrett’s win gives him a nine point lead over Mark with Craig Durning another five points back.

Garrett Ratliff - MP2 Winner

Open Pro Bracket Classes

Open Pro turned into a Jeep Showdown in the late rounds on Saturday. The final round of the quicker ‘A’ class came down to an all-California battle between Wes Gilmore and Clayton Record. Gilmore used a great .013 RT and 4.063 (4.02) to advance on. The ‘B’ class final round was a preview of Sunday’s Pro 3 final round as Charlie Johnson and Jose Beas faced off. In an eerily similar result, Johnson left first and forced Beas into a break out 4.411 (4.42). This would set up the Open Pro final round between Gilmore and Johnson. The red light would decide this race as Johnson left seven-thousandths of a second (.007) too soon handing Gilmore the big win.

Wes Gilmore - Open Pro Winner

The Motorcycle Open Pro final round match up would see Garrett Ratliff pull to the line against Chris Spitali. MPC Racing’s Ratliff would be too much on this day as he used a .058 RT and 4.701 (4.42) for the win while Spitali broke out with a 4.462 (4.50).

Garrett Ratliff - Motorcycle Open Pro Winner

Sportsman Bracket Classes

Saturday’s Sportsman 1 class final round would see Brian Atchley in Mike Erwin’s Swag Racing Jeep against eventual Pro 1 Winner Bill Meaney in an all-Jeep battle. Meaney had the starting line edge .063 to .128, but at the finish line it was Atchley running a 4.059 (4.04) to take the win by just six-thousandths of a second (.006). Clayton Record holds on to the point lead by just two over Meaney.

Brian Atchley - Sportsman 1 Winner

Sportsman 2 boiled down to a pair of Yuma local racers as Shelley Van Horn in the Jeep her husband Tyler normal races, lined up against 16 year old Evan Thomas in his dad’s Swag Nastee Jeep. Shelley had a big starting line advantage, but could not run the number as Evan drove around with a 4.716 (4.50) to take the win.

Evan Thomas - Sportsman 2 Winner

The Motorcycle Sportsman classes were dominated by MPC Racing on Saturday. In the MS1 final round, Mark Ratliff took the win over Garrett when Garrett got timed out while staging. Mark ran a 4.427 (4.32) for the win. They would then square off in the MS2 final, where the tables would be turned as Garrett turned the win light on in a great race with a closer to the dial 4.564 (4.50).

Mark Ratliff - MS1 Winner

Two of the best in the Junior Dragster class battled it out at Dome Valley. When the dust settled, it would be Ryan Rodriguez taking the win with a 6.479 (6.06) in a close race over last year’s champ Kyla Belville. Rodriguez took the point’s lead back by 5 heading into Race 4.

Junior Dragster Final: Winner Ryan Rodriguez (Near Lane) vs. Kyla Belville

Photos Courtesy

Photo Gallery - Courtesy of NSDN

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