SCSDA Soboba Apr '17 Race Recap

Race 2 of the 3 race Southern California Sand Drag Association Season was held under chamber of commerce weather at the Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, CA. Huge Southern California crowds came out for Saturday evening’s Pro Show as well as Sunday’s Eliminations at the April Fuels Day event. It was great to see so many folks at the track enjoying the sights and sounds of 300’ sand drag action. This event saw excellent competition across the board with many races decided by mere thousandths of a second. Read on to see who won and to view our Event Photo Gallery.

Top Fuel

Marcus Norris and the Pat Norris Racing / Worldwide Insurance Specialists team picked up where they left off at the Season Opener by throwing down a strong 2.27/163MPH to earn their second straight #1 Qualifying position. Arizona was well represented in Qualifying as Matthew Ludlow put the Coldwater Kid / Arizona Air Compressor / F.S. Curtis Fueler down through there with a 2.37/152MPH blast to earn the second spot. The Hammer Down Team got past the gremlins that plagued them at the Season Opener. Dennis Rieck recorded a Best ET of 2.44 in Qualifying, however his best pass was in the final qualifying session where a timing system glitch left him with No ET after recording a tremendous .922 60’ time. Heading into Sunday’s Race Day, it was apparent that any of the three teams could take home the hardware at the end of eliminations.

First round kicked off with the 2-3 match up between Ludlow and Rieck. The track had undergone serious work overnight digging the track deeper, which certainly would help traction for the Nitro-burning Top Fuel cars. Even in the heat of the day, both cars laid down strong A-to-B laps with Rieck turning on the win light with a 2.31/146MPH to Ludlow’s 2.38 lap. Norris earned the bye run with his top qualifying effort and chose to go for final round lane choice. He would thunder down the track to a 2.32/138MPH blast for the Pat Norris Racing team. This would set up the final round with Rieck holding lane choice by just .012.

Sunday afternoon was time for the final showdown for the weekend as these Nitro-burning monsters shook the Hemet Valley with side-by-side full passes. Rieck would leave first by .008 and hold that edge through the stripe in an incredible 2.321/157MPH to 2.338/156MPH decision. The margin of victory was just .025 seconds in a great battle will be unforgettable to all in attendance. A huge Congratulations goes out to the Hammer Down team on their win as well as to the Pat Norris Racing & Coldwater Kid teams for putting on an incredible Top Fuel show all weekend long.


Dennis Rieck - Top Fuel Winner


Marcus Norris - Top Fuel Runner-Up


Top Alcohol

Jim Hammond and the “April’s Dream” Team made it back-to-back Top Qualifying efforts in SCSDA competition by carding a great 2.51/142MPH pass off the trailer in Q1. Coming off the Season Opener win, Jake Morton put the Morton Racing Dragster in the #2 position with a 2.57 followed closely by Chris Barlow’s strong 2.58 lap for the #3 spot.

Breakage scrambled up things on the ladder as Barlow and Jimmy Depasse were unable to compete in Sunday’s eliminations. Semi-final action kicked off with Hammond battling Derek Balcunas in the Larry Minor Motorsports Jeep. Balcunas took a sizeable lead at the hit, but it would be Hammond powering around for the win with a strong 2.61/131MPH lap to advance on. Jake Morton would have a single run with the Morton Racing entry looking to earn lane choice for the final. Morton earned lane choice by just eight-thousandths of a second (.008) with a 2.60/128MPH blast.

This set up a rematch of the Season Opener final round, where Morton scored the win. Both racers were up for battle, but Jake was a little too ready as he turned on the red light handing the instant win to Hammond, who hurt the engine down track on a 2.66/124MPH lap. Morton recorded Low ET of Eliminations with a 2.58/118MPH pass on the pass negated by his red-light. Congrats to the April’s Dream Team on their win at the SCSDA April Fuels Day event.


Jim Hammond - Top Alcohol Winner


Jake Morton - Top Alcohol Runner-Up


Top Eliminator

It's hard to convey in each of these stories how intense the action in the 2.95 Index Top Eliminator class is. Qualifying is always a huge battle just to get a favorable position on the ladder. Racers are hanging on every NSDN post to see what the latest updates in the Qualifying Order. This class is at such an incredible competition level. At this event, the intensity was ratcheted up a few notches with 9 entries vying for 8 spots. When the dust settled, it would be Ron D’Artenay in his season debut throwing down a nearly perfect 2.954ET to earn the #1 spot. Ron’s run took place early in the final session with several tough customers looking to knock him down a spot. Season Opener winner Billy Morris was the last car down the track in Qualifying and came up just short of the top spot with a 2.987ET, which was only good enough for the #4 spot. That final session was one of the highlights of the weekend with the Top 6 qualifiers all making their best pass. Larry Snow ended up on the bump spot with a 3.141ET in his “Lap Dance” Buggy after surviving a scare when his throttle hung open due to his Neck Brace getting caught in the Injector Hat. Thankfully Larry used his great driving skills to keep his ride in one piece and ready for Race Day. This excellent Qualifying action set the stage for a great day of Eliminations on Sunday.

Sunday’s Eliminations kicked off with Top Qualifier D’Artenay in the “Red Warrior” Dragster squaring off with Snow’s Blown Alcohol Buggy. Snow took a slight edge at the tree, but it would be Ron’s Hemi-power getting the job done in a 2.99 to 3.15 decision. Next up would be a rematch of last year’s SCSDA May race final between Morris in the “2 Dolla’ Bill / Morris Family Racing / Lucas Oil” entry and Jeff Liston’s Vegas-based “Sand Bomber”. Morris took the win in that final round, and would prevail on this day as well pedaling to a 3.12 victory as Liston was off his normal pace with a 3.23. #2 Qualifier Paul Taylor and his “Outta Control” Dragster pulled up to the line against Tommy Zavala’s Zavala Racing Nitrous-assisted entry. This was a great race with Taylor pulling out the win in a 2.98 to 3.03 battle. Finishing up Round One would be the closest match of the round as Marc Whitmore’s Whitmore Speed & Custom Altered paired up with Paul Graham’s “Excavator” Blown Alcohol Buggy. Whitmore left first .087 to .113, then both racers had traction troubled passes with Marc holding that starting line edge through the stripe for a hole shot win 3.18 to 3.17.

Round two kicked off with what proved to be a good of a match on track as it was on paper between Top Qualifier D’Artenay and the incredibly tough Morris. Billy would use his strong RT skills to take a .102 to .185 edge, but he would lift the slimmest of margins too early allowing D’Artenay’s Hemi-power to drive around by just one-thousandth of a second (.001) for a 2.957 to 3.041 victory. The battle to see who would face Ron in the final would be between Taylor’s Bakersfield-based Dragster and Whitmore’s Lemoore-based Altered. This one was decided at the tree as Taylor left way too early negating a nice 2.99 pass while Whitmore turned a 3.04ET for the win.

This set up an all-Central California final between good friends D’Artenay and Whitmore. Both cars were set up to run right on the 2.95 Index in this final round battle. Unfortunately, the final round was anti-climactic as a timing system glitch ended the run instantly leaving everyone with a question mark as to who won. Both racers agreed to split the winnings and not re-run the final as they would need significant cool down time to make another lap Sunday evening. We look forward to seeing these two line up side-by-side in the future as they always have a great battle. Congrats to both the Red Warrior and Whitmore Speed & Custom teams on reaching the final round in such an incredibly competitive TE class all weekend long.


Top Eliminator Finalists


Ron D'Artenay - Top Eliminator Finalist & #1 Qualifier


Marc Whitmore - Top Eliminator Finalist


Fast Fours

The Fast Fours class put on a quite a show throughout the three-day race weekend at the SCSDA April Fuels Day event. Kris Lauffer earned his first #1 Qualifying position with a strong 2.778ET during Friday night’s Qualifying Session. Mario Tavares was right behind Lauffer in the Pauter entry recording a 2.81 for the #2 spot while class frontrunner Robert Skidmore was slightly off the pace with a 2.84ET for the third position. Six teams in all made the trip to Southern California with Daniel King (2.88), Hawaii’s Lance Kaaina (3.30) & class newcomer Sally Rasmussen (3.42) rounding out the field.

In the first round, Phoenix area racer Skidmore squared off with Sally Rasmussen in her first weekend competing in the Fast Fours class driving the Poison Ivy entry fielded with her husband & long time Four-Cylinder competitor Mike Rasmussen. Skidmore hit on the tune up this time down the track matching Lauffer’s top qualifying pass with a great 2.778 in the heat of the day. Lauffer’s “Sand Hater” Dragster for Team VW Paradise earned a round one bye, and recorded a solid 2.78/114MPH to advance on. Tavares and Kaaina both advanced on as well with solo passes.

The semi-finals started with Lauffer lining up next to Lance Kaaina in the Hawaii-based “Crazy Coconut” Dragster. Lance rolled the beams turning on the red bulb handing the win over to Kris, who recorded a strong 2.840/114MPH pass. A classic Skidmore-Tavares battle would not happen on this day in the other semi-final pair as Mario could not make the call, so Robert would have a solo pass to the final. Skidmore went for lane choice on this pass and came up just five-thousandths of a second short with a 2.845/114MPH run.

All of this great action set up a titanic battle between Lauffer’s VW Paradise team and Skidmore’s Skidmore Racing entry. Both racers were within .01 in the opening rounds, so this set up to be a great match. But this one turned into a bizarre race quickly. The Lauffer team had trouble getting their car started in the lanes and it appeared Skidmore would get a single run. But then the “Sand Hater” came to life and Lauffer was able to get to the beams with his engine putting out a ton of smoke heading to the starting line. As both cars headed into the beams, Lauffer would stage first followed by Skidmore, who made an uncharacteristic mistake rolling in a touch too deep creating a Stage Foul and handing the win to Lauffer. Lauffer would bog at the hit on his way to the win while Skidmore laid down a great looking pass that recorded no ET after the Stage Foul. This was a crazy way to end out an incredible weekend of racing in the Fast Fours class. Congrats to the Lauffer / VW Paradise team on their first SCSDA event win.


Kris Lauffer - Fast Fours Winner


Robert Skidmore - Fast Fours Runner-Up


Pro Mod Unlimited

The cars and stars of Pro Mod were ready for battle at the SCSDA April Fuels Day event. Jimmy Depasse in the Otis Xpress entry led the pack in qualifying with a strong 2.83/116MPH pass. Unfortunately for the Otis Xpress team, they experienced engine damage and was unable to make Eliminations on Sunday. This left the SCSDA Season Opener Derek Balcunas in the Larry Minor Motorsports Jeep to do battle with Dave Huffman’s H&M Contractors Blown Alcohol Jeep. Derek ended up with a 2.94 Best ET in Qualifying followed by Huffman’s 3.32.

In the final round on Sunday, Derek left first .184 to .266 but Huffman made up that difference by 60’ as Balcunas had major traction issues. At the stripe, however it would be the Hemi power of Balcunas and the Larry Minor Motorsports team driving back around for the win 3.13/114MPH to Huffman’s game 3.32/95MPH. Congrats to Derek and the Larry Minor Motorsports team on back-to-back wins to start the 2017 SCSDA season.


Derek Balcunas - Pro Mod Unlimited Winner


Dave Huffman - Pro Mod Unlimited Runner-Up


Pro Bracket Classes

The Pro 1 final round came down to a battle of two of the top competitors in the category in recent years. Kenny Hayes in his Arizona-based Larry Minor Motorsports-built Jeep rolled into the beams against California’s Craig Durning in his unique “Eugene the Jeep” BBC-powered rear engine Jeep. Both racers were dialed in at 3.65 for the final round. This was an uncharacteristic run for both racers with the better light being Craig’s .102 to Kenny’s .155, and that would make the difference as Craig used a 3.667 (3.65) to force Kenny into a 3.618 (3.65) breakout. Congrats to Craig and the Durning Motorsports team on the win at the SCSDA April Fuels Day event.


Craig Durning - Pro 1 Winner

George Amos made his first start of the 2017 memorable by putting his Black & Blue Dragster by taking the Pro 2 class victory. George was the picture of consistency with three of his four elimination round laps being a 3.96, while the fourth pass was an early shut off run after his opponent was late. George’s toughest battle was in the final round where he faced off with Jim Larr, who was also in the Pro 3 final round. In this race, George left first .064 to .070 but it would be Larr taking the stripe by .063 to be five-thousandths under 4.245 (4.25) for the breakout. George was 3.966 on his 3.90 Dial-In for the victory. Congrats to George & the Time Bandit team on the big win.


George Amos - Pro 2 Winner

Jim Larr did an incredible driving job during Sunday’s Pro Bracket eliminations in his “Final Verdict” Jeep reaching both the Pro 2 and Pro 3 final rounds. Larr came up short in the Pro 2 final, but would refocus & lay down a great lap to take the Pro 3 victory. In the final, Jim faced off with the always tough Chris Adamson and his “Bounty Hunter” Jeep. Jim carded his Best RT of the day with a .042 bulb and went 4.309 (4.28) to force Adamson into a 4.359 (4.38) breakout. Congrats to Jim Larr on his win at the April SCSDA event.


Jim Larr - Pro 3 Winner

Mark Ratliff was certifiably hot on Sunday at the SCSDA April Fuels event. Making a switch to the old school flamed plastics on his trusty “2R” Pro ATV brought back some of that ride’s mojo as Mike rode his way to both the Motorcycle Pro 1 & Motorcycle Pro 2 class victories. In the MP1 final, Mark raced off with another hot racer of late Joey Weaver on the “J Dub Special”. Joey would leave first .127 to .138, but he just couldn’t get to the stripe first as Mark ran closer to his dial with a nice 4.530 (4.49) to take his first win of the day. Despite a dominating performance in MP1, Mark certainly had some great racing luck on his side in the MP2 class as both Randy Mings & Nate Huff had him covered in the early rounds but took much stripe to breakout. This set up a final round for Ratliff’s MPC Racing entry with Caleb Mings in a rematch of the SCSDA Season Opener final. Ratliff turned the tables this time around as he used a .069 RT and 4.569 (4.50) to complete the day’s double up. Congrats to Mark on his huge dual victory Sunday at the SCSDA April Fuels Day event.


Mark Ratliff - Motorcycle Pro 1 & Motorcycle Pro 2 Winner

Gambler Classes

The SCSDA event’s Friday & Saturday Pro Gambler cars classes produce some of the tightest racing seen all weekend long. The Gamblers certainly didn’t disappoint on this weekend. Friday’s final round saw the Oregon-based “Hangin’ Loose” Jeep of John Huff square off with Chris Adamson’s “Bounty Hunter” Jeep for the class title. John parlayed a .045 RT and 4.539 (4.40) into the victory. The Saturday final saw two of the quicker cars in the category square off in a unique identical dial-in final round. The scoreboards showed 3.58 on both sides of the track as David Den Hartog’s Vegas-based Blown Alcohol SBC Altered lined up against Kenny Hayes’ potent Arizona-based Jeep. Den Hartog would not be denied on this evening as he chopped the tree down with a .013 bulb and used a 3.677 (3.58) to turn on the win light.


John Huff - Friday Pro Gambler Winner


David Den Hartog - Saturday Pro Gambler Winner


The ATV racers competed in Motorcycle Gambler categories on both Friday & Saturday as well. Friday’s Gambler saw Phoenix racer Grant Hutchinson reach the final with a pair of dead-on 4.494 (4.49) laps. Grant wouldn’t need to be that tight to the dial in the final as he recorded a 4.609 (4.49) to turn on the win light over Eddie Partida. Saturday’s Gambler saw “J Dub” Joey Weaver lick his wounds from an earlier Sportsman 1 final round loss and get the job done in this category. Joey used a dead-on 4.182 (4.18) lap in the semi-finals to make it to the final round against Taylor Holmes. J Dub kept up the consistency with a nice 4.208 (4.18) to light up the electricity on the tree and take home winner’s share of the Gambler’s purse.


Grant Hutchinson - Friday Motorcycle Gambler Winner


Joey Weaver - Saturday Motorcycle Gambler Winner


Sportsman / Junior Bracket Classes

Saturday was Chris PIntor’s day as he got the job done in the Sportsman 1 class final round as he got around the ultra-tough Kenny Hayes. Forrest Hudson just has a knack for turning on win lights as he took the Sportsman 2 class title at the SCSDA April Fuels Day event. Forrest also won the Pro 3 class at the Season Opener event. In the Sportsman 2 final, Hudson earned the win when Tony Denunzio turned on the red bulb by just .001 in his good friend Justin Adamson’s “Raped Ape” Jeep. The Motorcycle Sportsman 1 final round was all Christy Garnas as she took the RT edge and ran closer to her dial to defeat Joey Weaver. Levi Graham showed them all how it’s done as he piloted his wheel standing 3-wheeler to the Motorcycle Sportsman 2 final round victory over class frontrunner Mark Ratliff.


Chris Pintor - Sportsman 1 Winner


Forrest Hudson - Sportsman 2 Winner


Christy Garnas - Motorcycle Sportsman 1 Winner


Levi Graham - Motorcycle Sportsman 2 Winner


The Junior categories put on a tremendous show on Sunday morning as usual with a solid group of kids tackling the 300’. Sunny Graham capped a great weekend for the Graham Family as she piloted the team’s Rhino to the Junior Dragster 9+ victory over Christian Myers. The two class dominators in Junior Dragster Mini’s squared off with Nixon Acevedo taking the big win defeating Blaine Denunzio, who hopped into a borrowed ride for the final after his Dragster broke and put up a great effort. The Juniors class final round saw Delaney Browning turn on the win light defeating top contender Ryan Rodriguez. Madysen Holden scored another win for Team Den Hartog as she emerged victorious in the Peewees class final round over Madison Foster.


Sunny Graham - Junior Dragster 9+ Winner


Nixon Acevedo - Junior Dragster Mini's Winner


Delaney Browning - Juniors Winner


Madysen Holden - Peewees Winner


Event Photo Gallery - Photos Courtesy NSDN

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