The inaugural World Footbrake Challenge presented by Jeg’s and BTE was held at beautiful Bristol Dragway last weekend, July 27-29.  Over three hundred of the best footbrake competitors in the nation converged on the Northeast Tennessee facility, despite an unfavorable weather forecast, for their shot at the largest Footbrake only weekend purse in history.  That purse totaled a whopping $142,500!
Friday’s $10,000-to-win event saw 320 first round entrants vie for the top prize at Bristol’s Thunder Valley.  After a eight rounds of tough competition, just three top drivers remained in the ninth and semi-final round.  Legendary North Carolina bottom bulb competitor Chris Plott, West Virgina standout Jeff Stewart, and noted professional bracket racer Luke Bogacki earned their trip to the semi-final round on the strength of stellar reaction times all night.  Stewart put together an amazing string of three consecutive .00 reaction times in eliminations.  After earning the bye run with nine cars remaining, he unleashed another .001 reaction in the quarterfinals.  Bogacki, meanwhile, varied just .005 on the starting line (.009 to .014) from the fifth round on.  Likewise Plott had moved just .003 (.010, .011, and .013) in his last three passes.  Since Stewart and Plott had already received bye runs, it was Bogacki earning the free pass into the $10,000 final round.
Stewart’s mastery of the tree ended in the semi-final round, as he turned on the red light, handing Plott the win.  Plott’s .029 induced 7.074 run (7.07 dial) put his familiar Beal Racing Engines/Staging Light Graphics Cougar into the final round with Bogacki’s Mickey Thompson Tires/CSR Performance Products Vega.
So the final round matchup was set: Two twenty-something drivers who have combined for well over 300 event victories in their amazing careers, both at the top of their game, set to do battle on the grand stage that is the World Footbrake Challenge.  The final was a great contest, as expected.  Plott took a minute edge on the starting line, .009 to .012, and held on to win by .006 as his 7.085 (7.07 dial) topped Bogacki’s 6.388 (6.37 dial).
Saturday brought the event that Footbrake racers have been waiting for since the announcement of the World Footbrake Challenge nearly a full year earlier: the $50,000 main event.  Mother nature, however, had other plans, as the skies opened to a drizzling rain shortly after the first time trial session.  The conditions persisted well into the afternoon, despite numerous track drying efforts.  Finally, the skies cleared, and the track was prepared, allowing the first round to commence shortly after 7 p.m.  Just five and half hours later, the field of over 280 entries was sliced down to eight remaining competitors.
In the seventh and quarterfinal round, the $50,000 main event of the World Footbrake Challenge saw Brian Brown use a telepathic .003 reaction to knock out Pete Kivett.  Chris Witt followed with a .005 induced 6.322 on his 6.32 target to dispense Kris Bunch.  Luke Bogacki, making his second late round appearance in as many days, used a stellar .003 reaction to defeat Steve Alford who had two entries remaining a round earlier.  Scotty Richardson finished the round by using a .004 reaction to defeat fellow Tennessee competitor Tracy Crutcher.  The 1:00 AM Bristol Dragway curfew hit with the four competitors remaining.  Each of the semi-finalists, who posted reactions between .003 and .005 in their round seven triumphs, were asked to return to the lanes at 10:00 AM Sunday morning to complete the main event.
Sunday morning brought the dramatic conclusion to Footbrake racing’s greatest event, the $50,000-to-win World Footbrake Challenge main event.  Scotty Richardson and Chris Witt were the first pair out.  Richardson showed why he has won five NHRA world championships and countless big dollar events in his illustrious career, as he used a clutch .003 reaction to defeat Witt.  Moments later, Bogacki earned his second final round berth of the weekend, as he used a .006 reaction to get the better of Brown.  Bogacki’s .02 above 6.362 defeated Brown’s closer 6.698 (6.68 dial) thanks to his reaction time advantage.
Richardson and Bogacki made their way back to the staging lanes for the $50,000-to-win final round.  The two competitors, who both grew up in the Dallas/Fort Worth, TX area a decade apart, and who both relocated to the Southeast to pursue careers behind the wheel of sportsman drag racing machines, would be favorites to meet in big dollar Super Pro final rounds (as they have several times in their career).  Both drivers showed their versatility and talent by reaching this premier Footbrake finale.
The final round was once again decided on the starting line, as Richardson took the advantage with a .013 reaction in his Parkway Generators/Advance Product Design S-10 to Bogacki’s normally competitive .027 in the Mickey Thompson Tires/CSR Performance Products Vega.  Richardson held on for the win by .011, as he ran a 6.811 on his 6.79 target to defeat Bogacki’s 6.348 on a 6.33.
After a brief winners circle celebration and awards presentation, the World Footbrake Challenge staff went right into Sunday’s eliminations for the final $10,000-to-win event of the weekend.  Mother nature intervened once again, however, as a storm rolled in drenching the facility after the completion of the second round, forcing a split among the remaining competitors.
In addition to the late round finishers, several other specialty awards were presented by Jared Pennington, Steve Stites, and the World Footbrake Challenge staff.  Mickey Thompson Tires awarded three sets of racing slicks for the best losing package in round one of eliminations during each day’s event.  Those awards went to Steve Foley (Friday), Ricky Pennington (Saturday), and Jeff Watkins (Sunday).  Goodyear Tire and Rubber matched the Mickey Thompson prize, with a set of racing slicks to the best losing package in the second round of each days event.  The Goodyear tires were warded to Bug McCarty (Friday), Chad Isley (Saturday), and Mark Taylor (Sunday).  Not to be left out, Hoosier Racing Tires also participated, providing a set of slicks to the best losing package in the third round of Saturday’s main event.  That prize went to Rod Johnson.
Maggart’s Automotive and Hoosier Tires presented Tony Mundy with the “Hard Luck Award” for the weekend, and a complimentary set of chrome jack stands.  Piedmont Dragway kicked in a free weekend entry to this fall’s Thanksgiving Footbrake Nationals to the best losing package of Saturday’s main event, which went to Chad Isley with a .021 package.
The APD Long distance award went to Ryan McDonnell, who made the tow all the way from San Antonio, TX.  The award was a close contest, however, as two other competitors; Benny Gossett (San Angelo, TX) and Jon Maugans (Wichita, KS) were each within 9 miles according to Mapquest!  McDonnell received a complete APD Fuel System for his 1232 mile tow!
Richard Newman earned a cool $100 from BTE for his perfect .000 reaction in Saturday’s BTE Time Trial Challenge.
The World Footbrake Challenge also hosted the Sunoco “Run for the Money” on Friday and Sunday (Saturday’s “Run for the Money” event was rained out).  Race promoters used a unique format that awarded not just one, but the best three packages from the “Run for the Money” round.  On Friday, the top prize went to Jerry Hyatt from Franklinton, LA.  Hyatt posted a .004 package, and earned $500 and a drum of Sunoco Race Fuel for his efforts.  Second place and $200 went to Ryan Mays of Mt. Airey, MD for his .005 package, and Kenny Jones (Max Meadows, VA) earned third place and $100 with a .012 package.
Sunday’s Sunoco “Run for the Money” title went to former NHRA Sportsman National Champion Tim Griffith, with a .010 package.  Griffith earned $500 and a drum of Sunoco Race Fuel.  Three drivers tied for the second spot, as Jason Phillips, David Wheeler, and Rob Robertson each posted .011 packages.