2021 PDRA WORLD FINALS - EVENT PAGE
FINAL NOTEBOOK -
HALSEY'S EXCLAMATION MARK - With four wins in the previous seven races, Jim Halsey rolled into Virginia Motorsports Park as the 2021 Pro Nitrous world champion. Halsey, tuner Brandon Switzer and crew chief Eric Davis kept pushing, though, and closed out their PDRA season with a fifth win. In the final round, Halsey in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro matched his quickest pass of the day, a 3.62, to dispatch Ron Muenks and his 3.658 at 206.10.
“I think we had more pressure on us because we lost first round at Maple Grove and lost at GALOT in the semis,” said Halsey, now the only three-time Pro Nitrous world champion. “We just wanted to win a race. It's been a few [events] since we did it. The consequences weren't there to lose, but we wanted to go out on top with a win.
“This is like a dream come true for me,” Halsey continued. “We've been racing for probably close to 30 years, and to win three in a row and to run the numbers we're running, I couldn’t be happier. My driving is pretty decent at times, not so decent at other times, but very happy. I have a great team. They're just as happy as I am about it and they deserve way more credit than I do.”
Halsey qualified No. 2 – just the second time he didn’t qualify No. 1 this season – and posted a 3.63 at 208.33 over John Vergotz in the first round, then a 3.62 at 208.30 to defeat fellow Maryland native Fredy Scriba’s 3.685. His slowest pass of the day, 3.637 at 206.86, was still enough to beat two-time world champion Jason Harris and his 3.865 in the semis.
Driving Dave Pierce’s Reher-Morrison-powered “Purple Gorilla” ’68 Camaro, Muenks qualified No. 5 and won first round with a 3.823 over a red-lighting Rob Hunnicutt. It was all mid-3.60s from there, though, as Muenks posted a 3.665 to beat Brian Shrader and a 3.655 to win on a holeshot over No. 1 qualifier Tommy Franklin’s 3.64.
GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE WIN - On a day that saw several of the quickest runs in Pro Boost history, Randy Weatherford didn’t have the quickest car, but he stepped up when it counted. The Danville, Virginia-based driver of the ProCharger-boosted WS Construction ’17 Camaro made his quickest run of the day – a 3.606 – to defeat Daniel Pharris and his 3.607 in the final round. Pharris needed to win the race to win the championship. His teammate, Kevin Rivenbark, clinched his third Pro Boost world championship.
“This season was good at the beginning, we just couldn't put one away,” said Weatherford, who appeared in two final rounds in the first three races of the season. “But we brought it home today. This year could've went a little better, but we ended on a good note. I can't wait for next year because we're going to win this championship next year. We're going to win it, guys. We're here to stay.”
Weatherford had a perfect start on race day, as he cut a .000 light and ran a 3.654 at 211.00 on a first-round single after opponent Chris Cline left before the tree activated. He needed his .005 reaction time to get the second-round win over Rivenbark, as Weatherford’s 3.658 at 208.23 won on a holeshot over Rivenbark’s 3.629. He won on a holeshot again in the semifinals, using a .002 light and a 3.641 at 209.07 to eliminate No. 1 qualifier Johnny Camp and his 3.600.
Pharris, who won PDRA DragWars at GALOT Motorsports Park two weeks ago, qualified No. 2 in the ProCharger-boosted GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro. He ran a 3.636 to beat Dean Bettenson, then a 3.61 to hold off Chuck Ulsch’s 3.662. Semifinal opponent Kurt Steding red-lit away a 3.591 at 213.00, which is quicker than the current E.T. record, allowing Pharris to move on with his 3.613.
DEFLORIAN SHINES - John DeFlorian went into the World Finals with a checklist of three goals: qualify No. 1, win the race, and record the first 3-second pass in class history. The Jerry Haas Race Cars shop foreman accomplished the first two goals and came impossibly close to the third. He leaves Virginia with the new Extreme Pro Stock E.T. record and the event win after running a 4.015 at 178.33 in the final round to beat Chris Powers, who secured the world championship in the semifinals. Powers ran a 4.047 at 176.24 in the other lane.
“We had a plan in place and we just wanted to try to execute it,” said DeFlorian, who was coming off a quarter-mile win at the NHRA St. Louis race. “Thankfully, we were able to execute it all the way through. We were low [E.T.] every single session. Every run down the racetrack we were fast. We came just a thou short of the 3, but I'm really happy. That's a new record. And it's a hard barrier. I can't be any happier. I can't do this without my wife, Liann, all my guys, Jeff Graber from Graber Concrete, and [crew chief] Brian ‘Lump’ Self. Lump being here was a blessing because it makes a difference having him on the grounds.”
DeFlorian in his Kaase-powered Graber Concrete ’15 Camaro opened eliminations with a 4.029 at 179.54 to knock out Frank “the Flying Meatball” Gugliotta’s 4.053. He took advantage of his competition single in the second round to record a 4.000 at 179.56, the new class record. DeFlorian slowed slightly to a 4.015 at 179.52 in the semis, beating Tony Gillig’s career-best 4.06.
Powers entered the World Finals as the points leader in his Chuck Samuel-tuned Sonny’s Racing Engines ’14 Camaro, but he had to fend off JR Carr and defending world champion Johnny Pluchino. Powers did his part by winning first round with a 4.061 over Dave Hughes, then second round with a 4.024 over Elijah Morton. He won in the semifinals on the starting line when Pluchino went red by .009 on a 4.069 to Powers’ 4.048. With Carr taken out by Pluchino in the second round, Powers secured his first Extreme Pro Stock world championship.
HOLDORF WINS PRO OUTLAW 632 - As a consistent late-round player, Chris Holdorf has been chasing his first official Pro Outlaw 632 victory all season with five semifinal finishes. The Florida native rose to the occasion at the final race of the season, though, as he and tuner Jeff Pierce put together a string of passes in the 4.10s to get Holdorf’s first win in PDRA competition. He won on a holeshot in the final round, running a 4.171 at 170.43 in his Nelson-powered Dewitt Custom Concrete ’53 Corvette to deny Amber Franklin her first win in just her second race. Franklin posted a 4.149 at 170.54.
“It's about time,” said Holdorf, who unofficially won the 2020 World Finals, as the final round was completed at a non-PDRA event. “We definitely struggled all year and had some bad luck here and there. We finally got things to go our way. We were very fortunate that we caught a break in the semifinals. That gave us a boost into the final round and gave us some of the data we needed, then we carried that through. Hat's off to my crew, Alan Reynolds and Carl Monkhouse, and of course, Jeff Pierce, as well as Mark Micke at M&M Transmission, Chris Nelson at Nelson Competition, Bob Book at BRE, and my family for giving me the chance to do this.”
Holdorf started the day as the No. 4 qualifier and lost traction on a first-round bye run after opponent Lexi Tanner lost oil pressure on the starting line. He bounced back with a 4.194 at 169.85 to beat Douglas Nicholl’s 4.217 in the second round. Semifinal opponent Daryl Stewart hurt his engine in the prior round, so Holdorf took another bye run – a 4.184 at 170.32 – to move on to his first final round of the season.
Franklin made her Pro Outlaw 632 debut two weeks ago and was on a mission to back up her runner-up finish there with a win at her home track. She qualified No. 2 in the Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro formerly campaigned by her father, Tommy Franklin, in Pro Nitrous. Franklin then locked into the low 4.10s, running a 4.143 over Sylvester Barnes Jr., a 4.132 over George Coleman, and a 4.145 to reach her second consecutive final round.
GARNER-JONES SECURES WIN AND CHAMPIONSHIP - Second-generation Pro Nitrous Motorcycle rider Chris Garner-Jones has been a championship contender for the last few seasons, but he finally scored his first world championship in the class and backed it up with a win to make for an emotional race day. Garner-Jones dedicated the championship and the race win to his late father, T.T. Jones, who passed away last year. Garner-Jones rode his T.T. Jones Racing ’11 Hayabusa to a 3.991 at 175.52 on a bye run in the final, as Paul Gast broke after staging.
“I wish I could describe what this win and this championship mean,” said Garner-Jones who also won the 2021 XDA Pro Xtreme championship. “I'd probably be doing backflips and I can't do a backflip. But it's a big weight off my shoulders. I wanted to do it while my dad was here, but unfortunately things happen. That's life. But this one is definitely for him. All the way. My brother [William Garner] is the best tuner in the world and I stand behind that.”
Garner-Jones secured the world championship in the opening round when he won with a 4.009 at 176.67 on a bye run and points leader Travis Davis lost to Gast. He was unopposed again in the semifinals when he ran a 4.108 at 144.77.
Gast and his Fast By Gast ’16 Hayabusa played the spoiler role, beating Davis’s 3.988 with a 3.982 and a quicker reaction time. It took a 3.937 at 179.21 – quicker than Gast’s own 3.949 class E.T. record – to defeat No. 1 qualifier Meshal Al-Saber’s 3.966 in the semis.
ESSICK'S STORYBOOK ENDING - Tim Essick, one of the PDRA Pro Street class’s biggest proponents, closed out his season with a storybook weekend at the World Finals. He clinched the first-ever PDRA Pro Street world championship, smashed the class E.T. record, and ended race day with the event win. In the final round, Essick in his ProCharger-boosted “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang recorded a 3.913 at 192.14 – the exact E.T. he needed to back up his record pass in the semifinals. He was unopposed, as Ty Kasper wasn’t able to fire up for the final round.
“Winning the championship is the big thing,” said Essick, who thanked crew members and supporters Dan Whetstine, Timmy Savoy, Phillip Buckler, Alan, Michelle and Dawn, as well as Vince Fourcade for helping fix a rear center section issue. “It's been a long time since I won a world championship. It means the world and I'm so happy to have a series to be able to do that in. We struggled a little bit earlier this weekend, but we made everything come together when it mattered.”
Essick qualified No. 2 in his ATI Racing-backed entry and started his record-setting day with a 3.918 at 191.32, which was quicker than the record by nearly half a tenth, to beat Joseph Thomas’s 4.107. He then swung for the fences with a blistering 3.875 at 192.60 in his semifinal win over Bob Ross, who ran 4.093.
Kasper’s turbocharged Victus Sports ’05 Mustang was the second-quickest car in the opening round with a 4.056 at 193.40 to beat Jesse Lambert’s 4.069. He took the tree and broke the staging beams to win in the semifinals when No. 1 qualifier Nick Schroeder wasn’t able to stage.
THE SPORTSMAN REPORT - In the Elite Top Sportsman final round, the winner was decided on the starting line, as 2021 world champion Tim Molnar went red by .013 in his nitrous-fed ’68 Camaro. Jeremy Creasman held on in his ProCharger-boosted ’12 Camaro and recorded a 3.856 on a 3.83 dial-in to get the win.
California’s joe Roubicek won in Top Sportsman 48 for the second race in a row. He drove his nitrous-fed ’68 Camaro to a 4.177 on a 4.17 dial-in – with a .005 light – to win over Jeff Melnick in his ProCharged ’02 Avenger. Melnick ran a 4.178 on a 4.16 dial in the runner-up effort.
It was a race between a past world champion and the new world champion in the Elite Top Dragster final round, where 2019 champion Kellan Farmer squared off with 2021 champion Peter Maduri. Farmer’s quicker reaction time and 3.802 on a 3.78 dial-in in his ’21 Race Tech dragster gave him the win. Maduri made it a close race with his 3.729 on a 3.72 dial-in in his K100/Dynabrade ’17 Chrome-Worx dragster.
David Petrofske overcame a slight starting line disadvantage in the Top Dragster 32 final round to win the race, running a 4.155 on a 4.15 dial in his ’21 Precision dragster. Virginia’s Duane Allen broke out with a 4.185 on a 4.20 dial in his ’17 American dragster to take runner-up honors.
The eight-race 2022 PDRA season will begin on April 7-9 at the East Coast Nationals at GALOT Motorsports Park in Benson, N.C.
RAIN WASHES SATURDAY, FINAL QUALIFYING SESSION
Saturday afternoon rain showers and cool temperatures led Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) officials to cancel the final pro qualifying session at the Brian Olson Memorial World Finals presented by ProCharger.
“Between the rain we got, the rain that’s coming, the cool temperatures and the sun going away, it wasn’t going to be possible to get the track back into shape tonight,” said Tyler Crossnoe, race director, PDRA. “Our racers are competing for championships, so we really want to give them the best track possible. The PDRA and VMP teams will work through the night to get the track ready for championship Sunday.”
The series did complete a third round of qualifying in all classes on Saturday, as well as the first round of eliminations in MagnaFuel Top Sportsman 48. All classes will go into eliminations on Sunday morning, beginning with Classic Graphix Top Jr. Dragster at 10:15 a.m.
“Sunday’s cool conditions are going to make for some incredible racing,” said Crossnoe, who’s also the vice president at VMP. “There’s certainly potential for new world records, adding another layer of excitement on top of close racing and tense championship battles.”
Spectators who attended the World Finals on Saturday can return on Sunday for $10 with a Saturday ticket. General admission tickets are available for $20.
Tommy Franklin (Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous), Johnny Camp (Penske/PRS Pro Boost presented by WS Construction), John DeFlorian (Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock presented by AED Competition), Daryl Stewart ($hameless Racing Pro Outlaw 632), Meshal Al-Saber (Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle), and Nick Schroeder (Drag 965 Pro Street) maintained their No. 1 qualifying positions from Friday night.
The No. 1 qualifiers in the sportsman and Jr. Dragster classes are Buddy Perkinson (MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by Tejas Borja), Joshua Vanskiver (Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster), Bryan LaFlam (Top Sportsman 48), Blake Denton (Lucas Oil Top Dragster 32), Charlee O’Meara (Coolshirt Systems Pro Jr. Dragster) and Donald O’Meara III (Top Jr. Dragster).
Sunday’s run order will begin at 10:15 a.m. with first round of eliminations in Top Jr. Dragster, Pro Jr. Dragster, Top Dragster 32, and the second round of eliminations in Top Sportsman 48. The pro classes will follow, starting with Pro Nitrous.
Check the PDRA Facebook page and PDRA660.com for more information and additional updates from the Brian Olson Memorial World Finals presented by ProCharger at Virginia Motorsports Park.
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK -
THE FRANKLIN FLYER - Two-time Pro Nitrous world champion Tommy Franklin dipped deep into the 3.60s with his 3.638 at 206.39 in the second qualifying session. Franklin’s run in his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro put him at the top of the 16-car Pro Nitrous qualifying order that included five other racers in the 3.60-second range.
“The track prep is awesome out there,” Franklin said. “Tyler [Crossnoe] and the track group are just awesome. The racetrack was taking everything we could give it. I was like, ‘Well, let's see if it will take this' and it did. The car's working really good right now. Hat’s off to Pat Musi power, Jerry Bickel Race Cars, Ty-Drive, and everybody else that supports us. I say it all the time: our team is hustling with four cars running, but it's good and we're having fun.”
Next to Franklin, newly crowned 2021 world champion Jim Halsey fired off a 3.653 at 208.42 to hold down the No. 2 spot with his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro. Two-time world champion Jason Harris, who returned to Pro Nitrous this summer after almost two seasons in Pro Boost, qualified No. 3 with a 3.681 at 204.66 in his Albert-powered “Party Time” ’69 Camaro.
FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS - For the second consecutive race, Johnny Camp and his ProCharger-boosted “Hells Bells” ’69 Camaro ended Friday qualifying in the No. 1 spot. The former Pro Nitrous driver posted a 3.644 at 206.32 in the second session to take the No. 1 spot from Daniel Pharris by just two thousandths of a second. With forecasted rain threatening Saturday’s night qualifying session, Camp and tuner Brandon Stroud wanted to make the most of the Friday evening run.
“The team's working hard,” said Camp, who thanked supporters NGK Spark Plugs, Tatman Electric and Proline Racing. “We don't know about this weather coming in, so we wanted to stay ahead of the game and make the best possible pass. I think it was important to make a good run this evening. It could be the last chance to put a big number up [in qualifying]. We were hoping to go a little bit quicker, but the car went out and rattled. We stayed No. 1 by a hair. There's a lot of fast cars here.”
Pharris in the ProCharged GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro ran a 3.646 at 201.01 to follow Camp in the No. 2 slot. Kurt Steding was the quickest of the screw-blown cars, throwing down a 3.651 at 208.91 in his Todd Tutterow-tuned P2 Contracting ’20 Camaro to qualify third.
DEFLORIAN TOPS PRO STOCKERS - Longtime Mountain Motor Pro Stock driver John DeFlorian is making just his third PDRA Extreme Pro Stock appearance of the season, but he’s making the most of it after driving his Kaase-powered Graber Concrete ’15 Camaro to a 4.047 at 178.35, the quickest pass on Friday. The Jerry Haas Race Cars shop foreman hopes to hang on to the top spot through Saturday’s two sessions as well.
“This was a good start to our weekend,” said DeFlorian, who thanked sponsor Jeff Graber, wife Liann, daughter Ashley, crew chief Brian "Lump" Self, Kevin and Karen Bealko, and longtime supporters like Amsoil. “We have three goals we're trying to accomplish this weekend. This is the beginning of the goals. We accomplished what we set out for so far. We wanted to be able to make a couple good hits and try to achieve No. 1 qualifier. That may not hold up. Tomorrow that could change. But we're going to try tomorrow just as hard as we tried today.”
Reigning world champion Johnny Pluchino made the second-best run of the day in his Kaase-powered Strutmasters ’13 Mustang, a 4.078 at 177.07. Elijah Morton rounds out the top 3 with his 4.08 at 176.93 in his Allen-powered Morton Brothers Motorsports ’19 Mustang.
IMPRESSIVE RETURN - Florida’s Daryl Stewart made his Pro Outlaw 632 debut this season after a 25-year hiatus from drag racing. He’s won two races in his Clayton Murphy-tuned, HRE-powered Chassis Engineering ’12 Camaro, but he’s still chasing his first No. 1 qualifier award. He’s one step closer to that achievement after recording a 4.154 at 170.36 to finish Friday as the provisional No. 1 qualifier.
“This is huge,” Stewart said. “It's exciting, especially to do it at the last race of the season. We can't win the championship – we're No. 2 [in points] – but if we can come out and get this [No. 1 qualifier award] and try to win the race, that's all we can hope for this weekend. That's what we're shooting for.”
Rookie Amber Franklin, who went to the final round in her debut at PDRA DragWars two weeks ago, is currently second with a 4.162 at 169.06 in her Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro. Reigning world champion Wes Distefano, who secured the 2021 championship with his DragWars win, is third in his Musi-powered $hameless Racing ’68 Camaro with a 4.182 at 171.90.
SABER RATTLING - Meshal Al-Saber and tuner Brad McCoy set the tone for their weekend in Thursday testing when they ripped off a 3.955. The Kuwait rider was chasing a similar number on the Q80 Racing ’18 Hayabusa in qualifying and ended up with a 3.973 at 176.49 to top the Pro Nitrous Motorcycle field for the first time.
“I'm very happy to be No. 1 qualifier,” Alsaber said. “I come from the Middle East to race and fly 14-16 hours to race together with the fastest bikes in the world. Thanks to Brad McCoy and my friends at T.T. Jones Racing. Lots of people help me here. I am happy because we ran 3.95 last night and 3.97 today. This is the first time I've been No. 1. I am very happy for me and my team and sponsors in Kuwait.”
Championship contenders Chris Garner-Jones and Travis Davis qualified No. 2 and 3, respectively. Garner-Jones ran a 3.979 at 179.14 aboard his T.T. Jones Racing ’11 Hayabusa, while Davis posted a 3.981 at 175.46 on his Timblin Chassis ’18 Hayabusa.
LIVING UP TO THE NAME - A month ago, “Quick” Nick Schroeder dipped into the 3-second range to reach the Pro Street final round at the Shakedown Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park. The Delaware racer found his way back into the 3.90s in the second qualifying session at the World Finals, firing off a 3.997 at 192.11 in his screw-blown ’06 GTO to take the provisional No. 1 spot.
“We showed up here and tried to run basically the same thing right off the trailer and it wouldn't take it,” Schroeder said. “That makes you scratch your head. But it feels pretty good because we’re chasing [points leader] Tim Essick, who's been kicking everybody's ass all year. We're trying to run with him. It feels good to qualify No. 1 for now and to run right beside him and take it from him.”
Essick in his ProCharger-boosted “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang ended up No. 2 with a 4.033 at 184.32. Bob Ross is currently third with a 4.051 at 183.42 in his Michigan-based ’88 Camaro.
TOP SPORTSMEN - Reigning world champion Buddy Perkinson used a record 3.729 at 203.68 to take the provisional No. 1 spot in Elite Top Sportsman. He’ll have to back up the performance in his Musi-powered LAT Racing Oils ’69 Camaro during the weekend to claim the new E.T. record. John Benoit is second in his Buck-powered ’17 Camaro with a 3.765 at 203.95, while Chris “Nitrous” Nyerges rounds out the top 3 with a 3.821 at 197.45 in the Buck-powered Schween Motorsports ’20 Corvette.
Arizona’s Bryan LaFlam is the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Top Sportsman 48 with a 4.02 at 179.44 in his ProCharger-boosted ’67 Mustang.
Past world champion Kellan Farmer reached the top of the Elite Top Dragster qualifying order for the first time, recording a 3.803 at 190.81 in his Race Tech Race Cars dragster. Points leader Michael White follows closely with a 3.815 at 191.02 in his ProCharged, ’57 Chevy-themed dragster. Joshua Vanskiver is third in his ’19 Spitzer entry with a 3.832 at 193.77.
Driving Tommy Franklin’s Musi-powered dragster, Blake Denton is the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Top Dragster 32 with a 4.241 at 164.81.
Qualifying at the Brian Olson Memorial World Finals presented by ProCharger will continue Saturday, beginning with Top Jr. Dragster at 10 a.m. Pro qualifying sessions will run at 1:30 and 3:15 p.m.