2022 PDRA AMERICAN DOORSLAMMER CHALLENGE - NORWALK EVENT PAGE
SATURDAY NOTEBOOK - IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR FOR THE FRANKLINS
FATHER KNOWS BEST - With Pro Nitrous kicking off the final rounds late Saturday night, Tommy Franklin set up the first end of a possible father-daughter double-up. He drove around three-time and defending world champion Jim Halsey in the final, running a 3.654 at 205.26 in his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro to Halsey’s 3.679 at 206.57 to get the win. It was his first win of the season, but more importantly, it allowed him to share the winner’s circle with his oldest daughter, Amber, who won in Pro 632.
“We do this as a family,” said Franklin, the 2016-2017 world champion. “My family and friends come in here and help. We work our butts off. But to see both win lights come on, it's awesome. It means more to me that she's turning on win lights. I was missing [winning] also. We needed to get back there. The car's awesome. Congrats to the whole team. Jeff Pierce has been on board with us helping us. Pat Musi gives us two awesome pieces, along with Jerry Bickel Race Cars. I love it. This is why we do it. You wonder some days, but this is why. We're having fun. That's all that matters right now. I thank God for everything we get. This is a dream come true.”
Franklin qualified No. 1 for the second consecutive race, then won the first round with a 3.723 at 204.14 over Billy Albert. He dipped into the 3.60s with a 3.695 at 204.88 on a second-round bye, as opponent Jason Harris couldn’t make the call. A 3.668 at 205.29 over John Vergotz’s 3.832 sent Franklin to the final round.
Halsey in his Brandon Switzer-tuned, Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro qualified No. 2 before working his way through eliminations. He used a 3.732 to beat Dane Wood, then stepped up to a 3.693 at 204.42 to stop two-time Pro 632 world champion Wes Distefano. Halsey recorded a 3.654 at 205.29 in the semifinals to defeat home-track hero and event sponsor John DeCerbo and his 3.714.
CAMP DELIVERS - Former Pro Nitrous wheelman Johnny Camp was motivated to make up some ground in the Pro Boost points after missing the second race of the season last month. Camp threw down his best run of the event when it mattered most, using a 3.634 at 207.18 in his ProCharger-boosted “Hells Bells” ’69 Camaro to knock out No. 1 qualifier Melanie Salemi and her 3.647 at 205.72 in the final round.
“It's good to bounce back with a win after missing that last race,” said Camp, who thanked tuner Brandon Stroud, his crew, Proline Racing, ProCharger, NGK Spark Plugs, and Tatman Electric. “We went to the semis at the first race, so it was a bummer to miss [Bowling Green]. Any time we can beat ‘King Tut’ [Todd Tutterow], he's the best, so I feel good. And to beat the fastest car on the property [Salemi]. It was a good win for us. We needed it.”
Camp steadily improved throughout eliminations after qualifying third. He beat Robert Cox with a 3.681 at 206.26 in the first round, then ran a 3.666 at 206.07 over Ken Quartuccio’s 3.711. In the semis, Camp cut a .004 reaction time and ran a 3.64 at 206.57 to beat points leader Todd Tutterow and his 3.629 on a holeshot.
National E.T. record holder Melanie Salemi slid up to the No. 1 spot in the final qualifying session and continued to have the quickest car on the property in every round but the final. Driving Eddie Whelan’s roots-blown “Purple Reign’s Sidepiece” ’19 Camaro, Salemi charged to a 3.675 at 204.11 over Louis Ouimette, a 3.647 at 204.42 over Randy Weatherford’s 3.688, and a 3.626 at 205.04 over a red-lighting Robert Gallegos.
CARR HAS THE CAR, AGAIN - JR Carr has had the quickest Extreme Pro Stock car in qualifying all season, but everything came together in eliminations for the first time this season at Norwalk. Just a couple weeks after winning in the quarter-mile Mountain Motor Pro Stock class at the Virginia NHRA Nationals, Carr in his Frank Gugliotta-tuned ’20 Camaro added the PDRA Norwalk trophy to his collection. He defeated No. 2 qualifier Tony Gillig in a side-by-side final round, with Carr’s 4.067 at 178.38 beating Gillig’s 4.077 at 176.74.
“We actually changed a motor, changed the clutch, changed the rear gear, changed the ignition box,” said Carr, who was appearing in his second consecutive final. “We had some issues and the car wasn't running as good as it should. Then with the weather, which we all get the same program there, we were a little behind but we came around. Frank just knows how to tune these things. It doesn't take him much. It's just amazing how good he is at it. Thanks to CP-Carrillo, RJ Race Cars, Maxima Oil, ISC Racers Tape – they're right behind us 100%. You need that support. It keeps you going and keeps you wanting to do good for everybody. This isn't just about me. This is about a big group of people – my crew, my wife [Teri]. It's very rewarding. It's been a long time coming. We're really happy.”
Carr nabbed the No. 1 qualifying spot in the final qualifying session on Saturday morning, then posted a 4.097 at 178.21 on a first-round single. Second-round opponent Derrick Reese went red by .008, by Carr was ready with a 4.088 at 178.02. He improved to a 4.078 at 178.31 to finish ahead of Elijah Morton and his 4.115 in the semis.
Gillig’s Kaase-powered Dayco/Gillig-Wagner Motorsports ’10 GXP was a 4.08-second bracket car in eliminations. The MMPS veteran ran a 4.089 at 176.90 to beat a red-lighting Chris Powers, a 4.085 at 177.04 on a second-round single, and a 4.085 at 176.63 to knock out recent winner Johnny Pluchino and his 4.094.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER - All the pressure was on Amber Franklin when she rolled to the starting line for the Pro 632 final round. Just minutes after watching her dad win in Pro Nitrous, Franklin held up under the pressure and delivered her second consecutive event win in the Musi-powered “OG Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro formerly driven by her father in Pro Nitrous. Franklin left on opponent Walt Lannigan Jr. and ran a 4.17 at 170.64 to maintain the lead over Lannigan’s 4.238 at 164.49.
“We've been trying to do this since I started racing when I was 10,” said Franklin, who won the 2017 PDRA Pro Jr. Dragster world championship. “We hadn't gotten there yet, but we had a lot of final rounds together. To finish it off tonight, it's definitely very special for us. This one we won't forget. Big thank you to the good Lord above. Without him, I wouldn't be here. Thanks also to my parents [Tommy and Judy], [boyfriend] Blake [Denton], all of our crew, Pat Musi Racing Engines, Jerry Bickel Race Cars, M&M Transmission, Robert Hayes, Hoosier Racing Tires, and Jeff Pierce – he’s been a huge help to us this season.”
Franklin was also the No. 1 qualifier after jumping to the top spot in Saturday’s rain-delayed final qualifying session. That gave her a first-round single, which she used to record a 4.201 at 169.96, good for low E.T. of the round. Franklin was also the quickest of the second round with her 4.177 at 169.72 over Vinny LaRosa’s 4.344. She made her best run of the event, a 4.168 at 170.13, to beat longtime friend Lexi Tanner and her 4.225 in the semifinals.
Lannigan was appearing in his first final round as the new driver of the Musi-powered $hameless Racing ’68 Camaro, which Wes Distefano drove to the last two Pro 632 world championships. He qualified third and ran a 4.203 at 170.39 on a first-round bye when opponent Joe Valerio broke. Lannigan used a 4.18 to defeat Alan O’Brien’s 4.211, then a 4.164 at 171.14 to beat Daryl Stewart’s 4.194 and get lane choice for the final.
FAST BY GAST DELIVERS - Motorcycle drag racing veteran Paul Gast put together a streak of 3-second passes aboard his Fast By Gast Hayabusa to pick up the win in his first Pro Nitrous Motorcycle appearance of the season. Other than a 4.00 in the first qualifying session, Gast dipped into the 3s on every pass, including a 3.998 at 177.67 in the final round. He defeated Ashley Owens, who ran a 4.026 at 176.19.
“Running in the 3s every run was a big deal,” said Gast, who thanked all of the employees at Fast By Gast. “The bike's really fast. We pushed it pretty good out here, especially for the air conditions, but we didn't push it to the limit of what it might've been able to do. I'm just pleased it ran in the 3s, pretty deep down in there. The bike was fast and it deserved to win the race. I was along for the ride. I finally did good in the final.”
Gast started the day with a 3.961 at 178.64 to handily defeat Kuwait’s Mohammad Alawad and his 4.106. He nearly matched the run on a single in the semifinals, posting a 3.966 at 176.03 to get lane choice for the final round.
Owens qualified No. 4 on his McKinney Motorsports entry before running a 4.038 at 175.75 on a first-round single, as teammate Eric McKinney wasn’t able to make the call due to mechanical damage sustained on Saturday morning’s final qualifying session. Owens then improved slightly to a 4.035 at 174.19 to beat Meshal Al-Saber and his 4.06 in the semis.
FIRST TIME IS THE CHARM - Michigan’s Bill Riddle scored a meaningful first Pro Street win in his supercharged Corrigan Race Fuels ’89 Camaro after defeating Ty Kasper in the final round. Riddle recorded a string of career-best numbers on race day, ending with a 4.009 at 188.20 in the final round. Kasper made his best run of the weekend, a 4.091 at 200.17, in the runner-up effort.
“This win means a lot,” said Riddle, who thanked his wife, Leslie. “This is the anniversary of my father passing away nine years ago today. I really wanted it today. It means a lot. It takes a lot of help from my crew and the people behind me like Corrigan, Mickey Thompson, Jim Beadling, Ken [Juszczyk] at Motorsports Unlimited, and SSI Superchargers.”
Riddle qualified fifth before starting race day with a 4.051 at 186.23 victory over Bill Lutz and his 4.212. He then scored a huge upset win in the semifinals when he ripped off a 4.017 at 187.00 to knock down defending world champion and No. 1 qualifier Tim Essick, who ran a 4.151.
Kasper had an interesting path to the final round after qualifying sixth in his turbocharged Victus Baseball Bats/Kasper Performance Edge ’05 Mustang. He pedaled his way to a 5.147 at 147.97 first-round win over Gary Cygan and his 5.475. No. 2 qualifier Chris Cadatto went red against Kasper in the semis, allowing Kasper to move on with his 5.495 at 90.48.
THE URBAN LEGEND OF TOP SPORTSMAN - Past world champion Donny “Hollywood” Urban was on his game all weekend in Elite Top Sportsman, as he qualified No. 1 and won the race in his nitrous-fed ’69 Camaro. In Urban’s second consecutive final round, he and Mike Gerber left the starting line with nearly identical reaction times. Urban posted a 3.827 on a 3.76 dial-in for the win, while Gerber slowed to a 4.179 on his 3.97 dial-in in his Maryland-based ’68 Camaro.
New Jersey’s Ray Bamond was better at both ends of the track to score the Top Sportsman 32 win over PDRA regular Ken Langlois. Bamond was first off the line in his ’68 Camaro and recorded a 4.297 on a 4.28 dial-in, defeating Langlois’ too-quick 4.317 on a 4.31 dial-in in his ’63 Corvette.
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK - RAIN SHORTENS THE DAY FOR AMERICAN DOORSLAMMER CHALLENGE, DAY ONE
IT'S A JUNGLE OUT THERE - Tommy Franklin and his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro are getting on a roll in Pro Nitrous, where the two-time world champion qualified No. 1 for the second consecutive event. He recorded low E.T. of both sessions with his 3.688 at 205.19 in the first session and the 3.686 at 204.98 in the second session.
“We've just been working on consistency and going up and down the racetrack,” Franklin said. “It's fast. We're trying not to kill parts or do anything stupid out there. My team is awesome. The racetrack has been great. Between the Pat Musi power and the Jerry Bickel race car, everything is coming together right now. I thank the Lord for everything we've got. Our team is really starting to put some good runs together. We've always been there and always had it, but sometimes it seems like you can't find your way.”
Three-time and defending world champion Jim Halsey grabbed the No. 2 spot with his 3.689 at 205.76 in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro. Returning Pro Nitrous hitter Chris Rini qualified third in his Buck-powered ATI Performance ’69 Camaro with a 3.708 at 202.09.
BLESSING IN DISGUISE - There were just a couple pairs of Pro Boost cars left to run in the second session before the rain started. Points leader Todd “King Tut” Tutterow took full advantage of his opportunity to run, posting a 3.636 at 208.39 in his screw-blown P2 Contracting/FTI Performance ’20 Camaro to pass Johnny Camp, who was the low qualifier going into the session.
“Ty [Tutterow] said it when we were up there – maybe it was a blessing we didn't run good on the first run so we'd get this run in,” said Tutterow, who won the first two races of the season. “It worked out that we did get to make the run, and it worked out in our favor. We're running good. We've actually been testing stuff here and it's worked out good. Most of the times when you're testing stuff, you go backwards. This seems to be going forward, so I'm excited about this weekend.”
Camp in his Brandon Stroud-tuned, ProCharger-boosted “Hells Bells” ’69 Camaro made the best run of Q1, a 3.663 at 205.82, to take the provisional No. 2 spot. Melanie Salemi matched Camp’s E.T., but with a speed of 202.76, she’s currently the No. 3 qualifier in her roots-blown “Purple Reign’s Sidepiece” ’19 Camaro.
ON THE CUSP - Mountain Motor Pro Stock veteran Tony Gillig is one session away from claiming his first No. 1 qualifier award in PDRA Extreme Pro Stock after posting a 4.084 at 176.81 in his family’s Kaase-powered Dayco/Gillig-Wagner Motorsports ’10 GXP. He’s hoping to improve on Saturday to hold on to the No. 1 spot going into eliminations.
“With how the run looked on the graph, we were pretty aggressive,” said Gillig, who returned to MMPS competition last season. “The clutch locked up early. There's some left to be had out there. I think if the air is similar, I think we can go a .07. I'm sure other guys out there can do the same. With the right calls and the right conditions tomorrow, hopefully we can stay on top of the heap. It would be cool to qualify No. 1. I haven't done that in a long time. Just happy we made a good run out of the box, and looking forward to race day. We hope it's a long day.”
Several competitors are chasing down Gillig, including Elijah Morton, who’s currently second with a 4.088 at 177.44 in his Allen-powered Morton Brothers Motorsports ’19 Mustang. JR Carr, who’s qualified No. 1 at both previous races this season, is third with his 4.091 at 177.53 in his Frank Gugliotta-tuned ’20 Camaro.
LANNIGAN IN THE LEAD - Walt Lannigan Jr. and the $hameless Racing team are in a familiar position as the provisional No. 1 qualifiers in Pro 632. Lannigan qualified No. 1 at the last two races as the new driver for the team following two-time and reigning world champion Wes Distefano’s move up to Pro Nitrous. Lannigan’s 4.176 at 170.47 in the Musi-powered $hameless ’68 Camaro leads the way with one session to go.
“It was smooth,” Lannigan said of the run. “Troy [Russell, crew chief] made a few changes and he predicted what the car would run, and it did exactly what we wanted it to do. We're happy with the final result. Hoping that will hold out tomorrow. We're very motivated. I'm new to the car. I'm just getting acclimated with the car. Now, I can be one with the car. I think everything will just show itself in due time.”
Amber Franklin, who won the last race on tour, is No. 2 with her 4.216 at 169.15 in her Musi-powered “OG Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro. Chris Holdorf in his Nelson-powered Dewitt Custom Concrete ’53 Corvette rounds out the top 3 with a 4.236 at 167.93.
GARNER'S BITTERSWEET THREE - Points leader and defending world champion Chris Garner-Jones was the only Pro Nitrous Motorcycle rider to dip into the 3-second zone during Friday’s lone qualifying session. He’s the provisional No. 1 qualifier on the strength of his 3.988 at 178.33 aboard his T.T. Jones Racing Hayabusa.
“It was bittersweet,” Garner-Jones said. “We did make a good run, especially after the [4.05 at 178] run we made [in Thursday testing], but we hurt it right at the finish line. But I feel good. We just freshened it up with new pistons and rings. We should go a little faster tomorrow, especially if the weather's good.”
Motorcycle drag racing veteran Paul Gast was close to the 3s with his 4.002 at 177.67 on his Fast By Gast Hayabusa to follow Garner-Jones in the No. 2 spot. Ashley Owens is third with a 4.035 at 174.32.
BROWN SUGAR - Reigning Pro Street world champion Tim Essick made a strong 4.08 at 187.65 pass during Friday’s qualifying session to lead the field in his ProCharger-boosted “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang. He’ll chase his second win of the season, but not before trying to improve in Saturday’s final qualifying session.
“This puts us in a good position,” Essick said. “We’re at the same disadvantage as everybody else. One hit, we don't really have anything to build or work on, but we have some notes to go back to and data from this race last year. The goal was let's do something that we know is gonna go down smooth, then we can compare and make it faster for race day. I think we're sitting in a good spot for the race.”
Michigan’s Bill Riddle threw down a 4.124 at 183.69 in his supercharged Corrigan Race Fuels ’89 Camaro to sit No. 2. Ty Kasper in his turbocharged Victus/Kasper Performance Edge ’05 Mustang is third with a 4.259 at 165.38.
THE TOP SPORTSMEN - A pair of past world champions led the way in Elite Top Sportsman, with Donny “Hollywood” Urban posting a 3.775 at 197.59 in his nitrous-fed ’69 Camaro to take the provisional No. 1 spot. Buddy Perkinson is second with his 3.802 at 195.28 in his Musi-powered LAT Racing Oil ’69 Camaro. Doylestown, Ohio’s Glenn Butcher rounded out the top 3 in his Albert-powered ’68 Camaro.
Steve Drongowski, who won the PDRA season opener in Elite Top Sportsman, is the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Top Sportsman 32 in his family’s Buck-powered ’55 Chevy with a 4.135 at 176.19.
Two Ohio-based drivers raced to the top of the Elite Top Dragster qualifying order. Wadsworth’s Craig Addis in the ProCharger-boosted RAB Trucking ’21 Spitzer is the provisional low qualifier with a 3.776 at 194.80. Mike Knott, from nearby Wakeman, piloted his supercharged Born Implement ’08 Spitzer to a 3.789 at 191.57 to qualify second. Larry Roberts is third with a 3.824 at 188.57 in his South Carolina-based ’16 Race Tech dragster.
Macedonia, Ohio’s Bryan Keller is just outside the 16-car Elite Top Dragster field, but he’s the provisional low qualifier in Top Dragster 32 with a 4.164 at 127.62 in his supercharged KB Trailer Sales ’12 Spitzer dragster.
ON TAP - The PDRA DeCerbo Construction American Doorslammer Challenge presented by Callies will continue Saturday morning at 9 a.m. beginning with Jr. Dragster final qualifying. Top Sportsman and Top Dragster will also get a final qualifying session before resuming Q2 for Pro Boost and the other pro classes that didn’t run.