The 60th annual World Series of Drag Racing at historic Cordova Dragway Park is the longest running national event in drag racing history. In addition to the usual lineup of NHRA stars and cars and a stellar group of exhibition vehicles, this year’s race featured the Mickey Thompson Tires Dragracingonline.com AA/FC Challenge presented by COMP Cams.
A record 17 Nostalgia Funny Cars were entered for just eight qualified spots. The result was the series’ first all five-second field and one of the best races in the five-year history of the series. The AA/FC teams came from as far away as California, Pennsylvania, Texas and Minnesota. Entries included some of the best in the nation, including two-time DRO champ John Hale, defending IHRA champ Peter Gallen, Big Show shoe James Day driving for Gary Turner and NHRA drivers Cruz Pedregon and Ron Capps’ brother Jon. Also on hand was the winner of the DRO Maple Grove Raceway event, John “Bodie” Smith.
The biggest upset of the event was that neither Hale, nor Gallen qualified. On their first qualifying pass, both drivers did their burnouts and began to stage. Gallen, who has the only car with a “pedal” clutch, brought the rpms up. As soon as the stage bulbs were lit Gallen left the line before the timing system was activated and Hale quickly followed. Both cars made clean passes, their computers indicating both ran low-5.80, high-5.70 laps, but because they left before the tree was activated, neither recorded a qualifying time. The last qualifying session both drivers waited for the green this time, but both cars immediately spun the tires at the hit of the throttle.
First round action was torrid as both #1 qualifier Mark White and new DRO AA/FC Challenge points leader Shawn Bowen both fell. Jon Capps, helming Frank Ousley’s Crop Duster, took out Ronny Young’s Blue Max, only to grenade in the lights. Though uninjured, damage was too great and Capps was sidelined for the event.
The final round was an absolute classic featuring second-generation nitro racer Cruz Pedregon against third-generation nitro racer Mike Minick in the Chi-Town Hustler. Cruz took the win and his first-ever DRO AA/FC series trophy.
The World Series once again proved to be the pivotal race in the DRO series and its crown jewel. The facility literally ran out of parking by 4 p.m. Saturday, forcing fans to park where they could find space. Qualifying resulted in the first all five-second field in series history. It’s also worth noting that the crowd was the largest in the 60-year history of the World Series of Drag Racing.
The shocker of the event: Defending champs (DRO) John Hale and (IHRA) Peter Gallen failed to qualify.
The Chi-Town Hustler sent #1 qualifier Mark White packing in the first round.
Ex-Pro Stock racer Brian Stewart fell to the Cruzer’s California Charger.
The Crop Duster, with Jon Capps onboard, won first round, but sadly experienced engine failure.
Text by Jeff Burk and Photos courtesy of Dragracingonline.com