Cory Reed qualified on the bump and was out after a single round in his first start in nearly two years, but this time that wasn’t really the point. The only thing that mattered at the most prestigious event in the sport was that he was back on a bike, back out where he belongs – both he and his teammate, 2022 championship runner-up Joey Gladstone.

The last time fans saw Reed, he was careening into Gladstone in the shutdown area in the second round of the 2021 Carolina Nationals in easily the most horrifying crash in the 40-plus year history of Pro Stock Motorcycle racing. Still hobbling but dead-set on returning to the quarter-mile, Reed accepted teammate Michael Phillips’ unexpected offer to race the NHRA U.S. Nationals on a two-valve bike.

“We saw what Karen [Stoffer] did with the two-valve weight break [at Sonoma, where she ran an outstanding 6.79], and we were curious,” Reed said. “Michael called me one night and said, ‘What do you think? You ready to be back on a bike?’ and I thought, ‘Why not?’ “

With the exception of the third qualifying session, Reed showed steady improvement every time down the track, with qualifying times of 7.22/187, 7.21/181, 7.36/186, 7.19/185, and a 7.16/188 in the last-shot session, his quickest and fastest run of the long Labor Day weekend. A full four-tenths of a second behind Mr. Everything, Gaige Herrera, who has taken the sport by storm since taking over for Angelle Sampey on the Vance & Hines flagship Suzuki, Reed didn’t expect to beat him in the first round, and he didn’t.

Nobody else would have either. Reed picked up considerably to a 7.09 at 189 mph but was no match for the runaway points leader’s 6.79/198 in a lopsided but ultimately unimportant loss. “I’m just happy to be out here and lucky to be riding Mike’s bike,” he said. “I had zero expectations this weekend – I’m just here to have fun. For Joey and me, it’s just great to be back out here with our race family.”


With a final-four finish at the biggest race of the year, former U.S. Nationals Top Alcohol Dragster champ Jim Whiteley turned in his finest showing to date as an NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car racer, taking out, of all people, wife Annie Whiteley along the way. Jim, who won the 2013 U.S. Nationals en route to his second consecutive TA/D championship, made his best run of the year right off the trailer and delivered a steady, consistent performance not unlike his glory days in the dragsters with six full pulls in six trips to the line.

Fresh off a St. Louis victory in the eighth-mile Mid-West Drag Racing Series, Jim made his quickest quarter-mile run of 2023, a 5.52 at 262.08 mph, and Annie was right behind him a couple pairs later with a 5.54 at nearly 265 mph in her clutch car. They ran side by side in each of the two ensuing qualifying sessions with only Jim making it to 2nd gear under power, but Annie’s Mike Strasburg-tuned “Shattered Glass” machine came back to life when it mattered most, in eliminations.

Annie advanced with a smooth 5.59/262 against the A/Fuel Funny Car of Mick Steele, who made his first start in this class in 25 years, but Jim really had to work for it to get around many-time national event winner DJ Cox. He deftly worked the throttle to maintain control early and moved on with a 5.64/256 that cost him lane choice for a highly anticipated quarterfinal matchup with Annie.

She shot off the line with an excellent .045 reaction time in that one, but Jim was already ahead of her with the first of consecutive .00 lights, a perfect .000. “I always do better against him,” said Annie, who developed ignition troubles downtrack. “But a triple-0 light? That’s just mean.” Her clutch light proved irrelevant when the ignition cut out at 9,400 rpm in every gear.

“It felt just like it feels when you hit the rev-limiter,” she said. “I didn’t know exactly what was going on, but I didn’t want to hurt anything and there was no way I was catching him anyway, so I shut it off.” Even at that, she coasted to a 5.68/236 that left her well short of Jim’s 5.59/258.

In the semifinals opposite world champ Doug Gordon, Jim’s second straight .00 came up on the wrong side of perfection, a -.004 red-light that denied him a potential upset win. His Brandon Snider-tuned J&A Service Camaro was well within striking distance of Gordon’s vaunted Beta Motorcycles entry, 5.50/266 to 5.57/259, and with anything from .001 to .003 green he’d have won on a holeshot.


Steven Whiteley’s march to the 2023 Mid-West Drag Racing Series championship continued at Worldwide Technology Raceway with a dream weekend in which teammate Brandon Snider (whose points count just the same as if Whiteley was driving) made the final of the rescheduled Night of Fire & Thunder Friday night and Whiteley followed with a huge Heads-Up Hootenanny win on Saturday.

“It’s been a great season,” Whiteley said. “We started coming on strong the last two races of ’22 – we probably would’ve won Tulsa if we hadn’t kept shredding all those blower belts – and it’s just carried right over to this year.” Following Whiteley’s runner-up in the season-opening Chicago-Style Second Chance Shootout at the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod, it’s been just one final after another: Snider won Tulsa, Whiteley was runner-up in Noble, Snider finished second here, and now Whiteley has his biggest win since his career breakthrough at the 2017 NHRA Gatornationals.

Driving father Jim’s immaculate J&A Service ’69 Camaro, Whiteley qualified No. 2 and sailed through the first two round of eliminations, dispatching overmatched Robbie Vander Woude’s ’00 Camaro, 3.69/206 to 4.00/194 and Blake Housley’s classic ’41 Willys, 3.66/206 to 3.82/192. The stakes went way up in the semifinals against championship rival Keith Haney, and Snider, Whiteley’s invaluable crew chief, was ready for what both knew was the biggest round of the season.

Snider, who dumped Haney Friday night in a crucial semifinal decision, delivered Whiteley’s best run of eliminations to that point, and Whiteley did his part behind the wheel, nailing Haney at the line and leading him wire to wire for a 3.63/207 to 3.65/206 win that propelled the team into its fifth final of 2023. “That was huge for our team,” Whiteley said. “Haney and I have had a rivalry going on all year, the announcers were playing it up, the crowd was into it, and we got it done. Again. Brandon beat him Friday and I got him Saturday.”

In the final, Whiteley sealed the deal with a 3.62/208 win over the world-famous turbocharged ’69 Camaro of No. 1 qualifier Mark Micke, who was coming off a win the previous evening. Micke blew the engine in a huge cloud of smoke and never came around Whiteley, as he had the night before opposite Snider. “There was just smoke everywhere,” Whiteley said. “I could see it from inside the car. We’re leading the championship right now and really focused on the last three races. We’ve just got to keep the momentum going and stay ahead of Haney.”


Steven Whiteley doesn’t particularly care who drives his car – him or talented driver/tuner Brandon Snider. Isn’t it weird to stand on the starting line sometimes and watch his car charging down the track with someone else at the wheel? “Not really,” he said. “I get asked that a lot, but, first of all, it’s not my car; it’s my dad’s. I know Brandon’s driving style, and he’s good. Really good. He’s a better driver than I am, hands-down.”

At the rain-delayed Night of Fire & Thunder contested in conjunction with the originally scheduled Heads-Up Hootenanny, Snider pulled off something even more important than winning: he took out points rival Keith Haney, the biggest obstacle between Whiteley and Whiteley’s first championship.

Snider proved his worth right from the start, six weeks ago on the original date, when he tuned and drove the car to the No. 1 spot by more than a tenth and a half with a 3.69 at 205 mph, earning a first-round bye in the short 13-car field. On that single, he missed low E.T. of the round by mere thousandths of a second with a 3.72/203 behind only hard-charging Mark Micke’s 3.71 at 215 mph, top speed by nearly 10 mph.

That set up a massive quarterfinal clash with Haney, which Snider won with a better light (.063 to .075) and a quicker (3.64 to 3.70) and faster (208 to 201 mph) pass. “Tuning the car just shows how much more analytical he is than I am,” Whiteley said. “I’m just a driver. I let go of the trans-brake button and send it, then tell him what I just felt when I get out of the car. He knows what’s going on the whole time – in or out of the car.”

Snider summarily mowed down Jerry Hunter in the semi’s, 3.69/207 to Hunter’s slowing 3.85/187, but Micke grabbed the upper hand on his bye run with a 3.65/217. Picking up significantly to a 3.66/207, Snider gave the J&A Service/YNot Racing team a real chance in the final, but Micke ran him down before the eighth-mile with a superior 3.64/217. “Brandon was winning,” Whiteley said, “but against that turbo car there’s not much you can do. He outran us, but that wasn’t the big thing. Beating Haney was the big thing, and he did.”


Annie Whiteley, still the fastest Alcohol Funny Car driver alive – man or woman – with a national-record speed of 276.18 mph, just missed her latest national event victory with a runner-up finish at the Northwest Nationals. At the multipurpose Pacific Raceways facility, the Grand Junction, Colo., driver, a winner here in 2015 in her only previous Seattle final-round appearance, was unerringly consistent from start to finish – until the final.

Whiteley, a six-time national event champion, rolled off the trailer Friday afternoon with a 5.56 at 264.80 mph for the early qualifying lead and got only quicker from there, with a 5.51/265.59 that evening to matching the exact E.T. and speed of reigning world champ and No. 1 qualifier Doug Gordon, and a 5.52/264.86 Saturday in last-shot qualifying. “We got better and better all weekend,” she said. “The guys [led by crew chief Mike Strasburg] kept finding a little more each time.”

From the No. 3 spot, behind only Gordon and Mike Doushgounian, the only other driver in the 5.40s (barely, with a 5.499), Whiteley opened eliminations against Alaska’s Ray Martin, who’s driven about every kind of car legal for national event competition, including nitro burners. She left right with him and drove away to a lopsided 5.52/265 win while he got his brains beaten in by tire shake. In the semifinals, her best run of the weekend, a 5.50-flat at 262 mph, wouldn’t have been enough when Doushgounian produced an outstanding 5.46, but he wasted it on a foul start she didn’t never noticed.

“I had no clue,” Whiteley admitted. “I saw him out there and thought, ‘Man, I just got my butt whipped’ because he was way out there. Hearing that he red-lighted was a whole ‘nother adrenaline rush. They tell you, ‘Hey, you’re in the final,’ and you’re like, ‘What? How?’ I couldn’t believe it.”

In the final against Gordon, whom she beat for the 2015 Las Vegas title, she shook the tires and slowed to a coasting 7.37 while he shot ahead for a winning 5.47/268 to bolster his national points lead in his final season as a Top Alcohol Funny Car racer. Despite running just a partial NHRA schedule while concentrating primarily on the Mid-West Drag Racing Series tour, Whiteley is now eighth in the NHRA national standings.


In his final start at one of his all-time favorite race tracks, Bandimere Speedway, two-time Top Alcohol Dragster world champ Jim Whiteley bowed out early in his first (and last) appearance there in a Funny Car. Whiteley, who dominated Top Alcohol Dragster on the mountain in each of his championship seasons, 2012 and 2013 (and for four years in a row before that), qualified high but finished low.

It may not have been a full eight-car field (these days, it almost never is), but the six-car lineup was a tough one, with three Top 10 drivers from 2022, including the top two in the world – Shane Westerfield, who led the national point standings all season and seemed destined to win a second national championship, and Doug Gordon, who ultimately did.

Two drivers still looking for their first major Top Alcohol Funny Car victory – Doug Schneider and Christine Foster, the distaff member of a husband-and-wife team with husband Chris Foster – also made the show. As the No. 2 qualifier (5.81/253.18), Whiteley seemed sure to face one of them in the first round. Spoiler alert: he didn’t.

Instead, Whiteley got stuck with the worst possible draw – Gordon, the reigning world champion who’s led the 2023 NHRA standings almost wire-to-wire all season but stumbled to a best of just 7.56 at 137 mph in two aborted qualifying attempts here. Whiteley left first and would have joined No. 1 qualifier Brian Hough as one of just two drivers to run in the 5.70s with a competitive 5.79/252, two-hundredths of a second better than his best qualifying run.

Unfortunately for him, Gordon beat him to the 5.70s with a 5.70-flat at 257 mph, just a few miles per hour short of the incoming track speed record held by Jim’s wife, Annie Whiteley, who, with a run of 260.01 mph, will go down in history as the only Top Alcohol Funny Car driver ever to crack 260 at Denver.


You know it hasn’t been a great weekend when your bike gets picked up by the wheelie bars and walked off the starting line three times in a row.

For Joey Gladstone, the second-ranked Pro Stock Motorcycle rider of 2022, the Thunder Valley Nationals undoubtedly was the low point of what’s been an up-and-down early 2023. He’s yet to reach the semifinals but made it to the quarterfinals every time – until now.

Following a ho-hum off-the-trailer 6.94, Cory Reed’s Vance & Hines-powered YNot Racing Suzuki lurched off the line that night in the second qualifying session and did the same Saturday morning in Q3. In the fourth and final session that afternoon, Gladstone didn’t even make it that far – he never took the Tree. Actually, he didn’t make it through the burnout. The coil wire came off, silencing the engine.

Gladstone, who scored three times last year in by far the best season of his burgeoning career, raced eventual winner Steve Johnson, the only driver to beat second-year sensation Gaige Herrera all year, in the first round. At the time, Johnson seemed like a decent draw: Gladstone had been mired in the bottom half of the field at the season-opening Gatornationals, too, but he put Johnson away when the veteran rider, perhaps intimidated by Gladstone’s well-known starting-line reflexes, threw it away with an untimely red-light start.

Not this time. Gladstone was more or less on time with a .052 light, good for an early lead over Johnson’s mediocre .077, and made his quickest run of the weekend, a 6.93 at 192.71 mph. But Johnson ate into his lead with every push-button shift of the 5-speed transmission and drove around him at the 700-foot mark, crossing the stripe first by about 10 feet with an 8.88/193. “Well, that sucked,” Gladstone said. “If I’d had my normal reaction time, I could’ve beat him on a holeshot.”

“We really thought we had it fixed,” Reed said. “We put the old tire back on it and thought we were good. Today was just frustrating – the whole year has been.”


Back in the car for the first time since March, Pro Mod veteran Steven Whiteley picked up right where he left off in Bradenton – in the final. Whiteley, runner-up in the Chicago-Style Second Chance Shootout at the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod, made it to the precipice of victory again at the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ Thunder in the Valley but again fell just short.

Whiteley qualified No. 1 at the Noble, Okla., facility and powered through the preliminary rounds before fading in the final against Tulsa track owner Keith “You Know My Name” Haney. From the pole position, he trounced No. 12 qualifier Joshua Vettel in the opening round with a remarkably consistent 3.68 at 204.40 mph, easily covering Vettel’s coasting 5.72 at 81 mph.

Brian Lewis was the next to fall, narrowly red-lighting with a -.002 reaction time and slowing to a 4.27/125 while Whiteley advanced with a consistent 3.68/204. Being No. 1 in a 12-car field afforded the YNot Racing/J&A Service team a semifinal bye and with it, a chance to test for the final, but the engine fell silent well before the finish line for a 4.30/124.

In the other semi, Haney, who had matched Whiteley’s pole-qualifying 3.664 right down to the thousandth of second in his quarterfinal win over perennial top-speed setter Ed Thornton, took down Albuquerque’s Mike Labbate in a great race, barely overcoming Labbate’s holeshot head start. After missing the Tree with a .104 light, Haney assumed the lead and held off Labbate’s 214-mph top end charge to win by the invisible margin of .001-second.

In the final, in a battle of top two drivers in 2023 MWDRS standings and with a $2500 side bet on the line, Whiteley left the line noticeably ahead of Haney with a .039 reaction time only to slow on the top end. Haney claimed low E.T. of the meet with a 3.662 at 203.23 mph while Whiteley’s immaculate ’69 Camaro fell off to a 3.79 at 163 mph.


2022 championship runner-up Joey Gladstone turned in another solid if unspectacular finish at the NHRA Route 66 Nationals, getting faster every run all weekend until he didn’t. For the year, this makes three quarterfinal finishes in three starts, good for sixth in the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle championship standings.

Everything Gladstone and every other rider did all weekend paled in comparison to rookie sensation Gaige Herrera, who made three of the four quickest runs in history (6.677, 6.677, and 6.672) and was slower on his worst run than any other rider was on his best. Herrera may have made the second-, third-, and fourth-quickest runs ever on consecutive qualifying runs, but Gladstone and the Cory Reed/YNot Racing team put together a competitive pack of runs of their own, improving from a shutoff 6.92/174 in Friday’s lone qualifying session to a 6.83/198 Saturday morning to a 6.77/198 in last-shot qualifying to move into the top five.

“We knew we could do it,” said Gladstone, who won three races in six final-round appearances last year. “We were just trying to ease up on it every run. We didn’t want to get greedy, but we didn’t want to race scared, either.”

In the first round against old pal Ryan Oehler, Gladstone won easily on Oehler’s foul start but had it all the way with his best run of the weekend, rocketing off the line with a 1.04 60-foot time and posting a 6.75/198 that brings his all-time first-round win-loss record to a tidy 39-39. “It feels good to be in the time zone as Gaige,” he said. “A 6.75 is no 6.67, I know, but it’s something we can definitely race with.”

Another 6.75 in the second round would have been enough to get him to his first semifinal appearance of the season, but a 6.781 left him just short of Vance & Hines team rider Eddie Krawiec’s 6.786. It’s not easy to lose on a holeshot with a .015 reaction time, but Krawiec, the many-time national champion, put up a near-perfect .006 and a slightly faster speed, 199.08 mph to 197.54, to hold him off by four-thousandths of a second.


Throughout Annie Whiteley’s career and especially lately, two things have always been true: she’s at her best in her old hometown, Tulsa, and she dominates rescheduled events. So when the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ 2023 opener at Xtreme Raceway Park in Ferris, Texas, was postponed and rescheduled for Tulsa Raceway Park, victory was virtually assured.

With metronomic consistency and an overpowering performance, Whiteley prevailed once again, wheeling her Mike Strasburg-tuned J&A Service/YNot Racing “Shattered Glass” Camaro to a lopsided victory over MWDRS newcomer Mike Doushgounian in the final for her third career series win and an early lead in the 2023 Mid-West Top Alcohol Funny Car championship.

From the No. 2 qualifying position, Whiteley faced veteran Steve Macklyn in the first of two rounds of eliminations, advancing easily with a strong 3.72 at 208.88 when he faded with a shutoff 4.59 at just 146. Doushgounian won the other first-round matchup with a slightly quicker 3.70/209, defeating Jonathan Johnson, who was didn’t make it to the line in his first appearance back after a nasty top-end crash a couple years ago at Xtreme Raceway Park.

What shaped up to be a classic final did not disappoint. The blue Camaros of Whiteley and Doushgounian rocketed off the starting line almost simultaneously and were locked together side by side for the entire eighth-mile, with Whiteley emerging victorious by the almost invisible margin of 17-thousandths of a second. Even a .023 reaction time wouldn’t have been enough for her to win.

With a low-.020 or anything slower, she would have lost on a holeshot because Doushgounian was more than on time with a killer .013 reaction time, but Whiteley had this one all the way with a telepathic .005 reaction time, the best of her career. In one of the best races of this or any other season, she won, 3.70/209 to Doushgounian’s right-there 3.71/203, and the handwriting already is on the wall for later this season: The Throwdown in T-Town, set for the day after this race, was rained out and rescheduled for – you guessed it – Tulsa.

« Older posts

© 2023 YNot Racing

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑