Annie Whiteley’s latest Tulsa triumph only added to her legacy of success at the venerable old track in a town she once called home. “I’ve always liked racing here,” said Whiteley, who’s been winning races at Osage Tulsa Raceway Park since NHRA held Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series divisional and regional events here early in her Top Alcohol Funny Car career.
Today, Tulsa is the hub of the Mid-West Drag Racing Series, home to two major MWDRS events every year, including the latest Throwdown in T-Town. After dominating the first Throwdown and scoring at the U.S. 131 Nationals in Martin, Mich., last month, she claimed her third MWDRS victory of 2023 with a final-round decision over veteran Mark Billington, the retired Pepsi/Frito-Lay executive who’s been competitive since the day he bought a used Bob Newberry car more than 20 years ago and became an NHRA Division 2 champion.
“Tulsa is the first place Jim and I and I ever won the same race [in 2012, her rookie season in Top Alcohol Funny Car], and it was just a great weekend for the whole team because we had a lot of family here,” Whiteley said. “We had seven cars here altogether – Jim’s, mine, [son] Steven [Whiteley’s] Pro Mod, the Jrs., and [sister], Anita’s Top Dragster.”
Whiteley qualified No. 2 with an outstanding 3.56 at the ridiculous speed of 215.79 mph, one of her best eighth-mile speeds ever, and trailed only Jim’s 3.54 in the final qualifying order. After taking out Canadian Ryan Stack, driver of veteran Larry Dobbs’ bucks-down machine, in the opening round, Whiteley took on Billington, who was in the midst of a spirited comeback from a nasty crash earlier this year, in the final.
“That had to be one of the smoothest runs this car made all year,” Whiteley said. “It was a clean run, a great side-by-side race. This was Mark’s first race back after the crash and he really ran good. It was great to have him back out here for the first time in a long time and great to win, especially since our whole team was here.”