Tag: atlanta


Solidly in the middle of the pack, locked in for what figured to be the closest match of the first round – No. 8 vs. No. 9 – Cory Reed faced theoretically the toughest possible opponent: incoming points leader Ryan Oehler, the most recent winner on the 2021 NHRA tour. In the end, it didn’t matter who was in the other lane – he didn’t have a bike to ride.

Runner-up to “Flyin’ Ryan” two weeks ago in Las Vegas, Reed sailed through Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying at the Southern Nationals, the 40th and last at Atlanta Dragway, only to have it all far apart in eliminations. He broke behind the line without ever turning a tire. “This whole deal sucked,” Reed said. “I didn’t know what the hell was going on up there – it seemed like the motor was about to blow up.”

With just a pair of qualifying runs to tune from under Atlanta’s unpopular two-shot format, all arrows were pointing up for Reed heading into race day. He clocked a 6.867 at 198.00 mph Saturday morning on his first attempt and a better 6.842/196.85 that afternoon in the only other session, hanging way off the side in the shutdown area to keep the bike off the wall. Meanwhile, teammate Joey Gladstone’s heroic 6.78 on his first run back from a nasty 200+ mph crash weeks earlier in Darlington, S.C., made him the star of the entire event.

Reed ended up in the same spot he qualified at both previous races this year, Gainesville and Las Vegas: No. 9. He didn’t need to improve to eliminate Oehler; he didn’t even need to make a good run. Any full run would’ve done. But as Oehler was inching toward the line to stage, Reed was climbing off his bike in the water box and walking away in disgust. The two-step failed, and he had no interest in dragging himself to the line just to watch Oehler disappear in the distance. With the track to himself and victory guaranteed, Oehler staggered across the finish line 9.86 seconds later with a blown engine.

“I would have beat him if I got to run, obviously,” Reed said. “You come here with a really fast motorcycle, then on Sunday you can’t even do a burnout. The two-step breaks? I’ve never heard of that happening, ever. I mean, that’s a $45 part. You know something’s wrong, but you don’t know what it is – I thought the pistons were parked on the cylinder walls or something. I popped the clutch, and the motor just went ‘Uhhhhh…’ No power. I tried putting it in second for some ratio, but nothing was happening. Everyone’s yelling, ‘Stage it, stage it,’ but I’m like, ‘Nah.’ I already knew it wasn’t going go anywhere. Why stick a rod out the side of the block for nothing?”


Right off the trailer at Atlanta Dragway, which has hosted major events since the IHRA glory days of the 1970s, Cory Reed sped to a 6.98 at more than 192 mph that qualified him No. 3 at the time. Following an aborted 14-second time in the second session opposite veteran Karen Stoffer, he rolled silently across the finish line in the never-good upright position at 49 silent mph in Q3 and entered last-shot qualifying an uncustomarily low 12th on the provisional grid, eyeing something in the low 6.90s or high 6.80s on his final attempt.

Instead, Reed’s bike registered an unfulfilling 7.01 at 191 mph and he entered eliminations in the No. 12 qualifying spot. PSE/YNot teammate Joey Gladstone finished a couple spots ahead of him, 10th in the final order with an aggregate best of 6.94/193.99. Between them was 2009 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Hector Arana Sr., who clocked in at 6.95/194.55.

Reed, who has never had any luck against 2016 world champion Jerry Savoie, his first-round foe, blasted off the line with a clutch .026 light, but for once he didn’t get the best of even that battle. Savoie, never known for his reaction times, outdid him with an even better .013 bulb and pulled away for a 6.91/192 to 7.01/191 round-win, his fifth in five head-to head-matchups with the former motocross racer. To compound the YNot’s team’s frustration, Gladstone came out on the wrong end of a hard-fought first-round encounter with Ryan Oehler in which both drivers cut killer .015 lights, 6.92/195 to 6.95/192, despite holding the lead to half-track.


The 2019 Southern Nationals is one race that won’t make the jam-packed highlight reel of the YNot team’s many successes in drag racing. Two-time Top Alcohol Dragster world champion and multiple Pro Mod event winner Jim Whiteley wasn’t around for the first round of Pro Mod eliminations and son Steven was but didn’t last long.

Jim ran a 5.99 off the trailer Friday but had to shut off in the second of four qualifying sessions that evening, and son Steven was off the gas early both times on the unforgiving Atlanta Dragway surface, where in Friday night qualifying three years ago he had the only crash of his career but actually qualified on that run.

Come Saturday morning, Jim picked up half a tenth to a 5.95 but still found himself on the bubble and Steven went from unqualified to the top half of the field with a 5.87, but when Jim ran even quicker (5.94) in last-shot qualifying Saturday afternoon, he still ended up on the outside looking in. Steven did make the cut with the 5.87, but the wheels came off when eliminations commenced and he lost losing to reigning world champion Mike Janis’ backpedaling 6.27 after cutting one of the best lights of his or anyone’s career, .010. Steven’s YNot Camaro went into violent tire-shake early in the run and he had to lift, helpless as Janis drifted toward the center line, eventually lifted, and still advanced with a 6.27 at just 200 mph.


Missing the middle rounds of eliminations for the first time all year, Cory Reed absorbed the first early exit of Team Liberty’s promising 2018 season at the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. “We were chasing a clutch tune-up and different gear ratios, trying to learn,” Reed said following a narrow first-round loss to championship contender Scotty Pollacheck.

“It was still a good weekend, if you ask me,” Reed said. “The team came together, people meshed, and everybody’s morale was good. We just ordered six complete transmissions so we don’t have to spend time changing gears between runs. It’ll just be ‘Take this one out and put this one in’ because rebuilding the whole transmission just takes too long to do it between rounds. We weren’t here to test – we came to win – but each pass was a learning experience, and things are looking up.”

Reed grabbed the early qualifying lead with an off-the-trailer 6.88 that had him in the No. 2 spot when the opening session wrapped up, No. 3 at the conclusion of Friday qualifying, and No. 7 on Saturday’s final grid. He and Pollacheck left the line within a thousandth of a second of each other Sunday morning and charged down the quarter-mile side by side to the finish, where Pollacheck persevered by about a bike length, 6.93 to 6.97.

“That sucked, but I’m not down,” Reed said. “The season’s 16 races long – you’re going to lose first round a time or two. My first year out here [2016], I didn’t qualify three times and we still made the Countdown. We’re building for the future. People are telling me we’re assembling a super team and we are – these are the exact people I would pick if I had my choice of anyone out here. Ken [Johnson] and Darrell [Mullis] have the bikes prepared perfectly every time, and everybody knows what Larry [Morgan] and Jim [Yates] can do. I’m not out here for a good time – I want to make my name in drag racing and bring this whole class up. I’m here to win championships.”


After reaching the semifinals for the second time in a row and the third time in four races this season, Pro Mod star Steven Whiteley finds himself second in the J&A Service standings. Whiteley, who won the season opener in Gainesville, knocked off former national record holder Jonathan Gray in the first round of the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway and former world champ Khalid Balooshi in the semifinals before losing to eventual winner Mike Castellana, the only driver ahead of him in the standings, in a photo-finish semifinal matchup.

“I should’ve had a better light that time, that’s all there is to it,” said Whiteley, who was anything but late with a solid .060 reaction time that gave him an imperceptible early lead on Castellana’s similar .065. They were locked side by side until the end of the quarter-mile, where Whiteley’s J&A Service/YNot Cadillac CTS came up five-thousandths of a second short, 5.77 to 5.78. The margin at the stripe was just 22 inches.

“If I would’ve pulled a .030 light or even a .040 that, we would’ve won,” said Whiteley, who actually just needed anything quicker than a .055. He was consistent throughout eliminations, with reaction times of .064, .058, and .060, E.T.s of 5.83, 5.82, and 5.78, and speeds of 248, 249, and 250 mph.

“Things are definitely going in the right direction, and ever since Gainesville there’s just been a new motivation around the team that we’ve never experienced before,” Whiteley said. “There’s a lot of pressure on our shoulders – the good kind, the kind you put on yourself. The way all these cars are running now, you really have to go for it every single time. If you don’t, you’re not going anywhere. I felt pretty good coming into Atlanta, but now, I feel better about this team than I’ve ever felt before – even better than when we won Gainesville.”


Cory Reed was out early at the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, victimized by a rare starting line miscue that disqualified him from a race he wasn’t going to win anyway.

Reed red-lighted in the opening round of eliminations, but opponent L.E. Tonglet, winner of the most recent event and a tenth and a half faster than Reed at this one, ripped off low E.T. of the meet to that point, 6.81, to win handily. After the foul, Reed charged to a 6.92, by far his best run of the weekend.

“I knew I had to go for it to even have a chance, Reed said. “Qualifying with a 7-flat … I didn’t think anyone would be qualifying anywhere all year with a 7-second run. I had to do something. It doesn’t feel quite as bad when the guy who beats you ends up winning the whole race, and he did. He beat everybody.”

For Reed, already known for his lightning-fast reflexes, it wasn’t a matter of being too quick for his own good and missing the Tree by a few thousandths even though he left on yellow. He just left. “I started thinking up there, and that’s never a good idea,” he said. “My hand wasn’t quite where I wanted it, and I was still moving it after I was staged. It was slipping, slipping, and finally I just let it go. I knew it was going to be red when I went by the Tree.”

All is not lost for the 2016 NHRA Rookie of the Year and his all-new Team Liberty, who blew up two motors testing in Charlotte the Monday after the 4-Wide Nationals. “One of them wasn’t that bad,” he said. “It just dropped a valve. The other was completely blown up – there was a rod sticking out the side of it – and that really set us back at this race. We had to run a couple backup motors, and they weren’t quite as good.”

In 2016, the Atlanta race was the first time the rookie rider made the field. This time it was his third in a row – he’s qualified for every race all year. “Power is right around the corner,” he said. “We just need to keep doing what we’re doing. We haven’t had much time to do anything, really. We haven’t done what normal teams do, like run every possible combination on the dyno. We don’t have a dyno. We will, though. We’ve been shooting in the dark. It’s one try on the right piston, one try on the right cam. We’ve got all kinds of good stuff coming. When the power gets here – and it will, soon – we’ll be fine.”


On his only run at the NHRA Southern Nationals, Pro Mod racer Steve Whiteley crashed for the first time in his career … and still qualified with a 5.96 at just 206 mph. “Not bad – a five-second run probably breaking the beam with the right header,” he joked. “Crashed on our only run and still made the show.”

Whiteley banged into Atlanta Dragway’s unforgiving left wall, but not nearly as hard as he could have because he got the chutes out just in time. “The car was fighting its way to the right the whole time, and I kept trying to get it to move back into the groove,” he said. “By the time I decided, ‘No, it’s not worth it,’ and lifted, all the weight shifted. That’s when it made its way over the centerline.”

When opponent Shane Molinari saw Whiteley’s J&A Services/YNot Cadillac veer across both lanes after the lights and sideswipe the wall, Molinari – who had to pedaled twice and had already given up on the run – jammed on the brakes and immediately was sideways and pointed at the opposite wall. He slammed into it while Whiteley was well beyond the finish line, bouncing off the left wall in a shower of sparks and rolling safely to a stop on all four wheels.

“The chute coming out as quick as it did really saved me,” Whiteley said. “There was definitely a little pucker factor going on, but I was focused on not hitting wall head-on. In a situation like that, you don’t think – it’s all reaction. By the time I had cognitive thoughts, I was more pissed than scared. I figured that was gonna be the last time I got to drive a race car, but my dad said, ‘He’s fine,’ and my mom was OK.”

The impact caved in the rear quarterpanel, smashed up the headers and left door, and trashed the left door tree. “It was a lot of little stuff, really – nothing too big,” Whiteley said. “The left side of the car is dinged up, but the actual chassis itself is OK. I’m just glad it happened now, right when we were about to have some downtime.”

It’s a full three weeks until the J&A Service Pro Mod Series picks back up with events in three consecutive weeks – Englishtown (June 10-12), Bristol (June 17-19), and Norwalk (June 24-26). “The car’s already at [chassis builder Jerry] Haas’ shop getting fixed, and we’ll be testing it in a week or two,” Whiteley said. “By the time we get to E-Town, we’ll be ready to go.”


From a 6.95 in the opening session that gave him the early qualifying lead to a .010 reaction in the first official elimination round of his young drag racing career, the NHRA Southern Nationals was easily Cory Reed’s finest outing to date. “I was ready,” Reed said of his first-round matchup with many-time Pro Stock Motorcycle event winner Chip Ellis, who once came within one round of the NHRA championship. “I said I was going to get him on the Tree, and I did. Everybody told me ‘Don’t jinx it’ but I knew I was going to cut a light on him.”

Reed, who made the field in just his third career start, may have been well on the way to his first round-win … until the bike didn’t shift into 3rd gear. “When I left, I thought, ‘I was on it,’ and I never saw him at all. Then it wouldn’t shift and hit the rev-limiter, and I just kept hitting the button, hoping it would go into the next gear. That was going to be a good run, really good. It picked the tire up when I hit 2nd gear – that’s how you can tell.”

Astride an S&S-powered YNot Racing/Star Racing EBR 1190RX, Reed was in the sixes virtually all weekend at Atlanta Dragway, the home race on the NHRA tour for Americus, Ga.-based Star Racing. For Reed, who’s made countless test runs in Valdosta, Ga., and Gainesville, Fla., this race represented his first trips down the 40-year-old course, home of an NHRA national event for the past 35 years.

Reed’s Precision Service Equipment teammate, Angelle Sampey, qualified No. 1 with a 6.86 and ran a career-best 6.79 in the first round for low e.t. of the meet, so clearly the power is there. “We really got my bike figured out this weekend,” Reed said. “Something was dragging – maybe the back brake needs a new hanger – so we switched motors with her to make sure that was the problem. My bike’s going to run a lot better; it has low .80s in it. I was on a low .80 run in the first round – 6.81, 6.82 – until the transmission didn’t shift. The way it was trying to run that time and the way Angelle was running all weekend, I know I can win.”


The father-and-son team of Jim and Steven Whiteley was locked in the five-second zone on five of six qualifying runs at the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, the third race of the 10-race J&A Service NHRA Pro Mod Series. That’s the good part. The bad part is that neither took the green for the first round of eliminations.

Jim’s YNot Racing/J&A Service ’69 Chevelle was still in the pits when scheduled opponent Troy Coughlin won the first round over alternate Gerry Capano. Steven’s ’14 CTS was about one inch from the starting line – pre-staged but not quite staged – when the Tree flashed, and veteran Steve Matusek had the track all to himself as Steven was timed out.

“I was taking my time, trying to stage as shallow as I could, and didn’t notice that he was all the way in or I’d have sped it up a little,” Steven said. “It’s too bad. The car was really running good – mid .90s every time.”

Steven ran a 5.970 at 243.63 mph off the trailer Friday afternoon and followed with an even better 5.957 at 244.25 that evening. After a 5.976/245.45 in Saturday’s final qualifying session, everything seemed to be in place for a deep run in eliminations.

“We’ve finally gotten to where we want to be with the new car,” Steven said of his Haas-built CTS. “We had a setup that was working pretty good with the old Camaro, and we put the same thing in this car and just nit-picked it until we found what it wanted. Now that it’s happy, we just need to throw power at it. It’s going down the track every time; we just need to get a little more aggressive.”

Jim’s car was performing even better than Steven’s – especially on his final qualifying attempt. Coming off his first career semifinal appearance as a Pro Mod driver, the former Top Alcohol Dragster world champ ran a 5.93 at just 236 mph, coasting across the finish line after his engine expired in high gear.

“Dad’s car was flying this weekend – outrunning mine – but it grenaded a motor on that last one,” Steven said. “They had it all put back together and ready to go for first round. They would have made the call, but there wasn’t enough time to get everything totally right, so they decided not to run it, and it was the right decision. The important thing is that both cars are really running good right now.”

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