Tag: Martin

TAFC – MARTIN

Both J&A Service/YNot Racing Funny Cars – Jim Whiteley’s spotless white one and wife Annie’s familiar blue machine – were taken out by the same car at the U.S. 131 Nationals, the flamed Camaro of 2021 Mid-West Drag Racing Series runner-up Chris Marshall. Everything was wide-open in the absence of reigning champion Sean Bellemeur, and Marshall made the most of it, starting with a wheels-up, nearly aborted 3.58 that was on the ragged edge of control from beginning to end.

Jim qualified No. 4 and nearly pulled off an outrageous upset with a massive holeshot in the first round, falling just short of Marshall in the lights by the invisible margin of two-thousandths of a second. Annie put away Steve Macklyn’s Mustang in the other first-round matchup and in the final round just missed doing what Jim almost did in the opening round: beat Marshall on a holeshot.

But instead of a perfect .000 light, Annie, who has really come into her own on the Tree this year, red-lighted by a couple thousandths of a second with a frustrating -.002 reaction time. With the race lost, she shut off early and coasted across the eighth-mile finish line at 88 mph with what would’ve been a great E.T. on a quarter-mile (5.52), while the Oregon-based driver, who reverted to an old setup for this race after a disappointing U.S. Nationals, sped to a 3.62 at a booming 212.06 mph. For Annie, who qualified No. 1 here last year, it was her second runner-up in a row at the revamped Martin, Mich., facility.  

The 2022 Mid-West Drag Racing Series season wraps up with another double event in Tulsa (not unlike the rained-out Memphis event that was finished in conjunction with the regularly scheduled Tulsa event this spring). It all unfolds Oct. 7-8 at Osage Casino & Hotel Tulsa Raceway Park, where the cancelled Great Bend Nationals will be contested as part of the traditional Throwdown in T-Town MWDRS season finale.

PRO MOD – MARTIN

Back behind the wheel of one of the fastest Pro Mods on the eighth-mile instead of tuning it for Steven Whiteley as he has all year, talented driver/tuner Brandon Snider qualified near the top of the grid and drove to a semifinal finish at the U.S. 131 Nationals. At Martin, one of the crown jewels on the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ eight-race tour, Snider showed the form that made him one of the more feared drivers on the NHRA tour, where he won multiple events and came within a round of the 2020 championship.

As the MWDRS season resumed following a three-month break since the Summer Speed Spectacular at World Wide Technology Raceway just outside St. Louis, Snider wheeled the J&A Service/YNot Racing team’s immaculate ’69 Camaro to an outstanding 3.65 at 205 mph for the No. 4 spot in the all-3-second 16-car lineup. Series newcomer and eventual winner Preston Tanner paced the field with a run just a couple hundredths of a second quicker than Snider’s 3.65, a 3.62/204.

In the first round, in all-Camaro showdown with Mike Recchia, Snider was out first with a .024 reaction time and came out on top in a great race, 3.68/206 to 3.73/203. When the sun set for the quarterfinals, he picked up to a 3.66/205 to erase the close 3.72/201 of second-generation racer Jackie Sloan Jr. and set up a semifinal showdown with Tanner.

Tanner, who would go on to score in his MWDRS debut, got off the mark first with a telepathic reaction time and held off Snider’s quicker 3.61/208 for a 3.64/203 holeshot win. Dustin Nesloney topped Ed Thornton in the other semifinal and narrowly red-lighted in the final to hand the event title to a grateful Tanner, who couldn’t help but notice the red-light glowing in the dark and clicked it early to avoid a disastrous centerline infraction when his car darted for the other lane.

PRO MOD – MARTIN 2021

Sometimes Jim Whiteley’s a little too quick for his own good. Nobody’s really beating him. He’s beating himself, barely, and in the most infuriating possible manner – on red-lights that aren’t that red.

He’s not screwing up some part the delicate staging process, not distracted, not choking under pressure. Like Top Fuel great Antron Brown in his final days on a Pro Stock Bike, Whiteley’s seeing yellow, reacting, and missing not just a decent light but a perfect light by just a fraction of a second.

It happened again at the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ U.S. 131 Nationals in Martin, Mich., and this one was particularly grating because it came in the first round and really compromised his shot at the 2021 championship. Like always, it was a round Whiteley absolutely would’ve won with almost any kind of green-light start, and, like always, it was by the narrowest possible margin – eight-thousandths of a second.

After another late-round finish last month in Kansas – he’s gone rounds at six races in a row and reached at least the semifinals at every MWDRS event this year – Whiteley hit Martin with a narrow three-point lead over Great Bend winner Joey Oksas, 287 to 284. Tulsa champ Jon Stouffer and Ed Thornton came in about 30 points back, but after his Grand Bend crash, Stouffer effectively is out of the title hunt.

The J&A Service/YNot Racing team’s own championship hopes took a huge hit when Whiteley’s surprise first-round loss was compounded by the fact that his closest challenger, Oksas, capitalized with a second straight victory, topping series founder Keith Haney in the final.

Whiteley, who qualified No. 1 at Grand Bend, was just sixth this time, one of five drivers to qualify with a 3.70-flat. He was ahead of two and behind the other two with a 3.703 at 203.62 mph that tied Oksas to the thousandth of a second. Haney paced the field with an outstanding 3.666, and Judd Coffman established top speed at 207.56 mph despite qualifying just ninth.

Eliminations for Whiteley came to an abrupt end in the first round when he voided a potentially winning 3.75/200, one of the quickest runs of the round, with the -.008 red-light start, advancing Tom Ladisky’s 3.81/192. Despite the brutal early loss, a championship remains a distinct possibility, with a double at Tulsa later this month and the Xtreme Texas World Finals set for Ferris Oct. 22-23.

TAFC – MARTIN 2021

Numerous forces conspired to deplete the car count at the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ U.S. 131 Nationals: the ongoing war for the 2021 NHRA Top Funny Car championship at Maple Grove between Sean Bellemeur and Doug Gordon for one, and a vital Central Regional in Earlville for another. But what the MWDRS field may have lacked in quantity it more than made up for, as they say, in quality: all three teams in attendance ran 3.60s, and two of them just missed the .50s.

At completely renovated U.S. 131 Dragway, host of the Popular Hot Rodding Championships, the biggest independent Funny Car race of the ’70s and early ’80s, no one was quicker or faster than Annie Whiteley, who reached her second final of 2021. Hunting down her first event title ever in this series, Whiteley, who reached the semi’s at Ferris in her only other MWDRS start this year, came out on the wrong end of a classic final-round matchup with the converter-equipped car of Bill Bernard.

With just three Funny Cars in attendance in tiny Martin, Mich., halfway between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, qualifying No. 1 meant a bye to the final, and Whiteley got it by just three-thousandths of a second over No. 2 Chris Marshall, 3.606 to 3.609. In the first round, which, in the unusual three-car format, doubled as the semi’s, Whiteley moved into her first final since the Belle Rose season opener with a smooth 3.69 single and Bernard upset Marshall on a holeshot in the other semi in a great race, 3.67 to 3.65.

Then, in the exciting under-the-lights final, Bernard’s Mustang and Whiteley’s J&A Service/YNot Racing Camaro were locked side by side right to the eighth-mile mark, where Bernard’s 3.670 at 204.17 mph barley held off Whiteley’s fast-closing 3.679 at 211.47. With the victory, Bernard assumed the points lead, but, with three races to go, it’s still a wide-open affair between him, Bellemeur, Whiteley, and Marshall for the 2021 MWDRS Funny Car championship.

TAFC – MARTIN/TULSA 2020

Starting at a track she’d never been to in her life and finishing a month later 800 miles away at a facility at which she’d never not made the final round, Annie Whiteley turned in her finest performance to date in Midwest Drag Racing Series competition, trailering some of the greatest Alcohol Funny Car racers ever along the way.

Originally scheduled for Sept. 11-12 at U.S. 131 Dragway, the completely rebuilt facility in Martin, Mich., has always been fast, dating back the Popular Hot Rodding Championships in the ’70s, the most prestigious race that wasn’t an NHRA, AHRA, or IHRA national event. Whiteley qualified with a 3.71 (eighth-mile) at the outrageously fast speed of 215 mph, and in the first round dropped the most feared driver in Top Alcohol Funny Car today, Sean Bellemeur. Then it rained. And rained. And kept right on raining until series founder Keith Haney was forced to move the remainder of eliminations to MWDRS’ home base, Tulsa Raceway Park, for double points at the season finale.

At Tulsa, the YNot/J&A team picked up right where it left off in Michigan, taking out another two-time NHRA world champ, Jonnie Lindberg, to make a fourth straight final at the Oklahoma track. The Swedish driver red-lighted, invalidating a 3.675 at 212.43 mph, but Whiteley had him all the way with a nice .054 reaction time and a quicker 3.671 at 211.59.

In the final against perennial contender Chris Marshall, Whiteley got off the mark first with a clutch .023 reaction time and posted an E.T almost identical to her winning semifinal time, a 3.68 at 211 mph. But with a quicker 3.64/210, Marshall ran her down by 19-thousandths of a second to win $15,000 – the same winner’s purse Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers are racing for at NHRA national events for the rest of the year.

“I hated to lose, but we still had fun,” Whiteley said. “I really like this Midwest Drag Racing Series deal. Haney’s a racer. He’s not pocketing all this money. There’s a plan. They’re happy you’re here, and if Super Pro loses a session because of the weather, the Funny Cars do, too. It doesn’t matter who you are – everybody’s equal, nobody is better than anybody else.”

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