Tag: Martin


What had already been a lousy weekend for Steven Whiteley turned downright dreadful in the first round of Pro Mod eliminations at U.S. 131 Dragway. Disaster struck when Whiteley, who, along with driver/tuner Brandon Snider, has basically been to the final round of every race all year, crashed into Ron Muenks.

Whiteley tested well leading up to the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ U.S. 131 Nationals in tiny Martin, Mich., but when the race officially began, “everything went to hell,” as he tersely remarked. “We really struggled in qualifying,” he said. “Actually, it was more than ‘struggling.’ It was a complete disaster.” Tenth and last in the short 10-car field with an aggregate best of 4.14 at 126 mph, he lined up to face Muenks, the No. 1 qualifier with an outstanding 3.62/206.

Whiteley, who got plowed into by veteran Todd Tutterow in the first round of the 2019 NHRA Heartland Nationals in Topeka, became embroiled in another two-car crash here, but this one was nothing like Topeka. It was more reminiscent of his qualifying accident at the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in 2017.

“It was exactly like Atlanta, actually,” Whiteley said, disgusted. “That’s the first thing I thought when it happened: ‘Atlanta…’ I was in the right lane, just like before, and the car kept working its way over to the right, just like before. I got the front end to come down, and then the car darted left on me.

“I thought I had it,” Whiteley said. “Pulling the chutes was going to save it – I thought. The car was already coming back around and straightening itself out, and I was just going to barely miss him. I knew I could get the front end pointed in the right direction and figured the worst that could happen was that I might pancake the wall, but I got him right between the rear wheel and the spoiler. All of a sudden, he was right there, and there was nothing I could do about it.”

As if tearing up their beautiful ’69 Camaro wasn’t awful enough, this one was doubly tough for Whiteley and the J&A Service/YNot Racing team. On the odd 10-car ladder, the winner of that first-round match with Muenks would have had a second-round bye into the semifinals, and Whiteley’s biggest rival, points leader Keith Haney, capitalized fully by going on to win the race.


Both J&A Service/YNot Racing Funny Cars – Jim Whiteley’s spotless white machine and wife Annie’s familiar blue one – 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 series champion Sean Bellemeur, and Marshall made the most of it, starting with a wheels-up, nearly aborted 3.58 in qualifying that was on the ragged edge of control from start to finish.

Jim ended up fourth and nearly pulled off an outrageous first-round upset with a massive holeshot, falling just short of Marshall in the lights by the invisible margin of two-thousandths of a second. Annie put away Steve Macklyn’s Ford Mustang in the other opening-round matchup and in the final just missed pulling off what Jim almost did had: beating 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 mere 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.


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 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 circuit, where he won multiple events and came within a round of the 2020 championship.

“It’s great to have a crew chief who can drive the car when you can’t,” said Whiteley, whose focus was on the YNot Racing Top Dragster driven by Delaina, who’s just as much in contention for a championship in her class as he is in his. “I didn’t have help on Delaina’s car this weekend – we knew that ahead of time – so I concentrated just on her car. One of the great things about this Mid-West deal is that you can substitute a driver and not lose any points.”

As the MWDRS season resumed following a three-month break since St. Louis, Snider picked up right where Whiteley left off, wheeling 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, Snider 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. “When we want to test and I can’t be there, Brandon always drives, so it was just like having me in there,” Whiteley said. “Having him drive was a no-brainer. He knows what the car’s doing from the inside, tuned that way for years – that’s what makes him so good.”


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 Great 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 Great 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.


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.


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.”

© 2024 YNot Racing

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑