Tag: MWDRS (Page 1 of 3)

PRO MOD – FERRIS

With a quarterfinal finish at the Xtreme Texas World Finals, Steven Whiteley wrapped up a successful season second in the final Mid-West Drag Racing Series Pro Mod standings, with an 8-8 win-loss record, two semifinal showings and a pair of No. 1-qualifying efforts (both in Tulsa). “It was a good ‘starter’ season,” he said. “We could’ve capitalized on a few more opportunities, but overall I’d say this was a good year. Now my priority is winning a Mid-West championship, and if next year is our time, we’re going to hurt some feelings.”

The top three cars all ran 3.65s, and Whiteley, who qualified with a 3.64 or 3.65 at the past four races, ended up second with a 3.655, just ahead of No. 3 Ron Muenks’ 3.659 and right behind points leader Dustin Nesloney’s 3.651. He drilled the Tree for a .000 reaction time on a first-round single, then just missed another perfect light against Brian Lewis in the quarterfinals, where a -.009 foul brought his season to a close.

“A brake line was leaking a little,” Whiteley said. “They stop me two or three feet from the beams to adjust the wheelie bar, and a little more and more fluid was leaking out the whole time I was sitting there holding the brake. The red-light … that really took me by surprise. After being trip-zip on the bye first round, I thought, ‘OK, I know where I stand.’ I backed off a little and thought I compensated for the darkness, but it came up red, so that’s on me.”

Whiteley qualified the J&A Service YNot Racing Camaro in the top half every time and the car was running better at Xtreme Raceway Park than it has all year. “We put a new bullet in it for this race, and downtrack the engine wasn’t even sweating,” he said. “Sometimes, at the end of the year you’re ready for it to be over, but I’m more excited than ever. When we left the track, I was stoked. This is just about the fastest car out here, and I’m ready to go right now.”

TAFC – FERRIS

Already a major event winner in Pro Mod and a world champion in Top Alcohol Dragster, Jim Whiteley has now reached the summit in a third top-tier drag racing category: Top Alcohol Funny Car, where wife Annie has been winning for years.

At the Xtreme Texas World Finals, the grand finale of the 2022 Mid-West Drag Racing Series, the Whiteleys finally got the matchup both have envisioned since the day Jim first climbed in a Funny Car: husband vs. wife with an event title on the line. The only thing better would have been a side-by-sider right to the lights like so many their other matchups this season.

Instead, Annie blew the tires off in low gear and Jim streaked ahead for the win, his first at the controls of a Funny Car. “Now, that was fun,” he said. “Winning feels just as good as it ever did. I just wish it would’ve been a close race.” It was anything but – his 3.68 at 209 mph easily outdistanced Annie’s harmless 7.62 at 58 mph.

“I guess that was just one run too many on that set of tires,” she said. “It was going to be the last run on them anyway, but it looks they were 35-run tires, not 36-.” Until the very end, every pass she made was a keeper, including a 3.63/213, 3.64/212, and 3.66/211 in qualifying, which added up to not just low e.t. but top speed of all three sessions for her first No. 1 since the rescheduled Memphis race completed in Tulsa.

Both Whiteleys covered the eighth-mile Xtreme Raceway Park course in 3.63 seconds in qualifying, Annie at a booming 213.47 mph and Jim at 211.17. He edged Steve Macklyn in the first round in the best race of the event, 3.70/207 to 3.71/203, after an almost dead-even start. She stayed in the .60s with a 3.669 on the first-round single she earned for qualifying No. 1, then beat newly crowned MWDRS champion Chris Marshall’s event-best 3.63 with an another 3.669 on his red-light start.

When Jim ran within two-thousandths of a second of Annie’s semifinal time on a 3.671 single, the table was set for a classic side-by-side final, the race they’ve been dreaming of. But after a perfect start, nearly identical .030 lights, that dream literally went up in smoke. “I didn’t really care who won,” Annie said. “I just wanted us both to run well, and I really thought we would. We had been all weekend, right?”

PRO MOD – TULSA

At the second-to-last race of the 2022 Mid-West Drag Racing Series Pro Mod season, Steven Whiteley delivered on the promise he’s shown all year, pacing the field with an outstanding 3.64 – the exact E.T. mom Annie Whiteley recorded to lead the Funny Car program.

“You get additional runs here because you just ran a whole race [the rescheduled Great Bend event] a day ago, so there’s a lot more opportunity,” Whiteley said. “But it’s not just that. The weather conditions all weekend were favorable to our team, and not just our car – all the YNot cars seem to run good at Tulsa.”

Whiteley, who fell just short of 210 mph on the 3.64, was joined in the .60s by eventual winner Dustin Nesloney, who won the rescheduled Great Bend event earlier in the weekend; Kentucky’s Tommy Cunningham; series founder and Tulsa Raceway Park co-owner Keith Haney; and the 220-mph Second Gen Camaro of Ed Thornton.

Whiteley wasn’t the only driver in the 3.60s, but he had the field covered early on race day, too, wheeling the J&A Service/YNot Racing ’69 Camaro to not just low E.T. of eliminations but the two lowest E.Ts.: 3.67 and 3.63. A 3.67/207 in the opening round was the quickest run of all 16 qualifiers and handily erased Brian Lewis’ respectable 3.76/199, and he established low E.T. of the entire event in a 3.63/208 demolition of Mark “Tydo” Werdehausen’s slowing 4.89/152 in the quarterfinals.

When the blower belt snapped in the semifinals, silencing his engine and costing him the race, Whiteley absorbed a disappointing 3.66/213 to 6.62/67 loss to Nesloney, who extended his already insurmountable points lead. “We were on a tear, but we keep killing blower belts,” he said. “The two-step is really hard on them. We were only getting five runs on a belt, then it was three runs, then two, and then this one broke on the first run. A burnout and a launch, and a brand-new lets go. It’s too bad – we really had the car to beat all weekend.”

The YNot Pro Mod team now stands second in the MWDRS standings, joining mom Annie, who’s second in Funny Car and wife Delaina, who’s second in Top Dragster behind Whiteley’s aunt, reigning series Anita Pulliam-Strasburg.

TAFC – TULSA

Any doubt that Jim and Annie Whiteley’s J&A Service/YNot Racing Camaros are identically prepared (if there ever was any) was put permanently to rest on a single qualifying run at the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ Throwdown at T-Town.

Husband and wife blasted off the Tulsa Raceway Park starting line within 1/200th of a second of each other and charged down the strip side by side with nearly identical performances right to the end: .954 to .955 in 60 feet, 2.46 to 2.46 to the 330-foot mark, and matching 3.628s at the finish line, with Jim crossing the stripe going half a mile-per-hour faster, 213.47 to Annie’s 212.96.

A day after the rescheduled Great Bend Nationals were completed, the biggest weekend of the eight-race MWDRS season continued with the Throwdown, which, as was the case a day earlier, went better for Annie than it did for Jim. By a single position (on the speed tiebreaker), he had the edge in qualifying in what turned out to be the quickest field in MWDRS Funny Car history. The entire field was in the 3.60s, from pole sitter Chris Marshall’s 3.61 to No. 6 Bill Bernard’s more than respectable 3.69.

Those 3.60s came to a screeching halt in the first round of eliminations, when only Marshall and Annie maintained their consistency. Annie had low E.T. of the entire round in a 3.64/212 win over Colorado’s Steve Macklyn, who gave it his best shot with telepathic .009 reaction time in a losing 3.71/204 effort.

Texan Bryan Brown, who eliminated Jim in the opening round, 3.71/206 to 3.79/198, did Bernard one better in the semi’s with an ever quicker .00 light against Annie – a near-perfect .001. Annie was on time with a solid .059, but Brown put together his best run of the weekend for a tight 3.63/210 win over her fast-closing 3.64/213, then lost to Marshall in the final.

PRO MOD – GREAT BEND

In his return to competition after crew chief Brandon Snider filled in admirably with a semifinal finish at the U.S. 131 Nationals, Steven Whiteley did likewise at the rescheduled Great Bend Nationals, advancing to the final four to soar into second place in the Mid-West Drag Racing Series Pro Mod standings.

Whiteley managed just a shut-off 5.52 at 78 mph on the original date four months ago in Great Bend, Kan., but he, like many, got just one run, and for the worst possible reason: in the second qualifying session, Ronnie Hobbs’ car went over the wall in a tragic crash that took his life and took out the timing system, ultimately pushing the race back four months and to a different site, series headquarters Tulsa Raceway Park.

“I went only about 10 feet and blew the tires off in the left lane on that one run at Great Bend and never got to make a run in the right after Ronnie’s crash,” Whiteley said. “I think morale was down for everybody, and rightfully so. We were all just thinking about his family.”

A world away in Tulsa, the rescheduled Great Bend event served as Race 1 of a two-race extravaganza on the penultimate weekend of the eight-race MWDRS season. From the No. 2 qualifying spot, Whiteley plowed through the first round of eliminations with the quickest and second-fastest run of the stanza, a sizzling 3.64 at 208.33 mph. Only Ed Thornton’s 219.54-mph blast was faster, and he was nearly a full tenth of a second behind Whiteley in the all-important E.T. department with a 3.72.

For Whiteley, the race may have ended in the quarterfinals when his ’69 Camaro slipped to a 4.59/111 against second-generation driver Justin Jones, but the weekend was far from over. Things were looking way up a day later at the Throwdown at T-Town, where the J&A Service/YNot team towered over the entire field with an event-best 3.64/209.

“By the time we made up this race, it wasn’t the same vibe as at that next one after Great Bend,” Whiteley said. “It’s a different track, and enough time has passed that things were just different. You could feel it. I wasn’t fazed about getting in the car again – I just wanted to get back at it. I think we all did.”

TAFC – GREAT BEND

The last time a cancelled Mid-West Drag Racing Series race was contested at another venue (earlier this season when Memphis was moved to Tulsa), Annie Whiteley emerged victorious. This time, not so much – but she didn’t miss by much.

Whiteley, who entered the rescheduled Great Bend Nationals atop the Funny Car rankings, made the final but actually lost ground in the standings because the only driver ahead of her was the one who took her out: longtime nemesis Chris Marshall. The 10-year pro, who’d shut off to a 5.76 at 82 mph on her lone qualifying attempt back in Kansas, which was called off after Ronnie Hobbs’ fatal crash took out the clocks, led Marshall by a single point when they passed through the gates at Tulsa Raceway Park.

With an outstanding 3.636 at 213.27 mph in the first round, Whiteley trounced friend Steve Macklyn, who blatantly fouled and coasted to a 9.25 at 48 mph, completing an odd pattern: for perhaps the first time ever, every single race in a round of Top Alcohol Funny Car eliminations was decided on a red-light.

Bryan Brown’s near miss (-.006) invalidated a 3.68/206, advancing Annie’s husband, Jim, who ran a similar 3.67/210 in what otherwise would have been the best race of the round. Then Colorado’s Bill Bernard, using a clutch instead of the torque converter he has for years, threw away any shot he had of upsetting Marshall’s 3.57/314 low E.T./top speed blast with a -.107 bulb.

After Marshall clocked a 3.64/212 on a single, Jim and Annie faced off, as they seem to every weekend, in the other semifinal matchup. Annie got the best of their latest head-to-head clash in a great race after Jim moved first. Both were more than on time ­­(Jim with a .041 reaction time, Annie a .052), but Jim’s 3.68/209 wasn’t enough when she duplicated her first-round time almost to the thousand of a second for a 3.635/213 win.

Pressing to dip into the 3.50s in the final, Annie lost traction, coasting to a disappointing 8.24 at 51 mph. It was particularly exasperating because another low .60 might just have been enough to win – Marshall slowed to his worst run of eliminations, a 3.64 at 212 mph, but still won the race and passed her for the points lead.

TAFC – MARTIN

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.

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 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.”

TAFC – ST. LOUIS

Jim Whiteley, who’s won big in Pro Mod and won it all, multiple times, in Top Alcohol Dragster, is fast closing in on a first major title in a third different category, Top Alcohol Funny Car. The two-time national event winner in NHRA Pro Mod and two-time world champion in Top Alcohol Dragster just missed winning the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ Summer Speed Spectacular, outdriving the hands-down best Funny Car driver out there, Sean Bellemeur, in the final.

Just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis at multipurpose World Wide Technology Raceway, Whiteley narrowly lost to the toughest possible opponent, Bellemeur, the current MWDRS points leader and reigning series champion in both the MWDRS and NHRA series. “He left on me and had me beat,” Bellemeur admitted. “He’s going to be really, really successful in that Funny Car.”

Whiteley wasn’t so sure. “This thing’s a challenge,” he said of his new ride. “Having them lower the body down over you and having the transmission running between your legs doesn’t bother me, but even though I have a clutch pedal and rev it up on the starting line, driving a Funny Car is not the same as driving an Alcohol Dragster or a Pro Mod. At all. None of that experience helps at all.”

With a 3.68 at 210.47 mph, Whiteley wheeled his J&A Service/YNot Racing entry to an easy first-round win over 2021 MWDRS championship runner-up Chris Marshall, who broke, then won a round he didn’t particularly want to win, over his least-favorite opponent ever – his wife, Top Alcohol Funny Car veteran Annie Whiteley. He got out first with a clutch .042 reaction time and hung on to edge her slightly quicker 3.66 with a 3.67.

An almost identical .048 light in the final gave Whiteley a noticeable holeshot lead on Bellemeur, but Bellemeur narrowly ran down his event-best 3.66 at just 207 mph with a much quicker and faster 3.61/213 for a photo-finish win. “It had to be close,” Whiteley said. “I still only have 12 hits in this thing, and I’m still learning every time out, but I can say one thing without a doubt: this Funny Car is harder to drive than anything I’ve ever driven before.”

PRO MOD – ST. LOUIS

It’s been three years since Steven Whiteley last raced at World Wide Technology Raceway just outside St. Louis. Back then, he was still hitting 250 mph on the quarter-mile and his opponent at that race, the 2019 NHRA Midwest Nationals, was, of all people, his crew chief today, Brandon Snider. (Snider won, but Whiteley had him on the Tree.)

Now, the two work together, Snider making all the calls and Whiteley behind the wheel, and they can almost always be found in the upper reaches of the qualifying order. At the Mid-West Drag Racing Series’ Summer Speed Spectacular, the two again had the J&A Service/YNot Racing team’s spotless ’69 Camaro in the fast half of the field, but not as close to the top as usual – just seventh, with 3.770 at 201.16.

“We struggled all weekend,” Whiteley admitted. “The whole team did, really – all three of us. The track stumped us. The heat was part of it, sure, but all the other teams had to deal with it, too.” Nobody made it into the 3.60s, the whole top half of the field was in the .70s, and the first driver in the .80s, No. 10 qualifier Brian Lewis, was Whiteley’s first-round foe.

Long established as one of Pro Mod’s top leavers, regardless of the association, Whiteley had the best reaction time of all 16 drivers in the opening round, an outstanding .018. Lewis was right behind him with a .028 and matched his 3.813 qualifying time almost to the thousandth of a second for a winning 3.815 at 197.57 mph. Whiteley could’ve slowed down half a tenth and still won on a holeshot, but he fell way off, coasting across the eighth-mile mark with a just a 4.83 at about 100 mph for a dispiriting loss.

“It just took the tire off,” Whiteley said. “I don’t know what happened. This track whipped our asses all weekend. It was so hot, we’re just glad to get out of here. It’ll be nice to have some time off from racing to work and spend time with the family.”

One of the truly unique aspects of competing on the racer-friendly MWDRS tour is the lengthy three-month summer break it affords teams, most of which are led by independent entrepreneurs who spend that time between races literally taking care of business. After this welcome respite, the season finishes with a flourish, a three-race stretch from Sept. 9 to Oct. 22 with stops in Martin, Mich., Tulsa, and Ferris, Texas.

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