Epping - Reporter's Notebook

Notes from Jim Luikens' Reporter's Notebook at the 9th Annual Amalie North American Nationals

Mitch King
The Top Fuel field here featured 13 participants, which included all of the usual IHRA suspectsplus Mitch King from Galveston, Texas. Mitch, who is running the last six NHRA races this year, stopped by because the event fit in well between his NHRA races in Indianapolis, Indiana and Reading, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, Mitch failed to qualify for one of the eight starting spots when his 7.620 best fell far short of the 4.876 bump.

Despite not qualifying Mitch was able to keep his sense of humor. Located at the front edge of his pit was a pair of well-used drag slicks for sale. The hand lettered cardboard sign explained that the slicks had been used by an elderly lady only to drive to and from church on Sunday. The price for the pair was a reasonable $40.

Doug Foley
Doug Foley, who went to the final four of Top Fuel, was using a five disc clutch in his car here after experimenting with it at the Norwalk event two weeks ago and then further testing at Atco, New Jersey this week.

Bobby Lagana, Jr. had a new helmet here that had provisions for a HANS device. Bobby was experimenting with the helmet here as he works towards the day when he will use the HANS device in competition.

Bobby Lagana Recent IHRA Top Fuel participant Keith Stark was missing in action here. Keith has identified a problem with the top of his pistons being too thin when machined for Top Fuel competition. As a result he has ordered a new style piston that has a thicker material cross-section to its top. Expect to see Keith back in competition as soon as his new pistons are received. Last weekend he tuned unheralded Karl Brounkowski’s A-Fueler to a fine second qualifying position and a final-four finish in Top Alcohol Dragster at the NHRA’s 50th Anniversary US Nationals.
Bobby Lagana

Canada’s Rick DiStefano dominated Pro Modified qualifying with his 1953 Corvette. On Friday he recorded a 6.146 second elapsed time to qualify number one with the Australian-style fuel injector that he has been using on his supercharged engine. For Saturday’s sessions he switched to a new style three hole injector that was manufactured in Great Britain. The new-style injector had shown significant horsepower gains during dyno testing. Saturday’s afternoon session became a throw away when the track temperature soared and almost no one made it down the track successfully. After calming his car down for the night session Ricky D, as he’s been christened by TV’s Johnny Rocca, recorded a 6.147, which was the best time of the session. On race day he notched a 6.161 first round victory before winning a 6.427
Rick DeStefano
pedaling contest against Al Billes in the second round. In the semi-finals a supercharger explosion ended Rick’s day one round earlier than desired.

Funny Car driver Scott Wildgust showed up here with new sponsorship from Bar’s Leaks Head Gasket Repair products. Scott had favorably impressed Bar’s Leaks company officials with the exposure he had gained this year with his “godonkeey.com” promotional efforts. Scott was quick to confirm that he would have been done for this year if Bar’s Leaks hadn’t stepped in.

Robert Mansfield
Favorable weather conditions for the Friday afternoon and Saturday evening qualifying sessions resulted in a slew of Pro Stock records and accomplishments. The first 10 drivers in Pro Stock qualified in the 6.40 second range with three of the drivers, Rob Mansfield, Elijah Morton and Richard Penland, recording their first ever run in the 6.4 range. The bump for the 16 car field was 6.544 seconds, a new all-time quick bump for Pro Stock and Rob Mansfield’ s 6.425 at 216.20 number-one qualifying shot were both all time records as well.