Stanton, Michigan - Reporter's Notebook

Notes From Reporter’s Notebook at the Mid-Michigan Motorplex, LODRS 3-2

Hometown hero Bill Reichert reset the track’s elapsed time and speed records for Top Alcohol Dragsters during Friday evening’s qualifying session. Unusually pleasant conditions replaced the normally hot and humid weather that we usually see at this event and no doubt contributed to his number one qualifying run of 5.442 seconds at 263.85 mph. The fact that no other injected nitro dragster even chose to attend this event is indicative of the conditions that normally prevail here in Stanton, Michigan.

After lowering the track elapsed time record to 5.442 seconds on Friday, Reichert lowered it to 5.441 seconds during his second round victory on Sunday. Unfortunately the loser was his Bar’ s Leaks team mate Jeff Bohr, who trailed at 5.661 seconds. In the final round, Bill reset both track records one last time at 5.432 seconds and 269.46 mph.

Jeff Wilson qualified third in Top Alcohol Dragster at 5.586 seconds. He continues to be one of the few Pro Sportsman competitors that use Mickey Thompson drag slicks. Mark Hentges is another Mickey Thompson user and Mark has recorded the quickest elapsed time of this season for a supercharged Top Alcohol Dragster at 5.348 seconds and the highest top speed ever recorded by a blown dragster at 271.70 miles per hour. Several of the top West-coast alcohol funny cars also run Mickey Thompson rear tires.

The hit of the pits was the spectacular new Top Alcohol Dragster of Russ Lindert. Built by Mike Spitzer, the car made its first full runs here after a couple of test squirts at Joliet’s Route 66 Dragway. Unconventional beyond belief, the car features a rudder rear center wing strut but with no wing blade. A smaller wing is located on each side of the car just aft of the driver’s compartment. Two shake downs (literally, the car shaking on both runs) resulted in a best time of 6.093 seconds, which was only good enough for 11th place, out of the top eight, in the final qualifying order.

Drawing almost as much attention as Lindert’s dragster was the spectacular new Bowen 747 Harley chopper of Mike Bowen. Mike, well known in Division 3 circles for his fastidious craftsmanship, has temporarily stepped away from drag racing. To fill his spare time he has built a custom bike that is a tribute to his expertise.

Danny Townsend was the third qualifier here in Top Alcohol Funny Car. The Parkertech team was using their spare body here after a top end excursion during last weekend’s national event at Columbus, Ohio damaged their primary body. An all-week thrash saw the team getting the sand out of their engine and chassis as well as re-decaling the spare body to this year’s graphic package. The primary body will be repaired and back on the car in a few weeks while the back-up body has a special graphic scheme prepared for this year’s U.S. Nationals. The Parkertech team is the defending US Nationals TA/FC champion and, in addition to this year’s event being the 50th anniversary edition, 2004 is also the 40th anniversary of their primary sponsor, Lane Automotive. If all goes as planned the Parkertech team will honor both with their 2004 U.S. Nationals entry.

Another car that is being prepared for this year’s "Big Go" is the 1967 Camaro Z/28 of Ben Wenzel. Ben debuted this very car at the 1967 US Nationals and went on to win Stock Eliminator. That was certainly the first win by a drag racing-prepared Z/28 and could be very well be one of the very first Z/28 wins anywhere. To commemorate that victory for this year’s anniversary event, Wenzel has re-letttered his car to reflect the way it originally appeared at the 1967 event.

Previously, Bill Beaudin has raced his Hemi Barracuda, "The Mopar Missile," in Stock Eliminator. Here he was racing his Hemi Challenger, "The Motown Missile." Both cars are lettered in the accurate style of their early day counterparts. In the second round of Stock Eliminator Bill did one of the most spectacular wheel stands ever by a stock class car. Unfortunately the wheel stand was preceded by a red light and Beaudin’s racing day ended in that round.
Henson vs Smith

Of the 61 Super Stockers that were competing here, ten were SS/AA entries. The racers created their own Super/Stock Hemi Challenge and Charlie Westcott defeated Fred Henson (all the way from Madisonville, Texas) in the final round of the Challenge with an elapsed time of 8.74 seconds.

On Saturday night, three crashes delayed the activities by a cumulative total of nearly two hours. Unbelievably, two of the crashes occured during the same race, but were unrelated, when one car hit the wall near the 330 foot mark while the other car continued down the track only to encounter troubles in the shut down area. Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported by any of the contestants. All of the craziness started after racer and part-time announcer Brian Olson arrived from Peru, Indiana. After he left things returned to normal, which left the tower staff wondering if somehow he might have jinxed the racing. [Ed. note: Olson will undoubtedly get even with us for letting his secret out.]