Martin, MI - Reporter's Notebook

Notes from Jim Luikens' Reporter's Notebook at the 24th Annual IHRA Northern Nationals

Victor Bray, Aaron Polburn, Marie Bray & Ben Bray
Six-time Australian Top Doorslammer Champion Victor Bray was in attendance at this event. Accompanying Victor was his wife Marie and son Ben along with three members of the Bray Racing team. Victor and the group are in the states for a five week tour before their racing season begins down-under on September 16th. After this weekend the entourage travels to Valdosta, Georgia for next weekend's ADRL event before heading to the legendary Pomona Swap Meet in California. Their tour wraps up with a visit to the US Nationals in Indianapolis.

According to Victor, an Australian Top Doorslammer is very similar to our Pro Modified. The chief difference between the two cars is that Australian rules permit a screw-style supercharger with no limit on the percentage of blower overdrive. Victor is the current Australian record-holder at 6.05 seconds and 245.25 miles-per-hour. Both Victor and Ben currently race 1957 Chevrolets however Ben will be switching to a Holden Monaro (Pontiac GTO here) before too long.

Castellana vs Radford, semifinals
Victor reports that 10 Top Doorslammer season titles have been awarded to-date with his son Ben winning two titles and Victor himself claiming six. In other words, the Bray family has won 8 of the 10 championships that have been awarded so far. Team Bray's major sponsor is Castrol, just like the American racing team that has a similar record of dominance.

The reason for Victor's Pomona side trip is because one of his sponsors has commissioned him to locate a "General Lee" Dodge Charger while he is in America. They need it for a contest that they are having. In fact, the contest has already started, which makes locating the grand prize a top priority. If Victor is able to locate a Charger before Pomona he will forego the trip west and instead visit IHRA's premier event, the World Nationals.

Steve Vick
Long-time Camaro Pro Modified campaigner Steve Vick appeared here with a new-to-him 1963 Corvette that was originally built by Tommy Mauney. Steve reports that he has had his eye on this car for some time and when an opportunity arose to sell his Camaro he acted quickly. Although he has only had the new Corvette for one week he was able to install his Camaro's motor and transmission and make it to the Martin event on time. He was rewarded for his efforts with a fine 13th qualifying position out of the 30 cars that attempted to make the 16 car Pro Modified field. Unfortunately, a broken connecting rod ended his weekend early and he was unable to answer the call for the first round of eliminations. Steve did come away from Martin with the Drag Review Editor's Choice Award for his American flag-themed Corvette.

Steve Bareman
When Steve Vick was unable to answer the first-round call it opened the door for Steve Bareman to enter the Pro Modified field. Bareman, who has never qualified for an IHRA national event, was the first alternate in the Bareman/Oddy 1953 Corvette. The new team had a very frustrating weekend, hurting their engine on nearly every pass. Preliminary investigation has indicated that perhaps there was a fuel delivery problem with the car's fuel tank. The problem will be investigated further before the next event at Norwalk, Ohio.
Kenny Lang

Winnipeg's Kenny Lang was the second alternate here when his 6.396 best elapsed time fell short of the 6.367 Pro Modified bump spot. On Friday evening crew man Peter Kollinger took a nasty tumble off the back of the team's golf cart. Saturday morning Peter was sporting a nasty case of road rash that looked quite painful.

Dennis Radford appeared here with his new 1963 Corvette. The car is actually Rickie Smith's 2004 Jerry Haas car with Radford's engine and transmission installed. The Radford team had a very impressive debut, qualifying 11th and going to the semi-finals. Jim Raynor of Nampa Idaho and Tom Hemphill from Clarksburg, Pennsylvania assisted Radford in his return as an owner/driver. Although the c
Billy Harper
ar arrived here in Hemphill's trailer it departed in Billy Harper's transporter. Radford's car will travel in the Harper trailer for at least the remainder of this season. Despite traveling together Harper stressed that it is not a two-car team but will instead be two teams that just happen to travel in one rig.

After the event was over 18 year old Dane Robinson of Williamson, West Virginia made a licensing run in Quain Stott's Lee Boy Corvette. Dane, who normally races a nitrous 706 cubic inch Chevrolet Lumina in Top Sportsman, had gone as quick as 6.55 seconds previously. Dane plans to drive Quain's second Corvette, the primered car that was raced earlier this year by Tommy D'Aprille, at Norwalk but had to complete his license upgrade first. For the run Quain softened the Corvette and Dane responded by recording an unbelievable 6.341 at 224.85 miles-per-hour. The 6.341 would have have been quick enough to qualify Dane for the race here since the Pro Modified bump
Dane Robinson
was Harold Martin's 6.367 seconds.

In honor of the numerous Illinois-based Pro Stock competitors Illinois resident Rick Jones has created a new FBI decal. This FBI is actually in honor of the Fast Boys from Illinois. Charter members include event-winner Steve Spiess(Manhattan), Tony Gillig (Lake Bluff), Pete Berner (Crete), Chuck Demory (Glen Ellyn), Michael Bruno (Frankfort) and Rick himself (Galesburg).

FBI Decal
Bert Jackson returned to the tour here in Enoch Love's Pro Stock Chevrolet Cavalier. Jackson and the team had taken some time off while they waited for their new Sonny Leonard Chevrolet Hemi engine. The Love Team is one of the last Chevy Pro Stock competitors to switch to hemi power. The improvement was immediate as Jackson qualified with a 6.581 elapsed time. Bert then won his first round match-up with Brian Gahm before losing in the second round to Rick Jones.
Bert Jackson
In many ways this event resembled San Antonio, 2004. That was the event where it looked like rain was five minutes away for the entire weekend but it never rained. This event had a rain delay on Friday morning and another short rain delay on Saturday afternoon. Both of those delays were very minor compared to how horrific the weather radar looked for the entire weekend.