Today is Sat. January 15th and I’m sitting in my 2013 Chevrolet Caprice PPV (retired cop car) waiting for the track announcer’s call of “Attention in the pits – Attention in the Pits” Sportsman cars to lane one and two. This is the opening day for the 2022 Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park Summit ET Racing Series. Even though l’m 70 years old and have been to opening day races countless times in my 50+ years of Bracket Drag Racing, I’m excited like it’s my first time. Waiting in line to enter the track and noticing people and cars that l know, a nod here a wave there, makes me feel good that l’m part of this unique American made grass-roots drag racing experience. Driving into the pit area, l can see that the turnout on this beautiful winter day is pretty good. I see several cars that I’ve never seen before.

“Attention in the Pits – Attention in the Pits” Jr. Dragsters to the lanes. OK, get ready Sportsman will be called up next. My first run of 2022 netted a 13.92 elapsed time (ET) at only 92.85 miles per hour. I say only, because l lifted off the gas at the first finish line cone, that’s about 50 feet from the actual finish line. A rookie mistake, that l haven’t done in many years. Second run and another mistake, l forgot to turn off the traction control, which again affected my ET. Yipes, when first round comes, l better have these mistakes out of my system, or I’ll be going home early. Talking to racers in the staging lanes, it was nice to hear that l wasn’t the only one making early-season mistakes.

While l was waiting for that 2nd time trail run, l went to the starting line to watch the little kids under age 6 racing their Big Wheel Trikes. I saw several racers that I’ve known for years, helping their kids or grandkids in these Big Wheel races. One young father is Paul Lorton, he was helping son Jack, who and was runner-up on Saturday. It was so interesting watching Paul as a proud father, because l vividly remember Paul racing his Jr. Dragster 15 or 20 years ago. Paul is now an accomplished drag racer with many wins and track championships under his belt. His father Roger Lorton built many of the Jr. Dragster engines back then and engines for the big cars as well, including for me. It was nice seeing long-time friends and grandparents like Brian & Victoria Griffey and Darrin & Debby Dolezal out there helping and supporting their grandkids, getting maybe their first taste of drag racing.

Paul Lorton and wife Angie watch as son Jack takes runner-up (2nd place) in the Big Wheel class.

“Attention in the Pits” Sportsman to the lanes for round one of eliminations. “OK, let’s do this” I’m the second car to get there. l want the left lane, but old friend and good racer Mike Williams is in the right lane and l don’t want to race him in first round, so l slide the big Chevy in behind his ’64 Plymouth. Pretty soon there are about 34 cars lined up and ready to start the new season. I’ve been in hundreds of first rounds and didn’t really feel nervous, despite making those mistakes. I wrote myself a little note TURN OFF THE TRACTION CONTROL. I wrote 14.02 on my windshield which is my Dial-In ET prediction for that first round. The other car was a mid 1970’s Chevy Nova with a Dial-In of 14.85, meaning that he will leave first by about 8 tenths of a second. In Bracket Drag Racing the slower vehicle always gets to leave first. The track’s computer does the math, so that theoretically based on those Dial-In predictions, both vehicles should reach the finish line together, which is why you can race a slower vehicle against a much faster vehicle. Your starting line reaction-time (RT) to the Green go light is critically important, because a good RT can give you a true headstart in the race. In my first round race l had a .088 RT .000 is perfect, so .088 is not that good, but the Nova had a .150 RT which gave me a .062 headstart. We both went quicker than our Dial-In, but l was closer to mine, so I got the win light. In round two, l had a .062 RT, again not great, but again better than the big Ford pickup’s .121 RT. He was Dialed-In at 15.10 to my 13.73 so he left first. l caught up to the truck, just past the eighth mile, so l pretty much knew that l probably had a better RT. I made the mistake of lifting off the gas too soon so that l wouldn’t breakout (go quicker than my Dial-In) and by the time l got back on the gas l couldn’t catch him and he got the win light. I’m usually the slower car and this was just another learning experience mistake. Sunday Jan. 16th was race #2 and let’s just say that l was back home before they called a second round to the lanes. This wasn’t the way l wanted to start a new season of racing, but l’m still excited about race #2 & 3 coming up on Feb. 19th & 20th. Hope to see you there!!

Here are the Summit Racing Series Race #1 and Race #2 results:

Jeff Burk (Sat.) and Kyle Fritz (Sun.) took the Super Pro class wins. Ryan Smith (Sat.) and Kyle Fritz (Sun.) took the Pro class wins. Mike Williams (Sat.) and Chris Griffey (Sun.) took the Sportsman class wins. Tyler Anderson (Sat.) and John Coburn (Sun.) took the Motorcycle class wins. Becca Bopp (Sat.) and Cory Oxford (Sun.) took the High School class wins. In the Jr. Dragster class, 6 to 12 Age Group Parker Williams (Sat.) and Mallory Dolezal (Sun.) were the winners. In the 13 to 17 Age Group Austin Axtell won both days. Special Note; Kyle Fritz won both Pro and Super Pro on Sunday driving his 10 second Pontiac Firebird.