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2002 BFGoodrich IDRC Summer Slam Nationals - IDRC E-Town

Auto Trader IDRC Championship Racing Series

Nov 1, 2002
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0211_turp_z+2002_bfgoodrich_idrc_summer_slam_nationals+drag_racing_photo Photo 1/1   |   2002 BFGoodrich IDRC Summer Slam Nationals - IDRC E-Town

The IDRC Summer Slam has earned its reputation among drag race fans and car show enthusiasts with record-breaking racing action, 1048 slammin' show cars, hot hydraulic competition and beautiful bikini show beauties. Held during the 4th of July weekend at famed Old Bridge Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, the 2002 edition delivered the goods to more than 24,000 fans.

Drag Sports Magazine Pro ClassThe action was fierce in the Pro Class and the standing room only crowd knew the big boys were the cars to watch as the drama unfolded. All qualifiers were in the 7-second range, making the field closely matched. However, the second round of qualifying was a wake up call for all the racers. Craig Paisley and his Toyota Tundra scared everyone when his truck drifted out of the groove. Craig lost traction causing his truck to go sideways. He managed to correct with steering, but the Tundra flung back and caught its rear wheel, tipping over on its roof and sliding for 200 feet or so. Craig was shaken up but emerged to a cheering crowd with fists in the air. The Tundra, unfortunately, didn't fare so well. The nose and roof of the cab were irreparably damaged. This incident left seven competitors for eliminations.

The powerhouse team to watch was Bullish Motor Racing, with its identically painted and powered Solaras. In qualifying they ran side by side, with George Ioannou running 7.100 and Ara Arslanian running 7.108, both at 191mph-it doesn't get much more "identical" than that. Both cars made quick work of their opponents in the first round, but the staging order dictated they'd run against each other in the semis, squelching any hopes of a one/two finish for the Bullish team. Driver and Bullish team owner Ara Arslanian managed to get a slightly better reaction time against Ioannou, who always posts rock solid .5-second reaction times. Ioannou did get a better 60-foot time, though, and both cars ran side by side the entire length of the track with neither giving an inch. Finally, Ioannou squeaked past Arslanian at the finish line, pushing himself into the finals.

The car to look out for was the Turbonetics Drag Barrier Celica driven by Matt Scranton. He defeated David Buschur in the first round in a David vs Goliath-like race. Honorable mention must go to Buschur for finally breaking into the 7-second realm with his Mitsubishi powered, tube-frame Talon. But his 4G63 had half the cylinders and 40 percent of the displacement compared to that of the Celica. In the semis Scranton was supposed to race the Venom Racing Toyota Tundra driven by Grant Downing, but in an effort to gain lane choice the Venom crew pushed their motor too hard and broke as they defeated Jose Torres in the first round. Unable to make the semis, Scranton made it to the finals against George Ioannou. It could have been anybody's race as Ioannou's rock solid performance and potent turbocharged inline-6 was up to the task of humbling Matt Scranton and the twin turbocharged iForce V8 in the Turbonetics Celica. The reaction advantage Ioannou hoped for didn't occur when the tree turned green, though. Both cars left at virtually the same time and it was just a matter of a few more ponies the Turbonetics Celica was able to squeeze out to push them one tenth faster through the traps. It was the closest race the Drag Barrier Celica has ever had as the Solara was in striking distance the entire length of the track. But the Celica's 7.057 at 197 mph was enough to defeat Ioannou, who finished with a 7.190 at 190 mph.

ImportDrag.com Turbo High Tech & Performance Quick ClassTechnology is a wonderful thing but it's especially awesome where drag racing is concerned. Quick Class cars just keep getting faster and more reliable by the day as proven by the Venom Performance team and Bruce Mortensen, who qualified in first place with a 8.834 at 165 mph and set a new IDRC Quick Class record. Jojo Callos, Kenny Tran and Lance Ho Lung are also indicators of the evolution of unibody FWD racers as they're on the verge of 8-second stardom. But at E-Town the 13 other Quick Class racers were not about to bow down without a fight for the Summer Slam championship.

After two rounds it was obvious who had the moxie to win. Second qualifier Saverio Leone driving the IMPO Performance Civic made it to the semis with two lucky breaks, taking Bye runs in the first two rounds. This was fortunate considering the bad luck he had been experiencing all week (See Burning the Midnight Oil), but Leone had no idea if his fresh motor was up to the task of taking Jojo Callos down for the count. Both cars left staging at the same time, but a missed shift by Leone gave Callos the edge he needed to move the Castrol Integra into the finals and send Leone packing.

The second pairing in the semis was the Venom Civic of Mortensen and 2002 Quick Class newcomer Jennifer Williams. Jennifer had been moving up through the bracket classes with her own daily driver, so when Inline Pro approached her to drive their Civic this season she jumped at the chance, knowing this would be her ticket to the big league. She won an event this year at the IDRC Spring Nats at Atco, NJ, but this was a new day. Williams would have to top her best run to have a chance against Mortensen. Unfortunately, she was unable to get away from Mortensen from the start and horsepower would rule as the Venom Civic pulled away authoritatively.

The final round was exciting and dramatic but way too short. Callos and Mortensen ran similar numbers in the past, but this time there was no stopping the brutally consistent 8-second passes Mortensen laid down. Callos was able to get a slight lead on Mortensen with a better reaction time, however it was all over by the 60-foot with Callos begging for traction and Mortensen just passing him by. The Venom Civic reigned supreme, beating Jojo Callos and finishing with an 8.933 at 164 mph to Callos' 10.488 at 142 mph.

BFGoodrich Street Tire ClassIt's the year of the single digits in the Street Tire class. Competitors need to start running 9-second passes consistently to even have a shot at winning.

Two of the eight qualifying competitors made it into the 9s with the AWD Eclipse of Jeff Hill knocking on the 9-second door. And had the boys from Titan Motorsports not disintegrated their Supra's drivetrain during qualifying, they too could have been in the 9-second club. And to think we were impressed a few years ago when Quick Class cars ran 9s.

Top qualifier Paul Efantis easily took out the Eagle Talon of Nathan Crisman in the first round and the Peter Farrell RX-7 of Ray Wilson in the semis by over a second. This would move him one win away from the trophy and the big payday. But IDRC Street Tire points leader John Shepherd was also making his way though the field by defeating Jose Castillo in the first round and good friend Jeff Hill in the semis. But Shepherd knew a low 9-second pass was not in his deck of cards and that he would have to rely on sheer driving skill and a bit of luck to win the day.

In the finals John Shepherd did the almost impossible. He was able to leave the staging beams one one-thousandth of a second after the light turned green. Yes. That's right. Shepherd managed to cut a .401 light to launch past Efantis. By the time both competitors hit the 1000-foot mark it was anybody's race. Shepherd's work on the tree was a tad too much and his slower 9.71 stood up against Efantis' 9.28.

Apex Integration Outlaw ClassIt seems like the IDRC Outlaw Class has a few shining stars that run consistently while the rest of the pack play catch-up. The qualifying pack ranged from the eighth and final qualifying time of 9.459 posted by Mickel Rosado to the quickest qualifying time of 8.261 by crowd favorite Stephan Papadakis.

Hailing from Ponce, Puerto Rico, Cesar Febus made waves in the Apex Integration Outlaw Class. Febus advanced to the semis by defeating Jose Rodriguez's '82 Starlet and was matched against the "Pepe Loco" Datsun of Carlos Montano. Montano previously ran consistent, low 8-second passes and even ran well enough to defeat the force of Papadakis' AEM Civic, but his best time would still be a bit shy compared to what Febus laid down in the semis. With front wheels lifted, Montano launched past Febus and pulled away after the 60-foot mark. Febus got it together for this run, though, as his Nissan 300Z clawed hard at the track, passing Montano by mid-track as if Pepe Loco was standing still. But the real thrill came when the timing board flashed a 7.825 at 173 mph, which was the first 7-second pass in IDRC's Outlaw Class. The run also ensured Febus a spot in the finals as well as lane choice.

In typical fashion, Stephan Papadakis was taking names and kicking butt through the early rounds, defeating Mickel Rosado in the first and Jose Escalera in the second. Papadakis was running very consistent 8.3s, but knew it would come down to either driving skill on his part, or broken parts on Febus' part, to defeat another pass like the Nissan's 7-second e.t. in the semis. When the tree dropped, Papadakis managed a better reaction time but any advantage was snuffed by the RWD traction of Febus' 300Z. Febus was able to get a two-car lead on Papadakis and carry it until half-track. Then Papadakis came charging right back but ran out of track. Febus crossed the finish first in 8.018 at 155 mph to Papadakis' 8.302 at 172 mph.

Falken Tire All Motor ClassHondas ruled in the All Motor field, boasting four out of the top five qualifying positions. And when it came to the first round of competition Scott Mohler's number two qualified Dodge Neon was nowhere to be found. However, the first-gen RX-7 of Angel Valentin advanced his way through the rounds by defeating Dennis Melendez in the first round and Steve Jung in his brightly painted Honda in the quarterfinals.

With a removed rear bumper and primer painted fiberglass nose, Jeremy Lally made his way through the first two rounds, easily defeating Jose Cello in the first round and Buddy Dunagan in the second, proving that you don't have to look good to win. Lally was out to prove to Angel Valentin he had the goods in the semi-final round when the light turned green. Lally cut a .598 light, launched past Valentin and pulled away. And even though his RX-7's RWD traction was somewhat able to catch up, his poor reaction time cost him the race and he let off by the 1000-ft marker, pushing Lally into the finals.

It was obvious who was going to make it into the finals to run against Jeremy Lally. Erick Aguilar must have completely intimidated the competition with his wicked number one qualifying pass of 10.590 at 127 mph because both Anthony Dowd (quarterfinal) and Jeremy Allen (Semifinal) red lit, hoping to get a jump start advantage on Aguilar. Lally definitely had his work cut out for him. When the light turned green in the finals Lally was able to get a slight lead over Aguilar, but horsepower ruled the day and Aguilar easily pulled past and even let off by the end, giving Erick Aguilar the IDRC All Motor win.

There were plenty of fireworks on the tarmac at Englishtown and Craig Paisley saw more than his fair share of shooting stars after his roof-scrapin' run. With crazy fast racers and all the ambiance that comes with East Coast drag racing, the Summer Slam once again proved why it is the IDRC's biggest and best event.

Turbo Magazine Midnight Oil AwardYep, we all see the finely detailed machine pound the quarter mile. But the action in the pits is far removed from the limelight. The glamour of the burnout is replaced by desperation, grease and bloody knuckles. Turbo endeavors to bring the trials and struggles of race teams to light. Here's Sav Leone's version of what it took to make the 2002 Summer Slam.

MondayOld motor shows 50 percent leak down so we assemble a new B16A.

TuesdayVince from Golden Eagle flies in to help. Discover turbo needs repair, so it's over-nighted out.

WednesdayPick up new deck plate and install new engine. Work 'til 2 a.m.

Thursday(Fourth of July)There's no oil pressure! Remove oil pan; it's OK. Check lines; they're OK. Replace oil pump; Houston, we have oil pressure! Go home and watch fireworks with family.

FridayGet turbo back and bolt on. Go to dyno and make good power (700 hp). Try another dyno pull, shred tires and just about kill girlfriend. Call it a day.

SaturdayHead to track and qualify #2 with best run ever, a 9.28 at 155mph. Blow new engine up in second qualifying pass when oil pump fails. At 8 p.m., head home to get new valves and then go back to track to install only to find everybody waiting at gate as track closed.

SundayLap in new valves and miss third round of qualifying. Get a "bye" run first-round but have voltage problems. In checking wires. a wire is grounded, starting small fire and destroying the clutch line. Christian Rado lends a new line and we make it to second round and are lucky again with a "bye" run. Voltage problem is figured out and we pull the alternator. On way to staging against Jojo, we discover oil pan leak. Fix leak with RTV. Stage against Jojo and run side-by-side 'til mid-track, where the alternator belt breaks. Pack up. Lick wounds. Go home. Just another weekend of racing.

Hyundai Tiburon TourThe 2003 Tiburon Tuner Tour is a 10-event promotion, displaying Hyundai's newest sport compact performance coupe to its target audience. The Tour consists of a performance-tuned Tiburon equipped with an Injen Air-Cooled intake, APC exhaust, Brembo brakes, Eibach springs, ALT wheels, Yokohama tires, Sparco seats, pedals and steering wheel, four-point roll cage and removed rear seats. Local Hyundai dealers are involved at all events by supplying a stock Tiburon for comparison. Summer Slam spectators could sign up for an internet-based sweepstakes for a chance to win a Tiburon.

The "Celebrity Grudge Match" at the IDRC Summer Slam Nationals between Christian Rado and Stephan Papadakis was awesome. Steph was driving the semi built, red six-speed Tiburon while Chris was stuck with the Silver automatic Tib. They both first pulled up to the burnout box. The announcer began to talk about the Tib's hot looks and 181 horsepower. Both drivers got out of their cars and proceeded to yell at one another, harass each other, and get the crowd all riled up. They both got back in the cars and Steph let loose with a huge smoky burnout that continued well beyond the tree. Chris had a cute little one.

When the smoke settled, both cars lined up. After staging, Chris took off first, leaving the line way early. When Steph finally realized what just happened, he launched, caught and passed Rado and the silver Tiburon. Check out the sweepstakes at www.tiburonsweepstakes.com or at the following venues.

Sept. 21-22 NOPI Nationals - Atlanta, GA
Oct. 12-13 IDRC - Phoenix, AZ
Oct. 26-27 NHRA - Pomona, CA
Nov. 23-24 IDRC - Palmdale, CA
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