Bullish Motor Racing was a force to behold at the K&N Filters Sport Compact Nationals, held June 15-16 at Maple Grove Raceway just outside of Reading, Pennsylvania. The truth of the matter is the entire Pro class is off the chain. At the 2001 race in Pomona, the Escort Drag Racing 300ZX put the sport on its ear with a 7.45-second winning e.t. in the finals. To illustrate how far this class has come, that effort would have put the Nissan fifth in the field.
At Maple Grove, qualifying was marred by rain. George Ioannou and his Bullish Solara were on top with a 7.18 at 188.62 mph, followed by Grant Downing and the Venom Tundra at 7.25, and John Lingenfelter at 7.30. Jorge Lazcano was fourth with a 7.35 in the Contreras 300ZX, and Abel Ibarra, running a 13B in his K&N RX-7, nabbed fifth with a 7.58. Jose Torres (Siguel Racing RX-7), Manny Cruz (Duttweiller V6 Cougar) and Chanito Vazquez (La Licenciado Conquest) rounded out the field.
In the first round, the Venom Tundra experienced an internal intercooler failure but was lucky to make it to the line. Grant Downing cut a .931 light on the way to a 7.59. His adversary, Manny Cruz, cut a quick .443 light and blasted a 7.66 in his Cougar to take the win. George Ioannou was too much for the La Licenciado Conquest , posting a 7.26 on Chanito Vazquez. Abel Ibarra, temporarily running a 13B until the 20B components log-jammed at his machine shop are finished, had an injector come loose, spilling alcohol on the track and resulting in a Bye pass for Jorge Lazcano. Jose Torres left before the tree was activated, giving the cake-walk to his foe, John Lingenfelter.
In the semis, Ioannou advanced with a 7.30, as did Lingenfelter with a 7.31. This set up a real showdown at high noon in the final. Ioannou got the jump on Lingenfelter and ran an impressive 7.19 at 190.03 mph to the turbo Ecotec four-powered Sonoma's 7.28.
In Modified, the action was intense. The star of the show was the Rosado Racing Corolla, which has continued its accelerated evolution since the season opener in Gainesville (state?). Alex Dieguez hot-shoed the Corolla to a new class e.t. record of 8.050 in the first qualifying run. In round two, the Corolla scattered its Jehrico five-speed tranny. Rosado Racing claimed the Turbo Magazine Midnight Oil Award when the crew swapped out the wounded Jehrico transmission and, with help of Mike Long at G-Force transmission, installed a pieced-together G-Force tranny. It all paid off as the Rosado Corolla showed no ill effects, blasting an 8.13 at 157.98 mph in the first round. Dieguez' opponent, Christian Rado, showed signs of improvement in his FWD Celica as he posted a best-to-date 9.04 at 163.31 mph. The Celica is reportedly putting 791 hp to the ground and the Maple Grove effort shows that the team's suspension tuning efforts are moving the program in the right direction. Stephan Papadakis, who ran 8.32 and 8.28 in qualifications, advanced with an 8.56. Carlos Gonzalez moved on with an 8.29 and Matt Hartford piloted the Paisley Racing Supra to a 9.16, which was enough to advance as Nelson Hoyos and the GM Racing Cavalier experienced trouble in the burnout box.
In the second round, Papadakis earned his pay for the weekend by treeing arch rival, Gonzalez, .451 to .710. Consequentially, Gonzalez' 8.180 was .023 seconds short of Papadakis' slower 8.416. Hartford and the Supra didn't answer the call, so the Rosado Racing Corolla had a Bye to the finals. Papadakis had broken a rod against Gonzalez in the semis so Dieguez got a single in the finals as well. The Rosado Corolla unleashed an 8.091 at 167.07 mph, which put the Toyota in the NHRA record books with the quickest e.t. in the Modified class.
In Hot Rod, the top two qualifiers were in the 8-second club. Bruce Mortensen dropped a quick 8.77 on the field to grab top dog status. Jojo Callos proved ready to rumble with an 8.91. Lance Ho Lung and the HP Racing Civic nabbed the third spot on the ladder with a 9.29.
In round one, the HP Civic posted the quickest e.t. of the round at 9.15, and all the favorites advanced except for Kenny Tran, who ran a slow 10.15 against Marty Ladwig's 9.91.
In the second stanza, Callos got back to his 8-second habits, blasting an 8.93 in his Casrol Syntec Integra. Ho Lung proved consistent, running a 9.14 to win against Jennifer Williams. Sav Leone pulled a 9.44 on Ladwig and his Sunfire, which suffered converter problems. The most entertaining round two race was between Mortensen and Angela Proudfoot.
Proudfoot had blown two head gaskets in qualifying and was going to call it a day when she learned her first round rival, Mike Crawford, was not going to make the show. Her crew hurriedly swapped out the gasket and made the first round pass unopposed to collect some cash. When Mortensen suffered a broken CV joint in the burnout box, Proudfoot was in with a chance and decided to push it. Despite being heavily wounded, the Venom Civic staged a .890 reaction time to Proudfoot's .914, but as the Venom Civic began pulling from side to side, Proudfoot edged away, running a 13.20 to Mortensen's 15.81.
The semis pitted two hot drivers against each other when Callos and Ho Lung heated the hides in the burnout box. What a race it was. HP Racing fogged their Civic for the first time ever and the nitrous proved to be a touch too much for the H22A Prelude powerplant, which let go near the end. The HP Civic still put up an impressive 9.25 at 154 mph. Callos ran a 9.10 and took a three-car lead into the finals. Once again, Proudfoot was facing the gallows as her semifinal opponent, Leone, had a 9.44 and a 9.66 under his belt. But his Civic started leaking fluid after the burnout and Proudfoot advanced on a solo pass.
Callos screamed to an 8.87, collecting the big money in the Hot Rod final. The seas parted in Moses-like fashion for Proudfoot, who didn't face a healthy car until the finals and walked away with a handsome pay of her own.
Street Tire had only four competitors and it was clear there would be a familiar pairing in the finals-Mark Mazurowski and the Titan Motorsports Supra, and Ari Yallon and the Rotary Performance RX-7. The Titan Supra was the favorite, having strung together 9.42 and 9.72 passes in the qualifying and first round. In the finals, Yallon red lit and had driveline problems. The Titan Supra marched to victory with an authoritative 9.24. As this issue goes to press, Rotary Performance is testing a 20B three-rotor for use in Yallon's RX-7. The rest of 2002 should be a real dog fight.
The burgeoning All Motor class continued it impressive 2002 season. Points leader, Jesus Padilla, continued his stranglehold on the class by blasting a 10.53 in his 3-rotor RX-7. Padilla is making the most of his time as next year his 20B will be banned from the class. It came down to a shootout between the top two qualifiers, Padilla and Scott Mohler in his FWD '98 Dodge Neon. Mohler's 10.78 was an outstanding effort but not enough to beat Padilla's 10.32.
The Maple Grove event embodied all the high and lows of classic drama. Threatening weather, bullies pushing the peasants out of the way, and clutch performances aplenty. The intensity in the series should increase substantially as we head down the stretch of the 2002 season.