The IDRA put the finishing touches on its 2002 season at Bakersfield's Famoso Raceway November 16-17, 2002. The Battle Of The Imports event brought action to the strip and in the pits as the lifestyle aspect of the scene was on display with a car show and Battle Bikini contest.
Battle pulled in some hardhitters in the all-motor ranks and some Honda history was made. The field was ultra quick with the first seven qualifiers running in the 10s. The number eight spot, held by Norman Aubry, was secured with an 11.03.
The top of the chart was a who's who of all-motor mayhem-Erick Aguilar (10.38), Norris Prayoonto (10.40), Shawn Hillier (10.75) and Bisi Ezerioha (10.77). The five through seven qualifiers consisted of Franciso Loarca (10.78), Cloyse Holland III (10.94) and Chris Sharma (10.95).
The 10s kept flowing in the first round of eliminations as six of the eight winners were in the 10s. The other two victorious cars went 11.05 and 11.19, so the heat was definitely on.
As contentious as the race was unfolding, the top two qualifiers separated themselves from the crowd in round two. Erick Aguilar blasted a 10.29 in his Erick's Racing Engines Civic while Norris Prayoonto fired off a 10.46 to stay in range.
In the semis, Aguilar dropped a 10.33 on Loarca and Prayoonto advanced with a 10.59. In the money race, Aguilar left no doubt as he screamed to a 10.24 at 128 mph to dispatch Prayoonto, who slowed at mid track. The 10.24 made history as the quickest all-motor Honda pass ever.
In the Venom Pro Import Class, the class sponsor's Civic stood head and shoulders above the competition. Bruce Mortensen scorched the pavement, tearing off an 8.83 at 163 mph to take the top spot in qualifying, .67 seconds ahead of number two qualifier J.J. Olson from Colorado Springs, Colo.
The first round held no real surprises and the semis featured Bruce against Ricky De La Cruz and J.J. facing Myles Bautista, who was running a new car, a 2000 Civic. J.J. put down a 9.73, while Myles hurt his car and posted a DNF. Bruce ran a 9.33, which was too much for De La Cruz, who slowed to an 11.05.
The finals featured the top two qualifiers, but Bruce made it clear to all this one was over as he cruised to a 9.05 at 159 mph to dispatch J.J who posted a 9.79.
In Pro Comp, only Adam Saruwatari and his NSX and the Venom Tundra of Grant Downing were in the lineup. Adam qualified well with a 7.42 at 181, while Grant could only muster an 8.60. In the first round final, Grant was better at back pedaling and his 8.27 was just enough to beat Adam's 8.53.
The cars were not at their best, but it was an entertaining race to watch; both drivers had to really work to get their racers to the end.
The Battle series had a good season in 2002 and at the SEMA Show, owner Frank Choi inked a partnership deal with Vision Entertainment, the company that puts on Hot Import Nights and Import Revolution import car shows. "This deal will transform the race scene," says Choi. "We want to give the ticket holder a lot more for his money. Vision will run the lifestyle aspect of the events and do a lot on the publicity side. The goal is to create a festival atmosphere at the venue with the main focus still on drag racing."
Choi also looks to take better care of the racers by joining the NHRA as the only series that guarantees its payouts, regardless of field size and becoming the only series to pay first through fifth place at season's end in each of its four pro classes.
This means Battle will have a series points championship in 2003. Other innovations include Driver of the Year, Crew Chief of the Year and Long Distance awards that pay money. Other bonuses include best season long qualifying record, best reaction time through the year and a few other possibilities are being thrown around.
It's obvious the Battle series will be coming out bigger and better in 2003. Choi also plans to hold four night drag events in 2003. For more details, check out battleoftheimports.com.
Battle At Bakersfield Winners
|Street Performance||Mike Lawless||VW Karmann Ghia||12.30|
|Street Comp||Marvin Chavez||'97 Honda Civic||12.18|
|Street Tuner||Karl Martin||'93 Mazda RX-7||10.61|
|Pro Street||Erick Aguilar||'95 Honda Civic||10.24|
|Pro Import||Bruce Mortensen||'00 Honda Civic||9.05|
|Pro Mod||Jose Vidal||Mazda R-100||12.89|
|Pro Comp||Grant Downing||Toyota Tundra||8.27|