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NHRA Sport Compact Racing

O’Reilly Raceway Park Indianapolis, IN August 18-19, 2007

Modified Staff
Apr 14, 2009
Photographer: Luke Munnell

The NHRA traveled to Indiana to show the midwest its share of sport compact racing love by commandeering Indianapolis’ O’Reilly Raceway Park’s famed quarter mile strip for the latest two-day event in the Sport Compact racing series. The opportunity to race the legendary track was a first for many drivers, professional and amateur alike, as many left familiar territories to compete. “This our first time here,” explained Illinois Hot Rod class contender Stephanie Eggum, “And its so close to home for us. It’s a beautiful facility, and we’re looking forward to finally racing here!” Those of you who have followed Sport Compact racing over the past few years may recall Ari Yallon and his patriotic RX-7. He and the rest of the RX7.com crew made the trek from Garland, TX for the event, while fellow FD-enthusiast Karl Martin and the gang drove in from Riverton, UT. Hailing from the east were two familiar names to Honda racing enthusiasts, Sport FWD competitor Joe Simpson, of Waldorf MD, and Connecticut’s Quick 16 class single-cam brawler Ryan Smith. “It was a two-day drive for us,” explained Smith, “but we always look forward to traveling and racing new tracks. The drive is part of the experience of racing.”

Also new to traveling NHRA racers and fans was the organization’s collaboration with the O’Reilly Auto Parts Import and Truck Bash (ITB) – an annual event showcasing pretty much anything in the Midwest that has been modified by way of Sawzall, Bondo, and MIG welder. Regular NHRA attendees are familiar with the organization’s partnership with Scion VIP, who was also in attendance for the event, but the 3000-some-odd mini-trucks, low-riders, donks, 4X4's, vans, and even the occasional tuner car that dominated the show portion of the Indy event was something new to most, and brought another level of recreation to the weekend, through hopping and burnout contests, dodgeball and water balloon battles, camping, and cruising ad-nauseam around the facility.

Saturday’s qualifying runs were of the most exciting of the weekend. Marty Ladwig set a new Pro FWD class E.T. record with a 7.261@199.82, which he his previous run of a 7.382 backed up. In Modified class, Brent Rau also claimed a new record, with his 7.186@192.08 run in qualifying – his only run of the day, at that. Kenny Tran finally touched the 7's, with his 7.951@182.58 pass that led him to the top qualifier’s spot in the Hot Rod class. “I knew we’d hit the 7's soon … but not this soon,” he laughed. Overcoming a wreck that took out his primary car, Brad Personett confirmed everyone’s suspicions that he can’t be stopped with a 6.726@206.39 run in his back-up 2007 Scion tC in qualifying. Dee Karagiannis had a scary moment late in the day, when he lost control of his Mazdaspeed 3 shortly after launching. Had any lesser driver been behind the wheel under those circumstances, we’re sure Dee would be in the market for a new car …

Sunday’s eliminations went smoothly, with no wrecks, little breakage, and generally few apparent problems for the racers. Pro RWD was a battle of three cars, with No.1 qualifier Brad Personett eventually taking the win from Boris Rojas in the finals, with a 7.029@207.46 – more than enough power to hit 6's soon. Pro FWD fielded six household names; Ladwig v. Jimenez, Gardella v. Bergenholtz, and Hunt v. Rado. Gardella’s 7.344@198.96 guaranteed the title for him the first time this season, which Gary assures won’t be his last. He tells us some persistent mechanical complications with the car have finally been overcome, while outside sources tell us the team had also unknowingly been racing the car 200lbs over the minimum weight all season – two reasons to expect to see more of Gary in the winners’ circle soon.

Also fielding six cars was the modified class, though most expected the class to boil down to Rau and Efantis, which it did in the finals. Rau got the jump on Efantis at the light, and blasted a 7.257@188.54 to Efantis’s 7.364@187.47 for the win, also earning him an additional 20 marks in the points chase for setting the new class ET record.

Hot Rod class finals were between... you guessed it: Kenny Tran and Stephanie Eggum. While Tran was faster out of the hole, Eggum was just simply faster down the track with a 7.958@183.79 to Tran’s 12.914@73.20 letting off.

All Motor class saw four 9-second cars, three of them within a few hundredths of a second of each other on their best days. Jeremy Lookofsky posted the fastest numbers in competition on Sunday, but failed to reach the finals. Norris Prayoonto and Saul Salceda would eventually meet there, with Prayoonto earning the win with a 9.681@140.08 to Salceda’s 10.165@135.50.

Sport FWD class was the largest of the day, as usual, with all but two cars hailing from the Honda camp. Courtney Green met Joe Simpson in the first round of eliminations, winning the round with a 9.582@144.60 when Joe let off the throttle to avoid a possible collision with a careless track official who backed his truck out onto the track momentarily, netting him only a 10.267@134.93. To Joe’s consolation, Green would go on to win the whole shebang with a 9.861@153.16 over Jasen Penman’s 11.325@87.68 letting off.

Without regular competitor Mark Mazurowski, the Sport RWD class included only two cars, PRL Racing’s S13 240SX coupe, and former street tire champ Ari Yallon’s RX7.com FD. Having run a 9.3 in qualifying the day before, Jason Greenawalt and the Hybrid Dynamics crew maintained champion performance in the finals, besting Yallon with a 9.483@145.05 to his 10.270@135.14

In Quick 16, pervious champ Ryan Smith managed to qualify in the number one spot going into competition, but redlit against Marty Salerno’s ‘63 Karmann Ghia in the first round, allowing him to advance to the finals where his 11.441@117.14 wouldn’t be enough to beat Karl Martin’s 10.569@117.64.

To all you Indy, Chicago-land, or nearby Midwest import racing enthusiasts who missed this event for whatever reason: fear not! The NHRA and your favorite sport compact racers return to O’Reilly Raceway Park in a few weeks for the 53rd annual NHRA Mac Tools US Nationals, September 1-3. While the event invites Pro FWD and Pro RWD contenders only, almost every fan we talked to over the weekend plans to attend, so make sure to either OK it with the significant other, or get started constructing excuses/alibis immediately. As always look to Modified Mag to bring you comprehensive coverage of all major spo-com goings-on, and check Modified.com regularly for the latest coverage.

By Modified Staff
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