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Lucas Oil NHRA Northwest Sport Compact Nationals - NHRA Woodburn, OR Imports Scorch Woodburn Raceway

Lucas Oil NHRA Northwest Sport Compact Nationals Presented By Les Schwab Tire Centers & Toyo Tires

Evan Griffey
Dec 1, 2002
Turp_0212_01_z+nhra_northwest_sport_compact_nationals+dragster_side_view Photo 1/13   |   Bruce Mortensen got some revenge on Kenny Tran as he turned the tables on the Texan at Woodburn. Kenny rolled the lights, but Mortensen turned an 8.95 to make a statement and take the points lead in Hot Rod.

Woodburn Raceway, located 20 miles south of Portland, Oregon, opened its arms to the traveling adrenaline rush that is the NHRA Sport Compact Drag Racing Series.

Track owner Jim Livingston put it all out on the table when he said during the drivers meeting that Warren Johnson had recently run some awesome e.t.s down the Woodburn 1320, and the track crew had prepped the track with VHT "from wall to wall and start to finish." He also said, "If you're not running good, look at your car, not my track."

While the event held August 17-18 was within the traditional Saturday/Sunday daylight format, the controversy of the night race in Dallas was the talk in the pits. The eye of the storm was the Summit Racing Modified class Cavalier campaigned by John Lingenfelter and driven by Matt Hartford.

Turp_0212_02_z+nhra_northwest_sport_compact_nationals+dragster_front_view Photo 2/13   |   John Lingenfelter grabbed his first win of the season in the Summit Racing Cavalier and moved to within 20 points of the lead in Pro.

The Modified Class involves full tube-frame front drives battling back-halved rear drives. The Cavalier has a modified firewall and tubes running from the firewall to "shells of the stock shock tower" and then to the front of the car. Racers in and out of Modified have called the Cavalier "a Pro car with a steel body."

Regarding FWD-to-RWD conversions, the NHRA rule book states under the Modified Class-Chassis, General heading, "Converted cars may only be backhalved, may not be full tube-chassis, and must retain stock front suspension, original floor pan forward of rear seat, minus 6 square feet for transmission removal, and original firewall."This has traditionally meant little modification from the firewall forward. Good examples would include the Modified Class Supras of Craig Paisley and Venom Racing.

The controversial Cavalier had a hiccup in Dallas, but the writing was on the wall. These fears came to fruition when the Cavalier shattered the existing class record in Woodburn, running 7.93, 7.92 and 7.88, and handled the Modified field with little challenge.

Turp_0212_03_z+nhra_northwest_sport_compact_nationals+orange_drag_racer Photo 3/13   |   Nelson Hoyos made it an all-GM Cavalier final in Modified but his best-ever 8.41 (at Dallas) was more than a half second shy of the Lingenfelter/Summit Cavalier. Hoyos, who employed Hartford in his Focus last year, has made the finals four times, but has yet to place a Wally on his mantle.

The legality of the car and other political issues could well be addressed by the time this article hits the stands, but we can't stress enough the impact this had on officials and competitors alike.

There was more domestic drama, as the GM Racing Hot Rod class Sunfire was rumored to have a carbon-fiber roof. This seemed to be a weight issue, but if the car is at class weight, then what's the big deal? The truth of the matter is, the Ecotec-powered Pontiac is running in top form. The engine seemed to sputter going down the track in the past, but it now sounds much healthier, backed up by the car's best-ever 9.24 e.t.

There was much to celebrate at Woodburn. Kenny Tran busted into the 8-second club with an 8.94 and the Titan Motorsports Supra clinched the Street Tire title. Kenny made his historic pass on 28x9 slicks, not his usual 10-inchers and his crazy 172.44-mph trap speed dropped a lot of jaws.

Turp_0212_04_z+nhra_northwest_sport_compact_nationals+honda_civic_drag_racer Photo 4/13   |   Kenny Tran had a historic run when he gear-slammed his Jotech Civic into the 8-second club with an 8.94. Tran's runner-up finish keeps him in the Hot Rod points chase.

To put this speed in proper perspective, Stephan Papadakis ran an 8.37 at 174.35 in the first round; that's only a 1.9-mph difference. The Titan Supra had the only single-digit car in the field and easily covered the competition.

In Hot Rod, it looked like an 8-second showdown between Kenny Tran and Bruce Mortensen. The potential spoiler was New Jersey's Gary Gardella but he couldn't oust Mortensen in the semis, which set up a repeat of the Dallas Hot Rod final.

The Wally went to Bruce and the Venom Racing Civic this time around as Kenny could not hold his Civic on the line and fouled. The win gave Bruce and Venom Racing the lead in the season points race.

Turp_0212_05_z+nhra_northwest_sport_compact_nationals+summit_drag_racer Photo 5/13   |   Matt Hartford made it a Lingenfelter/Summit sweep as he toasted the Modified field in his Ecotec-motivated Cavalier. The controversial car crushed the class record of 8.05 with 7.93, 7.92 and 7.88 clockings.

There was a very interesting game of chess being played in Pro. It was all about traction. In talking to Manny Cruz he told us that after a few rounds he can tell where the Hot Rod cars shift into third because they lay a patch of rubber which tends to upset his Cougar. Manny and John Lingenfelter spent a good deal of their down time adjusting for traction but each had his own method. Lingenfelter used gear changes while Cruz tuned the clutch to achieve better bite. So it was no surprise that Lingenfelter's slow 8.51 was good enough for the win.

Props also go out to Ken Scheepers, who put his All Motor 13B RX-7 in the 10s at Woodburn, Jesus Padilla, who re-set his All Motor record with a 10.29 at 130 mph and Abel Ibarra, who is making some serious power with his 20B, as evidenced by his 7.35 at 184 mph in "Turbo Magazine's Timeslip of the Event" race. The K&N Filters Mazda RX-7 barely made the field, but came out swinging in the first stanza an dwe hope to see that formcarry over to the remaining 2002 NHRA race dates.

Turp_0212_06_z+nhra_northwest_sport_compact_nationals+racers Photo 6/13   |   Jojo Callos has hit some hard times and after Woodburn finds himself out of the top spot for the first time in 2002. The defending 2001 Hot Rod champion should make the stretch run quite interesting.

Has Abel got the three-rotor figured out for good? Will V8s run in the series in 2003? Will more come of the Cavalier Crisis in Modified? Who will be crowned champion at the next event? Will more records fall? These questions are why we are following the NHRA to its next destination: Sonoma, California.

Turbo Magazine's Timeslip Of The day
The hits keep coming. No matter the track or the class, the NHRA series always delivers the goods. In fact, there are so many door-to-door races, it's getting hard to pick the Turbo Magazine Timeslip of the Day. At Woodburn, we elected to go with the first round match-up of Manny Cruz and Abel Ibarra. This showdown pitted Manny's twin-turbo V6 Cougar against Abel's 20B three-rotor RX-7. Abel has had problems, but to his credit, he has stuck with the program and his tenaciousness is paying off. Manny carried a very slight reaction time advantage to the traps and got the nod, 7.33 to 7.35, but as the interval times illustrate, no one knew who won this war until the timeslips were handed out.

Reaction .475   .448
60 foo 1.101   1.120
330 3.062   3.093
1/8 e.t 4.715   4.730
1/8 mph 149.32   150.40
1000 6.138   6.145
1/4 e.t. 7.353   7.334
1/4 mph 184.31   189.83
Winner Jesus Padilla '85 {{{Mazda}}} RX-7 (20B) 10.29
Runner-up Ken Scheepers '79 RX-7 (13B) 10.87
Winner Mark Mazurowski {{{Titan}}} MS {{{Supra}}} 9.46
Runner-up Chris Bergman Supra no show
Winner Bruce Mortensen Venom {{{Civic}}} 8.95
Runner-up Kenny Tran Jotech Civic foul
Winner Matt Hartford Lingenfelter/{{{Summit}}} Cavalier 8.47
Runner-up Nelson Hoyos GM Racing Cavalier 9.10
Winner John Lingenfelter Lingenfelter/Summit Cavalier 8.51
Runner-up Manny Cruz DRT/Duttweiler Cougar n/a
Winner Matt Scranton Turbonetics {{{Celica}}} 7.32
Runner-up n/a    
Turp_0212_07_z+nhra_northwest_sport_compact_nationals+dragster_front_passenger_side Photo 7/13   |   Jesus Padilla lowered the All-Motor Class record to 10.29 at 130 mph on his way to victory at Woodburn.

Cavalier Controversy
Here we see the eye of the storm Matt Hartford's Modified Class Cavalier. Note the tube running to the "skeletal remains" of the OE strut tower in the close up. Note the chassis tubing running from the "tower" to the front of the car. Remember, the Modified Class was conceptualized as a full-tube frame FWD vs. a back-halved RWD class. The car's firewall is of concern, but not visible in these pictures. John Lingenfelter's Pro Class Cavalier is included for comparison purposes.

To their credit the NHRA has reacted very quickly to the controversy by making solid changes. The following is from an NHRA press release issued a mere 11 days after the event.

NHRA-Following the impressive debut of Matt Hartford's Summit Racing Cavalier in Dallas, and its dominating win in Woodburn, NHRA officials recognized that a competitive imbalance currently exists in the class. The new car's consistent 7.90 second performance at Woodburn was impressive enough against existing class standards. But after doing some routine computer modeling on the car's potential, officials determined the need to act promptly in order to restore the close competition that the class previously enjoyed. As a result, the following rule changes are being implemented, effective Tuesday September 3, 2002.

Skelly was quick to point out that the new Hartford car complies with the existing NHRA rulebook requirements. "We want to be clear that this car meets all current Modified class rules," said Skelly. "There's been a lot of hear-say about the car itself, and we want it known there is nothing even "gray" about the construction of the car. The Modified class rules were originally designed, in part, to accommodate as many existing cars as possible, some of which contain the exact same features as the Cavalier does. However, Hartford's entry is really the first car built from scratch to best utilize all the weight penalties and allowances. Given its on-track performance, and its unquestionable potential, we want to make changes that will prevent the car from maintaining an unfair competitive advantage and from altering the long term goals for the class."-

It is our understanding that the Cavalier will be saddled with an additional 350 pounds (100 lbs from article 1 and 250 pounds from article 2). The best thing is the weights can be tweakedfurther in the future to ensure a level playing field.

1.Base weights for all RWD 4 cyl increase by 100 pounds as follows:
* RWD 4 cyl 1 power adder increases from 1,900 to 2,000 lbs.
* RWD 4 cyl 2 power adders increases from 2,100 to 2,200 lbs.

2.Weight penalty for aftermarket front suspension increases from 150 pounds to 350 pounds.


National Hot Rod Association
Glendora, CA
(626) 914-4761
By Evan Griffey
271 Articles



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