Frank Choi, the father of import drag racing, has done it again. To make Battle of the Import events more entertaining, Mr. Choi waited for the sun to set and the track lights to switch on before he opened the gates at Virginia Motorsports Park in Petersburg, Va. Rain loomed on the horizon this June 14 weekend, but it never manifested, leaving attendees to watch blazing rods, bikini babes, and a 300-mph Canadian jet-car you could roast marshmallows on.
Remember Myles Bautista? He's one of a handful of people who were around before the term "import drag racing" was coined. He showed everyone he's alive and kicking, qualifying first in the Pro Import class. Bautista took a Bye in the first round, as did Mat Keller, but when the two met in the semis, it was anybody's race. Bautista's quicker reflexes gave him the holeshot he needed to keep Keller at bay and secure a final-round position.
Demetrios Karagiannis had an easy time in the first two rounds, taking out Derek Greaser in the first round and receiving a Bye in the semis. If anyone could knock Bautista off his perch, it would be the Rx-7 of Karagiannis, which had run low 9-second passes. But Karagiannis must have been out past his bedtime, because when the tree turned green, Bautista was gone. Karagiannis finally took off 1.138 seconds after the tree turned green. Despite Karagiannis' faster 9.297-second pass, Bautista made a respectable 9.457-second pass with a solid launch, giving Bautista the Pro Import win.
Some of the day's closest competition happened in the Street Comp Class, with Hondas dominating the field. Attesting to the technology of the day, much of the class consisted of 10-second Hondas that were actually driven to the track and had their tires swapped out. One of those 10-second runners was Kevin Inge, who took out Jonathan Branco in the first round. But Brian Fisher would turn the tables on Inge in the semis, when he blasted off the line with a .495 r.t. and finishing in 10.214 seconds. Inge gave chase but let off midtrack, realizing there was no chance for victory.
Jason Hunt in his new Honda Civic took out Gary Milteer in the first round. The semis proved to be the closest match of the day when Al Hupp came to the line. Hupp managed a slight lead due to a better reaction, but Hunt was quickly gaining speed. Hupp, however, managed to cross the finish before Hunt could pass, putting Hupp in the finals.
Brian Fisher was crushing the competition with his '95 Honda Civic blasting low 10-second passes with solid reaction times. And the finals were no different. Al Hupp was shy on the ponies and it was business as usual for Fisher; a solid .589 r.t. and 10.159-second quarter mile was enough to win the IDRA Street Comp victory.
The Street Performance class was a little unfair. Obviously, Charles Schafer was the dominating force. Schafer took a Bye with his '87 CRX in the first round and crushed his only real competition, Richie Gibson, in the semis. And proof that consistency wins races, Schafer took another .500-something reaction time and low 12-second pass to defeat Ben Harris' '92 Civic in the finals, giving Schafer the Street Performance win.
The competitors may not have been terribly fast, but the competition was fairly close in the Street Stock class. Adhering to rules, the entire class consisted of naturally aspirated four-cylinder motors, with Hondas and Acuras the vehicle of choice. First round competitor Siano Salmon was startled when Terry Napier launched with an almost perfect .403 reaction time. But Salmon was able to run Napier's '99 Civic down by the finish. Hats off to Napier, however, for such a great pass. Get that guy in a "pro car"! Salmon had a tough time in the semis, though, when Rubin Edmonda treed Salmon. Salmon's '95 Integra managed to pull past Edmonda's '94 Integra before the finish, putting Salmon in the finals.
Number one Street Stock competitor Gordon Mack made it easily into the finals, defeating Danny Ngo by almost 2 seconds in the first round and taking a Bye in the second. Even though Salmon was able to get a better reaction against Mack, it was not enough and Mack drove right by Salmon by half-track, finishing a half-second faster and taking the Street Stock win.