Test N Tune
& Denny’s Restaurants Grand Slam Eliminator

June 10-11., 2006

After a day of Test ‘N Tune, Saturday June 10, seeing the debut of some race cars, they came back Sunday with their notes, to keep things cooking on the track for Denny’s Grand Slam Eliminator, veterans and rookies alike.

Gary Howe’s ’63 front engine dragster had some squirrelly runs Saturday, but the Loleta racer shot back Sunday with straight flights to snag Top Qualifier with a 9.05 pass in time trials. Several racers returned with notes from Q-Kiss Motorsports’ track workshop with results showing particularly at the starting line. Even the race machines known for skyward leaps have changed the angle and height of their photogenic take-offs, for starters.

Brothers Joe and Marvin Scheel duked it out all Test ‘N Tune long, with Joe’s ’71 Duster catching a perfect .500 reaction light, alongside Marvin’s ’63 Olds F85 near-perfect reaction time, in a head-to-head race Dust’ed off by a few thousands of a second, the Wedge Warrior with a winning 10.90 even. “No delay boxes,” Marvin later noted, tuning his Anderson-based Olds for fraternal revenge. Mike Scoggin also caught a perfect light with his ’46 Chevy Super Pro pickup, running quick and consistent into Sunday until a .499 in Eliminations would send it to the trailer for the day.

On Sunday, a mid-day memorial was held in honor of beloved Ted Purcell, who died suddenly on May 30th. Son Nick, 3rd place in Pro points, continues to campaign the ’75 Torino they built together, shaking the front bumper’s ends as it launches off the line. But on the 11th, the Pro Final saw Mike Salazar’s ’72 Chevelle face Jeff Barth’s ’73 Nova. You’d think getting 1st Place in a clean, tight race would be enough, but “Five-oh-Six?!” was Barth’s victory cry when he got the timeslip behind the tower.

In Sportsman, Takeshi Murakami had another good weekend, the 4th place points racer getting into the semi-finals against points leader Ron Gulbransen… but didn’t get far from the tree lights before a loud, metallic pop came from under his ’91 Mustang. “Axle broke,” the 3rd place finisher later explained. Up the track, Gulbransen wasn’t taking chances any chances with his ’68 Mustang, looking in the rearview.

“I didn’t know if he was gonna recover and finish the run,” reasoned Ron, making sure not to breakout, a precaution that helped him into the Finals. Earlier in Eliminations, racing against Ana Toledo’s ’69 Mustang, the two quarter horses ran just about grille to grille, and he saw no choice but to keep his foot in it, a breakout risk narrowly paying off for his climb to the finals, meeting Brian Stone’s ’67 Firebird, with 1st Place going to the turquoise Ford, Gulbransen’s 13.88 @ 94 mph over Stone’s 16.71 @ 82 mph.

The motorcycles welcomed new competitors such as Jess Walls’ ’06 Suzuki and Jesse Quinonez. Bayside racer Walls used to race cars at Samoa, Test ‘N Tuned his recently acquired bike, and couldn’t resist returning for Sunday. Quinonez ’04 Suzuki got him into the semi-finals. In the final, Wayne Cox ’97 Kawasaki drag bike pulled a 9.10 e.t. at 138 mph, almost enough to catch Kirk Speelman, whose 10.42 at 136 mph run sent him and his ’01 Suzuki back to Crescent City with 1st place.

Before Kara Pettit stood aside Melissa Surber on the cover of the North Coast Journal, she was pulling the highest speeds in Junior Dragster ranks, running low-9’s in the 1/8 mile at 80 and 81 mph. She took home the Consolation win after a 81 mph flight past quickly progressing rookie Alyssa Masterson. Another rookie/veteran match played out in the final, between veteran Robbie Waddell and rookie Elizabeth Sjoquist.

There’s no shortage of Girl Power amongst the Junior Dragsters: all current rookies are fast chicks, and learning quick. “Liz Bee” Sjoquist is already halfway up the points ladder in the 12-car Juniors field, her grabber-green & purple flamed speed sled becoming a common sight at both our street legals series. Juniors points leader Waddell took her to school with a 11.64 et win at 51 mph, Sjoquist right behind him work with a 12.77 run at 48 mph.

When racers of other classes got eliminated, several lined got right back in line for the Gamblers bracket (Scoggin’s truck wasn’t quite ready to rest in the trailer, alas, just yet). Many rounds saw many red lights and many a tight finish, with the final featuring “Nappy” – Curtis Daniels’ ’69 Chevelle and Scott Tucker’s ’68 Barracuda. Daniels got caught in red with an under-.500 reaction light, running 11.26 at 118 mph, Tucker’s ‘Cuda taking all the Gamblers’ chips with a 10.84 ride at 123 mph.

Before the Super Pro final, Brad Schiewe led in points by a single point. 10.26 seconds into the race, Dale Waddell changed that, his ’29 “T” roadster running that e.t. with Shiewe’s ’74 Mustang trying (albeit unsuccessfully) to catch up in time, with a 9.44 e.t. at 139 mph, finishing the Grand Slam Eliminator in a flippin’ hot race (sorry; please don’t print that).

More racing is on deck as drag strip-prepped semi trucks are coming to town, as Scott’s Heavy Equipment, Ponci’s Diesel and Mad River Towing host King of the Hill and Diesel Race day, Saturday, June 24. Additionally, co-sponsor Brad Ponci expects 40 to 80 diesel pickups coming from at least as far as Sonoma County, for our first-ever diesel bracket. It’s open to all diesel-powered chariots, be they Mercedes or Macks to throw- down on the track.

Sunday morning will feature more points racing, with McMurray & Sons’ NHRA King of the Track. A special edition of the Thursday Night Street Drags is in store, June 22, as the Bikers Against Child Abuse Benefit. Be sure to show up for this unique motorcycles-only racing event hosted by Rocky’s Off Road and the Samoa Dragstrip.

Very unique, first-time events happening this week, as we’re in for the [quick] haul of quarter mile action at the Samoa ‘Strip, where new rides continue to roll out this season, and where every ticket becomes your pit pass.

From the tower above to your speed-craving senses below,

            -- Tim O’Brien