Les Schwab Tires presents

The Les Schwab Tireman Eliminator

July 9, 2006

Racers rolled out for the Les Schwab Tire Man Eliminator on Race Sunday, July 9th,  laying it down for victory halfway through the 13-event season.

Kyle Skillings returned after a two-event hiatus to pick up where his ’94 Super Pro Berretta left off: snagging Top Qualifier, this time with a 8.49 pass in the first time trials session. Meanwhile, underneath the arch of the Les Schwab banner, two speedsters left off the line with perfect reaction times: Junior Dragster digger Robbie Waddell in Time Trials and Sportsman points leader Ron Gulbransen in Eliminations. They say races are won at the starting line, and it proved to be the truth in their case.

Gulbransen’s lead in points became aided by getting his ’68 California Special into the Sportsman Finals to face Tom Bremer. It was aided further by Gulbransen’s win over the ’78 Trans Am, the Ford’s 13.81 e.t. at 93 mph ahead of the Pontiac’s 13.64 at 95 for 1st Place.

In the Sportsman Motorcycle Class ranks, a round table of bikers knighted themselves the Unlucky Racing Team, but they’ve no shortage of wins since. “Unlucky” member Sport Burns wowed the crowd the prior day at the Eureka Police Dept. Street Legal Drags by winning a Redwood Wally in the first ever Fastest MPH Contest and joining the "100 MPH Club" with a speed of 140 mph, and even though he didn’t fair well in the goofy pit bike challenge against host Wayne Cox (though Burns’ trail bike was given increasingly generous handicap starts against uniformed Cox on the dirt bike, one near the 1/8-mile cones), Sunday found him in the Finals staying ahead of James Surber’s drag bike: 10.04 at 118 mph to Surber’s ’06 Harley Davidson Destroyer-based bike, running 10.01 at 120 mph.

Junior Dragster pilot Malli Blasdell delivered the news to the tower, “Hey, there’s gonna be an all-guy Consolation and an all-girl Final!”  She had good reason to exclaim, getting into the Final against fellow McKinleyville racer Kristy Pesenti. Pesenti finished for First with a 9.46 over Malli’s 9.72 e.t., capping a day of selling sodas to benefit Relay For Life. Another second-season Junior, Preston Daniels’ season is improving, his flamed eighth-mile machine getting slimmer e.t.’s. It got him into the Consolation final against veteran Mike Pettit, though he was too quick for his 11.27 dial-in, running 11.18. After an equally clean start, Pettit kept his 9.26 run a thousandth of a second over his dial-in to take home the Consolation win.

When racers lost in Eliminations, several headed to Lanes 5 and 6 for the Gambler’s bracket. Steve Morris’ ’70 Chevelle was doing the high torque-twist all day, dancing its way into the Gamblers Final, but Scott Tucker’s ’68 Barracuda beat the Bowtie to the money pot with a 10.79 run over Morris’ 11.37 boogie.

On June 25th, Jim Broderson was runner-up in Pro, tying him with Jerry Toledo for 6th in points. Come the Tire Man Eliminator, he got a second chance with his two-tone purple and white ’63 Falcon against Dan Goekler’s mean, green ’71 Charger. Goekler showed some real top end scoot, though not enough to out-fly the Falcon, Broderson’s 12.11 at 109 mph over the Fort Bragg Mopar’s 13.06 at 103 mph. Toledo sat the event out, watching teammate Ray Rapp’s progress in Eliminations, so Broderson’s 1st Place effort helped break their points tie.

Rapp, then running 3rd in Super Pro points, had another good day at the track; a finalist on the 25th, he returned his ’71 Vega into the Finals two weeks later against Mike Giacone’s ’67 Fairlane. Rapp’s progress that day was halted by a single red Sylvania bulb tattling on his under-.500 reaction time (.494). Giacone, then running 4th in Super Pro points, had one straight run after another all day, and a 10.94 run at 120 mph brought him 1st place, Rapp finishing 2nd with a red-lit run of 11.26. The consecutive runner-up still grinned, walking towards the Winner’s Circle: “Yeah, what a day- but that red light…!”

He and others head into the second half of Humboldt-Del Norte Timing Association’s 51st season on July 23rd during the Arcata Electric/Interstate Batteries/North Coast Shooting Boss Eliminator.

Incidentally, the Les Schwab Tire Man Eliminator was also Day One of the four-event Pacific Division E.T. Challenge, continuing on the 23rd, the Samoa Challenge Cup August 20th and the season-ending Championship, September 25th.

Drag racing continues at the Thursday Night Drags at 6 PM, and the Eureka P.D. Street Legals continue Saturday July 22nd. Though the street legals are not timed – heads-up racing with old-school flag starter action – racers get a chance to join the new 100 MPH Club. Sgt. Mike Hislop began officiating for it at the finish line,  July 8th, holding court with a radar gun. Normally that gun could bring you less favorable consequences, but not when you save it for the Samoa ‘Strip, where your ticket is also the pit pass.

                                                                     Run what you brung, and I’ll call it from above,

                                                                                                            -- Tim O’Brien