AAMCO Transmission

Samoa Challenge Cup

August 20, 2006

            The double-race weekend continued as AAMCO Transmissions hosted this year’s Samoa Challenge Cup, Sunday August 20th. The Cup bracket is invitational-only, comprised of Super Pro winners in Competition, Super and Boss Eliminator events (in that order: Ray Rapp, Mike Giacone, Jacob Wood), last year’s Challenge Cup winner (Jerry Toledo), Samoa Championship winner (Dale Waddell), as well as ’05 points leaders Troy Beck, John Antongiovanni and John Widmann.

            Defending Cup winner Toledo contested with Mike Scoggin’s ’46 Chevy pickup, though the Final featured Beck and Widmann. Widmann, also racing a Ski Doo for the first time in Sportsman Motorcycles (describing it as “riding a brick with a rubberband attached to it”), was surely more at home on his Kawasaki drag bike. Beck’s ’69 GTO ran an 11.27 at 114 mph, but suffered a red-lit start, “Bomber John” winning the ’06 Cup with a 8.96 rim at 147 mph, guaranteeing a spot in the Challenge Cup ’07.

            Even if the Pettit’s snowmobiles feel like bricks to some, one of them got into the Finals, as Mike Pettit took on defending 1st Placer Leif “Chopper” Magnusen. Chopper broke out – 9.592 under a 9.60 dial-in at 121 mph -, Pettit power-banding to a win, 11.56 at 108 mph.

            Sunday continued to feature more first-of-the-season wins, such as Adam Moore over Alan Ambrosini in Sportsman (his ’05 Mustang’s 13.14 over the ’69 Olds’ 14.46_, and William Winn’s ’74 Chevy Luv (12.16 at 108 mph) over Nick Purcell’s ’75 Torino (11.72 at 111mph), in a double breakout finish. For Purcell, it was a strong return to the track after a two-month hiatus, and later the following week continue to run the track at the Thursday Night Drags against the likes of Nick Cringle, both racers with strong and straight runs.

            Newcomer Mike George continued to challenge the ever-growing Junior Dragster field. It was Melissa Surber’s turn to contest him in the Final, George speeding to a second consecutive 1st Place win on his first trip to the Samoa Drag Strip from Oregon. Running second in points, Kaycee Mela faced off against Malli Blasdell for a win in Consolation.

            Gamblers rounds led to Steve Morris’ ’70 Chevelle against Jeff Barth’s ’73 Nova, Barth snagging the winnings with a 12.70 run ahead of Morris’ 11.42. Near the Winner’s Circle, Barth looked at the cash victory with caution: “Man, I used to win that thing all the time, and at some point it seems like less people will line up if you’re in it, which can suck.”

            So remember: if you sight the peach-orange Nova in Lanes 5 or 6 for Gamblers rounds, line up to prove Jeff wrong.

             The weekend’s only perfect reaction time caught was by Joey Toledo, in a time-only race against dad Jim, Toledo-the-junior’s ’90 Honda Hatchback running a 15.24 at 88 mph against a stock Maverick. The Toledoes engaged in much 1320-foot fun against each other, a fun consoling factor for Jim, whose Super Pro ’64 Comet may have to sit out the season with a busted motor.

            Meanwhile, Kyle Skillings is on a roll, having collected a fifth consecutive Top Qualifier with an 8.84 run in Time Trials at 130 mph.

            They were eliminated in Challenge Cup racing, but met up in the Super Pro Final: Dale Waddell and Mike Giacone. Giacone’s ’67 Fairlane had near-.500 lights for much of that Sunday; a pair of .505 lights and a .504 in the Final, in which he broke out… as did Waddell’s ’27 roadster, trying to get a third consecutive 1st place. The deciding factor was two-hundredths of a second: the margin between Giacone’s breakout and Waddell’s, the Fairlane running to First with a 10.79 on a 10.82 dial-in at 121 mph, Waddell’s roadster with a 10.10 on a 10.15 dial-in at 129 mph.

            The 51st season is winding down, with only two points race dates left, continuing with the Belinda’s Bail Bonds Top Eliminator on Sunday, September 10th. The Eureka Police Dept. Street Legal Drags continues Saturday, September 9th. After Cruz N Eureka, follow the Pandraggers, Rusty Nuts and other car clubs across the bay for a free drag strip party full of heads-up racing, celebrity races and other kinds of fun. Show up with your club and find out at the historic Samoa Dragstrip, where every ticket is a pit-pass to race action           

                                                                                           -- Tim O’Brien