June 5 – Denny’s Restaurant Grand Slam Eliminator


SAMOA DRAGSTRIP-With the sun out and the wind low, a black cat seen scampering across the far end of the quarter-mile track seemed to be the spell for eerily close results for the Grand Slam Eliminator on Sunday, June 5th.

An undefeated season for Super Pro points leader Rick Ellsworth was put into check by Richard Williams, whose ’23 T-styled drag car ousted the Wonder Bros. dragster early in eliminations. Williams, whose 8.40 E.T. ride held the quickest pass of the day, red-lit in the following round, to be later succeeded by Scott Tucker, whose Barracuda snapped to the finish line before Dale Waddel’s ’27 T in the finals- but just barely: by .001 of a second.

“Boy, they oughta have an award for closest loser,” quipped Waddel. “I would’ve been winning that thing a lot, this year.”  Dale’s second-place finishes in the young season have been shaves as close as .003 and .008.

            Steve Morris’ 1970 Chevelle beat out Mike Scoggin for the Pro final when the ’46 Chevy pickup broke out. Troy Beck’s ’69 GTO bested Brian Kelsey’s ’74 Camaro for a final win in Quick Street, and current NHRA Pacific Division motorcycle champion John Widmann beat top-qualifier Kirk Speelman in a double breakout with a margin of victory less than 6 inches.

            Mike Petitt’s Mazda Rx7 matched up with Lynn Shnacker’s small block-stuffed ’73 Chevy Luv for the final win in Street. A newcomer to Samoa, Shnacker was surprised to have made it that far, after fellow Pelican Bay racers talked him into joining their ranks, one of which also has a small block-stuffed Luv. “We know a third guy with one,” Shnacker said, going home with first-visit expectations exceeded. “We’re gonna try’n bring him down, too.”

            Petitt wasn’t the only winner in his family, as daughter Kara took the consolation win in Junior Dragsters and her brother Mike, Jr. was Juniors champ. If that weren’t enough, 12-year old Mike, Jr., joined front engine dragster pilot Scott Anderson in having perfect reaction times of .500.

            Four rounds of Gambler’s Bracket racing proved Harlan Tucker a victor in his early ‘Cuda, as well as Sport Burns in the Motorcycles’ Gambler’s Bracket. Several racers marveled at the slim margins of victory while hanging up the helmet and rolling their quarter-mile chariots back up the trailer. “Bomber John” spared no time in grabbing a calculator to compare margins, pointing at the mid-point of a motorcycle gas tank, recalling where he saw it cross the line beside him.

            “Just couldn’t get tighter ‘n that,” said a giddy Widmann.

            But after only four of thirteen-race season, there’s plenty of room for more surprises and slimmer margins of victory, as Humboldt-Del Norte Timing Association’s golden anniversary continues with King of the Hill Saturday, July 9, and Snap On Toolman Eliminator, Sunday the 10h, with more likely twist and turns than what the Samoa straightaway  shows on its bare skin… ‘til another black cat (or something much faster) crosses it.




                                                                                          -- Tim O’Brien