Bella Vista Realty Primo Eliminator
April 23, 2006

             The 51st season @ Samoa Dragstrip got off to a start, April 23rd, that’ll be tough to top, as several familiar faces showed up with new or "Haven’t Been to the Track In a Long While" rides, to fight off red lights under sunny skies and to pay tribute to Samoa’s own in the Bella Vista Realty Primo Eliminator.

            Kyle Skillings, last seen campaigning a ’65 Impala, debuted his new Super Pro chariot: a stretched and flamed ’94 Berretta, and went home Top Qualifer after a 8.61 e.t. in Session 1. Saturday’s Test ‘N Tune was his first chance to drive it.

            Curtis Daniels returned with the ’69 Chevelle “Nappy”, cutting a perfect light in time trials, and Devon Timmons broke a 7-year absence with a ride from his high school days- a ’64 El Camino whose 454 and 4-speed Muncie muscled him in HDTA’s new Sportsman bracket (a combination of Street and Quick Street).

           Green ribbons were worn in memory of Paul Scheel, who last raced the green “Wedge Warrior” Plymouth Duster before passing away from Cancer in December. A remembrance of funny car racer Jon Scott was also in the air, as Mike Giacone led fans and family into a celebration of Scheel’s life, followed by a quarter-mile procession by sons Joe and Marvin (Joe in the “Wanna Be” ’70 Duster he and Paul built together, Marvin in the ’63 Olds F85 built by their Uncle Tom, as they kept both cars busy in competition), daughter Sandy in Paul’s last truck and Tom and Dale Cooper in their Pro ’69 Charger. 

 Racing all day with Paul’s ashes in the Wanna Be’s trunk, Joe ran nearly dead-on his dial in (11.506), and though no one ran dead-on their dial-in, plenty came close. This also earned Joe the "Best Package" award of $50.00. 

Mike and Tanya Pettit showed the track how Ski Doos don’t always need snow to take on motorcycles. Rolling on belts in the back and roller blade-sized wheels up front.  Tanya’s Ski Doo managed to beat out “Bomber John” Widdman at one point, but it was Mike’s ’05 Mach Z snow kicker that made it to the finals, red-lighting against Wayne Cox's dragbike, 12.47 et. @ 96 mph against the winner’s 9.01 e.t. @ 143 mph.

     Glen Terry’s 17-second door slammer of a ’76 El Camino took on Ron Gulbransen’s ’68 California Special for a 17.01 win @ 74 mph, as Gulbransen broke out (13.811). The two were later spotted in the winner’s circle trading jabs and laughter. Look for retribution at the next race, April 30th.

      Last year’s Pro points champ John Antongiovanni returned with his early Nova II to take on ’05 Quick Street points champ Troy Beck in the Pro final, with Beck red-lighting his ’86 Pontiac in a 13.86 run against John’s 12.53 win.

    The Junior Dragsters have a new competitor in their midst – Elizabeth Sjoquist – and her Grabber Green-with-purple-flames dragster lit the “Liz Bee” into the consolation round against veteran Kara Pettit, whose 7.89 run took the win as Sjoquist red-lit, before a 13.80 run.  For her first weekend on the track, Elizabeth expressed surprise at how truly fast it all feels.  Mike Pettit, whose best reaction time of the bracket (.516) earned him a savings bond, faced off against Robbie Waddell in the final for a win with a 9.52 run over Waddell’s 11.55 e.t.

     The Super Pro final had Brad Schiewe’s ’74 Mustang paired with Bob Olmstead’s ’73 Camaro.  Schiewe had some interesting matches against Jacob Wood’s ’68 Camaro in which both high leapers traded off break-out runs in eliminations (a rematch was involved), but in the final it was Bob Olmstead's 10.56 run over Schiewe's 9.35, to take the win and take home the trophy.

           After the Eureka Police Dept. Street Legal Drags, Saturday (April 29), a wildly unpredictable season continues Sunday, with a crew from ESPN due for a visit at the Renner Petroleum/Simpson/We the People Run Tuff Eliminator to film an episode of NHRA2Day.

Bring your fanfare out to show the rest of the world what we’re made of, when Ski Doos are in force on pavement, families celebrate life on the track and every ticket becomes a pit pass.

-- Tim O’Brien