NSDN Rewind 2014 Race 1: Dome Valley

National Sand Drag News is excited to introduce a new feature called “NSDN Rewind”. NSDN rewind will look back at the top stories and best media (photos & video) from each NSDN Daily Race Coverage event throughout the season. Over the next few weeks, all nine 2014 NSDN Daily Race Coverage events will be featured. We may even dig into the Archive and rewind to a few events from years past. Kick back and enjoy the NSDN Rewind.

The 2014 NSDN Daily Race Coverage season kicked off at Dome Valley Raceway’s 5th Annual Top Fuel Shootout in Wellton, AZ. The popularity of this race continued to grow as this event attracted racers from as far away as Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon, and Washington. On the spectator side of things, it was refreshing to see a packed house for a sand drag race with standing room only on the house side. Another cool aspect was the enormous amount of sand drag racers and crew that came in just to enjoy the awesome January Arizona weather, including big groups from Hawaii and Michigan. It was also an honor to have Chris and Tera Graves from Max Cackle Photos at this event. This husband-wife duo from Texas brings their high quality photography to many asphalt races and made a stop at Dome Valley for the weekend on their west coast swing. Couple their great photography and our first weekend experimenting with some alternate camera options for video added up to NSDN once again raising the bar on sand drag racing coverage.

NSDN Coverage Links
NSDN Daily Race Coverage Page
NSDN Race Recap Page

NSDN Run of the Event: The run of the event will go to the most memorable single pass throughout the weekend in our opinion. On this weekend, the run I won’t forget is the Fast Fours final round on Sunday around Noon. As a huge fan of the Fast Fours - A/Fuel Turbocharged four-cylinder class forever, I never thought I would see the day a 2.6-second pass would happen. This day would prove me wrong as Robert Skidmore in the Skidmore Racing entry clicked off an unbelievable 2.684 at 121.64MPH with a 1.05 60’ time. Skidmore and his team debuted in this class at this event the season before and made a name for themselves with huge runs all season long in 2013, ending up with a best ET of 2.701. Then, on this weekend at Dome they recorded a 2.75 in Q3 followed up by a booming 2.730 in Q4. This set the stage for the crazy 2.68 in the lone round of eliminations, which in an odd twist did not win the race as Robert turned on the red light by just .009 handing the win to Mario Tavares. Needless to say, this performance barrier being broken qualifies for being the Run of the Event.

Robert Skidmore with a wheels up charge towards the Quickest A/Fuel run in history.

NSDN Racer of the Event: This award goes to the racer with the best start to finish performance throughout the weekend. At the Dome Valley event, this one was a no brainer. Courtney Stidham made his first appearance in Dome Valley Raceway. Courtney and his father Jackie made the long haul from Texas with their “Twisted” Blown SBC-powered Dragster to compete in the Top Eliminator class. This father-son team had been ruthless since updating their dragster’s chassis in Mid-2013 with dominating wins at El Paso Sand Drags (TX) and Atoka Motorsports Park’s (OK) Fall Fest. This time, in their first trip to compete with the west coast hitters, Courtney was simply on his game. In one of the great TE performances of all time, he would couple incredible.007, .017, and .010 Reaction Times with 3.01, 3.01, and 2.97 ET’s to score the win at Dome Valley Raceway. These bracket-like numbers got the job done against the best of the west, including an incredible side-by-side final round decided by just .035 against multi-time west coast TE Champion Billy Morris. This performance by Stidham and the Twisted team definitely warrants the NSDN Racer of the Event award.

Courtney Stidham getting the job done in the "Twisted" TE Dragster...

NSDN Storylines

This segment will outline some of the big stories from each particular event, looking back from today’s perspective. As you know, Hindsight is 20/20 and it’s cool to look back to see how things from this event fit into the big picture.

Rod Trower: This race would be the last time our hero would pilot his trademark “Thunder” Top Alcohol Dragster before succumbing to Cancer in September. The B&J Transmissions team had the Thunder car hopped up on this weekend recording a 2.47 best in Qualifying. But it would be his Sunday morning final round solo pass to the Top Alcohol class win that was the most memorable. Rod would throw the quickest pass of his life with a 2.422 at 145.41MPH blast. This would also stand as the Quickest ET in the Top Alcohol class in 2014. Looking back, knowing what Rod was going through it was great to see him not only record a Personal Best, but also enjoy a great weekend surrounded by his racing family.

R.I.P. Rod Trower

Top Fuel: The 5th Annual Top Fuel Shootout at Dome Valley ended up being the only sand drag race in 2014 that a Top Fuel class would be contested. Dennis Rieck would earn the bragging rights for the entire year with a great performance putting the Hammerdown Top Fueler at the top of the Qualifying List as well as in the Winner’s Circle on race day. Dennis carded the Best Run of the 2014 sand drag racing season with a 2.263 ET at 161.49 MPH in Round One of Eliminations at this event. Marcus Norris in the Pat Norris Racing / Hammerdown Top Fueler ended up as Runner-Up at this event while Billy Morris piloted the Team UTI Fueler to some nice passes. The Top Fuel class always puts on a great show for the fans, and we are hoping to see these guys in action a little more in 2015. Check out this cool NSDN Rewind Video Recap of the Top Fuel action on this weekend.

Pro Truck: For the third straight year, the PTN (Pro Truck Nationals) series sponsored a Pro Truck category at this event. This is the only chance each year for the west coast racers to compete for the title in this ultra competitive category. This is always a cut throat class with racers bringing their “A Game” to this event. On this day, it would be Al McKinney taking his wife Fern’s Jeep to the Winner’s Circle defeating the always tough Kenny Hayes in the final round. This class is always a treat to watch, and for the bracket racing fan in me is always a must see battle.

Al McKinney was on his game in the Pro Truck class at Dome Valley...

Al receiving his plaque for winning Pro Truck from class sponsor Buddy Hammett of Pro Truck Nationals.

Double Up: Jeff Coale continued to impress in the ATV classes as the 2014 season started. Jeff was the first double up winner of the new season as he took the Friday Pro ATV and the Saturday Motorcycle Sportsman 2 victories. Winning more than one class on any given weekend is quite an accomplishment and this series will highlight a few of these folks along the way.

Double Up winner Jeff Coale at Dome Valley...

Open Pro Final: Saturday evening’s Open Pro class final round was one of the best side-by-side nearly perfect numbers wise races I can recall on sand in a while. Everyone knows how difficult it is to run a close package on sand with the inconsistencies in track conditions, etc., so it’s a rarity to see a pair of packages (RT + Over Dial) better than .060. This would be an all Jeep battle with California’s Tony DeNunzio in the notorious Black Jeep facing off with Israel Quintero in the new 555 Racing Team Jeep. Both drivers were ready for action with Israel taking the RT edge .013 to .017, but at the stripe it would be DeNunzio recording a 4.078 (4.05) for the win over Quintero’s 3.746 (3.70). This calculates out to a .045 to .059 package resulting in a .014 Margin of Victory for DeNunzio. These guys certainly showed some great driving skill and desire to win in this amazing final round battle.

Tony DeNunzio kept up the Black Jeep's winning ways taking the Open Pro class win.

Awards Time: Another cool aspect of this event was the Friday night awards ceremony for the 2013 NSRA Quality Aircraft Care point series. All of the class champions were recognized with their plaques and cash. It was a great time had by all. A huge thank you goes out to Dennis Rieck for organizing the NSRA point series. Dennis has done so many great things for the sport over the years, not asking for an ounce of recognition. He truly has a great passion for the sport to go along with a heart of gold. Thank you, Dennis!

Dennis Rieck (Right) with the Hammerdown & Pat Norris Racing teams picking up their 1st & 2nd place Top Fuel plaques.

Hardcore racers Mark Ratliff (Right) & son Garrett Ratliff (left) picking up their multiple NSRA Championship plaques from Dennis at the Awards Ceremony.

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