lead.jpgThe 2nd Annual AZ vs. CA Top Fuel Shootout at Dome Valley Raceway in late January turned out to be an excellent event with nearly 200 racer entries and a massive spectator crowd. Perfect weather greeted racers and led to record breaking competition throughout the weekend. Let’s take a look at the action.

Top Fuel

Qualifying kicked off with four entries vying for the top spot at the Wellton, AZ race track. Dennis Rieck would set Low ET of qualifying session one, laying down a 2.394/145mph pass. However, in the final session, it would be the Coldwater Kid Team & driver Matt Ludlow knocking Rieck off of the top spot with a 2.392/139mph hit. Sliding into the third spot would be the Pat Norris Racing team with driver Marcus Norris running a personal best 2.489, while Terri Blair & the Fugowie dual tire Fueler ran a 2.520 with a stellar 1.01 60’ time to round out the field.

The first pair was slated to be between Ludlow & Blair, however the Fugowie team was unable to make the round one call handing Ludlow a single pass. Tuner John Aleman turned up the Coldwater Kid entry and Ludlow launched into a huge wheel stand clicking it off around half track, and coasting to a 2.599 at only 96mph. Up next would see #2 qualifier Rieck with his Hammer Down small block-powered Fueler up against the Norris team. This pair would see a huge upset as Rieck had a fuel filter failure, effectively shutting down the Hammer Down entry, allowing Norris to lay down a clean 2.52 to advance on.

Final round combatants Ludlow and Norris are second cousins with both teams having ties, so this would be a family affair. Norris would take a slight starting line advantage, but down track it would be the Aleman-tuned power for Ludlow taking over as he crossed the stripe with a 2.308/158mph blast to take back-to-back victories at the Dome Valley Top Fuel Shootout. This run would come up just .008 shy of the current track record as well as being Low ET & Top Speed of the meet. Congratulations go out to Matt, Dwight, John Aleman, and the entire Coldwater Kid Team on their huge victory.

Matt Ludlow

Marcus Norris

Dennis Rieck

Terri Blair

Top Alcohol

The Top Alcohol class would have a big weekend at Dome Valley Raceway as a huge barrier in the class would be broken. Qualifying saw six strong entries tackle the Arizona race track. 2010 class dominator Gary Mink would pick up where he left off, taking the top qualifying spot with a 2.452 ET on his only qualifying lap. Shane Sanford would slide into the #2 spot in the Frederosa Racing entry with a 2.53 while Scott Carroll ended up third with a 2.58.

Round one kicked off with Mink making a statement, running an amazing 2.414/136mph blast in a victory over Pedro Villa. This would set him up with a bye run into the final round. The next pair would see a huge upset as #5 qualifier Jim Hammond in the April’s Dream Dragster would defeat #2 qualifier Sanford on a hole shot, 2.67 to 2.61 in one of the closest races of the weekend. The final pair of round one would see Scott Carroll defeat Dan Allen with a personal best ET 2.50 over Dan’s game 2.52.

All eyes would be on the starting line for Gary Mink’s round two bye run. At this event, bonus money was put up for the first racer to break into the 2.3 second zone in the Top Alcohol class. With no opponent, everyone knew Mink would be going for the extra $2,000. On this pass, Gary would make history going .982 to 60’ and powering on through for a 2.395! The previous quickest ET in class history was also set by Mink with a 2.403. Rounding out this stanza would be Carroll facing off with Hammond. Scott would once again run a 2.50, and hold on to advance to the final round.

For the final round, the buzz was all about whether or not Mink could lower the record even more. Even with a tough opponent in the other lane, all eyes were on the lane of the Fresno, CA driver. Off the line, Mink would leave first and go .967 to 60’ en route to an amazing 2.369 victory over Carroll’s 2.54. Gary Mink would certainly cement his place in Top Alcohol history with this unreal performance at Dome Valley Raceway. Congrats to the whole Mink team on this huge accomplishment.

Gary Mink

Scott Carroll

Jim Hammond

Pro Outlaw FE

After the huge success of the Pro Outlaw FE class in the Midwest in 2010, this event would see the first running of this particular class on the West Coast. Pro Truck Nationals and Richards Auto Parts put up some added purse money to bring in all of the west coast hitters to see who the badest Front Engine racer in the Southwest is.

Qualifying was quite a show as these short wheelbase vehicles laid down some amazing numbers. Low qualifier heading into race day would be Washington’s Carey Mahoney with his “Big Time” Altered, running a 2.901. Not far behind Carey would be Geoff Gill in the Larry Minor Motorsports Blown SBC-powered as he dipped into the 2’s for the first time with a 2.97. Rounding out the top half of the field would be Bob Gill’s amazing new Jeep Funny Car with a 3.05 and Jim DePasse’s Larry Minor Motorsports Jeep carding a 3.06.

Mahoney would thrill the crowd in round one of eliminations with a 2.855/111mph run on a single run. The next pair would see another amazing pass as the Jim DePasse/Otis Simpson team put their Larry Minor Motorsports Jeep into the 2’s with a great 2.999 to defeat Frank Prock. Geoff Gill would be up next and continue the 2 second trend with a 2.951/109mph hit to defeat Clayton Record. Mike Erwin in the Swag Racing Jeep would advance on with a 3.25 after Bob Gill could not make the call for round one due to destroying a driveshaft in qualifying.

Unfortunately, round two would start off with a single as the DePasse/Otis Team suffered parts breakage and were unable to return. Mahoney would run a 3.25 on his single shutting off just past half track. Facing Carey in the final would be Geoff Gill, as he would run a 2.950 to defeat Erwin. Gill’s 2.950 would also be enough to set the new A/Pro Jeep World Record.

The final round would set up to be a titanic battle between the two quickest cars in eliminations. However, the final round would be decided on the starting line as Gill would go red by .023 while Mahoney blasted down the track to Low ET of the weekend with a 2.824. Congrats to the whole Big Time Team on their excellent performance all weekend long.

Carey Mahoney (NSDN Photo)

Geoff Gill

Mike Erwin

Jim DePasse

Fast Fours

The Fast Fours class would thrill the standing room only crowd at Dome Valley all weekend long. Qualifying would be led by the Short Fuse Team, as driver Brian Chapman laid down a sizzling 2.88/106mph run. Art Cronin would slide into the second spot (also with a 2.88) while the top half of the field would round out with DL King’s 2.94 and Mario Tavares’ 2.97. Stealing the show in the night qualifying session would be VW Paradise’s Kris Lauffer with a huge, wheelie bar destroying wheel stand en route to a 3.15. The VW Paradise Team would work all night and be ready for round one.

Round one would see some excellent match ups. Chapman would kick off the round with a 2.87 victory over John Cronin. Next up would be the legendary Sidewinder, driven by Aaron Mamer, against Don Diffenbaugh’s Poison Ivy Dragster. Diffenbaugh would turn on the red light by the slightest of margins (.001) handing Mamer the win, matching Chapman’s 2.87. The next pair would see Art Cronin’s Meltdown Dragster up against the VW Paradise entry of Lauffer. Lauffer, a world record holder on asphalt, put up a great fight running a 2.91, but it would not be enough to hold off Cronin’s great 2.84/115mph shot. Finishing the round would see two legends of the class face off, as DL King would take the win over Mario Tavares in a 2.95 to 3.00 decision.

The semi-final round would start with a big match up between the Short Fuse & Sidewinder entries. At the finish line, Chapman would turn on the win light with a great 2.83ET to head to the final round. On the other side of the ladder, Art Cronin would face off with class record holder DL King’s Animal Control Dragster. DL would leave first, but Cronin would track him down with a 2.822/113mph shot to advance on.

This would set up a repeat of the Kingman final round, where Chapman would turn on the win light. This event would see a repeat as Chapman would leave first and not look back, running a 2.850 to take the class win. Congrats to Brian, Charlie Starns, and the rest of the Short Fuse Racing Team on this great victory.

Brian Chapman

Art Cronin

Aaron Mamer

DL King

Top Eliminator

The Top Eliminator (2.95) Index class is widely regarded as one of the most competitive categories in the sport and this statement would once again be proven at this event. Qualifying was tight as Terry Crawford would take the top spot in his Yabba Dabba Doo Dragster with a 2.969. Terry was followed closely by Tim Martin (2.978) and Paul Taylor (2.989).

Unfortunately for Crawford, his #1 qualifying spot meant that he would have to face off with the man holding the hot hand in this class, Billy  Morris, in round one as the 2 Dolla’ Bill Team struggled in qualifying. This race would be determined by who would break out the least & Morris would take the win by .001 in a 2.910 to 2.909 decision. In other round one action, Martin would run a perfect 2.950 defeating Jim Rossi. Martin became the first repeat perfect 2.950 competitor in TE competition.

Round two would see Morris earn the bye run and go 2.893, meaning that they would continue to work on trying to slow down the car to run the 2.95 Index. Next up would see Paul Graham & his Excavator Buggy take the win against a red lighting Pat Headington, who would run a personal best 3.05 on this pass. Finishing off the round, Martin would take a 3.00 to 3.17 decision over Phoenix-area racer Mark Greenwell.

The semi-final round would see Graham get a little antsy at the tree and stage foul, handing the win to Morris, who would shut off early to a 3.24. Martin would solo with a 3.02 to advance on to the final round. In the final, the battle of the Blue Dragsters would fall to the 2 Dolla’ Bill side of the track as Morris took a starting line advantage and pedaled to a great 2.99 to 3.08 victory. This would mark Billy’s 7th straight win in combined Top Eliminator, Super Eliminator, and Top Alcohol class action. Congratulations to Billy, Rick, and Shelly Morris as well as the rest of the 2 Dolla’ Bill crew on another great win.

Billy Morris

Tim Martin

Paul Graham

Pro 1

The Pro 1 class saw a full field of 20 entries show up at Dome Valley Raceway. Let’s start off with round two action in this class. Starting off the round would be Steve Foster Jr. in his Impatient Jeep against October winner Brian Root in his brother Barkley’s Funny Jeep. Root would take a slight advantage, but could not run his number allowing Foster to take the win with a 3.792 (3.75). The next pair would see a couple of long time racers face off as Keith Ahart in his Sudden Urge dragster faced off with Craig Durning in Eugene the Jeep. They would leave mere thousandths of a second apart, but at the stripe Ahart would run a nearly dead-on 3.582 (3.58) to take a margin of victory of a mere twelve-thousandths of a second. The next pair would see Clayton Record in his Larry Minor Motorsports Jeep pair up with Christopher Wells in his V8-powered Buggy from Washington. Record would take a .485 to .524 advantage at the tree and hang on for the victory with a 3.522 (3.50). The fourth match of the round would see So Cal neighbors Larry Brown in his Ford-powered dragster face off with Kermit Larby’s Leap Frog Buggy. Larby would leave first and win a double breakout decision with a 3.456 (3.47). Rounding out the round would see Al McKinney’s Blown Alcohol rear-engine Jeep up against Steve Foster’s Impatient Too Funny Jeep. Foster would have the RT advantage, but immediately hook hard left causing him to lift and handing McKinney the win with a 3.318 (3.27).

Round three action kicked off with Ahart and Record facing off, with a .07 handicap on the tree going to Ahart. In this match up, Keith’s dragster would leave first with a .406 light, and force the Jeep into a breakout for the win. Next up would be McKinney versus Larby, in a match featuring two of the most unique vehicles in Pro 1. Al would leave first and run a 3.370 on a 3.27 dial for the victory. Foster Jr. would run another 3.79 on his bye run to advance on.

In the semis, Ahart would leave way early, handing Foster Jr. the win with a 3.801 (3.76) setting up an all-Jeep final round. This would set up a final round between Foster Jr., in his first weekend with a new engine combination, and running as consistent as ever against McKinney, who also had been the picture of consistency in the low 3.3 range. In the final, both drivers would leave within thousandths of a second of each other, however McKinney would get a tad out of shape for the first time on the day causing him to pedal and allowing Foster to drive off to a 3.822 (3.76) victory.

Steve Foster Jr.

Al McKinney

Pro 2

Pro 2 continued on the theme of great bracket racing at Dome Valley Raceway on this particular weekend. Let’s start off with round two of eliminations. The first pair would see west coast hitter Charlie Johnson in the Back in Black Jeep face off with the always tough Jose Beas. This day would be Jose’s as he would force Charlie into a 4.463 (4.50) break out to advance on. Up next would be Chris Adamson, in son Justin’s Jeep, against Phil Soper in his V8-powered Buggy. Phil had transbrake issues on the weekend and this pass resulted in a late RT, allowing Adamson to take the win with an early lift 4.482 (4.30). Rounding out the round would be Wes Johnson with a bye run, where he would run a 3.941 (4.00).

Wes would have to try to slow down in the opening pair of the semi-finals, as the quickest he could dial was a 4.00. Jose Beas would continue cause havoc for the Johnson brothers as he would leave first and force Wes into a 3.960 (4.00) break out. Beas would face off with Adamson in an all-Jeep final round. In the final, Adamson would leave first .458 to .501, and never look back for a 4.354 (4.32) victory.

Chris Adamson

Jose Beas

Pro 3

There was some excellent racing in round two of Pro 3 at this event. The round started off with Brendan Root defeating Darin Lynn lifting to a 4.82 (4.30). Next up would see two of the hitters in this category face off as October winner Arend Schouten faced off with eventual Pro 2 winner Chris Adamson. Arend would leave first by .008, then hang on for a narrow .003 Margin of Victory with a 4.439 (4.42) pass. Rounding out the round would see Yuma local Jim Clark in his CJ-5 Jeep go up against New Mexico’s Steve Mass in “The Beast”. Clark would lay down a RT that would be good enough for the Hammer Down Best RT award with a .402 and run a 4.438 (4.35) for the win.

The semi-final pair would see a Buggy versus Jeep battle between Schouten and Root. Schouten would leave first with a nice .457 RT and hang on with a 4.493 (4.42) to advance on. Clark would get the bye into the final and run a 4.386 (4.35). This would set up a great final round between many time race winner and perennial Pro 3 contender Arend Schouten against Jim Clark, who was hungry for his first big event victory. Schouten would take the advantage off the line .460 to .489, but it would be Clark driving around with a 4.401 (4.35) to take the win by just two-thousandths of a second (.002).

Jim Clark

Arend Schouten

MP1 & MP2

At this event, it made sense to combine the results for both Motorcycle Pro bracket classes as these classes saw identical finalists. In both classes, the final round came down to the father-son duo of Mark & Garrett Ratliff. Garrett’s road to the final in MP1 was definitely challenging. In round one, he faced off with Keith Ahart on his trademark four-wheeler & would force Keith into a 4.287 (4.30) break out in an excellent race. Garrett would then face John Edwards and his wild Turbocharged 3-wheeler. Both racers would have troubles off the line, forcing Garrett to push his bike to the finish line for the victory despite the chain coming off. He would then run a 3.818 (3.73) before defeating his dad with a 3.904 in the final round. They would have their rematch in the MP2 final round. Mark would leave first with a brilliant .405 RT, however he would take too much stripe and lose in a double breakout decision by just .003 (both dialed 4.50, 4.496 to 4.493).

Garrett Ratliff

Mark Ratliff

Open Pro & Motorcycle Open Pro

Both of these classes saw a lot of excellent racing on Saturday. The final round in Open Pro came down to Steve Anthony’s always tough dragster against Jose Beas, in his consistent and hard to beat Jeep. On this day, Anthony would lay down a great .418 to Jose’s .472 and hang on for the win with a 3.948 (3.86). In the Motorcycle Open Pro final, Mike Brock had a great .444 RT and held on for the win with a 5.360 (5.34) for the victory over Collin Barnella.

Steve Anthony

Mike Brock

Sportsman Car & Motorcycle Sportsman

The Sportsman Car class final round came down to class dominator Phil Soper against Al McKinney Jr. Neither drivers would have stellar RT’s, but at the stripe Soper would force McKinney into a breakout. Motorcycle Sportsman would see eventual two class MP runner-up Mark Ratliff against perennial contender Heather Taylor. In this battle, Mark would leave first and run a nice 4.378 (4.36) to take home the winner’s plaque.

Phil Soper

Mark Ratliff

3.5 Index

This class didn’t have a huge turnout at Dome Valley, but the action was fierce. The final round would see Marc Whitmore’s awesome alcohol-injected Jeep against Kermit Larby’s wild Buggy. Whitmore would leave first and pedal to a great 3.548 for the victory.

Marc Whitmore


The Junior Dragsters would come down to a great match up between Ryan Rodriguez and Abbigale Carroll. This race would be decided on the starting line as Abbigale would roll in too deep & stage foul, giving Rodriguez the big win at this event. Evan Thomas took the Kids class win over Austin Ratliff, who did a great job in his first time on a bike. Jaisyn Wolfe was the big winner in the Youth category over Emmanuel Beas.

Ryan Rodriguez

Evan Thomas

Jaisyn Wolfe

Photos Courtesy – Lone Star Graphics.

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