The 2012 sand drag racing season wrapped up in early November with the SCSDA Finals at the Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, CA. This race also closed out the 2012 NSRA point series for the west coast racers. Many championship battles came down to the last race, so that just made things even more intense. Let’s take a look at the action.

Top Alcohol

Pedro Villa stole the show in Top Alcohol during qualifying at Soboba. Pedro and the “Express” team topped the field with a stellar 2.56/133MPH blast, both personal bests. 2012 series champion Gary Mink was right behind Villa with a 2.57 while the “April’s Dream” team of Jim Hammond ran a 2.58 and the Oregon-based “Thunderstruck” Dragster of Craig Sines ended up fourth with a 2.63.

Round one started off with Villa having a competition single as Sines hurt his motor in qualifying and was unable to make the call. Pedro made a steady pass with a 2.60/125MPH to head on to round two. The next pair would see Mink and Hammond face off. Hammond, riding the momentum of back-to-back wins at Soboba, was looking for another hole shot win over Mink. This time, however, it was all Mink as he left first .550 to .629 and never looked back as he ran Low ET of the weekend with a 2.504 over Hammond’s 2.602. The final round of the season pulled to the line with the two quickest cars on the property facing off. Mink would show why he’s the champ for the fourth consecutive season as he got to the stripe first in a 2.52/144MPH to 2.59/129MPH decision. This was Gary’s fourth win of the 2012 season.

Gary Mink

Pedro Villa

Top Eliminator

The Top Eliminator class had a full weekend of racing at Soboba. On Saturday, during qualifying was a special treat as the conclusion of the Avenal event took place. The final round ended up being a great battle between Central California racers Ron D’Artenay with his “Red Warrior” Dragster and Jim Rossi in his “Bad Toy” Dragster. 2011 TE Champ Rossi would show the skills that won him last year’s title as he left first and took the a close 2.97 to 2.97 victory. That 2.979 pass would also be good enough for the #5 spot in the qualifying order. D’Artenay would top the qualifying list with a stellar 2.959 pass from Q2. UTI Racing’s Todd Kinney ran his personal best ET with a 2.961 for the second spot while 2012 class champ Billy Morris (2.963) and Paul Graham (2.974) rounded out the top half of the eight car show.

Round one kicked off with a huge upset and the closest race of the season in Top Eliminator competition. Top qualifier D’Artenay lined up with fellow Central California racer Marc Whitmore with his Blown Alcohol Funny Jeep. When the tree dropped, Marc was ready gaining a .513 to .686 RT advantage and at the stripe he would take the victory in a 3.163 to 2.990 decision with a Margin of Victory of .000. Rossi would continue the trend of lower qualified cars taking the win as he ran a 2.97 to get by Graham’s 3.20. The next pair was a highly anticipated battle between the Team UTI Jeep of Kinney and the Larry Minor Motorsports Jeep driven by Geoff Gill. Unfortunately this battle was over before they made it to the tree as Gill had to shut off with throttle linkage issues. Kinney would run a strong 3.00 on his single pass. Finishing off the round would be the top two in points heading into the event with Morris in the “2 Dolla’ Bill” Dragster against Paul Taylor’s “Outta Control” Dragster. Morris would continue to be brutal on the tree with a .493 RT and pedaled in a 3.15 to 2.97 win.

The first semi-final pair saw a Jeep versus Dragster battle as Whitmore and Rossi rolled to the line. Whitmore would get a bit too antsy as he turned on the red bulb while Rossi ran an excellent 2.953 on the 2.95 Index to move on to the final. He would face the winner of the “Black versus Blue” battle as the Black Jeep of Kinney lined up against the Blue Dragster of Morris. Kinney was ready for this one as he had a great .441 RT to Morris’ .478. These cars were tied to each other all the way down with Kinney lifting a tad early as he drifted to the center line allowing Morris to take the stripe in a 2.98 to 3.06 decision.

This set up a big time final round between the two most recent Top Eliminator class champions. The newly crowned champ Morris was once again on his game with a .462 to .514 RT advantage, but the MFR horsepower was a tad too much as he ran a 2.949 on the 2.95 Index handing the win over to Rossi, who ran a solid 2.977. This was Rossi’s second win of the season, which also propelled him past Taylor into the second spot in class points.

TE Final - Jim Rossi (Near Lane) vs. Billy Morris

Jim Rossi

Billy Morris

Fast Fours

The Fast Fours class headed to Soboba with the championship settled as Aaron Mamer clinched his first class championship with the “Sidewinder” Dragster. With the championship decided, it was a dog fight for the race win. The “Animal Control” team of DL, Dwight, and Daniel King led the pack in qualifying with three sizzling passes of 2.78, 2.78, & 2.81. Unfortunately, they would suffer parts damage and could not make Sunday’s eliminators. Right behind the King team in qualifying was the Pauter Machine team of Mario Tavares with a 2.79. 2011 class champ Art Cronin got the “Meltdown” Dragster dialed in during Q4 with a 2.84 while Mamer rounded out the top half with a steady 2.85.

The big upset in round one took place as the newly crowned champion Mamer lined up against the Cronin Racing entry of John Cronin. Cronin chopped the tree down with a .486 RT and held on for a 2.93 to 2.90 hole shot win. Unfortunately, John’s motor suffered damage that would render his car unable to continue in eliminations. Next up Tavares would receive a single run as Oregon’s Dave Marcroft was unable to make the call after breaking during qualifying. Mario did not hold back as he ran a 2.81/114MPH to advance. The final pair of the round would see Cronin continue to return to 2011 form as he ran a solid 2.94/120MPH to defeat Don Diffenbaugh’s 3.18 in his “Poison Ivy” Dragster.

With all of the carnage after round one, only two cars were left in action so they paired off for the final round. This would be a big time battle between the two high Horsepower Fast Fours cars. Cronin would show his great driving skills that took him to the 2011 championship as he left first .496 to .531, which would enough to hold on for a hole shot win 2.868/116MPH to a 2.838/113MPH for a .005 Margin of Victory. This would be Cronin’s first victory of the 2012 season, while Tavares moved into second place in NSRA points with his runner-up finish.

Art Cronin

Mario Tavares

Pro Mod Unlimited

Washington’s Carey Mahoney made the trip to Soboba, where he would lead the pack in Pro Mod Unlimited qualifying. Carey ran a stout 2.88/121MPH to earn the top qualifying spot. Unfortunately for the “Big Time” team, they would suffer some engine damage in qualifying that would put them out for eliminations. Jimmy DePasse ran a consistent string of 3.0’s (3.00 best) in qualifying to earn the second qualifying position with Geoff Gill (3.06), Derek Balcunas (3.26), Nick Shultzman (3.29), and Tracy Malan (3.44) rounding out the field.

Round one started with Malan earning a competition single when Mahoney could not make the call. Next up would be the blown SBC-powered Altered of Shultzman against the Blown BBC-powered Larry Minor Motorsports-bodied Jeep of Jimmy DePasse. DePasse would get too antsy on the line and turn on the red bulb by just .021 handing the win over to Vegas racer Shultzman, who carded a 3.28/100MPH. Finishing off the round would be an all Larry Minor Motorsports pairing as Geoff Gill in the company’s flagship Blown Jeep faced off with the Nitrous-assisted entry of Derek Balcunas. Derek would lay down his best pass of the season with a stellar 3.19, but that wasn’t enough for the supercharged power of Gill who turned on the win light with a 3.11.

Gill and Shultzman would match up to start off the semi-final round. This would be a side-by-side battle with Gill reaching the finish line first in a 3.17 to 3.33 decision. Meanwhile, Malan would take the bye run into the final with a 3.54. The final round rolled to the line with the Blown SBC-powered Jeep of Gill squaring off with the Nitrous-assisted BBC-powered “Thunder Pumpkin” Altered of Malan. This final round would be all Gill as he carded a 3.12/99MPH over a 3.50 to take the win for the Larry Minor Motorsports team. Gill’s win was his second of the season in 2012 Pro Mod Unlimited action.

Geoff Gill

Tracy Malan

Pro Bracket Classes

The Pro 1 class continued to put on some great racing as the fastest bracket class waged war at Soboba. In the semi-finals, a highly anticipated match up pulled to the line as the top two competitors in the class in 2012 squared off. Class champion Keith Ahart would line up against series runner-up Bob Cambridge. When the tree dropped, all eyes were on Cambridge as he pulled a monster wheel stand. Bob lifted and the front end slammed back down. Fortunately for him, the win light would come on in his lane as Ahart lifted, but not enough with a 3.641 (3.65) break out. When the final round came around, the big question was if there was any damage to Bob’s potent SBC-powered dragster that would hurt his chances against Ray Islas. Luck would certainly be on Cambridge’s side on this day as he had to pedal just off the line after Islas treed him by over a tenth, but at the stripe Islas drove too hard with a 3.457 (3.50) break out. This handed Cambridge his third straight victory at Soboba in the 2012 season as he also took the May and September event wins. He also had a runner-up at the Season Opener in May, which meant Bob was in the Pro 1 final at all four Soboba events. That is definitely quite a feat with the competition level in that category.

Bob Cambridge

To say Wes Johnson had a big day on Sunday at Soboba would be an understatement. Wes is always a tough customer in Pro Bracket competition and everything fell just perfect for him on this day. Competing in the Pro 2 and Pro 3 categories, he would survive some early round bullets including a tough race against his brother Charlie in round two of Pro 2. The final round shaped up where Wes would line up his Ford-powered Jeep against Joe Simeone’s “I Love It” Jeep. Wes left first .470 to .500, then proceeded to run a solid 4.157 on his 4.15 dial to take his first class win of the day. Then it was time for the all Snap-On Jeep Pro 3 final round as Wes would face off against his brother Charlie for the second time on the day. After a brief staging duel, Wes took the RT edge .428 to .462 which enabled him to hold the cards at the stripe as he took a double breakout victory 4.254 (4.26) to 4.483 (4.51). The Pro 3 win moved Wes into second place in points just behind his brother, while George Amos emerged the Pro 2 champion over Charlie Johnson.

Wes Johnson

The Motorcycle Pro 1 class has a new star with the recent success of Christian Payne. Despite a slow start that took him out of championship contention, Christian had the hot hand coming into Soboba with back-to-back wins at Avenal and Dome Valley. The young Central California racer would put his skills to work at Soboba reaching the final round against the always tough Brad Olson. Brad would be ready taking a tenth of a second RT advantage, but Payne’s consistent riding allowed him to take the win with a nice 4.274 on his 4.25 dial-in. This was Christian’s fourth MP1 victory of the 2012 season. He would end up second in points, while MPC Racing’s Mark Ratliff took his second straight MP1 class championship.

Christian Payne

Ratliff and George Amos came into the Season Finale at Soboba locked in a tight battle for the Motorcycle Pro 2 championship. Both racers put on their ‘A game’ heading into eliminations, but unfortunately both fell to break outs in round one. However, Amos’ had a solid .496 RT in that round one loss, which would end up being the deciding factor as he earned #2 Qualifier RT bonus points, which would be enough to pass Ratliff by just two points. Eliminations wore on and veteran racer Randy Mings found himself in the final round against Broc Rushing. Broc would leave early in the final handing Mings an easy win as he ran a 5.526 (5.49) for the win.

Randy Mings

Saturday Bracket Classes

The always tough Pro Gambler put on a solid show Saturday night at Soboba. With big money on the line, you can normally find the two finalists right in the hunt. It would come down to the “Back N Black” Jeep of Charlie Johnson against the “Moving Violation” VW-powered Buggy of Arend Schouten. These two definitely know how to bracket race. They were both ready for this battle as they cut identical .451 RT’s, and the finish would be decided by .018 as Johnson’s Jeep squeaked out the win with a 4.580 (4.54) to Arend’s 4.568 (4.51).

Charlie Johnson

Saturday night’s Motorcycle Pro Gambler battle saw the best ATV Bracket racers on the west coast go for the money. The final round came down to a pair of former champions as Randy Mings rode his trademark three-wheeler against Mark Ratliff, who was dialing in his new Pro ATV in the Gambler class. Mings was up for the challenge as he cut a killer .408 RT and that advantage is what he needed to take the big win with a 5.639 (5.49).

Sportsman 1 was filled with great competition on Saturday at Soboba. The final round saw Sid Payne’s beautiful Jeep line up against the always tough “Mr. Excitement” dragster of veteran bracket racer Larry Brown. This race would be all Sid’s as he cut a great .431 RT and ran a 4.031 (3.96) to take the big win. His victory moved Payne into second place in the final Sportsman 1 championship hunt behind the season winner Kermit Larby.

Sid Payne

The Sportsman 2 class championship came in as the closest ongoing battle with Mike Williams and Alan Mamer locked in a tie situation. Basically whoever went further in eliminations would be the champ. Mike would be up first in the opening round up against Greg Tounget. Mike cut a stellar .453 RT, but his 5.013 on a 4.85 would give Greg enough room to drive around with a 4.814 (4.80) for the win by just .011. This put the pressure on Mamer as Williams would have the tie breaker if both racers do not advance past round one. Mamer had to line up against the tough Diesel Dodge pick up of Russell Kennel. When the sand settled, the win light came on in Mamer’s lane as Kennel broke out with a 4.990 (5.05) making Mamer a back-to-back Sportsman 2 class champion. Alan would continue on to the semi-final round where Rick Hendershott would advance on. Rick faced off against fellow Jeep racer Jeff Goorsky in the final round. Goorsky would let go of the button a little early ending up with a .353 red light giving Hendershott the win as he ran a 4.769 on a 4.61 dial.

Rick Hendershott

The Motorcycle Sportsman 1 class title was not decided as the series headed to Soboba for the Season Finale. The title was up for grabs with MP1 champ Mark Ratliff and Christian Payne both having shots at taking the championship hardware. Ratliff used some great riding to get by a couple of opponents in the opening round, which effectively locked up the title heading into a semi-final battle against Payne. Mark was ready for this round, but maybe a touch too much as he turned on the red light by the slightest of margins as he went .399 on the tree. Payne in the other lane had a solid 4.271 (4.25) with a .452 light. Christian would move on to the final round where he would line up against fellow Central California racer Josh Wolford. This time it was Payne’s turn to get too antsy as he left .019 too early handing the win to Wolford, who ran a 4.067 (3.95). Ratliff kept the MS1 championship in the MPC Racing family as son Garrett won the title in 2011.

Josh Wolford

An unlikely scenario posed itself as the battle for the Motorcycle Sportsman 2 crown came down to the slimmest of margins at the end of competition on Saturday. Both title combatants made it to the final round as Phoenix racer Grant Hutchinson, who led the points all season, paired off with Central California racer Matthew Ortiz. Ortiz would turn on the win light in this tough pair of racers. However, when the points were tabulated both racers ended up with 105 points. In this instance, Hutchinson took the tie breaker as he earned six races worth of points to Matthew’s five. Grant Hutchinson ended up as the 2012 NSRA MS2 class champion.

Matthew Ortiz

The 2012 NSRA Junior Dragster championship was decided heading into the Season Finale with Phoenix racer Kyla Belville earning top honors. Belville did not make the trip to Soboba opening the door for a new winner on this weekend. The final round would see two tough customers face off as Bradley Myers lined up against Ryan Rodriguez. Bradley used a great .490 RT and 5.791 (5.70) to turn on the win light in the final round for his first win of the season in his second straight final round.

Bradley Myers

Photos Courtesy

Event Photo Gallery - Courtesy of NSDN

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