The Fall west coast sand drag season kicked off over the first weekend of October with the SCSDA Racin’ For A Cure event. This race took place at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds in Victorville, CA. A solid turnout of racers from across the Southwest converged on the Southern California track for a record setting weekend on the 300’ of dirt.

Top Fuel

Dennis Rieck and the Hammerdown Top Fuel team put on a performance never seen before in sand drag racing at this event culminating with a new World Record ET. Dennis would pilot the Hammer Down Hemi to Qualifying ET’s of 2.231, 2.269, 2.212, and 2.208 to take the top spot. The 2.208 would stand for the new Top Fuel Sand Drag World Record. Marcus Norris in the Pat Norris Racing / Hammerdown Top Fueler also laid down some solid Qualifying passes. Marcus recorded a strong 2.33 second blast in Q2 before laying down a 2.38 at 165MPH, which held up for top speed of the event. Unfortunately Marcus had problems getting slowed down from 165MPH and nosed into barriers at the end of the track. Thankfully Marcus was fine and damage to the car was minimal, as a matter of fact he made a solid half track test pass on Sunday. On Sunday, Rieck soloed to the Top Fuel win with a 2.23 at 160MPH. Dennis made five laps on the weekend between 2.20-2.26, which is unprecedented in the history of the sport. Congratulations to Dennis and the hardest working crew in sand drags on the huge accomplishment of not only the World Record but an all around historic weekend.

Dennis Rieck

Marcus Norris

Top Alcohol

The Top Alcohol class featured an ultra competitive field at this event in Victorville. Jake Morton in the Morton Racing TA Dragster led the field in early qualifying rounds with a stout 2.48 ET. But it would eventually be multiple time class champion Gary Mink making it happen with a 2.477 to earn the top spot. Morton would go into race day #2 with Jim Hammond (2.56), Pedro Villa (2.75), and Derek Balcunas (2.85) rounding out the field.

Jake Morton would throw down the gauntlet in round with a great 2.48 on his round one bye run for Low ET of the round. Morton, Mink, and Hammond would all have bye runs this round. This would set up a battle between the 4-5 qualifiers Balcunas and Villa. This battle would go to the Larry Minor Motorsports Jeep of Balcunas recording a strong 2.85/113MPH to defeat Villa’s 3.06. Derek would go to battle in another Jeep vs. Dragster match up in the semi-finals as he faced top qualifier Mink. When the tree dropped, Balcunas was gone too early turning on the red light and giving the win to Mink, who recorded a 2.55. The next pair would see Morton and Hammond facing off. This one was all Morton as he earned lane choice for the final with a great 2.50/133MPH blast.

The final round set up to be a great battle between the two quickest cars throughout the weekend. This would be a battle determined by mere inches at the finish line. Mink would come through in the clutch with a .448 to .519 starting line edge and hold on for a hole shot win in a 2.51 to 2.46 decision. Congrats to the Bad to the Bone team on the big victory at Victorville.

Gary Mink

Jake Morton

Top Eliminator

Twelve strong entries made the haul to Victorville for action in the Top Eliminator (2.95 Index) class on this weekend. Qualifying was a battle in itself with Billy Morris earning the top spot with a 2.957, just seven thousandths of a second from a perfect run. Paul Taylor (2.98), Ron D’Artenay (3.00), Mark Punos (3.03), Jim Rossi (3.03), and Terry Crawford (3.06) rounded out the top half of the qualifying field.

Round one was action packed with Jim Rossi running the closest to the Index in this round with a 2.991 in his defeat of Jeff Liston. The biggest upset of the round took place when Louis Floquet, making his first TE start substituting for Zac Bogner, piloted the Lucas Oil/MAV TV ride to a hole shot win over #3 qualifier Ron D’Artenay 3.13 to 3.05.

The TE racers just kept getting more dialed in as in Round two both Billy Morris and Paul Taylor recorded solid 2.97’s en route to their respective round wins. The other winner in the round was Larry Snow, who recorded a 3.17 to defeat a red lighting Floquet. The great runs would continue in the semi-final as Taylor would pilot the “Outta Control” Dragster to a dead-on 2.958 to get around Larry Snow’s 3.08.

This would set up a final round between two of the toughest competitors in the west coast TE wars. Top qualifier Morris would once again gain a nice hole shot lead .489 to .512, but at the stripe it would be Taylor recording his first event win on the season in a 2.99 to 3.01 decision with a Margin of Victory a mere .003 at the stripe. Congrats to Paul, Heather, and the whole Taylor Racing team on this win.

TE Final: Paul Taylor (Right Lane) takes the win over Billy Morris.

Paul Taylor

Billy Morris

Larry Snow

Fast Fours

Two of the best four-cylinder racers in the country came out to Victorville to battle for victory. Current world record holder Robert Skidmore and his Arizona-based team would go up against Mario Tavares in the Pauter Rods entry to determine the Fast Fours champion on this weekend. Skidmore would hold the upper hand in qualifying running a great 2.75/119MPH. Mario was running a new combination and ran a best of 3.05/119MPH. The big time speed for Mario shows he’s heading in the right direction with the new setup. They would face off Saturday night under the lights to determine this weekend’s winner. When the dust settled, it would be Skidmore turning on the win light in a 2.98 to 3.17 decision.

FF Finalists: Robert Skidmore (Left Lane) takes the win over Mario Tavares

Pro Mod Unlimited

Much like the Fast Fours category, the Pro Mod Unlimited class saw two top competitors square off throughout the weekend. Derek Balcunas in the Larry Minor Motorsports / Lucas Oil Jeep led Qualifying with a sizzling 2.78/122MPH blast. This was one leg on the previous A/Pro Jeep World Record held by Jimmy DePasse with a 2.79. The DePasse-Otis ride ran a best of 3.22 in Qualifying, but unfortunately had some major engine damage that would take them out of competition early. Balcunas would run his solo pass for the Pro Mod Unlimited title Sunday morning and jaws dropped when the scoreboard lit up with a 2.753 ET. This run would be a new A/Pro Jeep World Record. Congrats to Derek, Larry Minor, tuner Bob Devour, and the whole team on their great performance this weekend at Victorville.

Derek Balcunas

Jim DePasse

Pro Bracket Classes

The Pro 1 final round was a battle between two of the most unique vehicles in the class as Craig Durning’s “Eugene the Jeep” rear-engine BBC-powered Jeep faced off with the Michigan-based Merchant Automotive Duramax diesel-powered Buggy piloted by Nick Beaudoin. This classic East vs. West match up went to the West as California’s Durning had the starting line edge and ran a 3.699 (3.63) for the win. The super competitive Pro 2 class came down to an all-Jeep final as Joe Simeone’s “I Love It” center seat ride faced off with Wes Gilmore’s “Rattiude”. This would be a battle with Simeone taking .07 on the tree, narrowly hanging on for the win as Gilmore ran a 4.043 (4.00) to come within .004 of the victory. A huge Pro 3 class was eliminated down to two of the winningest racers in this category as Charlie Johnson and Chris Adamson squared off for the win. Both drivers didn’t have stellar RT’s within .001 of each other, and at the stripe it would be Johnson taking the win with a 4.622 (4.55). MPC Racing’s Mark Ratliff put on a show in the Motorcycle Pro classes at this event. Mark made it to the MP1 class final round up against Ron Garnas. Ratliff used a .484 RT and 4.543 (4.49) to take the win. Mark would come right back around to the starting line as he was also in the MP2 final round, this match would be against the always tough Randy Mings. This one would go to Mings, who had a great .438 RT and 5.727 (5.73) that would have been hard to beat. Ratliff went red by .008, but had a great weekend just missing out on doubling up on both days (Mark won two classes on Saturday).

Craig Durning - Pro 1 Winner

Joe Simeone - Pro 2 Winner

Charlie Johnson - Pro 3 Winner

Mark Ratiff - MP1 Winner

Randy Mings - MP2 Winner

Sportsman / Gambler / Powderpuff / Junior Bracket Classes

Kenny Hayes continued his 2015 dream season at Victorville by taking the Sportsman 1 class win on Saturday. Kenny used a great .413 RT (.400 Perfect) and ran a 3.694 (3.55) to defeat Ty Larson. A little engine smoke wasn’t enough to stop Brandon Montgomery as he piloted the Team Hardcore Chevy Truck to the Sportsman 2 class victory over Jim Larr. Brandon used a 4.967 (4.82) along with a .501 RT to take the win. Mark Ratliff was the man to beat in the Motorcycle Sportsman 1 class on this weekend. Mark took the final round win over Chris Spitali, who did a nice job earning the runner-up finish after not riding for over a year. The Motorcycle Sportsman 2 victory would go to Caleb Mings, whose dad Randy would win the MP2 class on Sunday. Mings defeated Mike Brock in the final round. Caleb’s .498 RT would be enough to force Brock into a 5.477 (5.52) break out.

Kenny Hayes - Sportsman 1 Winner

Brandon Montgomery - Sportsman 2 Winner

Mark Ratliff - Motorcycle Sportsman 1 Winner

Caleb Mings - Motorcycle Sportsman 2 Winner

The Saturday night Pro Gambler class is always hotly contested at the Victorville events and this race was no different. The final round came down to many time event and points champion Charlie Johnson in his Mopar-powered Jeep against Hawaii’s Junior Alimoot piloting Kenny Hayes’ “Flirtin’ With Disaster” BBC-powered Jeep. This would be one to remember for the Flyin’ Hawaiian as he coupled a .470 RT and 4.597 (4.54) into the victory by a margin of just .006 at the stripe. The Motorcycle Gambler was a thrilling battle all evening as well. The final round saw Mark Ratliff going for a Saturday double up after his earlier MS1 class win against Mike Brock, who was in the MS2 final round earlier in the day. Much like the Pro Gambler final, this one was decided by inches at the stripe. Ratliff would take the starting line edge .458 to .468, and hang on for the victory with a 4.658 (4.50). The margin of victory in this battle would be just six-thousandths of a second (.006). Combining Saturday and Sunday’s action, Ratliff took three wins and one runner-up in four final rounds. Not a bad weekend. This was definitely a great Saturday night of action in both Gambler categories at Victorville.

Junior Alimoot - Pro Gambler Winner

Mark Ratliff - Motorcycle Gambler Winner

This event featured Powderpuff Cars & ATV categories as part of the fundraising efforts in Racin' For The Cure. The Powderpuff Cars class came down to a final round between Luz Malan in her Sand Mule Buggy versus Felisha Cullum in the Cambridge Racing Buggy. Cullum turned on the red bulb by just .017 handing the win to Malan who ran a 5.138 (5.08). Two tough racers made it to the final round of the Powderpuff ATV's class. The win light went to Heather Taylor, who ran a 4.330 (4.10) forcing Wehrer into a 4.522 (4.65) break out.

Luz Malan - Powderpuff Cars Winner

Heather Taylor - Powderpuff ATV's Winner

The Junior categories were stacked with tough competitors, many of them second or third generation racers tearing up the track. The Junior Dragster final would see two long time west coast families in action as Troy Adamson would square off with Leonardo Villa. When the dust settled, it would be Adamson taking the win with a 10.26 (10.50) after Villa red lighted. The Juniors class final round saw Derek Partida use a 6.244 (6.00) dial-in to turn on the win light over the always tough Jayden Pena. The Peewees attacked the track on Sunday morning and when it was all over it would be Braydon Myers taking the class victory defeating Blaine DeNunzio in the final round.

Photos Courtesy NSDN

Event Photo Gallery - Photos Courtesy NSDN

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