The 2017 Avenal Sand Drags Spring Nationals showcased three days of tremendous 300’ sand drag racing action under sunny skies in late April. Racers converged on the small Central California town of Avenal from across the Southwest from as far away as Washington and Arizona. Everyone was greeted with Windy conditions on Friday, but much more tolerable than the wind experienced last October that cut that event short. But by the time Saturday rolled around the wind had dissipated and air conditions were prime to go along with an incredibly well prepped track. Let’s jump into the race recap next, and be sure to continue scrolling to view the Event Photo Gallery at the bottom of the page.

Top Alcohol

The Top Alcohol category had three entries make the trip to compete on this weekend. This would be the season debut for class record holder Gary Mink in the “Bad to the Bone” Dragster. Mink showed no rust as he laid down a great 2.43/138MPH blast off the trailer in Q1 that would hold up for the #1 spot. Q2 also doubled as the final round for the October event, which would see Mink pair up with Jake Morton in the Morton Racing TA Dragster. Jake was off to a hot start to the season with a win and runner-up finish at the SCSDA Soboba events. Multi-time champ Mink left first .051 to .087, but this pass would go to Morton as he ran a Personal Best 2.44ET to turn on the win light over Gary’s 2.48 lap. Jake’s 2.44 would hold up for the #2 position, while Craig Hitchman and the “Wild Bunch” team ended up third with a 4.08 best in Craig’s first time back behind the wheel in several years. Sunday’s eliminations would unfortunately be anti-climactic as Mink and Hitchman were unable to continue on leaving Morton to solo to his second win of the weekend. The Morton team is never one to lay up on any pass, though as Jake laid down a great 2.46/133MPH pass to top off a solid weekend. Congrats to Jake, Bob, David, Garth and the whole Morton Racing team on their outstanding weekend in Avenal.

Jake Morton - Top Alcohol Winner

Top Eliminator

Much like the Top Alcohol competitors, the Top Eliminator racers were also competing in a double race weekend with Saturday’s Qualifying doubling as Eliminations for the postponed October event. This set the stage for some incredible action in the 2.95 Index category on both days. Ron D’Artenay and the “Red Warrior” team set the bar high from the first pair down the track in Qualifying as he recorded an outstanding 2.954 on the 2.95 class Index in Q1. This set the margin of error razor thin for anyone wanting to steal the top spot away in subsequent qualifying sessions. Paul Taylor would just miss in Q2 with a 2.933, which would put him out of October’s eliminations as D’Artenay turned on the win light with another strong lap of 2.963. In the other pair from last Fall’s race, Marc Whitmore’s Blown Altered used a .076 to .149 RT edge to get to the stripe first in a hole shot win 3.03 to 2.96 by just .008. The October final round was a rematch of the final from the previous month’s SCSDA Soboba event between D’Artenay and Whitmore. This race was certainly memorable as the scoreboard lit up with a Perfect 2.950 and win light shining on D’Artenay’s lane as he bested Whitmore’s strong 3.01 lap. So to recap, Ron recorded 2.954, 2.963 & 2.950 laps for an incredible Saturday that ended up in the Winner’s Circle for the “Red Warrior” team. Congrats to Ron, Jeannie & the whole Red Warrior team on their tremendous victory. Qualifying concluded for the Main Event with D’Artenay’s Perfect 2.950 on top followed by Taylor’s 2.964, Rossi’s 2.969 and Whitmore’s 3.017.

Ron D'Artenay - October Top Eliminator Winner

A rematch of Saturday’s Final Round started off Round One Eliminations on Sunday as Ron D’Artenay faced off with Marc Whitmore in a classic Dragster versus Altered battle. Ron chopped the tree down with a great .040 light, but the Hemi power would go seven-thousandths of a second too quick with a 2.943 turning on the win light in Whitmore’s lane with a 2.974 lap. Whitmore would face off with the winner of the next pair as the Dragsters of Taylor and Rossi rolled into the beams. Rossi’s “Bad Toy” left first .110 to .136 and edged out Taylor in an incredibly close race 3.001 to 2.981 with a Margin of Victory totaling just .006 at the stripe. This set up a tremendous final round race between Whitmore’s Altered and Rossi’s Dragster in an all Blown Alcohol BBC-powered final round. The final was decided on the tree as Whitmore rolled through the beams early turning on the red bulb and illuminating the win light in Rossi’s lane as Jim shut off to a 3.08 lap for his first win of the 2017 season. Huge congratulations go out to Jim, Pattie, Ali and the whole “Bad Toy” team on the Avenal Sand Drags Spring Nationals victory.

Jim Rossi - Top Eliminator Winner

Pro Bracket Classes

The giant wind storm at the October event postponed eliminations in all Pro Bracket categories to Friday of this event making for a full weekend of racing for everyone. Here’s the rundown of eliminations with the October event winners followed by the Spring Nationals story for each category.

Friday’s Pro 1 final round saw Steve Foster in the “Impatient Too” Jeep line up next to the Dave Harrell/Doug Furgason “Sore Subject” Dragster to decide the class champion. This one was won on Reaction Time as Foster got the edge and held on to complete his 2016 Season Sweep of the Pro 1 category at the Avenal Sand Drags events. Sunday’s Pro 1 final round was an all-Jeep battle as Justin Adamson’s Orange “Raped Ape” ride paired off with Kenny Hayes’ White & Blue Larry Minor Motorsports-built entry. Hayes was the story of the weekend as he had won three classes already over the course of the weekend, and just needed to win this final to complete an incredible 19-round weekend sweep of every class he entered. But it wasn’t to be as Hayes had his worst RT of the weekend and Adamson made a solid lap with a 3.808 (3.74) to take the Pro 1 class title.

Justin Adamson - Pro 1 Winner

Steve Foster - Oct Pro 1 Winner

In an improbable set of circumstances, Friday’s Pro 2 and Pro 3 final rounds saw the same pair of racers do battle for the victory. Charlie Johnson’s Mopar-powered Jeep lined up against Chris Adamson’s “Bounty Hunter” for the Pro 2 victory. This one went to Adamson as he took his first win of the day. Sunday’s Pro 2 final round saw Johnson get another shot at a Pro 2 class win, and this time he didn’t let one slip away as he .025 on the tree en route to the win over Mike Williams Sr.

Charlie Johnson - Pro 2 Winner

Chris Adamson - Oct Pro 2 Winner

The Friday Pro 3 final ended up with the same result as the Pro 2 final just minutes earlier as Adamson became a double-up winner when Johnson turned on the red light by just .013. Adamson would go for a Pro 3 weekend sweep as he reached the Sunday final, but this time it would be him turning the red bulb on by .041 handing the win to April Soares and her great looking Red Jeep.

April Soares - Pro 3 WInner

Chris Adamson - Oct Pro 3 Winner

Friday’s Motorcycle Pro 1 final round saw Phillip Star get the job done over Heather Taylor. Both racers had early exits on Sunday opening the door for a new winner. The final round was decided by the slimmest of margins (.001) as David Markle recorded a 4.001 (3.95) to take the victory over Gerrit Willard.

David Markle - Motorcycle Pro 1 Winner

Phillip Star - Oct Motorcycle Pro 1 Winner

Craig Wright kept up his winning ways by taking the Friday Motorcycle Pro 2 class victory defeating Kevin Ruiz in the final round. Sunday’s MP2 final saw Austin Thomas use a .107 RT and 5.312 (5.17) to get the win over Dennis Williams.

Austin Thomas - Motorcycle Pro 2 Winner

Craig Wright - Oct Motorcycle Pro 2 Winner

Gambler Classes

Friday’s Pro Car Gambler had a strong 25 car field vying for the top prize. The final round came down to Kenny Hayes against Sam Montgomery in an all-Jeep final round. This would be Kenny’s first class win of the weekend as he coupled a 3.459 (3.43) and .048 RT to get the win as Sam turned it red by .058. Saturday’s Pro Car Gambler had an even larger field with 41 entries making the round one call. Hayes made it through five tough rounds to line up against Charlie Johnson in a Battle Royale for the class victory & winner’s share of the purse money. Both racers were ready at the hit with identical .038 RT’s, but at the stripe it would be Kenny running a 3.468 (3.45) to edge out Charlie’s 4.450 (4.40) by just .032. Another double-up winner would be Phillip Star as he backed up his Friday MP2 victory with the Motorcycle Gambler class win defeating Greg Fukano.

Kenny Hayes - Friday & Saturday Pro Car Gambler Winner

Sportsman / Junior Classes

Kenny Hayes took his third class win of the weekend in the Sportsman 1 class final round as he used a .005 RT and 3.443 (3.45) to earn a double breakout win over Wes Johnson. Austin Thomas also doubled on the weekend as he used a .037 RT to take the Sportsman 2 class victory in the family’s Jeep to go along with his Sunday MP2 victory on his Pro ATV. Mathew Wilson got the job done in the Sportsman 3 final getting around Christy Amos. DJ Noerr scored another win on the weekend for the Morton Racing team with the Motorcycle Sportsman 1 class win over Austin Rego. Bert Boatman emerged victorious in the Motorcycle Sportsman 2 final round defeating Shane Wallis. The Junior classes saw some cool stories among the three classes. Cole Tschacher scored one for the ATV racers as he defeated Jesse James Wallis in a classic ATV vs. Jr. Dragster final round in the Junior category. Autumn Gilmore piloted her Polaris ATV to the Intermediate class victory over Eric Young in her first ever sand drag race. The Youth final saw a Brother-vs-Sister battle with Brother coming out on top of this one as Corbin Cress defeated Karsyn Cress.

Kenny Hayes - Sportsman 1 Winner

Austin Thomas - Sportsman 2 Winner

DJ Noerr - Motorcycle Sportsman 1 Winner

Bert Boatman - Motorcycle Sportsman 2 Winner

Cole Tschacher - Juniors Winner

Autumn GIlmore - Intermediate Juniors Winner

Corbin Cress - Youth Winner

Event Photo Gallery - Photos Courtesy NSDN


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