“We had to tear the motor down and put it back together before the final,”
D’Aprile said. “We didn’t even test fire it. The starter wouldn’t come off at
first when we fired up for the final, then we had a bent throttle cable so we
didn’t have full throttle in the final. The throttle was actually sticking so I
had to hold my foot back while I was staging. It just all worked out, that’s all
I can say – God is good.”
Gonzales, who drove the El General/Q80 Racing 2016 Corvette to a world-record
5.406 quarter mile et earlier in the weekend, certainly earned his way into the
final. The twin-turbocharged entry improved from a 3.601 at 222.25 to a 3.575 at
219.01 in the first two rounds, then Gonzales scored a sizable holeshot win over
Swedish FIA Pro Mod champion Mattias Wulcan in the semifinals.
Even with such a proven competitor in the other lane, D’Aprile stayed focused on
the task at hand to take the win back home to Port Charlotte, Florida.
“With all due respect, I never care who I’m racing because I’m my own guy – I
cut my tree, drive my lane and do what I need to do. I never worry about who’s
in the other lane. I’ve got confidence in what we’ve got in the race car and who
we have putting it together – Al Billes and all the guys on this Mel Bush
Motorsports team. I really owe it all to them, as well as Mel and Johanne Bush
for giving me the opportunity to run their race car,” D’Aprile added
Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous presented by MoTeC star Jay Cox, winner of three of
the nine PDRA races in 2016, kicked off the new season with possibly his most
successful weekend performance yet. The former Minor League Baseball player used
two elusive 3.6-second passes to secure the PDRA Southern Extreme Nationals low
qualifier award and event win.
Cox drove his fan-favorite “Pumpkin” ’69 Camaro to a 3.679 at 200.71 mph – just
two thousandths away from the et record – to claim the number one spot in
qualifying. The Buck-powered entry stayed in the 3.7s for round wins over Lee
Adkins, Jim Laurita, and Danny Perry. With final-round opponent Lizzy Musi
having recorded a pair of 3.68s at well over 200 mph in the prior two rounds,
Cox knew he would need a little extra motivation. He delivered a 3.697 at 199.91
to take down Musi and her 3.719 at 204.08 after the two Pro Nitrous hotshots
engaged in a lengthy staging duel.
“I think the world of Lizzy and [her father and tuner] Pat Musi,” Cox said.
“They have a bad hot rod. I grew up playing ball and a lot of people would try
to get in my head; I live for that. If someone goes in and lights the tree up,
I’m kinda bored. But when you want to play games, I get fired up; I get in the
zone. I don’t plan anything, I just do it by feel. Me and Lizzy were just having
a little fun with that staging battle. That’s what makes drag racing great.”
The season-opening win has special meaning for Cox, who was sent looking for a
new major sponsor over the winter. He found one in Garysburg, North
Carolina-based Clements Mechanical, a mechanical engineering firm new to the
“It’s awesome to start off the year like this,” Cox added. “My new sponsor, Luke
Clements at Clements Mechanical, he’s new to drag racing. He had about 20 of his
people here supporting us. For him to put all of that faith in me is pretty
special to me. I’m glad we could start things off on the right foot with this
While Jose Gonzales made headlines this weekend for his record-shattering
quarter-mile run in the El General/Q80 Racing Pro Extreme car, his performance
in Andy McCoy Race Cars Pro Boost was also impressive.
Gonzales recorded a weekend-best 3.684 at 214.66 mph to qualify number one, then
laid down back-to-back 3.688s to dispatch the supercharged entries of Larry
Higginbotham and Ric Fleck. A 3.686 at 213.33 was enough to beat rising young
star Ty Tutterow in the semifinals. He then used a starting-line advantage and
3.703-second pass to beat GALOT Motorsports driver John Strickland’s 3.723 in
the final round.
In his winning effort, Gonzales also performed several of the fastest runs in
Pro Boost history over the course of the weekend. The Pro Line-powered Mustang
was consistently in the 213 mph range throughout eliminations, though a best
speed of 215.2 mph was set in the opening round.
EXTREME PRO STOCK
New York paving contractor John Montecalvo added another win to his illustrious
mountain-motor Pro Stock career with his PDRA Southern Extreme Nationals win in
Extreme Pro Stock. The number-two qualifier had his 2015 Camaro running
consistently in the mid-4.0-second range, eventually defeating first-time Pro
Stock finalist Scott Benham, who crossed the centerline.
“It feels phenomenal to get the first win of the season,” said Montecalvo after
running 4.087 in the final. “We really struggled this weekend. We tested
Thursday and didn’t do very well. Our original plan for Thursday was to make two
runs on the car, put it in the trailer and go out to dinner. It didn’t quite
work out that way. We just couldn’t get a handle on the track and had to change
our setup completely, but sometimes those weekends that start out the worst way
end up the best. Tommy Lee, William, Cory, and my wife, Lois Anne, all did a
great job – it was a real team effort.”
PRO EXTREME MOTORCYCLE
Defending Drag 965 Pro Extreme Motorcycle world champion Eric McKinney showed no
signs of stopping his championship ways this weekend. The three-time PDRA
champion defeated his teammate and tuner, Ashley Owens, in an all-McKinney
Motorsports final round.
“The performance this weekend was just stellar,” McKinney said. “We started off
where we left off last year. We had a couple good days of testing and thought we
could just put it on cruise control for qualifying, but it wasn’t easy.”
McKinney was the provisional low qualifier after Friday’s two qualifying
sessions, though he was bumped to third in Saturday’s final session by Owens and
Terry Schweigert. The Ohio rider’s Suzuki went progressively quicker in
eliminations, beginning with a 4.07 at 176.7 mph over Monte Campbell and ending
with a dominant 3.99 at 179.52 over Schweigert in the semifinals. Another
sub-four-second pass nearly followed in the final, but McKinney’s 4.001 at
179.04 was quick enough to hold off low qualifier Owens and his 4.024 at 177.72.
“To run 3.99 in the semifinals was incredible, but that’s what it’s going to
take to win races this season,” McKinney pointed out. “We were trying to run
side-by-side threes in the final. This class is tough this year, and to start
the year off like this is just awesome.”
Fernandine, Florida’s Tom Vanbeek proved that an ultra-quick car isn’t always
necessary to win in Magnafuel Top Sportsman as he upset low qualifier Randy
Perkinson in the final. Vanbeek dialed in at 4.68 and 4.69 through eliminations,
while Perkinson chose the low 3.9s for his dial-ins. Vanbeek marched around Top
Sportsman hitters Aaron Glaser, Billy Albert, and Barry Daniluk before meeting
Virginia’s Perkinson in the final. In the end, Vanbeek’s ’88 Beretta was quicker
off the starting line and closer to his 4.68 dial-in with a 4.695 compared to
Perkinson’s 3.926 on a 3.90 dial.
A mass of supercharged dragsters were on hand to compete in Lucas Oil Top
Dragster, with Louisiana driver Mario Boesch earning the event win in his MKD
Racing entry. He defeated low qualifier Jody Stroud, Matt Cooke, and Ashley
Tidrick on his way to the final, where he faced defending world champion Justin
Kirk. Boesch left the starting line last and was a few hundredths off his 3.91
dial-in, but Kirk slowed from his 3.87 dial-in to a 3.964, allowing Boesch to
take the win.
Campers Inn RV Pro Junior Dragster winner Sadie Wicks used a large holeshot to
defeat Amber Franklin in the final round, running 7.964 on the 7.90 dial-in. The
opposite was the case in the MegaCorp Top Junior Dragster final when Tripp
McCarthy ran four thousandths off his 9.04 dial-in to overcome a starting-line
advantage by Connor Shields, who broke out on his 9.38 dial with a 9.289.
The next stop on the 2017 PDRA Tour is the 2017 PDRA East Coast Nationals, March
30-April 1, at GALOT Motorsports Park in Benson, NC.
ABOUT THE PDRA
With offices in Pittsboro, North Carolina, and Saltillo, Mississippi, the
Professional Drag Racers Association is the top sanctioning body in the United
States for the sport of eighth-mile drag racing. The PDRA’s professional
categories include Pro Extreme Motorcycle, Extreme Pro Stock, Pro Boost, Pro
Nitrous and Pro Extreme, the quickest doorslammer class in drag racing. The 2017
PDRA schedule consists of eight national events. For more information on the
PDRA, visit www.PDRA660.com.