After five rounds of thrilling, action-packed Harley-Davidson drag racing the AHDRA tour moved north to one its most anticipated races of the year – The Roeder Harley-Davidson Ohio Bikeweek Nationals.
The event was run in conjunction with the popular Ohio Bikeweek, which helped contribute to a tremendously strong turnout. Several racers, fans, and all-around V-Twin enthusiasts filled the stands for what proved to be an exciting event.
It’s hard to find a drag strip more fan/racer friendly and accommodating that Summit Motorsports Park, formerly known as Norwalk Raceway Park. Competitors cherish the top-of-the-line racing surface prepped to perfection. Fans love the immense amount of seating, golf course-like landscaping, and boardwalk food area. And of course, everyone loves the pound of ice cream for a dollar.
In a nutshell Summit Motorsports Park was a perfect venue for a competitive and pivotal round No. 6 of AHDRA Racing.
Screamin Eagle Top Fuel
Heading into Norwalk there had five different winners in Top Fuel throughout the first five races.
Bob Malloy, Doug Vancil, Drums Brancaccio, Steve Storduer, Takeshi Shigematsu – The first five victors in the ultra-competitive AHDRA Screamin Eagle Top Fuel category in 2007. The question heading into Norwalk was “Who would be next?”
In only his second race of the season Dean Comunal added his name to the list of victors with a stunning come-from-behind win at stop No. 6 on the AHDRA tour.
Comunal qualified in the No. 8 spot with a best pass of 6.62 on Saturday. Tommy Grimes and the Ray Price team led qualifying with a stellar 6.45, followed closely by the 6.48 of No. 2 qualifier Jay “The Bulldog” Turner and his Mancuso Harley-Davidson. Gainesville-winner Bob Malloy suffered a rare DNQ.
Race day saw several underdog wins and perhaps the biggest upset of Sunday occurred as No. 16 qualifier Jack Romine took out pole-sitter Grimes with a 6.71 to Grimes 8.80. Comunal, after getting by Phil Schmidt in the opening round, ended Romine’s Cinderella-bid in round No. 2 with a 6.52 to Romine’s 6.59.
The semifinals were stacked with Comunal and three of the series’ hottest riders, former champion Doug Vancil, Turner, and Top Fuel rookie sensation Joey Sternotti.
Comunal and Vancil both were hindered by mechanical problems but Comunal’s run in the seven-second-zone was enough to get by Vancil’s 10.61. Turner posted low elapsed time of the round and gained lane choice in the final with an impressive 6.47 win over Sternotti’s 6.62.
In the final it was Turner who was bit by mechanical problems and slowed to a 9.22 as Comunal motored by with a rapid 6.47.
“What a great weekend in Norwalk leaving with a win,” Comunal said. “We got off to a late start this year and this is only the second time we were able to make it out to the races. I’d like to thank the entire Nitro Maniac team for all of their hard work and support, including my crew chief Carl Lovero, and Jennifer Ward. I’d would also like to dedicate this race to the memory of Freddy Gaughs, and a very special thanks goes out to Mike and Patty Romine and the Romine Racing crew, Rex Harris and his rocket system, Gargoyle Kustoms, and everyone that helped in the pits.”
Jims Pro Fuel
In Atlanta, AHDRA 2006 sportsman rookie of the year and first-year Pro Fuel competitor Douglas Horne earned his very first nitro category victory. The young 19-year-old rider appeared poised to repeat the feat in Norwalk, Ohio, where he qualified on the pole of the seven-bike-field with a 6.71. Defending class champion Armon Furr didn’t fall far behind with an impressive run of 6.72 to snag the No. 2 spot.
One of the most successful Pro Fuel racers of all-time Jay “The Bulldog” Turner struggled in qualifying with a best run of 7.26 to qualify next-to-last. However The Bulldog shine on raceday with a huge 6.70 in the semifinals to upset Furr and his 8.23.
In a tremendous side-by-side final Turner defeated Horne on a holeshot with a .052 and 6.73 to the .124 and 6.71 of Horne.
S&S Pro Stock
Over the last several issues of SPEED magazine we have been asking the question, “Who can stop Junior Pippin?” Pippin has dominated his competition over the last several years and coming into Norwalk he had won every Pro Stock race thus far.
At the outset of the event Pippin qualified on the pole with an impressive 8.16 and appeared to be heading for yet another event win. However on race day Pippin’s machine broke in the final and No. 6 qualifier John Marinelli, of Sanford, Fla, came out as the underdog winner.
“It wasn’t an easy win,” Marinelli said. “The team struggled all weekend with the valve train problems. The valve springs broke in Atlanta and work was done by Shaun Reno, who delivered the heads on Friday. We worked into the night to get ready for the first round on Saturday. When I approached the line things went sour. The motor started to run on one cylinder and back to the pits the team went. With the help of Steve Kutch from Jessel Valve Train and the Head Blade crew they were able to remove the springs and install new valve keepers and retainers.”
Marinelli battled his way to the final on Sunday, which also happened to be his birthday. Marinelli was hoping for some birthday luck against Pippin in the final.
“Pee Wee put a good clutch tune-up in it for me and we went into the final round to give it all we had,” Marinelli said. “As we went to the water box we both did a burnout and I went to stage only to see Bob Taft , Junior’s crew chief make the break sign. It turned out to be the best birthday present ever.”
Marinelli thanked S&W Permitting, Seminole Harley Owners Group, Harvey’s Bobcat Service, Imperial Drywall, Jonny Rottens “Bar Out Back” and Ace Cycles in Sanford (groundzroracing.com).
Rush Performance Pro Gas
Junior Pippin, fresh off his Pro Stock/Pro Gas double-win in Atlanta, was denied his first Pro Stock win of the year in Norwalk. Would the field be able to cool him off in Pro Gas as well?
In opening qualifying it certainly appeared as if the answer to that question would be an emphatic “no.” Pippin qualified No. 1 with a rapid run of 7.22, comfortably ahead of the 7.36 of No. 2 qualifier David Feazell. Defending class champion Mike Lozano struggled and qualified last with a best run of 9.51.
Lozano’s misfortune continued on raceday as he was unable to make a run. The no-show of Lozano in round No. 1 meant Pippin would have a pair of bye runs into the final to take on Feazell in the final.
Pippin slowed to 7.39 in the final and Feazell charged ahead with a stellar .007 light and 7.35 to take the win, and suddenly, Pippin, a man who had not lost all year, had two losses added to his record on the same day.
Kresto Pro Drag
Defending Pro Drag champion Rick Moore and the Mid-Continent Motorsports team got off to a slow start in 2007 but winning the Southern Nationals in Atlanta may have lifted them over the hump.
“We worked very hard for the Georgia win. We broke a valve lifter and metal went through our motor after first round of eliminations,” Moore said. “The team is lead by Mike Bahnmaier and he repaired it for the finals and we limped it down the track for the win.”
In Norwalk Moore qualified on the pole with a 7.59, and like in Georgia he ran into some mechanical trouble with the motorcycle. However, also similar to the Georgia race, the team was able to rally through the problems to get the event win.
“We had a piston failure in the first and second round of qualifying on Saturday. The whole team worked very hard and fast to rebuild the motor between the second and third round,” Moore said. “It was very rewarding to qualify on the pole at the end of the day.”
Moore then advanced to the final to take on his teammate and No. 2 qualifier David Hope. Hope was unable to make the run and Moore broke the beam the secure his second straight trip to the winner’s circle.
“I would like to thank my entire team for all the hard work. Mid-Continent Motorsports, Mike Bahnmaier Racing, Alef’s Harley Davidson, Metzler Tire, Mell Brothers, Gates Corp, and a special thanks to Joe Bahnmaier for his awesome stew,” Moore said.
Samson Pro Mod
In Norwalk Pro Mod was one of the most hotly-contested pro classes with a total of 13 entries and the top four qualifiers only separated by eight-hundredths. Morry Straubel took the top spot with an 8.80, followed by No. 2 Greg Krenik’s 8.82, No. 3 Randy Borho’s 8.83, and No. 4 Tom Hannum’s 8.88.
In a wild round of semifinals both underdogs prevailed. Hannum advanced with a 9.10 as top qualifier Straubel ran into mechanical trouble. On the other half of the ladder Borho upset the red-hot Krenik with an 8.78 to Krenik’s 8.84.
In the final Borho couldn’t get his machine repaired in time from a mechanical glitch suffered in the semifinals and Hannum broke the beam to take the easy event victory.
McCaa’s Enterprises Street Pro
Four top-notch competitors showed up to do battle in Street Pro, and conspicuously absent was defending class champion Andy Simon, who earlier this season was told his cylinder head set-up is illegal.
Danny Worth, winner of Street Pro in Atlanta, set the pace in qualifying with an impressive 8.93 at 146 mph. Zach Johnson was only four-hundredths behind with an 8.97.
The duo met up in the final and Johnson capitalized on Worth’s sluggish .274 reaction time and ran .126/9.08 to take a huge holeshot victory over Worth’s 8.96.
Screamin Eagle V-Rod
If points were awarded based on qualifying alone, multi-time V-Rod top qualifier Lou Gerencer would be leading the series by a mile. Gerencer has proven he has one of the quickest motorcycles in the category but his tremendous success on Saturday hasn’t carried over on Sunday.
That is until Norwalk. After qualifying on the pole with a 9.34 Gerencer was awarded a first round bye on Sunday. He then defeated Dan Lesnock in the semis and ran another stellar 9.35 to oust two-time defending class champion Jamie McNaughton in the final.
“We have been the No. 1 qualifier at all five of the races that we have been at this year and finally put it all together to get the win,” Gerencer said. “It feels great.”
The win brings Gerencer to within 51 points of leader Larry Edmondson Jr. heading into Seattle.
” I would like to thank my sponsors: Team Nila, John and Nila Wise, PHR, Hoosier H-D, Simeri’s Tavern, and Powershieldcoatings.com,” Gerencer said. “I would also like to thank Willis, Kip, and the entire Team Nila crew for all of their help.”
S&S 124 Challenge
In the midst of a season of dominance, including a record run of 9.15 in Atlanta, Mike Roberts kept his streak of success intact with another impressive event in Norwalk, Ohio. Three other competitors showed up to battle Roberts, none of whom were able to run within half-a-second of Roberts’ 9.28 run on Saturday.
Little changed on Sunday and Roberts continued to dominate. In fact he was the only competitor to reach the nine-second-zone on race day, and he reached it with each of his two runs.
After a 9.399 win in round No. 1, Roberts displayed tremendous consistency and ran a 9.396 in the final to hold off the 10.02 of Lou Gerencer.
Dragmasters Hot Street
Defending Dragmasters Hot Street champion Bruce Croneberger is back on the type of hot streak that helped guide him to the No. 1 plate last season.
After winning Atlanta and reclaiming the season point lead from Charley Douglass dominated his peers in Norwalk by qualifying on the pole with a 10.21, two tenths ahead of No. 2 qualifier Dan Norlin.
On race day Croneberger defeated each of his opponents by a sizeable victory including a 10.27 to a 20.20 win over Tom Levak in the final.
“There’s not much to say bad about either of the last two races. I had no real problems and nothing broke,” Croneberger said. “I had low ET in every round at both races. The bike is really running well right now, and I am really looking forward to the rest of the year.”
Croneberger says that his win wasn’t the best part of the weekend.
“The race in Norwalk was really cool for me, because I got to watch my brother race in his first final round, right before I ran my final,” Croneberger said. I was happy for him.”
I want to thank Schaeffer’s HD/Buell, Metzeler Tires, S&S Cycle, STD Development, Axtell Sales, NOVI Performance and Steve Allstaedt of SA Racing for fixing my heads up real nice, right before Atlanta.
Screamin Eagle Destroyer
Following the Norwalk race L.E. Tonglet’s 2007 record includes just one blemish – his lone defeat by way of red light in the first round of the Lonestar Nationals.
As he has done at every race this season, L.E. Tonglet qualified on the pole. This time the young 17-year-old rider used a 9.23 to take the top spot on Saturday, ahead of the 9.28 of No. 2 Wanda Poff.
On Sunday both Tonglet and Poff battled their way to the final with several impressive runs. Tonglet saved the best for last, recording a 9.218, low elapsed-time of the meet, to defeat the 9.40 of Poff.
Rucker Performance Super Gas
Super Gas defending class champion Bob Drapp’s qualifying position was the same as the number on the back of his bike – No. 1.
In a huge field of 31 entries Drapp qualified on the pole with an impressive 9.709 – just nine-thousandths off of the 9.70 class index.
However Drapp’s luck would soon run out in round No. 2 of eliminations as he was upset by No. 17 qualifier Dan Lesnock on a holeshot.
In the end it was No. 3 qualifier Don Stratton Jr. who advanced to the final to take on No. 28 qualifier Steve Raines.
Raines ran too quick and broke out by four-thousandths of a second with a 9.696 and Stratton took the win with the ever elusive dead-on 9.700. Combine that with his .031 reaction and there’s no denying Stratton earned his trophy.
S&S Super Sport
Of the 26 entries in Super Sport in Norwalk it was the same two finalists from the tour’s last race in Atlanta who advanced to the final to perpetuate their grudge match.
Top qualifier David Doremus, who finished runner-up in Atlanta, advanced to the final round to take on No. 24 qualifier and Atlanta winner Bryan Lewallen.
When this duo met in Atlanta Lewallen took out Doremus on a spectacular side-by-side double breakout run, where Lewallen hit a .039 light and ran a 10.27 to Doremus’ .137 and 10.25.
In Norwalk neither rider broke out but the end result remained the same. Lewallen took the win with a 10.31 on the 10.30 class index to the 10.38 of Doremus.
Pingel Enterprise Super Eliminator
After going to his fourth straight final and collecting his third consecutive event victory in Norwalk, Dean Druschel is on the most immense hot streak of his career. The third-year AHDRA racer leads the Super Eliminator point series and is determined to win his first ever championship.
“I have no intentions of stopping this win streak anytime soon,” Druschel said. “I went to Atlanta and Norwalk believing I was going to win it, and I did. It doesn’t always work out that way but that’s the attitude you have to have.”
Druschel qualified his 2000 Dyna low rider in the No. 4 spot with a run of 10.93. Druschel says understanding his equipment is a big part of is success.
“I am really getting to know my bike and know what I need to do to run the number,” Druschel said. “It’s dialed in and I have been making the right adjustments. When the air changes during the day I’ve been getting the tune-up right.”
In the final Druschel was pitted against rival and top qualifier Bill Rowe Jr. It was a rematch from the Atlanta final, and again featured the the top two racers in the point series.
“I knew it was going to be a to be a tough race because Bill is a tough racer,” Druschel said. “I beat him in Atlanta and I kept telling myself I can do it again. I just went out and ran my race. I try not to worry so much about about who I’m racing.”
In the final Druschel nailed a great .032 light and ran 10.92 to defeat the .121 and 10.88 of Rowe.
“It’s all determination and I have a great crew. Dale Miller builds me a great motor and my bike is flawless,” Druschel said. “Dale’s the one that taught me about drag racing and that is a major factor in my winning. I’d also like to thank my wife. Without her I wouldn’t be able to do this.”
Screamin Eagle Performance (SEP)
Kevin Winters of Winters Racing, Richmond Ill, outlasted a huge field of SEP competitors in Norwalk to win the first event of his career in only his second full year of drag racing.
“All the hard work came together,” Winters said. “Focus and determination brought home the bacon.”
Winters qualified third with an 11.51 behind the 11.50′s of No. 2 Shane Pendergrast and pole-sitter Josh Perry.
In the final Winters defeated first time finalist Brad Croneberger with a near-perfect .017 reaction time and a 11.55 to Croneberger’s .069/11.62
“I’m ecstatic over my first AHDRA win. Some drivers wait years before winning a final. My wait was less then two,” Winters said. “I guess I had some good luck riding with me down the track.”
“I’d like to give a huge thanks to Kelley Smith and Dale Miller, of Miller Motors, who helped me thru the finals,” Winters said. “I couldn’t do this without my sponsors, F & S Enterprises, Logan Graphic Products, Inc., Miller Motors and Fiber Wise Pasta, thank you.”
Syn 3 ET
When ranking the most successful sportsman racers in AHDRA history, Donnie Huffman is certainly near the top of the list.
Huffman finished 2006 with both the Super Eliminator and SEP championship. It was the second consecutive year that he came away with a pair of championships and marked his fifth No. 1 plate in the last three years.
In Norwalk Huffman added yet another event victory to his lengthy resume after defeating Curtis Talbott with a Huffman-like run of 11.52 on an 11.52
“I love racing, it keeps me going. My success just comes down to hard work,” Huffman said. “I have been around motorcycles my entire life and I know the different set-ups the bikes need. I also road race my Super Eliminator bike so I know how it needs to be set up for the different conditions.”
Huffman thanked Harley-Davidson and Buell of Lakeland, Fla.