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Attending drag races has always been a function of what the weather will be on race day. We were not able to hold our race in May because of the weather; and we almost had a repeat for our race in June. As Karen and I drove down to Maryland on Friday; there was an overcast sky and the weather forecasters were calling for thunderstorms late Saturday and a steady rain on Sunday. We did stop by the track late Friday afternoon and spoke with the race promoter John Presley and he assured us that the weather would hold off until after the event was complete. Club member Bruce Deming brought his 41 Willys to the track on Friday night and he was able make some runs without any weather related problems. When we got up Saturday morning, it was cloudy and the humidity was on the rise. As soon as we arrived at the track, we could see that the overall car count was not what it was last year. Ultimately, we had only 10 East Coast Gasser members attend this race. I’m sure the weather played a big role in why our car count was so low; and just to show everyone how close the rain came to the track in the afternoon; Karen and I drove down into town after the race to our favorite BBQ place (about 5 miles); and the streets were wet with puddles everywhere. So, we could have been rained out if the rain travelled just a wee bit further up the hill to the track; but, we did get the event in and our guys put on a great show for the fans.




Because of the dire weather forecast, the track decided to allow only one round of time trials and after the round was complete; Gordie Ford stood at the top of the list with a .034 light; followed by Jim Wheeler (.037), Pat Kelly (.042), Dave Fenzel (.108) and Scott Hasko (.241). The first round would find Mark Fenzel running against Jim Wheeler, Dave Fenzel would take on Bruce Deming; Gordie Ford and Frank Johnson would square off; Pat Kelly and Gregg Grubel would race each other and Scott Hasko would try and eliminate Ray Bruno. The weather did not improve since our time trials and as our cars moved into the staging lanes, it was overcast and very humid. The first pair of gassers to approach the starting line were a couple of long time drag racers and East Coast Gasser members. Pat Kelly dialed a 10.49 for his big block Ford powered “Verminator” Falcon and Gregg Grubel put a 9.49 on the window of his “Class Reunion” Chevy. So, Pat would leave a full second before Gregg could get into the throttle. As the lights clicked downward to the green bulb, Pat cut a .098 light; but a second later, Gregg was on his game with a solid .039 light.

As we watched the cars head down-track; it was going to be anybody’s race; and sure enough, both cars broke out. Pat ran a 10.45 with a 3; against Gregg’s 9.47 and a 0. Gregg eeked out a victory on a very close race. The next race found Jim Wheeler’s hugger orange Chevy Nova (10.84 dial); up against Mark Fenzel’s “Running Bear” Pontiac (10.60 dial). Jim would leave first and boy did he, with a great .016 reaction time; while Mark was much slower on the tree cutting a .176 light. At the far end of the track we saw the win light glow in Mark’s lane, giving him the win. As was the case in the first race, we had a double breakout situation with Jim running a 10.82 with a 1; against Mark’s 10.59 with a 4. Because Jim had the larger breakout number, Mark would get the victory. The third race of the morning had Mark’s brother Dave Fenzel running against Bruce Deming. Dave put up a 10.10 on the side of his big block Chevy powered “Fast Freight” Plymouth coupe; while Bruce figured he could run a 10.55 in his beautiful blue “Rattle Trap” Willys coupe. This race would pit an automatic (Fenzel) against a 5-speed (Deming). Watching those yellow lights click down the tree toward the green; I knew this was going to be a good race. When Bruce got the go signal, he cut a decent .054 light, while Dave was slower with his .097 light. At the money end of the strip, Dave took the victory; because Bruce ran under his number with a 10.47 and a 9; against Dave’s 10.12 with a 4 against his 10.10 dial. Dave would advance to the next round. So, after 3 races, 5 of the 6 competitors ran under there dial-ins. Next up came Gordie Ford and Frank Johnson. It was great to see Gordie back at the track; as he has had back problems that kept him away from the track for over a year. He has lost 90 pounds and he was ready to get back after it in his “Marylander” Chevy coupe. Gordie dialed a 10.90 and Frank was showing a 12.41 on the window of his big block Olds powered 442. This was another automatic versus standard transmission race. When Frank’s lane went green he cut a .110 light; while Gordie was much slower with his .275 reaction time. Frank was heading down track, banging the gears; while Gordie was on the gas trying to make up a second and a half difference in their dial-ins. At the far end of the strip, the win went to Frank with a 12.52 against Gordie’s 11.23. Gordie just could not catch Frank’s hard charging Olds. The final race of the first round saw a couple friends go up against each other. Ray Bruno’s “Sidewinder” Chevy would challenge Scott Hasko’s “Relic”” Willys coupe. Ray has all new small block power in his 57 Chevy coupe; and this race was the first time that he has had the car at the track; so he was still in the process of getting the car dialed in; while Scott’s tried and true Willys coupe was the winner of our season finale at Island last October. Ray dialed an 11.40 and Scott an 11.24. When the green bulb glowed in Ray’s lane, he cut a decent .051 light; and Scott’s .070 light was not too far from Ray’s light. Down track, Ray ran just too fast with an 11.30 and a 5; while Scott was right in the sweet spot with his 11.29 and a 5 against his 11.24 dial. The victory goes to Scott.


After all of the exhibition cars made their runs for the crowd, our club was called back into the staging lanes for the second round of eliminations. We were now down to only 5 cars.

The first pair found Dave Fenzel and Frank Johnson facing each other. Dave dialed a 10.14 and Frank had a 12.41 on his window. There would be over a 2 second gap between when Frank left the starting line and when Dave would get the go signal. When Frank’s lane went green, his .113 reaction time was not his best; but when Dave’s lane went green his .168 light meant that he had to hustle if he was going to catch Frank. I thought that Frank would be able to take the win; but as I watched the far end of the track; I saw the win light come on in Dave’s lane. He pushed his big block Chevy powered 41 Plymouth to a 10.25 @ 123 MPH to take the victory from Frank who ran a 12.69 @ 104 MPH. Dave will now move on to the next round. Following that race, we had the other Fenzel brother, Mark; facing Scott Hasko. Mark dialed in with a 10.60; and Scotty put an 11.25 on his Willys. Scott had a great .067 reaction time when his lane went green; but Mark put himself in the hole with his .365 reaction time. It was going to take some horsepower to overcome his light; and he actually did that; but Mark’s “Running Bear” Pontiac, ran too fast with a 10.55 and a 1 @ 126 MPH against his 10.60 dial. Mark broke out; giving the race to Scott, who cruised to a win on an 11.34 @ 113 MPH. Scott was headed for the next round. The final car to run in this round saw Gregg Grubel’s 51 Chevy on a bye run, going 9.53 @ 139 MPH on his 9.46 dial. We are now down to only three cars.


Because Scott had the best reaction time in the last round, he assured himself a spot in the final round; as he had the bye run; and that left Gregg Grubel and Dave Fenzel to face each other for a chance to head into the final against Scott. As these two gassers went through the water boxes, I thought that this was either driver’s race. Both cars have been running well all day; and it all came down to the driver’s reaction time. Dave put a 10.25 on his window and Gregg a 9.53 on his. As Gregg and Dave inched their cars forward to light the yellow staging lights; I saw Dave’s car jump just a little bit; and he accidently crossed the beam and initiated a foul for his lane. What a shame!! I was so looking forward to see these two drivers go at it; but it was not to be. Gregg took the win running a 9.52 and a 7 @ 138 MPH. Gregg would now move on to the final. It was a very hard loss for Dave!


The weather never did improve all day. There were clouds everywhere and the humidity level was very high when our two finalists rolled into the staging lanes. This was a race between a couple of East Coast Gasser veterans. Scott Hosko put an 11.30 on the window of his beautiful ’40 Willys coupe, affectionately called “Relic”: and Gregg Grubel posted a 9.52 on the window of his equally beautiful ’51 Chevy, which is known as “Class Reunion”. What we’ve got here is a small block, carbureted Chevy; against a big block injected Olds. Both drivers moved their cars into the water boxes and they commenced their burnouts; and then they moved slowly toward the starting line. When both staging lights were lit; we were ready for the final run of the day. As Scott’s lane went green; his reaction time was not that great (.197); but when Gregg’s lane said “Go”; he left with a very nice .028 reaction time. On the starting line, the advantage went to Gregg.

The big question was whether or not Gregg could overcome a second and a half lead that Scott had at the starting line. Both drivers were doing their best to control the race; and as they approached the finish line; Scott ran under his number (11.279) by only 21 thousandths of a second; and Gregg was only 18 thousandths of a second above his dial (9.538); so, the victory went to Gregg. This was a very close race and a great end to our first event. Congratulations to Gregg Grubel!





 56 Gregg Grubel  10 Bruce Deming
 40 Scott Hasko  10 Gordie Ford
 30 Dave Fenzel  10 Jim Wheeler
 20 Mark Fenzel  10 Ray Bruno
 20 Frank Johnson  10 Pat Kelly

Thanks to Diane Deming, Jeff Unfried and Miss Karen
for the great pictures!




























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