Central Illinois Dragway in Havana, IL marked the fifth of seven stops on the 2019 Best of Texas BBQ Sauce Championship Tour presented by Red Line Shirt Club on July 26-27th! For the capacity crowd on hand, which set the single day attendance record at the facility, it was a non-stop horsepower shop featuring floppers from across the country and much more as Funny Car Chaos headlined the 50th Anniversary celebration event. Also included in the lineup was the Midwest Nostalgia Pro Stockers, Nostalgia Super Stock Inc. series, Ozark Mountain Super Shifters, CID Top Eliminator – Quick 16 & Bikes, a nitro match race between Chuck Baird’s Nostalgia Top Fuel Dragster and Jim Hidy’s AA/Fuel Altered and finally, exhibition runs by event Grand Marshal Wilmer Gale in his “True Grit” stick shift wheelstanding Camaro. Gale had been running at the track since his drag racing debut in Havana in 1969 and got a well-deserved standing ovation during the opening ceremonies.
Quick 16 - Nostalgia Super Stock Inc.
Weather had plagued CID’s season thus far, like many tracks in the area, with only three race weekends completed to this point. The Funny Car gods parted the skies and welcomed sunshine and temps in the low 90’s for both days of Chaos action, a much appreciated forecast for the Chaos staff and track crew who had been working for weeks in preparation for the big birthday weekend.
For teams chasing the inaugural Chaos Championship title, this event was a huge opportunity to shuffle the standings and every point was critical in their hopes to be crowned series champs. Many of the southwest based racers who had been on tour thus far, stomping across Texas and Missouri, made the tow to Havana and were joined by a fresh crop of east coast and mid-west based teams eager for their first taste of Chaos this year. It was time to open the gates, fill the stands, pull the wires and let the win lights do the talking with some heads up Funny Car action at “Chaos in the Cornfield 2.0”.
Friday night hosted a double shot of qualifying under the lights as Allan Middendorf’s “American Outlaw” clicked off a 3.84 at 161 mph to lead the field of seventeen entries. Nancy Matter’s Dale Pulde tuned “Guardian” posted a 4.07 at 163 to earn the number two spot and Mark McElwee wheeled the “Buzzy’s Bomber” to a 4.25 at 149 to round out the top three in the quick eight Rodak’s Custom Coffee ‘A’ field. The AlkyDigger ‘B’ field was led by Joey Haas’ “Nimrod” with a 4.71 at 145 mph as teams returned to the pits to service and prepare for final qualifying and eliminations on Saturday.
Heading into the final qualifier Saturday afternoon, points leader Ken Singleton and team “High Risk” were yet to make it past sixty feet, struggling with a new engine combination and desperate for a full pull that would put them into the ‘A’ field. Yet again, nearly instant tire smoke and even with a wicked pedal job and 190 mph pass, their 5.17 was not enough for an ‘A’ field spot. Their goal would now be earning as many points as possible in the ‘B’ field, which offers equal points earning opportunity.
Many teams did improve in their final qualifying run including Tod Barker who put the Oklahoma based “Back in Black” alcohol burning Corvette into the number one spot in the ‘B’ field with a 4.48 at 165 mph. Jeff Cameron’s “Magnolia Missile” Firebird stepped up to a 4.57 at 154 to earn a spot in the top half of ‘B’ and Steve Timoszyk’s Michigan based “Detroit Tiger” moved up to number three in the ‘A’ with a 4.19 at 171 mph. The fields were in ink, the pairs were set, and it was time to play for keeps in the cornfields of Illinois.
FINAL QUALIFYING ORDER:
Rodak’s Custom Coffee ‘A’ Field –
1. Allan Middendorf (Columbia, IL) – 3.84 @ 167
2. Nancy Matter (Lewisville, TX) – 4.07 @ 163
3. Steve Timoszyk (Detroit, MI) – 4.19 @ 171
4. Mark McElwee (Vandalia, MI) – 4.21 @ 163
5. Kevin Lennon (Merrillville, IN) – 4.26 @ 150
6. Chuck Loftin (Seguin, TX) – 4.33 @ 169
7. Fred Farndon (Edmond, OK) – 4.42 @ 155
8. Chris Schneider (Jefferson City, MO) – 4.46 @ 156
AlkyDigger ‘B’ Field –
1. Tod Barker (Marlow, OK) – 4.48 @ 165
2. Mike Smith (Brockton, MA) – 4.52 @ 118
3. Jeff Cameron (Magnolia, TX) – 4.57 @ 154
4. Joey Haas (Pleasant View, TN) – 4.71 @ 145
5. Jordan Ballew (Bartlesville, OK) – 4.76 @ 146
6. Robert Slaughter (Waco, TX) – 5.08 @ 123
7. Ken Singleton (Chickasha, OK) – 5.17 @ 190
8. Brian Cunningham (Peachland, NC) – 5.42 @ 106
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9. Tim Board (Trivoli, IL) – No Time
Any empty seat could not be found and the fence line down both sides of the track was full of elbows as all eyes were fixed on the first pair of ‘A’ field action as Allan Middendorf and Chris Schneider took the stage to open eliminations. Team “Brutus” had plans to terrorize the ‘B’ field, but nearly career best numbers slid them into the elite eight and earned them a date with the number one qualifier. Unfortunately, reverser issues kept the car from backing up after the burnout and after a safe exit at the top end from Schneider, Middendorf clicked off a stellar 3.78 at 190 mph, boom! How about low elapsed time thus far to make an opening statement.
Kevin Lennon had only made one qualifying run on the weekend in the “Shake and Bake” Indiana based fueler, but it was good enough for a spot in the ‘A’ field. Lennon’s weekend ended unexpectedly as his crew was unable to fire the car in his match with Mark McElwee as the “Buzzy’s Bomber” nitro powered Nova posted a clean 4.00 at 188 mph to advance. Steve Timoszyk and Chuck Loftin were out next. Loftin came to the line with authority and took the starting line advantage with a .013 reaction time, earning him the Taylor Motorsports Products quick reaction time bonus. Timoszyk was hot on his heels and the cars were glued together at half-track, but at the stripe, the “Detroit Tiger” had the ponies to drive around with a 4.17 at 172 to Loftin’s close 4.29 at 170 mph. Nancy Matter and Fred Farndon closed ‘A’ field first round action with a dandy ol’ drag race. Eighty one year old Farndon left first and was trucking right down broadway in the “Play It Loud” entry and despite his best elapsed time to date in Chaos competition with a very nice 4.08 at 171 mph, was no match for Nancy Matter’s strong 3.98 at 179 mph.
Qualifying session match race brothers Joey Haas and Jordan Ballew were set to duke it out in the first round of AlkyDigger ‘B’ field competition, but Ballew was an unfortunate no show with a mechanical issue, not what the team was hoping for in Havana looking to move up from their number three points position. Haas soloed to a 4.66 at 147 mph to move into the semis. Top qualifier Tod Barker and Brian Cunningham came to the line next in a wild match up. Barker took almost a tenth of a second advantage off the line and Cunningham was playing catch up in the nitro burning “Gone Ballistic” entry. At half-track Cunningham started losing traction and made a wild move to the wall, then pedaled it through the lights to a 4.50 at 142 which came up just short to Barker’s winning 4.44 at 164 mph.
Jeff Cameron and Robert Slaughter brought their 90’s style alcohol burners to life as ‘B’ field eliminations continued. Slaughter was coming in fresh off career best qualifying numbers and he stepped it up again in first round with a new career best of 5.01 at 128, but came up short at the stripe to Cameron’s 4.63 at 156 mph. Closing the round, two cars most expected to see in the ‘A’ field pulled to the beams in a heavyweight bout between points leader Ken Singleton and the Bill Dee owned, Mike Smith tuned and driven “Nor’Easter” nitro burner. Singleton for the fourth straight pass ran into traction issues, pedaled it, shook and shimmied and had the best seat in the house to watch Smith click off a 4.13 at 134 mph, the fourth quickest elapsed time of the entire opening round. On to the semis we go!
FIRST ROUND ELIMINATIONS:
Rodak's Custom Coffee 'A' Field First Round -
(W) Middendorf (.313 rt) 3.78 @ 190 -vs- (L) Schneider (No Reverse - No Time)
(W) Mark McElwee (.134 rt) 4.00 @ 188 -vs- (L) Kevin Lennon (No Fire - No Time)
(W) Steve Timoszyk (.094 rt) 4.17 @ 172 -vs- (L) Chuck Loftin (.013 rt) 4.29 @ 170
(W) Nancy Matter (.172 rt) 3.98 @ 179 -vs- (L) Fred Farndon (.110 rt) 4.08 @ 171
AlkyDigger 'B' Field First Round -
(W) Joey Haas (.024 rt) 4.66 @ 147 -vs- (L) Ballew (Broke - No Time)
(W) Tod Barker (.063 rt) 4.44 @ 164 -vs- (L) Brian Cunningham (.147 rt) 4.50 @ 142
(W) Jeff Cameron (.021 rt) 4.63 @ 156 -vs- (L) Robert Slaughter (.123 rt) 5.01 @ 128
(W) Mike Smith (.228 rt) 4.13 @ 141 -vs- (L) Ken Singleton (.014 rt) 4.88 @ 115