World Series of Drag Racing 2013
by Mike Sopko
It maybe ironic that about two and a half hours away from Major League Baseball's longest championship drought exists a drag race known as the World Series of Drag Racing. Though being a Cubs fan I have never seen them in the World Series and if the trend continues I probably won't, I have been able to attend three World Series of Drag Racing at Cordova Dragway Park. Though the US Nationals is known as the Big Go, the World Series is the Grandaddy of Them All and celebrated its 60th year in grand fashion.
With a lineup of Big Show cars, jets, wheelstander, Victory Nostalgia Super Stocks, the Midwest Super Stock Mafia, nostalgia dragsters, and the headliner of the event the DRO Nostalgia Funny Car series the 60th running of the World Series was not to be missed and I'm glad to say that I was there to take it all in.
Scott Gardner and the Cordova Dragway Park family should be commended on the outstanding race they put together. They were rewarded to with a packed house that event MC Bret Kepner proudly proclaimed ran out of parking space.
Under Gardner's leadership the event has become one of the premier events in the Midwest each year. Perhaps the most exciting part for me as a drag racing addict is the Big Go type atmosphere that has been created for the AA/FC teams. Months leading up to the event website message boards were lighting up with which teams would make the trip to the track that would soon boast approximately 10 times the town's population in spectators and racers. This event saw 17 plastic fantastics make the trek to the Cordova facility. No it is not as many as the March Meet, but for an event in the Midwest to draw cars from the West Coast, East Coast, and the South is incredibly impressive especially when considering it is an eight car field.
Ultimately the funny car field saw several big hitters go home before race day as reigning DRO champion John Hale and Peter Gallen failed to qualify. Other notable mentions were Mike Lewis in the Brand X and John "Bodie" Smith in the Jungle Jim Vega. Pacing the field was Marc White in the gorgeous Flashback flopper with a stout 5.70 during Friday's first session. Other qualifiers included Brian Stewart in the Bear Town Shaker, Jon Capps in the Crop Duster, Mike Minnick in the Chi-Town Hustler, Cruz Pedregon's Keeling and Clayton tribute car, Shawn Bowen's Violator, Ronny Young in the Blue Max, and Baz Young's Thunder Down Under.
The final round would see big show transplant Cruz Pedregon taking on late entrant Mike Minnick in the new Chi-Town Hustler Omni, which I have heard had some Austin Coil influence. The fact that Cruz had made it to the lanes in the final was impressive since he seemingly wounded the motor on nearly every pass. Minnick on the other hand continually ran stout and did some impressive driving. On his first qualifying pass I watched as the Hustler drifted towards the centerline and I thought he better lift or he's going to take out the cones, but instead he kept the pedal mashed to the floor and brought it back into his lane. His impressive passes continued as he took out number 1 qualifier White in the first round. The second round gave him a bye as the Crop Duster popped the blower and ended up in the sand trap and was unable to return.
Cruz on the other hand took out Stewart and Young in the subsequent rounds. Interestingly Young, is an executive with Snap-On, Cruz's Big Show sponsor, but Cruz showed his proverbial boss no mercy and took him out.
Being a journalist I should admit no bias, but I must admit I was pulling for Minnick in the final. Though Pedregon has significant family history in the sport, this was a Midwest track, the Chi-Town Hustler, and a 3rd generation Minnick at the wheel. To make it even more special both Minnick's father and grandfather were on the grounds.
At the hit both cars seemed to be even, but Cruz pulled away down track and became the third Pedregon brother to win an event at the World Series.
Though the funnies were the headliner, the rest of the show was outstanding. The fact that a week earlier I was attending the World Fuel Altered Nationals made this my two favorite weekends of the year. If you haven't had the opportunity yet, try to put this event on your schedule for next year. Gardner and the Cordova family won't disappoint, and as the World Series name implies their sure to hit another one out of the park.
See you at the drags,
Mike Sopko Jr.
Nostalgia Drag World - by Mike Sopko Jr.; photos by Mike Sopko Sr., Dan Ricks and Mike Sopko Jr.