Belt Banks Tulsa Nitro Nationals Victory
Central States Superchargers - Tulsa International Raceway - Sept 14, 2013
Report & Photos - Chris Graves, Max Cackle Photos.com
The Central States Superchargers charged into Tulsa Raceway Park as a headline attraction of the annual Osage Casino Nitro Nationals and a strong twelve car field put on a wild show for the nostalgia drag racing fans who packed the stands at this historic facility. Welcomed by sunny skies and temperatures in the low 90's, the CSS series action started on Saturday afternoon with two qualifying sessions where teams battled for a spot in the quick eight field.
The opening round of qualifying welcomed several new faces to the membership including Jim Knapp's Iowa based blown "Bad Attitude" Fiat-bodied entry, Cory Holcomb's Texas based "Tree Hangar" blown 1927 T-bodied altered and the first female and youngest racer to compete in the CSS series, Texas based Tera Wendland in the Walden Power Equipment blown front engine dragster.
After two action packed qualifying rounds, Craig Donnelly and the "Booze Brothers" blown 1923 T-bodied entry took the pole position with a "perfect" 4.25 at 166 mph. John Umlauf's blown front engine dragster nabbed the number two spot with a 4.26 at 162 mph and Aaron Leyda rounded out the top three in the Dale Wilkens owned and tuned "Hemi Hunter" with a 4.29 at 156 mph. Anthony Whitfield, Mark Bowman, Sean Belt, Jim Knapp and Tera Wendland also made the quick eight and would advance to the elimination rounds.
Cory Holcomb came up just short, with a 4.57 on a 4.50 bump spot in his blown altered. Adam Smith, Kenny Stroud and Russell Ballew also were found outside looking in with their blown front engine dragsters but all put on a very good show for the fans in Tulsa. The pairings were set as the qualifiers returned to the pits to prepare for the first round, where the quickest two winners would advance to the final of the Chicago-style format.
Central States Superchargers Final Qualifying Order:
1. Craig Donnelly - 4.25 @ 166
2. John Umlauf - 4.26 @ 162
3. Aaron Leyda - 4.293 @ 156
4. Anthony Whitfield - 4.296 (4.204) @ 160
5. Mark Bowman - 4.352 (4.158) @ 164
6. Sean Belt - 4.41 @ 129
7. Jim Knapp - 4.43 @ 158
8. Tera Wendland - 4.50 @ 157
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9. Cory Holcomb - 4.57 @ 148
10. Adam Smith - 4.75 @ 145
11. Kenny Stroud - 4.77 @ 143
12. Russell Ballew - 5.81 @ 93
First up was a battle between two of the youngest drivers in the field as Anthony Whitfield and Tera Wendland brought their blown machines to the line. Wendland knew she had to leave on the quicker Whitfield and pushed the tree a little too far, with a -.003 red light as her career best 4.48 at 158 mph fell to Whitfield's winning 4.22 at 168 mph. Number one qualifier Craig Donnelly was out next alongside Mark Bomwan in their blown altereds. Donnelly, in a similar situation, knew he had to push the tree to beat the quicker Bowman, and went too far with a -.010 red bulb as his 4.25 at 166 mph fell to Bowman's strong 4.06 at 179 mph.
As the first round continued, Sean Belt brought the nitro-burning Fiat-bodied "Nitro Madness" entry to the line to face off with John Umlauf's wicked Missouri blown front engine dragster. Umlauf took a healthy starting line advantage but his 4.40 at 158 mph was no match for Belt's header flaming 4.08 at 184 mph as Belt took the nod. In the final pair, Aaron Leyda and Jim Knapp wheeled their blown altereds to the line, with the winner needing to run better than Bowman's 4.06 to advance to the final round. Leyda took this one from start to finish as the "Hemi Hunter" laid down a solid 4.18 at 174 mph to Knapp's 4.55 at 132 mph. Mark Bowman and Sean Belt would advance to the final as the two quickest winners in a blown alcohol vs. blown nitro altered showdown.
First Round Results:
(W) Anthony Whitfield (.115 rt) 4.22 @ 168 mph vs. (L) Tera Wendland (-.003 rt) 4.48 @ 158 mph
(W) Mark Bowman (.044 rt) 4.06 @ 179 mph vs. (L) Craig Donnelly (-.010 rt) 4.25 @ 166 mph
(W) Sean Belt (.205 rt) 4.08 @ 184 mph vs. (L) John Umlauf (.108 rt) 4.40 @ 158 mph
(W) Aaron Leyda (.035 rt) 4.18 @ 174 mph vs. (L) Jim Knapp (.071 rt) 4.55 @ 132 mph
Bowman's "Blown Income" entry and Belt's "Nitro Madness" machine came to life for the final time of the event and the crew chiefs directed them into the beams. Both drivers were ready; Belt was off the line with a .044 reaction to Bowman's .055. Bowman blasted through the eighth mile clocks with a career best 4.02 at 180 mph but it was no match for Sean Belt's stellar 3.88 at 193 mph as the "Nitro Madness" team owned and tuned by Scott Gaulter took their first CSS series win of the season.
Final Round Results:
(W) Sean Belt (.044 rt) 3.88 @ 193 mph vs. (L) Mark Bowman (.055 rt) 4.02 @ 180 mph
The Central States Superchargers series would like to recognize The Car Shop, Holzman Racecars and J.W. Performance Transmissions for their support of the event bonus programs. Mark Bowman held onto his points lead by a slim five point margin over Aaron Leyda with one event remaining, September 21st at Kansas International Dragway. The Championship will be decided then and the competition for the title will be tight, be there!
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Nostalgia Drag World - Report & Photos by Chris Graves MaxCacklePhotos.com