With the threat of a drenching from El Niño year storms lined up in the Pacific Ocean, Sacramento Raceway opened its facility for the traditional season-opening NHRA Summit ET Series race. As it turned out, the rain clouds took a break for the day, and the event went off without a hitch. Well, it did take two days to complete, but that was not due to the wet stuff. It was just plain cold, and with 285 race cars entered, track officials decided to complete the event the following day when track temperatures dropped too low to guarantee safe runs for the competitors. The event was also shortened to an 1/8-mile race in the interest of safety.
Danny Cole, Sacramento Raceway’s 2015 Driver of the Year, wasted no time proving that he was worthy of that title by winning Super Pro at the New Year’s Day Drags. Danny has a history of performing well at this event as he also won the class in 2014. But, with forty competitors in the lanes, it would not be an easy task for the Orangevale, California driver. Yet, Cole was on his game from the get go, causing three out of his first four opponents to foul out. And, when talent was needed, Danny delivered. In the semifinals against Jake Koranda, Cole ran a 7.074 on a 7.06 dial in. He returned for the final round and overcame David Beedy’s .004 RT with a 7.063 on a 7.06 dial in. Afterwards, Cole had this to say about the race, “The track surface was incredible. I was getting my best ’60 times ever—consistent 1.47s and 1.48s. I stuck with my normal routine and tried to stay as focused as possible. I got lucky in the first round and again in the semis when I got the stripe against very capable opponents. In the final against my old friend David Beedy, I knew I had to be on the ball as he had been lights out off the line all day.”
If Super Pro was a marathon for the racers that day, then Pro was an ultra marathon. The winner would need to go seven rounds to get to the winner’s circle. Placerville, California’s Don Moretti was more than equal to the task. The #3 qualifier coaxed two of his early opponents to red light, all the while staying unflinchingly close to his dial ins. After earning a bye in round six, Moretti ousted Melissa Wright’s ’73 Nova in the final round with a superior RT and a .027 MOV.
In Motorcycle, it was the 2015 NHRA Summit ET Racing Series Pacific Division champion, Don Caesar, back to the winner’s circle. Ironically, this win was a first for Don at the New Year’s Day Drags. It was also one of the biggest motorcycle fields in recent years with twenty-six riders duking it out that day. Caesar was ready for the challenge, dispatching #3 qualifier, John Cabral, in E2, and proceeding to take out Dominique Moultrie, the #1 qualifier, in the semifinals. With the always tough Ed Bradell in the other lane for the final round, Caesar would have to play catch-up after Ed tagged him on the starting line with an .013 advantage. As fate would have it, Bradell broke out and the steady Don Caesar triumphed with a 5.914 on his 5.87 dial in.
In Sportsman, David Rudd was simply superlative throughout eliminations. The #1 qualifier averaged .025 RTs in the rounds where an opponent did not foul out or he had earned a bye, including a .023 against Sacramento Raceway’s 2015 “King of the Track”, Dennis Bowman, in the semifinal round. Matched against Craig Renke in the final round, David left first and Renke broke out in his pursuit of Rudd.
Don Moretti was all smiles in the winner’s circle after his victory in the Pro class.
David Rudd in the waterbox heating up the tires preparatory to another round of eliminations.
Rudd won Sportsman and was the #1 qualifier
“The Don” Caesar won Motorcycle with his ’07 GSXR Suzuki.