Drivers for both categories of the Rocky Mountain Superchargers (RMS) will see whether they can shake loose from the shackles of a Shakespearean-like scenario that shadowed them with unpredictable nighttime summer weather in central Kansas.
Next up for the RMS competitors will be the Aug. 5 races at the historic SRCA (Sunflower Rod and Custom Association) Dragstrip at Great Bend, Kan., roughly 125 miles northwest of Wichita. They realize, of course, that they may face the same conditions – a risk they collectively feel is well worth the potential reward of prize money, including special awards from Richmond Gear.
Both the Top Supercharged Thunder and Pro Supercharged/All-Star contestants were able to run a single round of passes on July 22 in match races of the Summer Nationals, in conjunction with a Melling Race Night event, at Kansas International Dragway in Maize, a small suburb on the northern outskirts of Wichita, the state’s largest city. (Contingency Connection arranged the Richmond and Melling awards.)
As is the norm for the eighth-year RMS team founded and headed by Ed Arcuri, III, competition, which is partially sponsored all season by Competition Products, was run using the Chicago-Style Eliminator. That mode dictates that entrants in each category compete in opening match races, from which both cars advance. The semifinal matches then determine the two survivors for the final round.
However, just as Round One was finishing on that dark and foreboding Saturday night, ominous clouds rolled in, punctuated by lightning flashes every few seconds. That meteorological activity forced a long delay before the planned start of the semifinals.
“It just wasn’t meant to be, I guess,” lamented a disappointed Arcuri, who was waiting patiently in the tower above the staging area and starting line where he was ready to continue describing his drivers’ every movement over the dragway’s public-address system. Arcuri was referring to the subsequent cancellation before any other races could ensue, as a steady downpour drenched the facility. The sudden, flood-inducing storm caused everyone to stuff their race cars into trailers and eventually leave for good, rendering the racetrack real estate to revert until the following weekend to its status as a puddle-pocked ghost town on the Kansas prairie.
Ron Burge, Competition Director (far left), and Ed Arcuri, III, Founder and President (far right), of Rocky Mountain Superchargers (RMS), flank assorted other RMS officials and crew members on July 22 at Kansas International Dragway outside Wichita. The makeshift group scurried into the Wetsch and Chase trailer to hoist the Melling banner when a massive thunderstorm forced a premature end to the Summer Nationals competition. (Photo Courtesy Rocky Mountain Superchargers)
“The track’s regular announcer did his best for the better part of two hours to placate the crowd and reassure them that there would be no cancellation.” Spectators, drivers and pit crews alike were given ongoing weather updates from the tower, as the electrical storm continued to brew like a witch’s concoction, with increasingly thunderous claps providing loud accompaniment. That local man-at-the-microphone, though, had to change his tune, as flags above the tower blew briskly, and the deluge arrived.
As for what little actual action happened down on the drag strip, the following represented RMS results in the everybody-automatically-advances first round, despite that indicating the night’s final numbers:
- Colorado resident Tom “Fireball” Furches guided his Made in America car to a night’s best of 6.673 elapsed time at 201 miles per hour, the ET well below the 7.5 Index. The performance, in a match race against the Wicked Quick nostalgia funny car driven by Jim Chase of Bismarck, N. Dak., helped Furches and his Firebird maintain the RMS points lead going into Great Bend. Chase, however, is not likely to race again until Aug. 19 at Acton, Mont., outside that state’s largest city, Billings; he experienced mechanical difficulties in his ’57 Chevy in the latest head-to-head vs. Furches and had to settle for a 10.186 ET.
- Several RMS runs preceded the featured Furches-Chase contest, the first highlighting local driver Tom Butherus, based in Wichita but affiliated with RMS, driving his Rude Rat to outrun Nebraska’s Matt Nissen, 7.272 to 7.928.
- In the final head-to-head race in Round One involving the multi-state RMS presence, Texan Rodney Ferguson negotiated the quarter-mile in 7.411 ET ahead of 8.417 by Denver area contestant Johnnie O’Connell in his family’s Reminiscin Racin’ machine.
- The fourth and final RMS pass was a solo run by young Trey Newkirk of Great Bend, who logged 7.92.
Entering the SRCA competition, Furches’s leading point total was 256, with Nissen atop the Pro Supercharged/All-Star points race at 212.
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD - By Phil Ross