ALIVE and WELL: The Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Invitational

Article by Ryk Lee Waddell
Photos By Ryk Lee Waddell and Joe Secka

Even with the world’s present situation, while surviving the Covid-19 pandemic, skyrocketing gas and diesel fuel prices, and the spiraling, out-of-control economy, one thing still remains true to itself. The roar of high-performance engines, fast, straight quarter-mile side-by-side passes, and the avid fans packing the grandstands for a nostalgia drag racing event.

I must admit that there is no better feeling on Earth, than pulling into the drag strip on the eve before the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Invitational, knowing that you made the trip safely. It all became a worthwhile ending to what was a six hour drive, when you have the opportunity right off the bat, to see friends that you haven’t seen in five years. After having to take a hiatus from drag racing due to medical reasons, I was blessed to travel back to Salem, OH and freely roam the property of Quaker City Motorsports Park again during this past race weekend.

This “Tour of Duty” began on Saturday evening, as three of the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car teams took to the track for a couple of test passes. Grabbing my camera gear, I headed  for the Starting Line.  Representing the ranks of the Nostalgia Alcohol Funny Cars were: Doug Fassl with his “Wildly Disturbed” Mach 1 Funny Car, John Kwasnewski with the PolCal Racing Corvette along side of the 55 Chevy Nostalgia Funny Car, “Big Girl” of Wade King.

The “PolCal” Corvette of Johnny K’s

Starting things off on a pleasantly warm and sunny Saturday evening, Johnny K of Buffalo, NY rolls the PolCal Corvette through the bleach box while lighting up the meaty Hoosier slicks. As the staging beams drop and he punches the go pedal, there’s just no sound more exciting than a blower smashing air into the big block Rat’s powerplant.  He passes over the stripe with a 7:06 @ 186.7 miles per hour pass.

Johnny K is all about letting the “Rat” out of the bag

Following the PolCal team, the newly applied graphics of the Mach 1 of Doug Fassl out of Sanborn, NY was up next. I myself was very excited to see this beautiful dragster in person. After talking with Doug prior to the event and seeing it before the new colors were added, I was really impressed with the Mustang’s new stance. Doug decided to make a statement with a power hit while letting the Mustang gallop. Rolling through the top end after a blistering pass with an E.T. of 6:83 @ 193.80 mph. 

The Coyote chasing "Wildly Disturbed" Ford Mach 1 Mustang of Doug Fassl

The Coyote chasing “Wildly Disturbed” Ford Mach 1 Mustang of Doug Fassl

Up next, from Greensburg, PA., came the Three Kings Racing 55′ Chevy with the “Big Girl” pin-up motif. An incredibly beautiful nostalgia car with a World War ll paint scheme that fit nicely with the Memorial Day holiday weekend and it was right up my alley. Wanting to make a test hit of 1,000 feet, Wade strolled across the finish line with an 8:58 E.T. @ 113.01 mph, saving the heavy punch for the upcoming show.

Wade King's "Big Girl" '55 Chevy

Wade King’s “Big Girl” ’55 Chevy

That concluded Saturday evenings test session while thrilling the attendees and wetting their appetites of the crowd on-hand. Now, it was time to take a walkabout through the Nostalgia Funny Car pits and see just who was here. With 11 cars of the premises, the nostalgia class was well represented. With cars hailing from New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio, it was a great representation for the nostalgia drag racing enthusiast.

Sunday began with some side-by-side passes from such classes racking up points as: the Southern Slingshot dragsters, Scott Rods AA/Gassers, Nostalgia Notions and UMTR Stick Shifters just to mention a few.

Dennis Salzwimmer, the Grand PooBah of the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Circuit, held a GLNFCC drivers meeting at 10am to go over the details and the line-up for the day’s event of the Chicago Style drag race. 

The first Funny Car passes came shortly after 1pm. with Robin Stambaugh-Schoeman’s ’74 “Generation X” Chevy Vega powered by a 498 c.i.d. Hemi lining up against Doug Fassl in the “Wildly Disturbed” Mach 1 Mustang blown big block. Robin ended up with a mild but difficult 0.223 R.T. with a 7.96 E.T. @ 99.25 mph vs Doug’s beefy 0.078 R.T. and a 6.88 E.T. @ 189.31 mph but crashing at the end of the shut down area on the top end.

"Generation X" Chevy Vega driven by Robin Stambaugh-Schoeman

“Generation X” Chevy Vega driven by Robin Stambaugh-Schoeman

The rest of the field paired with the following:

2nd Pair: John Kwasnewski: 0.071 R.T. 7.28 E.T. @ 178.22 vs Drew Sweetman’s 0.023 R.T. but broke the rearend.  

3rd Pair: Krista Massarella: 0.236 R.T. 7:04 E.T. @ 191.33 vs Jami Russell’s 0.113 R.T. 7.40 E.T @ 180.14

4th Pair: Bill Walls: -0.285 R.T. 7.35. @ 144.22 mph vs Wayne Hoffman’s 0.093 R.T. 7.89 E.T. @ 122.62 mph

5th Pair: Dana Kleinhoffer: 0.293 R.T. 7.18 E.T. @ 194.13 mph vs John Cerchio’s 0.266 R.T. 11.667 E.T. @ 132.59 mph after some serious tire shake but driving through it.

6th Pass: Wade King’s: 1.13 R.T. with an 8.59E.T. and a 175.23 mph

Dana Kleinhoffer's "Tremor" Pontiac Trans Am

Dana Kleinhoffer’s “Tremor” Pontiac Trans Am

"Iron Outlaw" driven by Jami Russell

“Iron Outlaw” driven by Jami Russell

Bill Walls Dodge Omni Funny Car takes the round win

Bill Walls Dodge Omni Funny Car takes the round win

Wayne Hoffman drifts through the top end in the "China Syndrome" Alky Funny Car

Wayne Hoffman drifts through the top end in the “China Syndrome” Alky Funny Car

Chief Empty Pockets a.k.a. John Cerchio, drove through some serious tire shake to get to the stripe

Chief Empty Pockets a.k.a. John Cerchio, drove through some serious tire shake to get to the stripe

 

Krista Massarella crossed the stripe ahead of Jami Russell in the first round

Krista Massarella crossed the stripe ahead of Jami Russell in the first round

The Second Round of the Nostalgia Funny Cars passes began a little after 3:30 in the afternoon as the track heated up.

Second Round began with “Temporary Insanity” pairing off against the “China Syndrome”.

1st Pair: Krista Massarella with an 0.0954 R.T. 6.93 E.T. @ 182.26 mph vs Wayne Hoffman’s -0.047 R.T mean while running a 8.59 E.T. @ 175.23 after hitting a timing block.

2nd Pair: John Cerchio 0.236 R.T. and a 8.16 E.T. @ 173.28 mph vs Robin Stambaugh-Schoeman’s 0.123 R.T. and 8.67 E.T. @ 102.51. Talking about a pedal fest between Robin and John, it was extremely exciting!

3rd Pair: John Kwasnewski 0.0313 R.T. 7.12 E.T. with a 179.35 mph vs Jami Russell’s 0.237 R.T. while running 7.46 E.T. @ 180.51 mph

4th Pair: Drew Sweetman 0.143 R.T. 7.01 E.T. @ 187.03 taking the win over Bill Walls 0.158 R.T. 7.10 E.T. @ 176.54 mph

5th Pass: Wade King with a 0.758 R.T.  8.57 E.T. and 182.63 mph after hitting a timing block.

6th Pass: A late one coming just before the Final Round, Dana Kleinhoffer ran a 196 mph pass to close out the afternoon’s qualifying after not making the last round call. 

The Final Round came shortly after 5 o’clock in the afternoon with Krista Massarella and her blown  “Temporary Insanity” Chevy Monza pairing off against the blown “Frantic Ford” Mustang ll of Drew Sweetman. Hats off to a very exciting final. Drew chopped down the tree with a 0.001 R.T and ran a 7.19 E.T. @ 188.44 mph compared to Krista’s .235 R.T. 6.96 E.T. @ 191 mph.

The Final Pair: far lane, Krista Massarella trying to take down Drew Sweetman in the near lane.

The Final Pair: far lane, Krista Massarella trying to take down Drew Sweetman in the near lane.

The Boards don't lie. Final Round numbers

The Boards don’t lie. Final Round numbers

Letting the linen fly, Robin Stambaugh-Schoeman crosses the finish line

Letting the linen fly, Robin Stambaugh-Schoeman crosses the finish line

Congratulations to the Sweetman Nostalgia Funny Car Team on an incredible win. With Drew, his brother Danny Sweetman, their mother Joyce Saville, and Robert (Bobby) Tooth on-site, it was a win that will go down in the history books of the Sweetman Racing Team. A big shout out to Drew’s dad, Henry. We missed you in the Winner’s Circle but we know that you were here in spirit.

Drew Sweetman, Joyce Saville and Danny Sweetman enjoy the sweet taste of victory

Drew Sweetman, Joyce Saville and Danny Sweetman enjoy the sweet taste of victory

The Frantic Ford Mustang ll team in the Winner's Circle

The Frantic Ford Mustang ll team in the Winner’s Circle

Post-race, I managed to get a couple of interviews from a couple of drivers in regards to the event. First up was Robin Stambaugh-Schoeman, driver of the Generation X Nostalgia Funny Car. When asked about her take of the event, Robin answered:

“We have been running at Quaker City for over 20 years and always look forward to racing here. It’s a unique experience driving over that hill and stomping on that loud pedal for the burnout! We really enjoy interacting with the fans at these events. There are so many kids and old friends stopping by to say hello. I want to thank Norm, AJ and the entire Quaker City team and staff for putting on such a great event.”

Drew Sweetman stomps the loud pedal, making smoke before the second round

Drew Sweetman stomps the loud pedal, making smoke before the second round

Krista Massarella backs up the "Temporary Insanity" Monza Funny Car after her second round burnout

Krista Massarella backs up the “Temporary Insanity” Monza Funny Car after her second round burnout

The event winner, Drew Sweetman made mention: “We love racing at Quaker City race way and we normally don’t do well there. It started out a little rough when we broke the rear end during the first round. We were fortunate that Matt Staumbaugh had a spare rear end with a 35 spline that fit our housing and axles. We severely thrashed between rounds with a lot of help from Matt and Chris Massarella and we were fortunate that got the car ready.”

“Running in the final round against Krista is always tough. She is a very strong competitive driver. As we both crossed the stripe side by side, we were both celebrating” Drew exclaimed. “Neither of us knew who had won but we were both happy to be there.”

“We brought our mother on this trip. She hadn’t been to a race with us since 1977. That made the win that much special.” Drew said.

On a closing comment Drew wanted to mention that “I would like to thank the Massarella’s, they are always a class act and we really enjoy racing with them. They were as happy for me as I was myself.” 

Well, that looks like a wrap. One more incredible event in the books as the Nostalgia craze continues. Here’s to fast, straight passes and on to the next event.  

B.U.G. of the Day, Leslie Harris-Kranz backs up the "WarPath" Buick Somerset of John Cerchio's

B.U.G. of the Day, Leslie Harris-Kranz backs up the “WarPath” Buick Somerset of John Cerchio’s

The "Frantic Ford" Mustang ll piloted by Drew Sweetman

The “Frantic Ford” Mustang ll piloted by Drew Sweetman

One of the long, smoky burnouts from Wayne Hoffman's China Syndrome tribute Funny Car

One of the long, smoky burnouts from Wayne Hoffman’s China Syndrome tribute Funny Car

"Temporary Inanity" carrying the front wheels after Krista's launch

“Temporary Inanity” carrying the front wheels after Krista’s launch

Samantha Russell backs up the Iron Outlaw of husband Jami Russell during the second round

The big “Red Wave” Dodge Omni of Bill Walls

The big "Red Wave" Dodge Omni of Bill Walls

The big “Red Wave” Dodge Omni of Bill Walls

Bellowing chutes begin to slow the "Tremor" Funny Car down

Bellowing chutes begin to slow the “Tremor” Funny Car down

The dual parachutes slow the decent of the "Big Girl" Chevy

The dual parachutes slow the decent of the “Big Girl” Chevy

The "Red Wave" tossing up some GoodYear freckles during his burnout

The “Red Wave” tossing up some GoodYear freckles during his burnout

"Big Girl" melting the rubber of the meaty slicks of the '55 Alky Funny Car

“Big Girl” melting the rubber of the meaty slicks of the ’55 Alky Funny Car

Photos by Joe Secka