Words/Photos DJ Johnson
HAVANA, Illinois (July 28) -- Chris Graves brought his Funny Car Chaos series to Central Illinois Dragway and the rightly dubbed, “Chaos in a Cornfield” was born. The third race on the 2018 four-race schedule brought 19 blown funny cars to CID with the field split with nine nitro-fueled and ten-alcohol fueled machines representing 12 states.
Funny Car Chaos is a very different event as it is run on a eighth-mile track, with really no rules or limitations.
“I love the format,” Keith Jackson said about Funny Car Chaos. “It’s great with the eighth-mile deal, and even the no rules part levels the playing field. The fuel cars run better on the back-half and the alcohol cars running good on the first-half. It makes for a better show, it’s awesome for the fans, they can’t see this anywhere else.”
“This is probably the best event we’ve been to. Because of the make-up, this is a competition,” said George “Hollywood” Reidnauer, driver of the “Excalibur” Corvette Nostalgia Alcohol Funny Car.
“We are looking to go rounds, it’s a whole different environment here,” Reidnauer said. “We are trying to make the show, go rounds, it’s a pretty good deal. Any chance you get to line-up against John Hale or the ‘McAttack’ car, it’s a no-brainer. We’re glad we made the trip. We are treated really well here.”
Joey Haas has raced at Central Illinois Dragway in a Nostalgia Quick Series, but never in a Funny Car. “It’s humbling to be at Funny Car Chaos,” Haas said. “This is a good track and to see this many cars means a lot. I like it because you get to see everything, it’s not just a nostalgia event. For a fan to see 19 very different Funny Cars, it’s awesome. You never know who you will be lined-up against or what you are going to see.”
With two qualifying sessions on Friday and one on Saturday, the field of 16 would yield a few surprises and some not-so surprising results.
Jim Gifford III in Bill Dee’s “Nor’easter” Corvette from Canton, Mass. would briefly hold down the No. 1 spot on Friday night with a 3.96 pass on the eighth-mile track before Mike McIntire Jr. in the “McAttack” Camaro from Chesterfield, Ohio, laid down a 3.77 pass at 201 mph, the first ever 200 mph pass for a Funny Car at CID.
The eight-car, A-field was made up of six nitro and two alcohol cars, which surprised a few. Breaking into the Quick 8 were Alcohol Funny Car pilots, Steve Timoszyk, from Belleville, MI and his “Detroit Tiger” 1977 Monza in the third spot with a 4.06, and Reidnauer from Bechtelsville, Pa. in the final spot with a 4.212.
John Hale, in the One Bad Texan Camaro didn’t have his best outing as the Addison, TX resident posted a 4.37 second pass which placed the two-time Nostalgia FC Champ in third in the B-field.
Top Alcohol racer Bill Haves just missed the ‘A’ ladder by posting a 4.27 pass and Nancy Matter, in only her second time out in her new nitro-fueled machine, “Guardian for Hero’s,” 1978 Firebird wrenched by fuel Funny Car Legend, Dale Pulde, ran a 4.29 for second spot on the ‘B’ ladder.
Using a sportsman ladder, No.1 qualifier McIntire would square off in the first round against No. 5 qualifier Nick Poloson with McIntire taking the win. Reidnauer would defeat Brian Cunningham’s nitro Monza on a holeshot, Gifford would beat Bazz Young and Timoszyk, would beat Lakewood, Colorado’s, Keith Jackson, with a holeshot, a 4.02 to Jackson’s 4.00 to close out round 1 in for the ‘A’ ladder.
Jackson ended up in the corn field at the end of the 1750-foot shutdown area when a parachute failed to open. Neither Jackson or the High Heaven Challenger suffered any damage.
“I got only one chute out, I tried to stop, and it started bouncing a little, so you have to let it calm down a bit for you get on the brakes again. It just got the nose in the corn about three or four feet,” Jackson said.
In the ‘B’ field, Naves won over Mark McElwee, Rick Wilson bested qualifier Jordan Ballew, Joey Haas upset Matters and Mike Kurz won over Hale when Hale lost a motor.
Semi-final winners in the ‘A’ field were: McIntire over Reidnauer and Timoszyk defeated Gifford with a 4.08 to a 4.79.
In the ‘B’ field semi-finals, the winners were; Wilson over Naves (DNS) and Haas over Kurz.
The final on the ‘B’ ladder pitted the “UFO” Corvette of Rick Wilson from St. Louis, MO, against Joey Haas and the “Nimrod” Mustang. Wilson got out on the Mustang and held on for the win.
In the final for the ‘A’ group, it was one of the fastest nitro nostalgia Funny Cars in the country as Mike McIntire Jr, battled against the quickest alcohol cars at the event, Steve Timoszyk’s “Detroit Tiger”.
McIntire would save a 206-mph pass (the fastest pass ever for any vehicle at CID) and a 3.78 ET to take down the “Tiger” who ran a 4.06 at 178.
It was announced on Saturday that Funny Car Chaos would return to Central Illinois Dragway in 2019 for the tracks 50th Anniversary.
Funny Car Chaos wraps up on Sept 14-15 at NorthStar Dragway in Denton, Texas.