Words/Photos Phil Hutchison
The 2019 PDRA season came to a record setting conclusion at Virginia Motorsport Park in Dinwiddie, Virginia under cool and sunny skies. The race was scheduled to be completed on Sunday. But after the weather report guaranteed a wet Sunday, PDRA officials decided to run the race to completion Saturday.
Pro Nitrous racer Jim Halsey came into the event with a nearly three round lead over two-time world champion Tommy Franklin in his Musi-powered “Jungle Rat” ’69 Camaro. Franklin lost in the first round, killing his chances of catching Halsey. Not resting on just winning his first ever PDRA world title in his Fulton powered ’69 Camaro, Halsey continued through eliminations defeating the Party Time ’69 Camaro driven by outgoing 2018 PDRA Champ Jason Harris in the finals. Harris cut the light a little too quick in his Pat Musi-powered Chevy, red-lighting his chances away. Halsey set a new PDRA world record of 3.613 in the finals having laid down a 3.615 in his semifinals win over Chris Rini to back up the record.
In Pro Boost going into the event, points leader Kevin Rivenbark had a sizeable lead over No.2 in the chase, the turbo Corvette of Kris Thorne. And just like Pro Nitrous, Rivenbark’s closest competition, Thorne, lost in the opening round giving Rivenbark the PDRA world Championship. Rivenbark did not duplicate Halsey’s feat of winning the race as his GALOT turbocharged Camaro went out in round two breaking against the blown Firebird of Melanie Salami.
With Rivenbark out of competition, the finals went down to the No.1 qualifier and record holder Randy Weatherford in his WS Construction-sponsored turbocharged ’69 Camaro against upstart newcomer Mike DiDomenico in his CNC Performance Products blown ’68 Camaro. Weatherford, who had set the record at a 3.597 during qualifying was slow out of the box as DiDomenico used a huge holeshot and ran a 3.726 at 180.81 next to Weatherford’s much better but losing 3.641 at 208.55.
The Extreme Pro Stock title was determined at the previous race at Darlington with long time mountain motor racer John Montecalvo winning the title by just making a qualifying pass. Problem was, Montecalvo couldn’t crack the quick field at VMP and watched the race from the sidelines. Leading the field was No.2 in points, Chris Powers in his ATI Camaro. Powers just missed the magical three-second zone with a 4.007 in qualifying and met the Cavalier of Enoch Love driven by Dillon Voss in the finals. Powers made it a sweep taking out Voss with a 4.032 over a troubled 4.798 of Voss.
Pro Outlaw 632 went to the Cobalt of Jeremy Huffman beating former world champ Johnny Pluchino’s ’06 Ford Escort, running a 4.271 at 165.76 as Pluchino went -0.001 red with a 4.269 at 166.70.
Pro Nitrous Motorcycle was a wild affair with Travis Davis coming from third place in points to capture the race and the 2019 title. Point leader Ronnie Smith lost in round one opening the door for Davis and he kicked it open in the semis beating No.2 in points Chris Garner-Jones, setting up a final against Terry Schweigert. Davis used a 3.991 at 179.09 to defeat Schweigert’s 4.02 at 156.57.
Elite Top Sportsman winner Erica Coleman took her first PDRA race of the year defeating Bruce Thrift in the finals. Erica slowed to a 4.206 on her 3.92 dial-in in her ’68 Camaro while Thrift broke out in his Pontiac GTO with a 4.079 on a 4.08 dial.
Other winners at VMP were:
Top Sportsman 32
Elite Top Dragster