The NAPA Auto Pro Ultimate Showdown Drag Racing Series (USDS) launched its first ever event at Toronto Motorsports Park, with a strong turnout of racers, and a packed house to take in the racing action, at the Canadian Nitro Nationals.
The AUTOPRO USDS crowned it’s first Champions in Pro Modified, Top Sportsman, and Top Dragster on Sunday, following two days of intense qualifying, and tight elimination action.
There were 14 Pro Modified teams in attendance, all vying for a position in the 8 car qualified field. When qualifying was completed, it was many time Pro Mod winner Bruce Boland leading the field with a stout 5.888 @ 245.76 mph. Five of the eight cars that qualified, ran in the fives.
During eliminations, it was former Alcohol Funny Car World Champion, Rob Atchison from London, who worked his way into the final round with consistent performances from his Atchison Machine Service supercharged 1963 Corvette. Atchison had defeated Al Martorino’s Mustang in round one, then took out a strong running Derek Hawker and his 1968 Firebird in the semi-finals.
Atchison’s final round opponent was Gen Musto, who was wheeling his nitrous equipped 864 cubic inch 1968 Camaro.
Musto, out of Goodwood, Ontario, found himself inserted into the Pro Mod field as an alternate, and facing low qualifier Bruce Boland in round one. In that match up, Boland’s 1941 Willys acted strangely during the run and was not able to hold off the Camaro of Musto, who captured the upset win. In the semi’s, Musto laid down a 6.648 elapsed time, to take out a red-lighting Jeff Roth.
That set up the first ever NAPA ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN SERIES Pro Modified final, between Rob Atchison and Gen Musto. Back at the burn box, Bob Atchison stood right next to son Rob’s Corvette, ready squirt the injector and fire up for the final. In the other lane, Gen Musto’s team began to scramble for assistance, as the Mountain motored Camaro would not fire up. After different attempts to get the car fired, all that failed, Musto conceded, and told the TMP starter, to let Atchison run alone for the single, and the victory. Atchison fired his Corvette up, completed his burn-out, staged the car and drove it out the back door to a 5.96 at 240.12 mph to become the first ever NAPA AUTOPRO USDS Champion.
In the Top Sportsman and Top Dragster categories, a large turnout of competitors were in attendance to compete not only for Series points, but also for the huge purses posted.
In Top Dragster, some 24 cars were trying to run quick enough to bump into the 16 car dragster field. As a result, the bump spot ended up at 6.759, held by Jim Rubino from Buffalo N.Y. The number one qualifier was Lyle Williams out of Strathroy, Ontario, at 6.040 at 229.53 mph.
After four rounds of Top Dragster eliminations, it was Erin Stirdivant from Dorr, Michigan picking up the win with consistent performances from her Muffler Man dragster. In the Top Dragster final, Erin faced Keith McKellar from Ft. Erie, Ontario. In that race, Stirdivant had a perfect .000 reaction time, and ran a 6.453 on her 6.45 dial-in. That win allowed her to move into the $10,000. to win run off.
On the other side of the ladder in Top Sportsman, MotorCity Mike Sowards from Clarkston, Michigan was working his way thru the competition to meet up with Canadian racer, and many time event winner, Kevin Wicke. Wicke had just defeated Bill Wilson in the semi-finals, while Sowards had just run dead on his dial-in, in the semis against Jeff Gabel. In the all important Top Sportsman final, MotorCity Mike Sowards edged out Kevin Wicke, to advance to the Ultimate Showdown $10,000. race.
The anticipation was immense as fans and crew members from all teams crowded around the starting line area, to take in the first ever NAPA AUTOPRO ULTIMATE SHOWDOWNS Top Dragster vs. Top Sportsman final.
MotorCity Mike Sowards took a starting line advantage in reaction time in the run off, and held on to take a 7.081 at 186.06 mph victory over Erin Stirdivant. Erin’s dragster ran a trailing 6.457 at 209.44 mph for a runner-up effort.
MotorCity Mike was obviously excited with his win, and the team praised the track and the NAPA AUTOPRO USDS for a great winning weekend.
The next event in the NAPA AUTOPRO ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN DRAG RACING SERIES takes place at Grand Bend Motorplex, on August 7th, 8th, and 9th. It will be part of the Stratford Spectacular Weekend. Visit your nearest NAPA AUTO PRO or NAPA AUTO PARTS STORE for FREE SPECTATOR TICKETS TO THIS EVENT!