Words Brad Littlefield

The successful national event debut of Justin Ashley in Top Alcohol Dragster could figuratively be described as being shot out of a cannon.

That's what the 22-year-old driver must have felt like in a physical sense with how hard the Epic Motorsports Marketing/Randy Meyer Racing A/Fuel dragster planted him in the seat during a barrage of 5.1-second, 280-mph performances.

Ashley, son of former Funny Car and Pro Mod competitor Mike, added the New York-based family to the list of NHRA family winners in a dominant performance. He ran a 5.150, now the sixth-quickest run in class history, right off the trailer and followed that up with a 5.143, the fourth-quickest run ever. He and teammate Megan Meyer, who won the East Region opener the previous weekend, qualified Nos. 1 and 2 with Meyer running a 5.153 which equaled the ninth-quickest run ever.

“It’s a big help,” Ashley said of his teammate. “It’s very easy to relate because of the similarities – we’re around the same age, both our fathers raced for a long time, things like that. To be able to lean on someone for guidance and understanding how to drive better is huge. She has been tremendously helpful to me.”

Ashley was also aided by the flawless preparation of the entry by the Randy Meyer Racing team and the mental pointers by his father.

“It makes my job that much easier as a driver,” said Ashley. “I used the same approach in the first qualifying round as I did in the final. I tried to do everything right mechanically, cut the best light I could, and keep it straight. Randy Meyer did everything he possibly could to make my job easy.”

Ashley stayed mired in the 5.1s throughout eliminations until he took on defending event champion and class veteran Rich McPhillips in the final. The injected nitro burners traded the lead a couple times until Ashley’s horsepower won out to grant the impressive rookie his first victory 5.232 to 5.258 decision.

“The race was back and forth, and I had...
At the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., Annie and Steven Whiteley became the first mother and son in NHRA history to double up at a national event, Annie scoring for the fourth time in her Top Alcohol Funny Car career and Steven for the first time ever in Pro Mod.

Team leader Jim Whiteley termed the landmark double-up for his wife and son nothing less than the highlight of his illustrious career. "This means more than any race I ever won," said Jim, who won 24 national events, 24 divisionals races, and two NHRA championships in Top Alcohol Dragster. "If none of us ever wins again, this weekend makes my whole drag racing career worthwhile."

Both started from the No. 5 spot – Annie with a 5.45 and Steven with a 5.80 that topped the early qualifying charts – and both made the fastest runs of their lives in the final. Annie hit 273.22 mph on a single when two-time Gatornationals winner Dan Pomponio was unable to appear. Steven hit 253.52 mph in a career-best 5.791 seconds to train-length runner-up Mike Castellana, whose Frank Manzo-tuned entry blew the tires off in low gear in the Pro Mod finale.

"It's just an unbelievable feeling," said Steven, who ran the Pro Mod final in the very next pair after his mom scored in TAFC. "When she won, it really sent the pressure on me through the roof. I thought, 'Now, I have to win this thing.' "

Annie faced a different kind of pressure. "It's weird being on a single in the final," she said. "You think of the ignition quitting or some dumb little thing breaking. What happens then? Does nobody win? I didn't really know. I made sure the Tree was definitely on, left, and it was just a perfect run." Her 5.41 was the second-quickest run of her career, behind only the low e.t. 5.40 she ran in the semifinals against No. 1 qualifier and defending Gainesville champ John Lombardo, and her speed topped the 273.05 she ran in the semi's.
Gainesville - The 48th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals weren't too kind to Duane Shields and the PEAK A/Fuel Dragster team. Unfortunately, they suffered a close first round loss to end a three race stanza which included a regional event in Phoenix, Arizona and a pair of races in Gainesville, Florida.

Even with the loss, Duane was still on his game qualifying in the top half of another tough field as the seventh seed with an impressive 5.27 at 279 MPH. “The conditions were so good in Gainesville that it could make anyone into an instant hero. Everyone in the class stepped up so we gave the car a more aggressive tune up. But that increases the risk of losing traction” Duane said.

In round one, Duane took on reining East Coast Regional Champ, Rich McPhillips, who qualified tenth with a 5.31 at 266 MPH. As the dragsters left the line, McPhillips got the starting line advantage but then got slightly out of the grove allowing Duane to nearly close the gap but McPhillips crossed the finish line before Duane was able to pass him. McPhillips rang up another 5.31 at 270 MPH over Duane’s 5.39 at 278 MPH. “It shook early into the run so I had to pedal. The 5.39 is the slowest we have run since the beginning of the season in Pomona. But this is a race where consistency could have won. I’m disappointed but I have to say that I’m really proud of my team. They have really worked hard over the last three weeks and have done a great job” Duane said.

The PEAK team now takes a short break before returning to action April 21-23 in Richmond VA for a Lucas Oil Regional event. “This break comes at the right time so we can regroup and do some testing before the next race in Richmond. We need to step it up in order to stay with the top cars in the class” he said. As always, Duane would like to thank his sponsors PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil, Final Charge, Blue Def, NGK, GRP and Brad Anderson Enterprises.
Florida’s Burnyzz Speed Shop has agreed to partner with the NHRA’s premier Top Alcohol Dragster team, Randy Meyer Racing, for the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals this weekend. The Gatornationals will be held at Gainesville Raceway, just one hour North of Ocala where Burnyzz is located.

Burnyzz was founded in 2009 and has grown into a dealership of classic cars. The speed shop offers services such as paint, vintage installations, motor swaps, interior restorations, and dyno tuning. Burnyzz also encourages consignments and storage of American classic cars. Josh Hart, who also competes in the Top Alcohol Dragster class, is the owner of Burnyzz and sees great potential of the new partnership in the TAD class.

The Randy Meyer Racing Team visited Burnyzz after winning their first regional race of the year at Gainesville Raceway. Megan Meyer, who finished fourth in the nation last year, competed in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event and qualified in the second position. Her teammate, Justin Ashley, claimed the number one position, but had a failure with the fuel pump and was unable to compete in first round. Megan took down Jackie Fricke in the opening round with a 5.25 E.T. at 276 mph, followed by a 5.29 E.T. at 274 mph to defeat Mia Tedesco in the semi-finals. In the final round of eliminations, Megan had the starting line advantage and never looked back as she defeated Rich Bourke with a 5.24 E.T. at 276 to Bourke’s 5.38 E.T. at 251 mph. This is Megan’s first Lucas Oil Regional event win, and the Randy Meyer Racing Team’s 40th NHRA win.

“Josh Hart is a great competitor,” said Megan. “His performance on the track grows each race and it makes for great racing. We built a friendship at the races after I won the 4-Wide Nationals last year against Josh in the finals. We look forward to building the Burnyzz brand with Josh’s Fearless Racing Team. There is a lot to come...
Megan Meyer, a rising star in the Top Alcohol Dragster category, took home her first Lucas Oil Drag Racing League win at Gainesville Raceway on March 11. This is the first time the Randy Meyer Racing Team won the Southeast Division event.

Megan qualified in the number two position with a 5.239 E.T. at 274 mph. She defeated Jackie Fricke in the opening round of eliminations with a 5.257 at 276 mph, and slowed down to a 5.290 E.T. at 274 mph to take down Mia Tedesco in the semi-finals. Megan was matched up against the number five qualifier, Rich Bourke for the final round. Megan’s car picked up speed and she got the win with a 5.24 E.T. at 276 mph.

“We had an outstanding weekend for our first Lucas Oil Regional race of the year qualifying in the top 2 spots and taking home the win,” Said Meyer. “I was not planning on competing in the race but because my car ran great in testing we decided to enter Thursday night. We had just enough supplies and not enough crew members to run the two cars, but we worked together to make it happen.”

“Once Justin locked in the number 1 position we left his car alone and tried to get my car into the top half. We finally got the second qualifying spot on our third try and we're confident with both cars going into eliminations. Unfortunately Justin's fuel pump shaft broke while trying to start the car for first round, so he was not able to make the run against Josh Hart. But this was a blessing in disguise for us so we could focus on the one car.”

“We had the better car all day and although we lost lane choice going into the finals, we were able to use the cool track conditions to our advantage and get the win. This was an exciting weekend for us as it is my first regional win, our team’s 22nd regional win, and 40th NHRA win.”

The team is very confident in both of their A/Fuel Dragsters going into the NHRA GatorNationals. Qualifying begins Friday and will conclude on Saturday, followed by eliminations.
Hanna launches InsideProMod.com

DEER PARK, Texas – Drag Racing Entrepreneur Will Hanna, owner of the popular forums InsideTopAlcohol.com and InsideCompRacing.com is launching a new website, InsideProMod.com to cater to the Pro Mod/Doorslammer racing categories. He plans to use the same blue print that has made his other websites successful – generate useful content for racers to make it a community of racers.

The wheels went into motion last December when another website shut down due to low activity. Hanna began exploring the feasibility of launching another website and discussed it with many figures in the industry at the Performance Racing Industry trade show.

“We have a fair amount of Pro Mod activity on InsideTopAlcohol.com,” said Hanna. “ITA kind of has become a home for everything blown alcohol or blown nitro in the world. I noticed a prominent Pro Mod forum was shutting down as of December and realized that was the last of the dedicated Pro Mod forums. I reached out to them to see if they needed help staying afloat, they declined and decided to proceed with shutting the site down. I am fortunate enough this is my full time job and we have the infrastructure there to start another website. I asked a number of people within the industry at PRI if they would support it or if they thought I should do it, and it was a resounding yes. So we moved forward with it.

“It’s no secret that social media has taken some of the discussion that used to go on forums,” Hanna continued. “Our strategy and our niche moving forward will be original technical content. There are plenty of outlets that cover the news, race results and personalities. Of course we will have that to a degree, but our focus will be on the technical side. I am going to use my experience as a crew chief to work with manufacturers to create engaging content that educates the racer. We are going to then use social media to leverage that content. We want to be a...
Inaugural Funny Car Chaos Event Lands Primary Sponsor Red Line Shirt Club


Since the announcement of the Inaugural Funny Car Chaos event last month, interest in this flip top outlaw showdown has been plentiful. Set to rock Denton, Texas on September 29th & 30th, 2017 at North Star Dragway, this no holds barred, limitation exempt affair has caught the eye of over twenty funny car teams planning to attend. A true "run what you brung" affair, Funny Car Chaos will showcase funny cars of all types, engine combinations and body styles. Sixteen cars will qualify for this event which is free to enter. Those sixteen will be split into A (Top 8 qualifiers) and B (9-16 qualifiers) fields and run on a three round ladder to decide a Champion for each class. If it's a funny car, it's legal!

A plethora of nitro and alcohol funny cars make up the ever growing list of entrants that now surpasses twenty cars including the two top nitro nostalgia funny cars of the lone star state, Ronny Young's "Blue Max" and John Hale's "One Bad Texan". Also on the bill, NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car hitters Jeff Jones, Nancy Matter, Mark Billington and Bryan Brown as well as Reno, Nevada based Chris Morel in the "Little City Cuda" outlaw nitro funny car among many more.

The excitement continues to ramp up as Red Line Shirt Club, maker of vintage drag racing tees, steps up as primary sponsor of the event. Race promoter Chris Graves shares his excitement in bringing Red Line Shirt Club on board, "It's a perfect fit for this event. Randy Ranew of Red Line Shirt Club has a Very relative product line that works perfectly with both the racers and fans who love funny cars! I see this as a perfect fit for our event as we match the uniqueness of our inaugural Funny Car Chaos event to the appeal of the exclusive t-shirt designs Red Line Shirt Club has to offer." To join up and become a member of the Red Line Shirt Club, contact Randy Ranew at ww.RedLineShirtClub.com or...
Vern Moats, one of the longest-tenured Top Alcohol Funny Car driver before his retirement in 2012, died Jan. 15. He was 77.

Moats began racing in the early 1960s, and had been in a Top Alcohol Funny Car since 1972 before the class or the one that preceded it, Pro Comp, even existed. He has accumulated a remarkable tally of 15 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Division 5 championships, 16 top 10 finishes, 16 national event wins from 1983 to 2000, 14 JEGS Allstars special event appearances, and 56 LODRS event wins in three different classes (Comp, Pro Comp, and Top Alcohol Funny Car).

Moats began racing a blown gas Funny Car in Comp in 1972 and ran on alcohol the following season before the creation of the Pro Comp class, which featured Top Alcohol Dragsters, Top Alcohol Funny Cars, and altereds until TAD and TAFC became classes in 1981. Moats won the Division 5 championship in the first season of Pro Comp in 1974 and became a dominant fixture in the West Central Division.

Moats, whose last national event victory came in Denver in 2000, enjoyed his finest season in 1983 when he won four national events, including the U.S. Nationals.

Between 1974 and 1999, Moats won an unprecedented 15 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series championships. That record stood until Frank Manzo equaled it in recent years. His 56 career LODRS victories rank him fourth of all time among drivers in all classes behind only Manzo, Bob Newberry, and Jay Payne.

Courtesy Phil Burgess, NHRA.com
REVOLUTIONARY NEW ENGINES BY NOONAN TO BE LAUNCHED AT PRI

New High-Performance LS-EDGE Platform, Noonan “H2O” Water Jacketed Billet Hemi Engine, and the ‘All New All Out’ 4.900” Bore Space Noonan Engine to be launched at PRI Show in Indianapolis by Australian company, Noonan Ultimate Race Engineering

Three new products will be launched internationally by leading Australian race engine building and development company Noonan Ultimate Race Engineering next week in Indianapolis.

Fittingly, the launches will be held at the world-leading trade show for the performance racing industry – PRI 2016. The Performance Racing Industry trade show held at the Indiana Convention Center across December 8-10 will feature more than 1,200 exhibitors and is expected to host tens of thousands of buyers from 70 countries. These exciting new products will be on display at Booth 2541.

The staff of Queensland-based Noonan Ultimate Race Engineering will be in the United States to use the expo to officially launch the revolutionary new billet engines.

“We are very excited to once-again be a part of PRI as it really is the trade show for the performance industry,” said Jamie Noonan, Noonan Ultimate Race Engineering CEO and engine builder.

“We are even more excited to say that this year’s expo is going to act as our launch event for three revolutionary new engines that we have developed in-house at Noonan, which will offer amazing steps forward for customers looking for the ultimate in race performance.

“The products will be available immediately after the launch, and we look forward to showing event attendees around the new engines. For those unable to attend PRI, please visit www.noonanrace.com for more information.”

THE LS-EDGE PLATFORM – THE LATEST IN NOONAN’S LS ENGINE SERIES

Noonan has taken championship-winning race technology from the Top...
POMONA, CA – The 52nd NHRA Auto Club Finals at Pomona is in the books. The champions have been crowned, the parts bins depleted and the racecars and crew members are recovering. Johnny Ahten spent the Monday following the race running errands, fulfilling chores around the house and anxiously planning for the February 9, 2017 start of the NHRA Winternationals.

“The racing season may be over, but honestly I can’t wait to get back in the car,” said Ahten. “This year has been a challenge and we are looking to move forward and faster. We qualified strong, and lost a close one in eliminations. Instead of thinking about what we could have done differently or better at the Finals, I am going to focus on the positive gains.”

Johnny’s Pomona Finals started with a strong Thursday qualifying run of 5.395/270.97 which put him in the number eight slot for the day. In Friday’s second qualifying session, Johnny’s run was hampered and he lifted early to a 5.767/208.97. Later in the pits it was determined that the #6 intake valve was damaged. Repairs were made and the team headed to the last qualifying session with high hopes. The DJ Safety dragster ran the quickest elapsed time of the event with a 5.349/262.49 and would face Derik Milanesio in the first round later that afternoon.

Johnny Ahten and crew chief Al Ahten along with racing partner Howard Katano made the final adjustments and headed to the line with Bob Ahten, Kevin "Shark" Colvell, Chuck Costabile, Todd “Rocky” Rockwell, and John Mark. When the tree dropped and the cars rocketed off the line, Ahten had a slight advantage. Tire shake made its presence felt and Milanesio got the 5.307/272.94 win over Ahten's 5.476/249.26 shakefest.

“I am disappointed but motivated,” added Ahten. “I would have liked to have run better and go rounds at my home track, but I am excited about what we have planned for the coming season. DJ Safety, along with Island Renovations and Combust Filters have been very good to us this year...