One Step Closer: Friday IHRA Summit World Finals Notebook
By IHRA Media
Oct 12, 2012
Top Dragster competitor Mia Tedesco takes some time to talk with the local news media
Friday was all about one thing – tuning up and getting ready for the big show on Saturday and Sunday.
Racers had their first hits at the track after rain washed out the test and tune on Thursday leaving everyone scrambling to get a few good laps under their belt before the big go. Racers competing in the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Spectacular presented by AMSOIL got in two time runs plus the first round of eliminations and the re-entry round on Friday before calling it a night, leaving the remainder of the Sportsman Spectacular to be run on Saturday.
In addition to the finale of the big money Sportsman Spectacular, Saturday’s action will also see time runs for racers competing in the Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions presented by AMSOIL and the entire Summit SuperSeries presented by AMSOIL and Moser Engineering competition. Saturday will conclude with the crowning of the first three champions of the weekend and the year-end awards celebration Saturday night beginning at 9 p.m.
Now for an inside look at the IHRA Summit World Finals weekend…
THE UP, DOWN AND UPSIDE DOWN YEAR OF JACOB ELROD
By now you have probably heard the story of Jacob Elrod and his incredible 2012 racing season.
The three wins in three separate classes all in one day at the Grand Bend Motorplex. The seven Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am victories in nine finals in four different classes. The two Summit Pro-Am divisional championships. Yeah, it is safe to say that it has been a whirlwind year for the Harrod, Ohio native.
But what you may not know is that it hasn’t been all roses for Elrod this season. In fact, despite all of his successes, Elrod has also had his struggles and at one point he was on the verge of calling this year a complete failure. It even had him questioning his ability to drive.
“One race we were celebrating our first win of the season and we were like yeah, this is going to be a good year,” Elrod said. “The next I flip the car and then I was like yeah, I suck. I can’t even drive a car straight. It was definitely frustrating.”
Yeah, it was that kind of year for Elrod. And it all began in late June.
In only the second race of the Division 3 North Stars season on the Summit Pro-Am Tour, Elrod picked up his first win of the season in Top Dragster at Mountain Park Dragway giving the team a big boost of confidence going forward.
One week later, however, things quickly took a turn in the wrong direction.
Riding the high of his first win of the year, Elrod entered his car in the NHRA event close to his home in Norwalk, Ohio and suddenly found himself in a place he didn’t want to be – upside down.
“Here we are coming off of the win in Kentucky and I was feeling good about that and then I go and flip the car upside down in Norwalk,” Elrod said. “It didn’t really hurt it that bad, it just flipped on its top, but that really threw in some humility. We fixed what it was with the trans brake, but it really knocked us back down to earth.”
And then things took another turn, this time things flipping (figuratively and literally) back on track.
Just two weeks later Elrod was back behind the wheel at the MOPAR Nitro Jam Nationals at the Grand Bend Motorplex in Ontario and, as has been well documented, went on to win three classes in one race for the first time in IHRA history. Elrod won in Quick Rod, Hot Rod and Top ET, going an amazing 17-0 all in a single weekend. It was a defining moment for Elrod and it was a moment that completely turned around his year and, in reality, his entire career.
“You go to races expecting to win, or at least do well. Why else would we race,” Elrod said. “But while you expect to have a good weekend every time you load the car in the trailer, you certainly don’t expect to win in three different classes. That was such a magical weekend for all of us and something that I will never forget.”
From there Elrod’s season exploded with four more wins and two divisional championships in Top Dragster and Super Rod, qualifying both of those cars in the Tournament of Champions over the next two months while absolutely taking the drag racing world by storm.
“This year we have been stupid lucky. This is the one year where I was good when I needed to be and lucky when I needed to be so really everything just fell into place,” Elrod said. “I have had so many people come up and congratulate me, and not just regular people, but really, really good racers that I respect and look up to. To have them come up and say ‘man you are doing a good job’ is really humbling.
“I am used to looking up to these people ever since I was a little kid at some of these races and to have them say that they are watching you and rooting for you, that makes you feel really good.”
Now Elrod will try to do it again this weekend as he goes up against the best of the best in Top Dragster and Super Rod and tries to join his dad, a two-time IHRA champion, with his first career IHRA championship at Memphis International Raceway this weekend.
“Ever since the TOC started in 2009 the people that show up for this thing, they are not slouches,” Elrod said. “There are racers here this weekend from all over the country, as far away as Alaska. When you have people coming from Alaska and all of these states, they are not coming up here to just have a good time. They are here because they are good and they are here gunning for the win.
“We have got our work cut out for us. It would certainly cap the year and it would be amazing if we could win again this weekend, but after the year that we have had if I don’t win this thing you are not going to see me walking around with a sour face. How could I after a year like this.”
WHERE DID SHE COME FROM?
If you don’t know the name Brooke Warren, get to.
Because if the next few years go anything like the past six months, drag racing is going to have a new star on its hands.
Warren, from Clinton, N.C., is no stranger to the sport. Her entire family races including three family members qualified in the Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions this weekend. She has the ingredients – she is smart, she is attractive and boy can she drive the wheels off of a racecar.
Just ask the racers in Division 9.
After taking two years completely off from the sport to pursue a degree in nursing, Warren returned to drag racing earlier this season behind the wheel of a brand new Quick Rod machine and within no time she was putting her new ride into contention.
“I sat out two years for nursing school and this is my first year back and first full year in a dragster,” Warren said. “I had been running Hot Rod, but when I decided to come back I kept telling my dad I want a dragster, I want a dragster. Finally he got me one and I really think he is happy he got me one now.”
In her first race back Warren drove her new ride all the way to a runner-up finish at Rockingham Dragway back in April. Two months later at the very next Division 9 Summit Pro-Am race Warren once again visited the final round, finishing runner-up once again at Dunn-Benson Dragstrip.
It is safe to say that start really boosted the 22-year-old drivers confidence after a few years away from the sport.
“In my first race out I just wanted to get out of the first round and I ended up being runner-up which was amazing,” Warren said. “And then things really started picking up for us and I started to feel more and more comfortable in the car.”
Finally, at the final divisional race of the season at Farmington Dragway in August, Warren broke through with her first career victory and in the process qualified her car for the Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions. It was a groundbreaking day for the young driver and set in motion what could be many years of great racing from Warren.
“I was coming off of a first round red light at Coastal Plains the race before so we were finally knocked back down to earth after the good start,” Warren said. “And then at Farmington I was able to get it done which was a big day for me. It was the first race that I have ever won and it being a TOC qualifier just made it that much better.”
Now Warren is in Memphis, Tenn. along with three other family members qualified for the TOC as Warren and the family try to continue that momentum and take home a championship Ironman from the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment World Finals.
“When I was eight I started racing Junior Dragster and ran that until I was 16 where I started racing Hot Rod and now I am in Quick Rod,” Warren said. “When I started all those years ago I never dreamed I would have an opportunity to race for a championship so I am definitely excited. I am the only girl here, but I am used to that. We are just going to give it our all. The whole family is here and we are having fun hanging out, spending time together. It is going to be a good weekend regardless, but if we can take home a trophy it would really be special.”
Inaugural IHRA Junior Dragster Summit SuperSeries field
SMALL DRAGSTERS, BIG CHAMPIONSHIP
One of the most exciting new additions to the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment World Finals in quite some time is the inclusion of Junior Dragster in the Summit SuperSeries program.
Designed to reward grassroots racers with a chance to compete for a world championship, the Summit SuperSeries presented by AMSOIL and Moser Engineering has been crowning champions in the Top and Mod ET classes since 2002 with racers from multiples states – even multiple countries – taking a world championship back with them to their home track.
And as the series continued to grow, ballooning into arguably the greatest sportsman drag racing program in the country, the IHRA decided late last year that an addition needed to be made to the program – Junior Dragsters.
And after many weeks of planning and preparation, the IHRA Junior Dragster Summits Racing Equipment SuperSeries World Championship was born in the early part of 2012 and is on the verge of crowning its first-ever world champion just as this same program did 11 years ago with the very first champion in the big car class in 2002.
“Junior racers are the future of our sport and we felt it was extremely important to work with these budding young stars and let them be a part of something big that has never been done before,” said Jim Greenleaf, Summit Racing’s Motorsports and Events Manager. “We are very excited to present the very first Junior Dragster world championship here this weekend and we look forward to seeing this program grow into something special over the next few years.”
A grand total of 16 drivers are in Memphis this weekend competing for the inaugural Summit SuperSeries Junior Dragster championship hailing from as far away as Canada, Utah and Florida all with the same opportunity to be crowned a champion this weekend.
“I am so excited. I never thought I would be able to come here and be a part of something like this,” said Junior Dragster competitor Randi Teed representing Skyview Drags. “It surprised me when I won. We had a lot of fun at our Team Finals. Now, to win here this weekend, that would be really great. I would be so surprised.”
To get to this point, drivers in the Summit SuperSeries – both Junior Dragster and big car – had to be registered in the program and do well at their local track. From there Summit SuperSeries track champions then moved on to their regional Summit Team Finals competition where they faced off against other track champions in their area for the opportunity to race at Memphis International Raceway for the championship.
And it will all go down this weekend as all three classes crown a world champion on Saturday.
“I have been racing since I was eight years old. This opportunity to race in the first Junior Dragster SuperSeries is like icing on the cake for me to finish my junior racing career since next year is my last year in the program,” said racer Josh Jones representing Rocky Mountain Raceways. “I have had fun racing with my brothers Jake and Jared and my parents. I would like to thank IHRA for this opportunity and we can’t wait to race for it all tomorrow.”
The IHRA Junior Dragster program features racers as young as eight all the way up to 18. This year’s participants in the inaugural Junior Dragster Summit SuperSeries are Tyler Macedo, Austin Johnson, Toni Salsgiver, Jennifer Craft, Wesley Mayfield, Dylan Kiser, Randi Teed, Lewie Wortman, Chris Pearson, Cory Tankersley, Ryan Paquette, Kaden Bergos, Lizzie Low, Connor Caulder, Robert Vogler and Josh Jones.
The Junior Dragster Summit SuperSeries will be contested Saturday afternoon.
THE DREAM WEEKEND THAT ALMOST DIDN’T HAPPEN
To think Scott Doyen almost turned around.
Halfway between his home in Bay City, Mich. and U.S. 131 Motorsports Park back in August, Doyen almost pulled the plug on a weekend that had yet to even begin. After all, a swirling storm the day before left all the entire state soaked and on the drive to the track for the CarSafe Northern Nitro Jam the rain just kept coming. But Doyen, determined to try his hand at his very first IHRA race, decided to keep going.
And then something miraculous happened. About an hour from his destination the rains stopped. The sun came out and Doyen finally felt a sense of relief as he pulled onto the grounds and unloaded his dragster. Now all that was left was to cross his fingers and hope for the best.
Amazingly, less than 24 hours later, Doyen was an IHRA winner in Top Dragster.
“I drove down Saturday morning of the race and all the way to the track I kept asking myself ‘what in the world am I doing wasting gas to go sit in the rain,’” Doyen said. “But as soon as I hit Battle Creek things cleared up. Being my first IHRA race, I didn’t even have an IHRA cert so I had a lot of work to do as soon as I arrived. The whole weekend was such a rush.”
That rush was spread over two days as Doyen went five flawless rounds with his worst light of the entire race being a .010 as he downed several big hitters to claim his first Ironman in his very first IHRA race all in an emotional weekend that meant more to Doyen than any race prior.
“My mom and dad both just passed away and it was definitely emotional after I won,” Doyen said. “Me and my dad raced for a long time and all we ever wanted was to win one of these trophies. It was so crazy that my mom, known as the chicken lady, nicknamed the team and we had a vehicle with two rubber chickens on it that said ‘don’t pluck with us’ and after the race the announcer said ‘winner, winner chicken dinner’ and played the chicken dance song. It made the win all the more special.
“I know that mom and dad were both there to celebrate with me, I just didn’t get the hug that I wish I could have got.”
Through that win Doyen, driving the aptly named “Catch Up” dragster, qualified for the Tournament of Champions and is in Memphis this weekend seeking for his first world championship, not just for himself, but for his entire team and especially for his mom and dad.
Since the deaths of Joan and Bob Doyen, both within the past three years, Doyen has found healing in the sport that he loves and that his family loved as well. And if he could bring a championship back to his home in Bay City, that would mean the world to Doyen and everyone associated with his team.
“If things go like they did in Martin, I think we are going to have a world champion here in Bay City,” Doyen said.
Not too bad for a man that almost turned around.
A BOOMING PROGRAM
One of the areas that the IHRA is committed to growing in 2013 and beyond is its contingency program.
With a new contingency director and a wealth of new programs and races on the track and in the works, the IHRA is committed to bringing the program back to its former glory and beyond.
And as part of that the IHRA is pleased to announce during its biggest weekend of the year that ATI Performance Products, one of many companies dedicated to IHRA sportsman drag racing, will be returning for 2013.
ATI provides of a multitude of high performance parts to racers around the world including Competition Transmissions, Treemaster Converters, Super Dampers, Compu-Flow Valve Bodies, Flexplates and Adapter kits as well as a wide variety of performance enhancing internal components. And with ATI’s commitment to the sportsman racer, born from ATI president and owner Jim Beattie’s own background as a sportsman racer, and IHRA’s renewed commitment to the contingency program, the return of ATI is the first of many new and returning sponsors to the IHRA contingency program in 2013.
“ATI Performance Products has been a Major IHRA Contingency Sponsor for more years than we can count, and over those years, we’ve continued to grow a loyal following of sportsman racers,” said J.C. Beattie Jr., COO of ATI Performance Products. “With a variety of racing venues and zero minimum annual payout requirements, the IHRA Contingency program provides ample exposure at an affordable price. With a smooth payout process and the many advertising opportunities in Drag Review Magazine, IHRA is a great fit for ATI.”
Over the years ATI has maintained a close relationship with racers and tracks no matter the class or size of the track. And as a major sponsor of the IHRA, Beattie and the entire ATI staff have made a strong commitment to the sport of drag racing and the tradition of providing the finest performance parts in the industry.
For more information on ATI visit
and for more information on the IHRA contingency program please visit