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2022 Mid-West Drag Racing Series Summer Speed Spectacular

Posted By: Steve Baur
Written By Jennifer Chandler
Photography by the Author

The absolutely devastating loss of Ronnie Hobbs in Great Bend, Kansas was still fresh on everyone's mind when they arrived at World Wide Raceway in St. Louis Missouri. Hobbs, a Texas native, who raced for many years was well known and well loved in the racing community for driving the Texas Rattlesnake. This race was dedicated to the memory of Hobbs. Both Keith Haney, the series founder, and Jimmy Sackavich made memorial passes. This would be the first time down the track since the Great Bend Nationals for most of the competitors, as the remainder of that race was suspended. Emotions were high throughout the weekend, but especially as the first passes were made down the track.

 Daniel Pharris, out of Sikeston, Missouri, was the top qualifier in the Stroud Safety Pro Mod class in his ’69 Camaro with a 3.719 at 201.04 mph. Rounding out the top 5 in qualifying were number 2 Dustin Nesloney in his ‘17 Camaro with a 3.728, number 3 Stan Shelton in his ‘67 Mustang with a 3.748, number 4 Aaron Wells in his ‘67 Mustang GT500 with a 3.758, and number 5 Randy Merrick in his ‘79 Corvette at 3.764. Ed Thorton was the fastest with a speed of 206.20 mph. This weekend was Jon Stouffer”s first appearance since his crash last year in Kansas, but transbrake issues kept him from making a solid qualifying pass in his newly built Larry Jeffers built ‘71 Barracuda, and he did not make the field.

Brian Lewis of Wagoner, Oklahoma, set a new personal best of 3.736 in the quarter finals driving his '44 Willys, but came up short to veteran tractor puller, Stan Shelton of New London, North Carolina. Shelton's pass was a 3.698. Daniel Pharris and Aaron Wells also matched up in the quarter finals. Wells won the round with his 3.699 compared to the 3.743 of Pharris. Wells had motor issues top end during the semi-final round, and was unable to make the call for the finals. Shelton staged his car, and rolled into the beams to take the Stroud Safety Pro Mod win.

In the J&A Services Funny Car class, there were six entries. Sean Bellemeur, Ulf Leanders, Chris Marshall, Jim Whiteley, Annie Whitely, and Bryan Brown. Bellemeur was the quickest and fastest in qualifying. He had the lowest E.T. at 3.662 seconds, and top speed of 209.72 mph. First round brought us wins by J. Whiteley, A. Whiteley, and Bellemeur. Second round was husband and wife funny car drivers, Whiteley, facing off against each other. Jim Whiteley won that battle with a 3.679 to Annie's 3.668, which meant Bellemeur got a single in round two. Whiteley ran a respectable 3.661 to Bellemeur's 3.612.

The Pingel-sponsored Top Fuel Motorcycle class is not in the lineup for every Mid-West race, but when they race with the series, it's always interesting. In a field of seven motorcycles, Larry “Spiderman” McBride of Newport News, Massachusetts, qualified quickest with a time of 3.822, and fastest at 208.49, and was the eventual winner of the event after defeating Mitch Brown who ran 4.154 seconds to McBride's 3.762.

New to the series, the Custom Floaters Front Engine Top Fuel Dragsters were introduced to World Wide Raceway Park. These cars are modern day works of art with a nostalgic look. Fifteen front-engine, Top Fuel dragsters were in attendance, and they decided to run Chicago style. Chicago style means the drivers run 2 rounds of racing, and the two quickest cars are then automatically in the final-round eliminations. Shawn Bowen was the quickest man in round one at 3.894 seconds. He was also the quickest man in round 2 with a time of 3.812 seconds. Since he couldn't run himself in the finals, the next quickest was Jim Murphy with a 3.863-second run. Bowen once again proved he was the quickest in the finals with his 3.81 over Jim Murphy's 3.86 to take the win.

Anita Strasburg was the number-one qualifier in the Race Star Wheels Top Dragster class. Out of the twenty-seven-car entry field, Al Peavler grabbed the final-round victory over Jeremy McKague with his 3.892 to McKague's 4.629. Quarter-final drivers appearing were Dan Phelps, Peavler, McKague, and Jimmy Sackavich. Peavler is from Olney, Illinois, and was driving his '13 American with Chevy 540.

The Voss Top Sportsman class had fourteen entries. John Baker in his '41 Willys coupe stole the show by being both the quickest at 4.099 and fastest at 176.03 mph, and qualified number one. Baker made it to the quarter-finals, but was bested by Rod Moore in his 2001 S-10. On the other side of the ladder, Rich Smith matched up with Michael Chitty. Chitty had a better package, and wound up in the finals against Moore. Moore grabbed the win in his Holladay Distillery-branded S-10 with 4.572 to Chitty's quicker 4.305-second run.

Zimmerman Sportsman Jr Dragster had seven entries. In the finals, Tyler Wells went -.014 red against Jacob Phillips, which gave Phillips the automatic win. The B&C Trailer Pro Jr Dragster class was made up of ten entries. Round 3 action saw Emma Wyman at the line against Cohen Hale. Hale broke out with a 7.892 to give Wyman the victory, which pit Wyman against Brent Wagner, who had a single and ran a 7.867. When the final light dropped, Wagner defeated Wyman with his 7.920 to her 7.933 second run. Junior Slammers winner was Alexis Kesterson in her '15 Mike Box junior dragster.

The next race on the Mid-West Drag Racing schedule is US 131 Nationals in Martin Michigan September 9-10. Mid-West Drag Racing Series is shown on Mav TV.

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