This weekend, racers from all over the region will be bearing down on Great Bend for an event that ties together three big races at the SRCA dragstrip west of town.
The National Hot Rod Association sanctioned National Dragster and Jr. Dragster challenges will have racers competing for coveted awards in seven classes, said Sunflower Rod and Custom Association president Hank Denning. Youth and experience alike will give it their all in pursuit of drag racing’s most coveted award.
The popular races, sponsored by the online National Drag magazine, draw contestants from around the region to compete, including youth racers ages 7 to 17.
“We bundled them together so the little kids could race with the big kids,” Denning said. “They’ll all be running for a Wally.”
He’s referring to the much sought after trophy named after NHRA’s founder Wally Parks, depicting a racer standing next to a racing tire. These are the Oscars of the drag racing world.
Racers compete all season long for points that will put them at the top of the charts and secure their win.
The races are part of the Summit ET points series. The weekend’s champions will bo on to race at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., in September to determine the West Central Division finals.
Rocky Mountain Super Chargers
But that’s not all. This weekend marks the final race in the Rocky Mountain Super Chargers series. Its a three race series. The first race was held in July in Kearney, Neb., at Cruise Kearney, the second in Billings, Mont. at the Yellowstone dragstrip, and Great Bend’s SRCA dragstrip will host the final race Saturday.
Ed Arcuri with RMSC said with a dozen or more pro superchargers, this will be the biggest group assembled anywhere. This is the fifth year of the series that continues to grow in popularity.
The top four cars competing for the championship include local driver Pam Wamser, who races with her husband, Jeff, both of Pawnee Rock. She will be racing her 1953 Studebaker Commander. Other cars in the lineup include the 2013 champion, the Mile Higher Flier, a front engine dragster, and the 2012 champion Reminiscin’ Racing, a front end dragster (see a video of their 2012 run at SRCA at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnVG0yhXHfc ), and the Last Starfighter, a ‘71 Dodge Challenger with a supercharged Chrysler engine (see a 2013 race at SRCA at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kf27vTjLcFI ).
He explained the event is run Chicago elimination style. All cars compete in every round, with a target of 7.50 seconds. At the end of the rounds, the two cars that are the closest to the mark will go to the finals. The next two will be named semifinalists. This allows fans to see their favorite cars more than once, and it gives racers an extra shot at the prize, Arcuri said.
The RMSC race draws contestants from eleven states, including Texas, North Dakota, Montana, and several other western states. The final race is always in Great Bend, in part because of the historical significance of the track.
“I like to tell folks that you don’t get much better than racing at the original NHRA drag strip, where it all began,” he said. Members of the RMSC association have awarded the SRCA track and the City of Great Bend awards for “Track of the Year,” and hospitality respectively.
“The members wanted to acknowledge how well they are treated by the people of Great Bend every time we come,” Arcuri said.
Racers aren’t only winners
Racers will begin arriving Thursday and Friday, so there should be cars out at the track by Friday morning. According to Cris Collier, president of the Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau, being the first NHRA drag strip in the nation, each time SRCA has a chance to bring a big race here, it brings recognition to Great Bend. The city is well known in racing circles as an important track to visit.
“There is definitely an economic impact from these bigger national and points races,” she said. “Multi-day events mean hotel rooms fill up, and that means more people shopping and eating out in Great Bend.”