The history of automobiles and motorcycles being used for drag racing goes back as far as the history of the automobile itself. In the 1910s the gasoline internal combustion engine achieved dominance over all things run by steam and by the 30’s most of the mechanical technology had been invented. Ford introduced the flathead V8 shortly after and through the 50s it was all about speed. As the cars got faster; the drivers got braver.
Although drag racing grew more and more popular it remained underground. Races frequently took place on disused military runways with the first organized event dating back to 1949 at the Goleta Air Base in California. Life was simple then. Cars were driven to the track or towed in improvised trailers. The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) was founded in 1951 by Wally Parks and drag racing became a legitimized motorsport. The first nationwide NHRA sponsored event was held at the Sunflower Rod and Custom Association drag strip in Great Bend in 1955.
At this year’s Division 5 ET Finals held at Topeka’s Heartland Park, Great Bend’s SRCA team came in fourth place in overall points. The big winner of the weekend was SRCA team member, Michael Shelton, who ran a sweep in the motorcycle class. He won the Pro Bike class and he then won the Race of Champions. Never in the history of the ET Finals has a racer won both. He now travels to Pomona, CA Nov. 13-16 to attend the NHRA Summit Racing Series National Championship. When asked how his race strategy would differ in a national competition he stated, “I have no idea. This will be a whole new ball game. I’m just gonna do what I’ve been doing”.
Going into tonight’s regular weekly racing Saturday, Oct. 15, Shelton has clinched the SRCA motorcycle championship for the third year running. A mere four points separates Super Pro competitors Scott Gordine (Salina) and Alva, Okla., dentist, Dr. Larry Smith.
The class winners for the evening were: Super Pro Mike Morlen (Liberal); Pro ET Jeremy Smith (Great Bend); Sportsman Nick Zink (Claflin); Motorcycles Michael Shelton (Great Bend); Street Legal Mark Walton (Hutchinson); Jr Dragster (10-17 yo) Amaya Sneath (Little River) and (8-9 yo) Aiden Peres (Galva).
The final SRCA season race weekend begins Friday, Oct. 28, with Test and Tune. Gates open at 6 p.m. Regular bracket racing is Saturday, Oct. 29. Gates open at noon with time trials starting at 2 p.m.
The SRCA Awards Banquet will be held November 5. The SRCA race schedule can be found at www.srcadragstrip.com. See you at the track.