The Sunflower Rod and Custom Association (SRCA) Drag strip welcomed back the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Race Series to Great Bend on Saturday. The season comes down to the Sportsman Class with Brett Beck (Beloit) tied in points with Mark Walton (Hutchinson). The paradox of grass roots racing pitted Beck’s ’86 Mustang against Walton’s ’99 Miata. Although Beck was not present he did buy his tech card which awarded him 20 “show up” points. The Super Pro class was also in play with only 30 points separating dad, Mike Gordine (Salina) and his son, Scott. Dad drives a ’66 Chevelle and Mike is driving a dragster. The third place racer, Dr. Larry Smith (Alva, Okla.) was right behind them in his ’87 Camaro.
As a racer is eliminated in the first or second round they can “buy back” another chance to race again. With each flight there is a new opportunity for each racer to improve their final standings in the points. On Saturday every racer eligible to buy back did. The point’s battle became fluid and a new leader could emerge after each pass. Drivers began to feel the pressure as third round eliminations began with no additional chances available. They now had to make their own opportunity.
Approximately 100 drivers came to compete in the final show. Brett Beck’s 20 show-up points made no difference for his positioning and Mark Walton fell to Patrick Zink (Claflin) who drove his ’87 Cutlass (442) consistently and won all six of his elimination rounds including besting Walton in round five.
The Super Pro class developed into a real nail biter when Dr. Smith eliminated Mike Gordine in the fourth round of eliminations. Smith then proceeded to beat Scott Gordine in the next round. Although Dr. Smith continued on and bettered Brandon Pfanenstiel (Hays) driving a ’00 Undercover dragster in the final round he came up ten points short in his bid for the overall championship.
The class winners for the evening were: Super Pro Dr. Larry Smith (Alva, Okla.); Pro ET Jeff Rohrer (Alva, Okla.); Sportsman Patrick Zink (Claflin); Motorcycles Michael Shelton (Great Bend); Street Legal Mark Walton (Hutchinson); Jr Dragster (10-17 yo) Brayden Stabb (Enid, Okla.) and (8-9 yo) Aiden Peres (Galva).
There is nothing complicated about racers and racing. The season starts with great anticipation and concludes with a bittersweet ending. The equipment is fragile, the treasury is thin and the racers are tired. They combine athleticism and the spirit of human achievement braced by abundant confidence. The only thing that makes acceleration competition such an integral part of a racers life is they can’t stop thinking about it.
The SRCA Awards Banquet will be held on Nov. 5, at the track. Watch the SRCA website for updates and the 2017 schedule at www.srcadragstrip.com.