Unusually cloudy skies greeted racers on the first day, Baldwin Racing Thursday, of the K&N Spring Fling Vegas. With $3,000 for the winner of Super Pro and $1,500 up for grabs in Pro, over 375 racers came through the gate at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. While further south on the infamous Las Vegas Strip people were running the tables at the casinos, these racers were gambling with a real chance to win money.
The semifinals of the Pro category had two NHRA national champions, Stock champ Brad Burton and e.t. Pro class national champion Seth Polvadoer, both out to prove their worthiness. And then there was the other semifinalist, John Victorino driving his “shopping cart”, a 1973 chop top Datsun. Victorino was sharp all day with numerous double-0 lights but an .038 reaction time did him in against Burton’s .029. Both drivers were under the dial but the win light still shined in Burton’s lane while Polvadoer soloed for his bye run.
The final turned ugly with Polvadoer’s .046 reaction time to Burton’s .033. At the finish line, Burton tightened up the stripe with a .0224 over the dial for the win over Polvadoer’s .0212 over his dial. Burton said afterward, “I’ve followed all the big money races that are on the east coast and it’s nice to have one here.”
In the semifinals of Super Pro, Moe Trujillo squared off with Kris Whitfield and his Super Gas roadster, while Dustin Hentges soloed with the bye. Whitfield’s roadster was having battery problems but it was enough to get by Trujillo.
And with a .004-second package in the final, Hentges didn’t have a chance against Whitfield. And some 16 hours after it all began, the very first K&N Spring Fling Vegas Super Pro crown went to the man from Littleton, Colorado. “We were having problems all day,” said Whitfield, “but I got great bunch of guys who helped and to have a .004 package in the final is unbelievable.”
The second race day of the K&N Spring Fling Vegas; Carrier Friday; dawned sunny, bright and hot in typical Las Vegas fashion. And unlike the night before when locusts tried valiantly to interrupt the action (yes, we said locusts as in short-horned grasshoppers… you just had to be here), the flying insects (okay, so they were really big bugs) had migrated to another area and racing began sharply at 8:00 am with one time trial for all competitors.
Some four hours later, eliminations began with 119 Pro cars and 277 Super Pro competitors. By the ten o’clock hour the locusts were almost gone and the Pro class was down to the semifinals consisting of Mark Simonian, Kevin Hayes and Ryan Mangus with the bye run to the final. In the Simonian/Hayes semifinal, Simonian led out of the gate with an .032 reaction time to Hayes’ .043 with Simonian taking the finish line and the win light with a dead-on the dial with a nine over Hayes’ one over the dial.
In the final, Mangus left first on his 9.57 dial coupled with an .016 reaction time as compared to Simonian’s .040 reaction time. Simonian did his best to run down Mangus to no avail, handing the trophy, check and all the accolades to Mangus from Sangers, California.
Mangus said, “I always wanted to win one of these bracket races and I thank Kyle [Seipel] and Pete [Biondo] for bringing this race out here.”
In the Super Pro semifinal, an oddity popped up as the last remaining four cars were… real cars rather than the normal dragster. In the first set, Vince Brown suffered an electrical malfunction handing the win to Rodney Snider, while Jeremy Jenson driving Luke Bogacki’s Corvette then took the win over Marko Perivolaris.
When Luke Bogacki had to fly home to tend to his very pregnant wife, he called in fellow Tennessee neighbor Jenson to wheel his Corvette and dragster and what a good choice it was. In the final, Snider unloaded a .007 reaction time to Jenson’s .017, but that Bogacki Corvette was not to be denied in a double breakout affair.
Jenson said, “On my first time shot on Thursday, I ran a ‘seven-eleven’ with a zero and this being Vegas, I knew it was going to be a great weekend. Man, so many people to thank, Luke and Jessica, K&N, JEGS, my fiancé Heather, Mom and Dad, my crew, Drag Race Results, This is Bracket Racing.com, C.A.R.S. Protection Plus, all the people on the car… I could go on and on. And what a great car.”
Day three of the K&N Spring Fling Vegas; Silverstate Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Saturday; began with the Spring Fling $20,000 Challenge. The Challenge allowed 20 randomly chosen drivers the chance to earn a possible $1,000 cash for a perfect “triple-zero” reaction time on one-time shot at the Christmas tree. Any of those 20 who recorded a .00X reaction time would receive a crisp Benjamin Franklin $100 bill. While no perfect reaction times were recorded, four drivers; Brian Smith, Caitlyn Whynaught, Richard McFarland and Jesse Adams walked away with ‘Franklins.
With no time trials today, eliminations began bright and early and continued all day long. During one break in the action, a stunning moment of silence was held for Super Gas driver Derek Sanchez with a large group of racers and their families standing on the starting line in his honor. Sanchez succumbed to injuries earlier in the week sustained during the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals held last weekend here at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
In the round of three in Pro, Kim Zimmerman earned the bye to the final while Wesley Eisenga battled with Mark Faul. Eisenga left first with an .037 reaction time forcing Faul to run under the dial in order to catch Eisenga, handing the final round berth to the ’69 Plymouth Valiant of Eisenga.
But on the weekend of her birthday, Kim Zimmerman was not to be denied. Both drivers were less than stellar in the reaction time department but when both are… bad, it still becomes anyone’s chance. Eisenga put forth a “Valiant Effort” to take the win light but had to run out in the process handing the win and the $5,000 check to the birthday girl and the first female winner of a Spring Fling event.
“Words can’t describe what I’m feeling now,” said Zimmerman, “but having my husband crew chiefing for me was a big help.”
Semifinals of Super Pro found four drivers battling it out with Chuck Hawk defeating Loreen Rogers and Brad Hawk taking the win over Matt Hartzell. That set-up a father-son final round as Hawk races Hawk.
And in the final, father tried to “know best,” but youth overcame experience when Junior left the starting line with an .016 reaction time as compared to Pop’s .029. Couple that with a dead-on the dial with an 8 for Junior’s Mustang and it was Brad Hawk who got to enjoy the $10,000 check and the Vegas showgirls.
Following regular eliminations, the 64-car Ultimate Shootout began with the winner taking home a Don Davis Race Cars Corvette roadster and the runner-up was no loser either, as he would receive a RaceTech Evolution Swing Arm dragster. Peeps Pennington and Don Toia squared off in the final with Peeps going home with the RaceTech dragster and Toia on the receiving end of the Don Davis Corvette.And then the real partying began with a Racer Appreciation Party going long into the night with raffle prizes, dancing, karaoke, food cooked by the Perivolaris family and of course, show girls.
Day last of the K&N Spring Fling Vegas, Baldwin Racing Sunday, concluded the weekend with racers from 19 states, two Canadian provinces and the country of Mexico. Last night’s festivities concluded with Racer Appreciation Barbeque and Party complete with music, karaoke, door prizes and great food prepared by the Pervilarus familY.
After a Racers for Christ chapel service and the K&N Spring Fling patented group photo shoot with just some of the participants, racing got underway. In the round of three cars, the semifinals, included Matthew Else, Super Stock racer Mark Faul and the oddity of the group, the dragster of 19-year old Garrett Parson running off the bottom bulb.
Faul enjoyed the bye to the final while Parson battled Else with Parson throwing down an .014 reaction time coupled with a dead-on the dial with a 9 to outdistance Else. Regardless of what happens, it ensures an oddity in Pro class racing. If Faul wins, it would be three out of four wins for NHRA-legal cars. And if Parson wins, a dragster running off the bottom bulb is an oddity in itself.
In the final, Faul ran under the dial to hand the win to the kid from Monroe, Utah. When asked why a dragster in the Pro class, Parson said, “I just wanted to be the fastest car in the class.”
For the Spring Fling, dragsters and door cars in the Super Pro class are run separately until the round of 16 cars or less when they’re combined. Typically though, dragsters more or less are the dominating factor in wins. Not so here. While Thursday and Friday’s winners were in street roadsters, they’re still considered door cars. Saturday’s winner was in a Mustang. All that changed on Sunday.
At the round of three cars, Greg Christensen and Justin Morgan, with Scott Lemen the recipient of the bye run. In the Christensen/Morgan semi, Christensen took a little too much finish line strip running under by two-thousandths of a second, handing the win to Morgan. In the final, Lemen left first by way of his slower dial-in but Morgan had the better reaction time unfortunately running under his dial-in to hand the win to Lemen who was driving the K&N-sponsored car of Greg Boutte.
“This was a great race and I have to thank Greg [Boutte] for stepping in and allowing me to drive his car,” Lemen said.
With the success of the inaugural K&N Spring Fling Vegas event, Peter Biondo and Kyle Seipel announced the event will be here for at least the next four years to continue the tradition and make it even stronger next year. Visit www.bracketraces.com for future announcements.