KATHY KIEKEL EARNS HISTORIC WIN AT SKYVIEW DRAGS!
After 2 weeks of rainouts, the rainy weather finally gave us a break and we had a gorgeous day on Rumble Ridge to run our first official full race of the season.
In the Super Pro class, 21 race cars were entered; Twenty men and one woman. Kathy Kiekel is currently the only female racer in Super Pro. Just starting her fifth year of racing, and in her second year of racing Super Pro, Kiekel recorded her first Super Pro win and entered the Skyview Drags record books as the first female racer to notch a win in the top class at Skyview Drags.
Round 1 saw Kiekel’s S10 truck lined up against the S10 truck of Pete Curpier, husband of former Super Pro racer Crystal Ingalls, who was the first female Super Pro racer at Skyview. The Curpier and Ingalls families are good friends of the Kiekel’s and the 2 families have always enjoyed racing against each other. Unfortunately, Curpier went red giving Kiekel a free pass, where she recorded a .504 light running dead on her dial.
For round 2, Kiekel was matched up against the fastest car on the property as she drew Vince Musolino and his brand new American dragster and its beautiful paint scheme. Despite the almost 1.4 second difference in dial in’s, Kiekel put together a 13 package running dead on her dial to take the 2nd round win.
For round 3, Kiekel drew another longtime friend in Bobby Hacker. Bolstered by a .502 light, the starting line advantage went to Kiekel, who, unable to find Hacker at the mile marker line, coasted her S10 truck across the finish line to take the win light. Meanwhile in the same round, her husband, Don Kiekel was matched up against Bob Hacker’s son, Aaron. Both Kiekel’s won round 3 and that prompted fellow Super Pro racer Jim Potenziano Sr. to scurry into the Hacker pits and write on their trailer, KIEKEL’S 2 / HACKER’S 0. There’s never a dull moment at Skyview! “Our racers are just like family,” said track director Amy Culver. “One minute they are fiercely competing against each other and the next minute they are playing practical jokes, kicking back, relaxing, and enjoying each other’s company.”
Round 4 brought us the semi-finals with only 4 cars left. CJ Drake was the only driver wanting the left lane. Jack Ostrowski, Don Kiekel and Kathy Kiekel filled in the 2 right staging lanes. Randomly paired by the draw of the cards, Drake would race Ostrowski. That meant that the husband & wife Kiekel’s would be paired up against each other. With Kathy Kiekel having the bye run, she sent her husband Don, the 2008 & 2009 Super Pro track champion, out of the lane he had run all day and over into the left lane.
Drake and Ostrowski went first with Ostrowski taking the win. Both Kiekel’s then staged their cars and launched cleanly; Kathy Kiekel leaving first with her husband giving chase. Just past the mile marker line, the Kiekel’s eyes were locked on each other meaning that Don’s longer dragster was out ahead of Kathy’s S10. She had the gas pedal rammed to the floor willing her truck to take the win. Never taking her eyes off her husband’s dragster as they crossed the finish line, Kathy didn’t see Don’s win light come on and she knew she was in the finals. Although Don Kiekel took the stripe, he broke out doing it. Kathy put together a 23 package for that run and with Don having a .529 reaction time, Kathy kept the win light just out of her husband’s grasp.
With both winning cars coming out of the right lane, a coin toss would decide lane choice for the finals. Luck favored Kiekel, who won the toss and put Ostrowski into the left lane for the first time that day. Kiekel dialed a 6.05 and Ostrowski put a 5.04 dial on his 2001 Cressman dragster. That would give Kiekel approximately a one second head start off the starting line. Both cars staged and the drivers released off the top bulb. As the lights started to come down, Ostrowski’s dragster left before Kiekel’s truck!
“My heart sank,” said Kiekel. “When his dragster took off before me, I thought I had ruined my chance at a win. I couldn’t believe it. I should have been out of the gate first and not even seen him launch.” As Kiekel’s truck took off, she looked up at the scoreboard and saw her win light on. Ostrowski had neglected to put Kiekel’s slower dial in number into his delay box and he fouled when he left before the third amber. “About half track it finally hit me that I had won,” said Kiekel. “I thanked God for watching over me and keeping us all safe today. And my first thoughts were of my Mom as I coasted across the finish line. She passed away in 2009 never having seen me race.”
Returning to her pits, Kiekel celebrated with her husband and her racing family who all gathered around to congratulate Kiekel on her win. “I have to thank my husband Don who taught me all about bracket racing. I started out learning to crew for him. Then I spent 2 years in Street Class earning 3 wins along the way and another year in Pro Class with a win under my belt. When I moved up from Pro class to Super Pro, he and our dear friend Steve Cross drove 23 hours straight to Kentucky and back to get my truck. He built me a great motor and we now have a perfect setup in this truck,” said Kiekel. With Kiekel never being beat on the tree all day and her truck running dead on its number 3 of the 5 rounds, Kiekel earned her place in the Skyview Drags history books.
After the winner’s pictures were taken and the Kiekel’s were back in the pits to load up their gear, Kathy took time out to call her 81-year old father in Lakeland, FL and tell him the words he longed to here. “Daddy, I won today,” she whispered while fighting back the tears. Father and daughter celebrated long distance. Ray Willis will travel north next month to visit his daughter and son-in-law and watch them race. But he will always treasure this phone call when his daughter won her first Super Pro race in a sport she loves to compete in.
The day started off with 11 Junior Dragsters. This class is for our 8-18 year olds who run a scale version of the dragsters seen in the Super Pro class. In Final Eliminations, Abby Hacker lined up against Cody Reome. This would be Hacker’s first finals in the Junior class. With Hacker dialed a 12.35 and Reome dialed in at 8.18 there would be more than a 4 second wait for Reome before he could try to chase down Hacker. Both racers left cleanly, but Hacker broke out and Reome took the win running an 8.20 on his 8.18 dial. Rookie Faith Peckham was the semi-finalist.
In our Junior Dragster 2nd Chance Race, rookie Alyssa Cody, in her first competition, took home the win over Randi Teed.
Teen Championship Racing is for our 13-17 year olds. In this class, they drive street cars with a licensed parent or guardian next to them in the passenger’s seat helping to coach them. The final round would pit Teresa Kurtz against Brandon Searcy. Both in their second year of racing TCR, these young racers would be in a close to head’s up race. Kurtz dialed 11.21 and Searcy posted just a slightly faster 11.10 dial in. Both drivers had similar reaction times but at the finish line it was Kurtz who turned on the winning light as she ran an 11.27 against Searcy’s 11.24 ET.
In the Street Trophy class, Charlie Fulmer met Joe Santucci in the finals. Fulmer went red, handing the win over to Santucci who took home the trophy for his efforts.
In the Street Money class, Howie Conklin’s Strip Blazer II faced off against Gary French’s Illegal Regal for the finals. French ran a 9.23 on his 9.12 dial. Conklin ran an 8.54 on his 8.48 dial, earning him the win.
In the Bike/Sled class, defending champion Brent Garcia and his Buell motorcycle lined up against Rob Withers on his snowmobile. Withers ran an 8.92 on his 8.85 dial but that was no match for Garcia who ran a 6.99 on his 6.98 dial and took home the win.
Pro Class fields the largest number of cars at Skyview Drags and this week saw veteran racer Mike LaRose “Hustle Stuff” against 2010 Skyview Rookie of the Year Steve Cross in the finals. Cross dialed a 6.38 against LaRose’s 6.66 and at the finish line Cross had run dead on his dial. But LaRose’s stellar .5048 reaction time combined with his 6.68 ET was enough to turn on his win light as the cars crossed the finish line.
In addition to our regular point’s races, Skyview Drags also hosted Northeast Open Comp index racing for the first time this year. John Tracy and his ’55 Ford was the number 1 qualifier. The 104+ Octane Boost Best Burnout Award, voted on by our spectators, went to Larry Carasea and his gorgeous Camaro. The $100 Thermo-Tec prize was awarded to Mel Teed. And the Hard Luck award went to Jeff Gallick when he broke some parts in his Henry J.
The finals for Open Comp saw Gary Pascucci lined up against Kenneth Roberts. Pascucci ran a 6.58 on his 6.45 dial and Roberts ran a 9.88 on his 9.80 dial giving Roberts the Open Comp win. Open Comp index racing will return to Skyview on July 16th.
Join us at Skyview Drags for our Memorial Day weekend show. On Saturday, May 28th Skyview will host Old School Nostalgia Night. In addition to the regular point’s races, North East Timing Organization (NETO) and Great Lakes Funny Cars will be on hand to give the fans a real old school feel to drag racing. Then on Sunday, May 29th Skyview will have another point’s race for all classes. We hope to see you at Rumble Ridge!