Northern Summer Nationals Shatters Junior Dragster Competition Numbers; Tim Zyla Takes First Win in Pro Class
Skyview Drags, an IHRA sanctioned 1/8-mile drag strip, that sits on top of a mountain nicknamed “Rumble Ridge,” hosted its annual Northern Summer Nationals 2-day racing event on Friday, July 1st and Saturday, July 2nd. With perfect weather helping to bolster attendance, the weekend was filled with hard won races and lots of family fun.
FRIDAY, JULY 1ST
The event began on Friday with the Junior Dragster class sponsored by Precision Crankworks out of Kirkwood, NY. Skyview has been working with Don and Kathy Kiekel, owners of Precision Crankworks, to grow their Junior program for the past 3 racing seasons. And on Saturday, all that hard work was clearly evident as 22 8-18 year old racers took to the track. “Other than our huge annual Junior Dragster Shootout, which set our record at 24 Junior racers last year, this is our largest field of Juniors ever,” said Kathy Kiekel. “It seems like all of our hard work is really paying off and we are so happy to see these kids week after week coming to race with us.” These young racers, driving scale-model versions of the dragsters seen in the Super Pro class can hit 80 mph down the 1/8-mile track. The racers worked their way through single eliminations until only 2 remained. Haley Teed out of Friendsville, PA faced off against Matt Forbes from Esperance, NY. Teed had a .6270 reaction time and ran an 8.86 ET on her 8.80 dial but Forbes .5529 reaction time and his 8.0771 run on a 7.97 dial was enough to turn on the win light. Kimberly Klein, from Livingston Manor, NY earned the semi-finalist spot.The Teen Championship Racing Class is for 13-17 year olds who drive their family car down the race track with a parent or guardian coaching them in the fine art of drag racing. Point’s leader Teresa Kurtz from Newark Valley, NY faced off against Brandon Searcy from Lowman, NY. Kurtz bolstered her points lead by winning the class with a .6630 reaction time and running a 10.72 on her 10.70 dial. Searcy broke out by running an 11.272 on his 11.30 dial.
In the Street Trophy class, Charlie Fulmer ran up against Gary French in the finals. French, who tows out of Seneca Falls, NY is currently tied for first in the point’s standings. French laid down a .5168 reaction time to Fulmer’s .6549 and took the win right out of the gate as Fulmer could not cover his 8.73 dial in when he ran an 8.9910. French, and his Illegal Regal, ran a 9.239 on his 9.14 dial and took home a beautiful trophy for his efforts. Shanon Fenton from Laceyville, PA was the semi-finalist.
In the Street Money class, 30 racers started the day with the desire to win the $200 cash prize. But in the end only Tony Zangari and his Camaro and points leader Howie Conklin, from Grahamsville, NY and his Strip Blazer II were left standing. Both drivers had very similar reaction times with Zangari posting a .6432 and Conklin posting a .6438 off the starting line. But on the top end, it was Zangari, running a 7.875 on his 7.80 dial who defeated Conklin, who ran an 8.530 on his 8.45 dial. Kenneth Roberts from Ulster, PA and Tim Wright from Apalachin, NY were semi-finalists.
In the Bike/Sled class, 9 snowmobile and motorcycle racers had their sights set on their $200 prize money. Working their way through the pack was the husband and wife team of Ron & Chrissy Klein from Livingston Manor, NY. And in the finals, there they were facing each other. Both Klein’s had run the right lane all day. “How are we going to determine who gets what lane?” Chrissy Klein asked her husband. Ladies choice would have been the gentlemanly thing to do, but Ron Klein wanted to go off the prior round’s reaction times. With Ron Klein having a .5348 to his wife’s .5429 lane choice would be his based on his recommendation. “I let it go at that,” laughed Chrissy Klein. “If I took lane choice and won I would have heard all about how I only beat Ron because I took the lane so I just decided to let him have the right lane and I would run the left.” Husbands should know never to run against a very determined woman, especially when she’s your wife! Chrissy Klein nailed a .1000 advantage off the starting line against her husband and then ran a 6.405 on her 6.35 dial in while Ron Klein broke out desperately trying to chase down his wife. Dan Cerio and Brent Garcia from Cincinnatus, NY were semi-finalists.
In the Pro Class, 34 drivers took to the track for their chance at the $900 top money. Working their way through the rounds, the finals welcomed current points leader Tim Zyla from Sayre, PA, driving the Manley Houghtalen Camaro against veteran racer Jim Erecitano, out of Vestal, NY and his Last Boy Scout car. Erecitano had the advantage off the starting line but both racers ran under their dial in numbers. Zyla broke out by less to earn his very first Pro win. And he did it on his Dad Greg’s birthday. What a great way for the Zyla family to celebrate together. Jeff Gallick and his beautiful Henry J car, racing out of Athens, PA was the semi-finalist.
The Super Pro class, 24 drivers set their sights on the $800 top money. After going out first round, Tom Samsel threw another $25 into the pot for Buy Backs and that proved to be a very wise investment. The finals saw Samsel and his dragster, towing out of Rome, NY against the fast dragster of 2010 track Champion Richie Forbes from Esperance, NY. Samsel had a .0019 reaction time to Forbes’ .0131 and Samsel ran a near perfect 5.691 on his 5.69 dial to snatch the victory from Forbes who ran a 4.723 on his 4.71 dial. Erik Larsen from Cortland, NY and Russ Denmark from Ovid, NY were semi-finalists.
A very special event occurred during the Super Pro races when a beautiful black Corvette made its return to Skyview Drags. Tommy Ingalls, 2007 Super Pro Track Champion, passed away in October 2010 at the age of 53. He was a beloved member of the Skyview racing family and will forever be a part of our memories and our hearts. His daughter, Crystal Ingalls Curpier, wife of Super Pro racer Pete Curpier, was the first woman to race in Super Pro at Skyview Drags. She retired from racing in 2009 but has decided to break out her racing suit once again and return to the sport she loves to participate in. With the help of a lot of family and devoted friends, the corvette received a new motor, some shiny new Lexan, and a good scrubbing and polishing over the past few months. Crystal Curpier debuted the car at Skyview this weekend and made an inaugural first pass down the track with her racing family at the starting line and lined up along the fence to cheer her on. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as everyone welcomed back the black ‘Vette and its owners, Joi Ingalls and Crystal Curpier, to Skyview racing.
The evening ended with a great turn out for Friday night Test & Tune. After 14.5 hours of time trials, elimination runs and a 4 hours Test & Tune, the track closed for the evening and everyone went home for a few hours of sleep before getting up to do it all over again the next day.
SATURDAY, JULY 2nd
Saturday’s events kicked off with the Precision Crankworks Junior Dragster program. The Kiekel’s were offering a special incentive for the second day’s race of the Northern Summer Nationals and had put up a brand new iPod Touch for the winner of today’s race. “We pulled into the track and I couldn’t believe the Junior Dragsters we had on the property,” said Kathy Kiekel. “They appeared to have multiplied over night!” After everyone registered, the final tally had 30 Juniors ready to race. “This shatters our previous record for Junior Dragsters,” said Track Director Amy Culver. “We always expect a great turnout for our Junior Dragster Shootout but that record was 24 cars. With 30 here for a regular race day, we were just thrilled to see the kids piling into the lanes.” Racing got underway and with a tightly run program crammed into 3 hours, what started with 30 drivers was down to only 2 in the finals. Haley Teed out of Friendsville, PA made her second showing in the finals for the weekend. She would face Kimberly Klein from Livingston Manor, NY who was the semi-finalist from Friday’s race. Both young ladies have some good seat time and come from strong racing families. But in the end, it was Kimberly Klein who turned on the win light and earned her way into victory lane. Klein won her first competition event at Skyview Drags and has won several Second Chance races at the track. But this win was very special for her as she desperately wanted to win that new iPod Touch. After the presentation of the winner’s trophy, the 15-year old Klein was visibly shaking as she accepted her winner’s prize from Precision Crankworks owner Don Kiekel. “These kids are the future of our sport,” said Don Kiekel. “My wife and I are here to support their racing efforts and are proud to work with Skyview Drags to offer a safe and fun-filled family environment for them to spend their time at.” Precision Crankworks teamed up with fellow Pro Class racer Gary Pascucci to give the Junior racers and their siblings free ice cream. “On Friday, Faith Peckham told me that she loved ice cream and she politely asked if we could please have some on Saturday because it was going to be so hot,” said Don Kiekel. “I think my wife put her up to the asking part, but who can deny a polite young lady who loves ice cream? Luckily Gary stepped up to the plate with a sizable contribution because the kids ate us out of house and home,” added Kiekel.
In other great racing action, the TCR class saw Christian Taylor from Endicott, NY against Brandon Searcy, who was the runner-up on Friday. Saturday would prove to be Searcy’s day as he took the win light and earned his spot in Victory Lane. Teresa Kurtz was the semi-finalist.
In Street Trophy, Charlie Fulmer made his second appearance of the weekend in the finals. This time he was pitted against Howie Conklin who is tied for first place in the points. Fulmer was not to be denied for a second time and his .5958 reaction time won the race for him. Matt Peterson from Spencer, NY and Gary French, yesterday’s Street Trophy winner, were the semi-finalists.
In Street Money, 26 cars crammed into the lanes with their driver’s having one common goal – win that $200 prize money! Six rounds later it would be Tony Zangari and his Camaro against Gary French and his Illegal Regal in the finals. Zangari was the winner on Friday night and he was hoping that Lady Luck would continue to shine her light on him. But Lady Luck is fickle and she proved her point in this race. Zangari had a perfect .0000 reaction time off the starting line to French’s less than stellar .6670 reaction time. French was also off his mark on the top end when he ran a 9.312 on a 9.20 dial. But Zangari would break out, running a too fast 7.694 on his 7.80 dial and hand the win over to French. Matt Peterson was the semi-finalist.
In the Bike/Sled class, 11 snowmobile and motorcycle racers hoped to be the one to take home the $200 prize money. Matt Luke from Cicero, NY found himself facing Friday night’s winner Chrissy Klein. Luke had a .5229 reaction time to Klein’s .5257 reaction. Klein’s snowmobile ran a 6.515 on her 6.49 dial to give her a great run, but it wasn’t good enough. Luke ran a stellar 5.976 on his 5.97 dial and landed himself into Victory Lane with a great package. Ron Poland from Taberg, NY and Corinne Fidler from Camden, NY were the semi-finalists.
In Pro Class, 41 racers vied for the $900 top prize. It took 6 rounds to reach the finals but in the end, it was Bruce Sessions and Zane Furman from Camptown, PA who were left to face each other. Furman posted a .6391 reaction time and ran a 7.011 on this 7.00 dial. But it was Sessions night as he had a stellar .5099 reaction time and ran 7.152 on his 7.14 dial to take the win. Tim Zyla, last night’s winner, and Mel Teed from Friendsville, PA were semi-finalists.
The Super Pro class saw a strong turnout with 28 racers all angling for the $1,100 top prize. It would take 6 rounds to complete the race and the finals pitted Chuck White from Ontario, NY against John Bursman from Penfield, NY. Earlier that day, Bursman went out first round and thought about packing it up and heading for home. “I told him he was nuts,” said White. “Throw another $25 at the track and get back in this thing.” Bursman took White’s advice and proved, once again, that Buy Backs can be the best investment of your money. With White and Bursman now in the finals, White hoped that his earlier advice to a fellow racer wouldn’t come back to haunt him. But when it came down to the wire, White is always a tough competitor. The finals were over and done on the starting line when White treed Bursman with a .5041 light to Bursman’s .6779 reaction time. White ran a 6.771 on this 6.74 dial to Bursman’s 6.156 on his 6.12 dial in.
The weekend festivities wrapped up with a fantastic fireworks display courtesy of track owner George Swansbrough. With a very successful Northern Summer Nationals on the record books, Skyview Drags is already preparing for a huge race next Saturday.
On Saturday, July 9th Skyview Drags will host 2 very special events.
The Pro Sled Shootout will feature “Thunder” a jet powered quad piloted by Paul Magliato. Powered by a GE T-53 Helicopter engine that makes 2000lbs of thrust, Magliato has gone 200 mph on his jet quad. In addition, Skyview Drags and Fuller Racing present the Pro Outlaw Shootout where the fastest asphalt sleds in North America will take the line for a chance at a huge $2,000 payout. Other races include the All Motor Shootout that offers $2,000 to the winner as well as the Bike/Sled Bracket Bash, which pays $1,500 to win. Skyview will also host a 5.50 Index class and a 6.50 Index class open to all bikes and sleds.
That same day, Skyview Drags and Ingalls Racing proudly present the Tommy Ingalls No Guts No Glory gamblers race. This is a Box / No Box event that pays $1,500 to win in Box and $1,000 to win in No Box. The winner of each race will then face off for the ultimate Shootout and an additional $2,000 to win!
The festivities will start on Friday night for Test & Tune, where the track will feature live music and great food.
Then on Saturday the gates will open at 8:30 AM with registration and tech inspection from 9 AM – 10:30 AM. Racers are encouraged to pre-register for these events. Time trials and qualifying will begin at 11 AM. “We are expecting a high turnout for both races,” says Track Director Amy Culver. “So we anticipate that this will be an all-day event running well into the late night hours.”
Spectator admission is $20 for this huge event. Skyview Drags is located in Tioga Center, NY just off route 17C on Skyline Drive.