NIGHT UNDER FIRE, IT’S JUST THAT . . .
There is no arguing that Summit Motorsports Park is proudly America’s Favorite Race Track. When you step onto the grounds you are inundated with patriotism. Americana flashes and catches your eye from every direction. This weekend I was beyond proud to watch my best friend Angelica stand on the starting line and sing our National Anthem in front of 40,000 proud Americans. Complete with fireworks and a flyover she nailed it and was rewarded with the roaring cheer of the crowd and every professional driver as we proudly walked down the staging lanes.
The event line up had hosted over 40 professional drivers including John Force, Robert Height and Ron Caps; but only one female – the Queen of Diamonds. Each driver attended the morning drivers meeting and the afternoon autograph session. Talk about a surreal moment when you are now sitting at the table amongst these names and not just moseying down the line collecting their autograph. We signed everything and anything from parachutes, to shirts, to even a guitar!
Prior to Angelica’s powerhouse performance, the show cars paraded down the quarter mile proudly waving an American Flag from their race car. This was a great introduction for the fans and provided them with a little insight on the drivers and their rivals.
Speaking of rivals, Ernie Bogue, The Beast from the East and a regular competitor made his surprise return to SMP and was my match up for the first run of the night. I blew Ernie away on the line, turned on the win light and landed the number one qualifier spot on the ladder. Robert Albertson’s Blazing Angel and Scotty heat in his 50 Cal Jet Dragster were amongst the other cars competing. With a 40-minute turnaround time, it was back to lanes and I was ready to take on Scotty Heat, the #4 qualifier of the night. This has been the match up we have been waiting all year for… Pre-Stage, Staged, Yellow, Green and Sarah was off the line quicker with a .027 RT to Scotty’s .050 RT. Both dragsters ran identical times in the 1/8th mile but Sarah got to the finish line at 5.35 seconds / 296.96 MPH to Scotty’s 5.33 / 2.98 MPH. Talk about a great race! This is my first win over the .50 Cal Jet Dragster at Summit Motorsports Park and it was on a whole shot! Nothing was better than getting out of the car and hugging Scotty, he may have lost that match but it was still a victory for him and his team to get his car A to B safely, they have been working countless hours to get this car back in shape for Night Under Fire.
With a blink of an eye, I was suited back up, strapped in and being pushed to the line. The theatrical lighting was illuminating the track, and the fans were on their feet ready to see who was going to take home the 2017 Jet Dragster Night Under Fire trophy. Would it be the Queen of Diamonds or the Beast from the East? We started the car, hit the smoke and then there was no flame. The QOD had a switch with loose connection and Ernie Bogue won the race before it started. They shut me off, backed me up and Ernie blazed down the quarter mile to victory. It was not the way we intended to end such a spectacular evening, however we all signed up to go drag racing and if you know what it’s like to go drag racing, you know things don’t always go the way you want.
The night wasn’t over yet! The track went black and Chris Darnell, driver of the Shockwave Jet Truck cracked a flame bright enough to light the whole track up. He barreled down the quarter mile, and while everyone cheered and the fireworks began, Chris’ ride hadn’t ended just yet. He had a chute failure and relayed on his back up chute and his breaks. His breaks glowed red as he climbed out of his cockpit which was a few feet into the sand trap – that’s one way to scare the pants off some top fuel drivers at the top end!
Despite my loss, the Hanna Motorsports team still had a reason to celebrate. Ken Hall our driver of the Top-Secret Jet Funny Car defeated Rich Hanna 2 out of 3 times and earned himself the 2017 Jet Funny Car Night Under Fire Trophy!
The countdown for next year has already begun because it is going to be BIGGER and better than it was this year. Bill Bader is hosting an official Jet Race along with his routine Night Under Fire script but we are hitting the big screens, it will be televised!
SEPTEMBER 9-10TH – NEW ENGLAND DRAGWAY, NH
SEPTEMBER 16TH – RACEWAY PARK, NJ
SEPTEMBER 23RD – MARYLAND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
OCTOBER 7TH – UNION COUNTY DRAGWAY, SC