Jason Lee (far lane) beat Randy Weatherford to claim the PDRA Pro Boost victory Sunday in Norwalk, Ohio. (Roger Richards Photo)
Jason Lee (far lane) beat Randy Weatherford to claim the PDRA Pro Boost victory Sunday in Norwalk, Ohio. (Roger Richards Photo)

Ohio Racers Bank PDRA Victories In Norwalk

NORWALK, Ohio – A pair of local Ohio racers showed out at the PDRA DeCerbo Construction American Doorslammer Challenge presented by Callies Performance, as Toledo’s Jason Lee and Hamersville’s Eric McKinney raced to victory in pro classes at Summit Motorsports Park Sunday afternoon.

Lee, racing in Penske/PRS Pro Boost presented by WS Construction, scored his first PDRA victory in Eric Gustafson’s Coast Packing Company “Lard Machine” ’69 Camaro. McKinney, a multi-time world champion in Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle, earned another event victory on his McKinney Motorsports Hayabusa.

The other professional class victories went to Jim Halsey in Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous, Elijah Morton in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock presented by AED Competition, Daryl Stewart in $hameless Racing Pro Outlaw 632, and Tim Essick in Drag 965 Pro Street.

In the sportsman categories, Cheyenne Stanley (MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by Tejas Borja), Peter Maduri (Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster), Nick Meloni (MagnaFuel Top Sportsman 32), and TG Paschal (Lucas Oil Top Dragster 32) earned the event wins. Brian Erath claimed the win in Edelbrock Bracket Bash presented by COMP Cams when he defeated Alex Diekfuss in a Corvette vs. dragster final round.

Will Creasman earned the Coolshirt Systems Pro Jr. Dragster win, running a 7.932 in his ’21 Mike Bos dragster to defeat Keaton Peterson’s 7.965 in his ’17 Mike Bos, both with a 7.90 dial-in. Both Classic Graphix Top Jr. Dragster finalists went red, but Rowan Parlett went red after Colton Whitley, handing the win to Parlett and his Mechanicsville, Maryland-based ’15 Halfscale dragster.

Lee has been making headlines in numerous different classes and sanctioning bodies over the last few years with Eric Gustafson’s Coast Packing Company ’69 Camaro, but he hadn’t won a race in Pro Boost before this weekend. He stepped up in a big way for the final round, firing off a 3.659-second pass at 208.97 mph in the heat of the day to defeat Randy Weatherford.

“What a day,” Lee said. “This is the best place in the country, in my opinion, to do it. This is actually a local track for me. I had family come out and it was great to have them here. They haven’t been able to watch me race for several years, so they finally had an opportunity to come out. It’s awesome to win in this organization because I think it’s probably the most highly competitive group of guys out there. Hopefully we can just keep this rolling.”

Lee started eliminations from the No. 9 spot, but he quickly stepped up as one of the quickest cars in the class during eliminations. He used a holeshot advantage to beat Todd Tutterow in the first round. Second-round opponent Daniel Pharris lost to Lee via red light. A consistent 3.678-second run at 208.62 mph was enough to move on over Chuck Ulsch to earn a trip to the final round.

A weekend that includes taking the low qualifier award and the event victory has become almost a routine for two-time Pro Nitrous world champion Halsey. But his trip to the winner’s circle was anything but routine, as he faced a pair of multi-time world champions – Tommy Franklin and Rickie Smith before defeating Tony Wilson in the final round.

Halsey’s 3.685-second pass at 206.70 mph in his Brandon Switzer-tuned, Fulton-powered ’68 Camaro was just quicker than the 3.704 at 204.05 from Wilson, who enjoyed his second consecutive career-best weekend.

“Beating Rickie in the semis, that was big for us,” Halsey said, who wished a happy birthday to his longtime girlfriend, Cathy Crouse. “He’s one of the best there is. We need to beat people like him to continue our run. With Jay [Cox] and Ron [Muenks] going out second round, that helped us big time. Beating Tony in the final helped us a little bit there too. This weekend just gave us a little bit of lead and breathing room.”

After taking runner-up finishes at multiple races in 2020, Extreme Pro Stock veteran Morton scored his first PDRA victory since the 2019 season opener. He earned it as a driver, cutting a .021 light to leave on Chris Powers and secure a holeshot victory.

“It’s just an awesome win,” said Morton, who was sure to recognize veterans and members of the military for their service. “My guys worked hard today. We had a lot of little gremlins we had to get corrected. The starter fell off right before we were getting ready to go up for the third round and they fixed it. Everybody jumped in. We had a lot of little things happen, but my crew did a great job. The driver did his job today too. We’re just so thrilled to be here. It’s a very rewarding win today on Memorial Day weekend. What a memory.”

Stewart has pushed his Chassis Engineering ’12 Camaro to semifinal finishes at the last three races he’s attended – two PDRA races and an unsanctioned race – so he was eager to go one round further at the American Doorslammer Challenge. He one-upped that goal, though, as he left on defending world champion Wes Distefano in the final round and recorded a 4.205-second pass at 168.60 mph to get his first win in Pro Outlaw 632.

“This win definitely helped us out,” said Stewart, who thanked tuner Clayton Murphy and crew member Chris Dunn. “After getting to the semis at the last three races, it was getting tough. But it’s all good and this definitely breathes some life into us. We’re ready to go. We’re excited for Maryland now.”

Multi-time world champion McKinney didn’t have the conventional road to the winner’s circle in Pro Nitrous Motorcycle. After qualifying No. 1 with a 4.01-second run, the Ohio native received two bye runs in eliminations, including the final round when he recorded another 4.01-second pass to claim the PDRA 660 Man trophy.

“It’s awesome because this is basically our home track,” McKinney said, thanking his father and team owner, Scott McKinney, as well as tuner and teammate Ashley Owens. “Our whole family is up here. It’s the first race my boys got to come to. Having the whole family in the winner circle is awesome. We set out to chase points but we had to miss the first race due to truck problems, so this win works out good. It’s been a long time since I’ve held a trophy, so it’s really cool. It’s also awesome to win on Memorial Day weekend – hat’s off to all the veterans and military members.”

Essick had the car to beat in Pro Street. Between qualifying No. 1 and ripping off low E.T. of the event in the opening round, Essick proved himself all weekend. The performance ended with a 3.974-second pass at 188.33 mph on a final-round single, as Chris Cadotto broke on the burnout and couldn’t make the run.

“It’s terrific,” Essick said. “It’s been a long weekend, but outside of that, everything just worked flawlessly. We just kept racing the racetrack, doing our thing, not worrying about who we were racing. This gives us a ton of momentum. We have a lot of good data, a lot of good laps. We changed a couple things in the engine, so we got all that ironed out up here so we’ll be set and ready to go when we get home [for the next race in Maryland].”

A long day of fast bracket racing in Elite Top Sportsman ended in victory for Cheyenne Stanley and his twin-turbocharged ’07 Mustang. Final-round opponent Erica Coleman laid down a perfect .000 reaction time in her Fulton-powered ’68 Camaro, but she encountered trouble and slowed to a 4.266-second run on 3.87 dial-in. Stanley was also off pace with his 4.151-second pass on a 3.90 dial, but he held on for the win.

After late-round finishes at the first two races of the season, Top Sportsman points leader Nick Meloni secured his first event victory of the season in his TT Motorsports ’69 Camaro.

One of the quickest Elite Top Dragster fields in PDRA history came to a dramatic close in the final round, as Peter Maduri defeated Michael White in a race decided by thousandths of a second. Maduri left first in his K100/Dynabrade ’17 Chrome-Worx dragster with a .004 reaction time to White’s .005. Maduri sealed the deal with a 3.792-second run on a 3.79 dial-in, just edging out White’s 3.768-second pass on a 3.76 dial-in.

In Top Dragster 32, points leader T.G. Paschal padded his lead with his second win of the season. He had a .005 starting line advantage over Shanna Stone, then his 4.288-second pass on a 4.29 dial-in beat Stone’s 4.358-second run on a 4.36 dial in a double-breakout final round.

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