WADE: Lynch Is Outlaw Drag Racing King


SEATTLE — Tim Lynch is the undisputed Superman of outlaw-style doorslammer drag racing.

After dominating the competition up and down the East Coast for years in his twin-turbo Ford, the engine builder from Woodstock, Ga., has a new Corvette. And he unloaded it this past weekend at promoter Dave Hance’s ADRL.us Shakedown at E-Town VIII at Englishtown, N.J., looking to re-establish who’s boss in the Outlaw 10.5 class.

Lynch had some unfinished business at Raceway Park. The perennial No. 1 qualifier started out sensationally once again last November with a 6.400-second elapsed time that no one touched for the rest of that weekend. But he lost in the semifinal round in 2009 with mechanical trouble. He left his mark on this year’s event, reprising his No. 1 role with a stunning 6.623-second E.T. and 232.51-mph speed.

It is another achievement at Englishtown for Lynch, who was first to cover the quarter-mile in less than seven seconds at the 2004 Shakedown. He has been the hot shoe there ever since. In 2007, he even ignited a pre-race buzz excitement with a warm-up pass of 6.57/232 mph.

In the final round Sunday, he ran into “Jersey Joe” Newsham for a showdown between two racers wanting some justice from a track, an event, that showed them no mercy last fall.

Newsham, the 2008 winner, spent Shakedown Sunday in the hospital last November, mending from a frightening, fiery qualifying accident that left him with a fractured lower-back vertebra and injured feet. This year, the Sicklerville, N.J., racer kept pace with Lynch throughout eliminations. He won his opener with a 6.464-second e.t. second-best to Lynch’s 6.282 earlier in the round. He and Lynch advanced to the final with identical 6.47-second e.t.s.

Lynch never matched his eye-bulging numbers from qualifying but he beat Newsham for a third Shakedown trophy in four final-round appearances. He won with a 6.301-second e.t. at 226.48 against Newsham’s 7.510/145.70 mph.

Delayed by overnight vandalism and make-up qualifying runs, then forced into hurry-up mode by an approaching storm, Hance’s Northeast outlaw showcase packed plenty of drama into a shrinking window of opportunity Sunday.

Chip King (Blown Pro Modified), Khalid Al Balooshi (Nitrous Pro Modified), and record-setting Pete Berner (Mountain Motor Pro Stock) made the most of it. They joined Mike Stawicki (1/8-Mile Challenge), Sam Gottier (Heavy Street), Mel Nelson (Drag Radial), and Brian Ferrari (8.50 Index) in the winner’s circle.

Berner carried the banner for the newly formed Mountain Motor Pro Stock Ass’n in its Shakedown debut. In his Summit Pontiac GXP, he capped the opening round of eliminations by setting both ends of the organization’s record (6.209 seconds, 225.97 mph). His victory over John Pluchino in the final round (6.285/224.92 to 7.110/146.16) completed his weekend sweep.

The two Pro Modified classes had some surprises.

The supercharged-class final saw King take 8.315 seconds (at 123.81-mph) in his Dodge Daytona to defeat Larry Plummer (12.230 / 82.09). King’s success was no surprise; he was No. 2 qualifier. The shock was that sizzling-hot No. 1 Brad Personett, who won the NHRA U.S. Nationals and made a record run at Charlotte last month, lost in the semifinals.

Balooshi and his big-block ’68 Al-Anabi Camaro swiped the top spot in Pro Modified Nitrous Sunday morning from Fredy Scriba. The Dubai driver kept winning, beating Todd Fontana in the final. He had a 5.933-second e.t. at 241.80 mph against Fontana’s 6.587/216.97.

Drag Radial eliminations missed its top two qualifiers. No. 1 Paul Major and No. 2 Hance, the Shakedown founder and promoter, were unable to race with damaged cars. No. 3 Mel Nelson, of Ft. Myers, Fla., capitalized on it and drove his Camaro to the victory. Nelson ran a 6.854-second, 223.36-mph single pass over John Carter, who was beset by a mechanical problem.

In the Heavy Street final, Gottier, of Canterbury, Conn., denied Mitch George a second straight Shakedown victory with his winning 6.911-second pass at 198.06 in his Chevelle.

The 1/8-Mile Challenge final pitted two veteran racers: Stawicki and John Stanley. Stawicki, of Medina, N.Y., won easily in his Firebird with a 3.890-second blast at 197.31 mph, as No. 2 qualifier Stanley struck his tires.

The 8.50 Index final was a solo pass for Ferrari. Final-round opponent John Langer, of Philadelphia, and his Trans Am never left the starting line.

Raceway Park workers scrambled Sunday morning to repair the Christmas Tree following an overnight incident of vandalism. Someone stole the LED light bulbs from the electronic starting device and dumped them near the finish line. The thief/thieves caused further damage, driving over and destroying all the foam timing blocks.

Positive news came Sunday from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at New Brunswick about injured Blown Pro Modified driver Benny Alfonso. The Bohemia, N.Y., veteran, whose nighttime crash just past the finish line halted activity Saturday, successfully underwent back surgery to repair a damaged disc.