The 2010 Ames Performance Tri-Power Pontiac Nationals
Great weather and Pontiac camaraderie helped guarantee this event's largest turnout ever. Part II: Race Action
From the June, 2011 issue of High Performance Pontiac
By Don Keefe
Photography by Don Keefe, Thomas A. DeMauro
As part of the Nostalgia program,...
As part of the Nostalgia program, original race cars and drivers were reunited for a trip down the Summit Motorsports Park quarter-mile. Arlen Vanke drove both Merle Green’s ’66 Tin Indian GTO and Tim Benko’s Running Bear ’63 Tempest when they were new. He was in the red Tempest for this nostalgia run, while Norm “Sonny” Tanner, who also drove the GTO back in the day, rode shotgun.
For nearly two decades, the Ames Performance Tri-Power Pontiac Nationals has been the standard for Pontiac drag-racing events. To bring home a class win, runner-up, or even to have survived into the semifinals is quite an accomplishment, as the total car count for the race side is consistently over 400. This year, the total was 444, so if you were able to survive all of those rounds and make it to the Chief of the Pontiacs championship race, you truly deserved the spoils of victory.
In addition to the regular race programs, spectators were treated to some very exciting exhibition passes. Arnie "The Farmer" Beswick in the Tameless Tiger II '64 Pro Mod GTO paired against Bag-Boy Eric Larson in the Grocery Getter '63 Tempest wagon. Also Dave Anderson ran the Beat the Tiger program in Jim Wangers' '66 GeeTO Tiger.
The Nostalgia Super Stock Association also presented a program of '60s-era factory race cars at Norwalk. The exciting thing about that is it wasn't just Pontiacs. There were Mopars, Fords, and Chevys taking to the track, just like it was in the old days. Racers such as Rick Johnson, Joe Zajac, Larry Kaufman, and others did a great job of carrying the Pontiac torch in those matchups.
(Inset) Nostalgia Super Stock...
(Inset) Nostalgia Super Stock racing is an exciting blend of vintage body styles and more modern engine and chassis technology. This wheels-up confrontation between Rick Johnson’s No Sponsor ’62 Catalina and Joe Zajac’s Rompin’ Redskin ’63 Catalina resulted in low 9-second e.t.’s (Johnson occasionally dips into the high 8s), far quicker than the original Super-Dutys.
The midday ceremony on Sunday included a parade of original factory race cars reunited with their drivers. Merle Green, owner of the '66 Knafel Pontiac Tin Indian race car, organized the display in the manufacturers' midway and then brought the cars out for a starting-line ceremony. In addition to the Tin Indian, Merle brought out Tim Benko's '63 Running Bear LeMans, the '62 Anderson Pontiac A/Stock Super-Duty Catalina sedan, Don Gay's original '62 Infinity Catalina sedan, and Kenny Colacino's '62 421 SD Grand Prix, an unrestored barn find that is still very original. The original drivers included Akron Arlen Vanke, Norm "Sonny" Tanner, and Larry "Doc" Dixon, all of whom drove for Knafel Pontiac in Akron during the '60s.
There were several performances of note that weekend at Summit Motorsports Raceway Park. Lou Greco, of Edinburg, Pennsylvania, ran his '70 Judge hard all weekend, taking Friday night's Spotts Performance Box class, Sunday's AllPontiac.com Super Pro class, and then going to the finals in the Chief of the Pontiacs, where he redlighted—all in all, a stellar performance.
Todd Filson, of Fairborn, Ohio, and his rear-engined dragster waded through round after round to take the AllPontiac.com Super Pro win on Saturday against Kalvi Puru's '69 GTO. Then on Sunday, he came back to win the KRE Quick 16, beating Jim Scott and his '68 Firebird with a 7.602 at 169.53 mph. Well done!
Jim Pickett’s ’63 Tempest...
Jim Pickett’s ’63 Tempest wagon lunges off the line during the Nostalgia Super Stock program. Jim was the low e.t. qualifier in the K&M Performance MR-1 Heads-up class with an 8.766 at 152.06-mph pass.
The Kauffman Racing Equipment (KRE) crew was on hand with its rear-engined dragster, which set the low e.t. for Sunday's KRE Quick 16 with a 6.609 pass at 210.28 mph.
As previously reported, Rodney Butler and Travis Quillen really set the Pontiac world on its ear, showing up with their sinister-looking, matte-black '63 LeMans and making Pontiac racing history, taking the number one qualifier spot for the Butler Performance Frantic Four, and then running a mind-bending 6.421 at 222.11. The team then backed it up with an even better 6.278 at 228.11 mph.
For the last two years, a non-traditional Pontiac took the Chief of the Pontiacs crown. Last year, it was Steven Douglas with his nearly stock four-cylinder '84 Fiero. This year, it was Chris Yates and his '00 GTP sedan. Running a high-powered, front-wheel-drive race car is a considerable challenge for a bracket racer. With the limited traction capabilities of front wheel drive, racers need to keep the nose down and limit weight transfer. Add in the fact that stock supercharged GTPs suffer from a heat-soak problem, which slows the cars as more laps are made, and racing one is no walk in the park.
Chris solved both of those problems with slicks, strategic chassis mods, and the addition of an air-to-liquid intercooler to his blown V-6, which lowers charge temperatures and makes cool-downs between rounds a lot easier.
Dave “Big Injun” Anderson...
Dave “Big Injun” Anderson made several exhibition runs in Jim Wangers’ ’66 GeeTO Tiger as part of the Beat the Tiger program. Dave was running 10s all weekend.
Exhibition-class racing excitement...
Exhibition-class racing excitement included Pontiac legend Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick going up against Eric Larson and the Grocery Getter ’63 Tempest wagon. Both cars are solid 7-second machines.
Robin Roberts and his ’76...
Robin Roberts and his ’76 Trans Am take on Jeff Sams and his ’63 LeMans. Roberts’ is currently the quickest street-legal traditional Pontiac car in the country, running very low 8s in the quarter.
Kenny Colacino’s ’62 Super-Duty...
Kenny Colacino’s ’62 Super-Duty Grand Prix was a barn find he located in upstate New York and brought to Norwalk. The unrestored gem was one of just 16 built; it made a part-throttle pass down the strip.
Yates went several rounds to take Saturday's Super-Duty Performance Front Wheel Drive win over Andy Harper and his '04 Grand Prix. With that win under his belt, he qualified for the Chief of the Pontiacs competition, which pitted the class winners from all three days against each other.
In the final round on Sunday evening, it was just Chris and Lou Greco, who actually took two class wins. When Greco bulbed, Yates went on for the win and the championship. To be the last man standing in a 444-car field is quite an accomplishment, and to do it in a front-driver is even more impressive.
For more highlights of the 2010 race, check out our photos, captions, and winners' list, and then start planning to attend this year's event. The Ames Performance Tri-Power Pontiac Nationals will celebrate its 20th anniversary on August 5-7, 2011, at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. For more info and event updates, log on to www.pontiacnationals.com. See you there!
Not only did Rodney Butler...
Not only did Rodney Butler and Travis Quillen's '63 set low e.t. and mph records for any traditional Pontiac-powered machine ever at 6.278 at 228.11 mph, Rodney also set a low e.t. in the Butler Performance Frantic Four with a 6.421 at 222.11. He won the class on Sunday, making for a very successful weekend all around.
Chris Yates won the Chief...
Chris Yates won the Chief of Pontiacs competition in perhaps the most difficult car to do it with. Despite the traction and consistency problems associated with front-wheel drive, Chris waded through the pack, first winning the Super Duty Promotions Front Wheel Drive class, and then taking on Lou Greco and his ’70 GTO Judge in the finals. Chris’ 11.976-at-117.49 pass was the run that won it all. Congratulations!
Rick Sutter, of Tiffin, Ohio,...
Rick Sutter, of Tiffin, Ohio, nailed a 0.001 light in the final of the Tin Indian Street class on Saturday, laying down a 13.78 at 74.82 mph against Brad Shoemaker’s red-light -0.351.
Jeff Kauffman and his rear-engined...
Jeff Kauffman and his rear-engined dragster set the low e.t. for Sunday’s KRE Quick 16, with a 6.609 at 210.28 mph. Power comes from an MR-1/KRE blown-and-injected Pontiac.
Another double winner, Todd...
Another double winner, Todd Filson and his rear-engined digger took the AllPontiac.com Super Pro win on Saturday against Kalvi Puru’s ’69 GTO, and then backed it up with the win in Sunday’s KRE Quick 16, beating Jim Scott and his ’68 Firebird with a 7.602 at 169.53 mph. Great work, Todd!
Rick Lucas, of Columbus, Ohio,...
Rick Lucas, of Columbus, Ohio, was the winner of Pypes Performance Exhaust Pro on Saturday. His ’79 Trans Am ran an 11.391 at 117.06, beating Nick Hastings’ 11.992 run at 106.28 in his ’81 Pontiac.
Jeff Kinsler and his team...
Jeff Kinsler and his team stand proud after taking the win in Saturday’s K&M Performance MR1 Heads Up class over Glenn Sedig with a 9.036 at 150.87 mph. Jeff’s 0.165 reaction time bettered Glenn’s 0.400.
Rob Barhorst ran his ’74 Pontiac...
Rob Barhorst ran his ’74 Pontiac to victory in the Ram Air Restorations class on Friday, posting a 0.131 light and a 10.871 e.t. at 122.43 mph. (This photo is one that HPP had on file from another race since we didn’t have a photo of Rob’s car at Norwalk.)
You’d be smiling too if you...
You’d be smiling too if you were Jeremy Porter. The Akron native took the Tin Indian Performance Street crown on Sunday, with a 14.166 at 97.80 mph over Erin Gish and her ’86 Firebird.
Sunday’s Pypes Performance...
Sunday’s Pypes Performance Exhaust Pro winner was Charley Schmidt from Sullivan, Missouri, who beat runner-up Rick Shofner with a 10.248 at 129.54 mph on a 0.042 reaction time to Rick’s 9.629 at 131.68 on a nearly identical 0.044 light.
Bill Owen took his Grand Am...
Bill Owen took his Grand Am to the Super Duty Promotions Front Wheel Drive win on Sunday with a 14.48 at 88.84 mph, beating runner-up Brett Tackett’s ’98 GTP, which ran a 15.424 at 89.84 mph.
Talk about a great weekend....
Talk about a great weekend. Lou Greco (third from left) and his ’70 GTO Judge won Friday night’s Spott’s Performance Box class, took the AllPontiac.com Super Pro win on Sunday, and then made it to the finals in the Chief of the Pontiacs. Lou ran hard all weekend and the team’s enthusiasm is clearly evident!
|Chief of the Pontiacs|
|Winner||Chris Yates||China Grove, NC||'00 GTP||0.061||11.976||117.49|
|Runner-up||Lou Greco||Edinburg, PA||‘70 GTO||-0.002||10.06||100.49|
|Long Distance Drag Race|
|Winner||Frank Gostyla||Scottsdale, AZ||Grand Am|| || || |
|Spotts Performance Box|
|Winner||Lou Greco||Edinburg, PA||'70 GTO||0.005||9.309||141.92|
|Runner-up||Erik Weigand||White Plains, MD||'64 GTO||0.009||10.086||131.2|
|Ram Air Restoration No Box|
|Winner||Rob Barhorst||Lawrence, IN||'74 GTO||0.131||10.871||122.43|
|Runner-up||Ryan Wannemacher||Leo, IN||'79 Trans Am||0.012||12.117||108.91|
|AllPontiac.com Super Pro|
|Winner||Todd Filson||Fairborn, OH||'96 Spitzer||0.014||7.595||176.21|
|Runner-up||Kalvi Puru||Brunswick, OH||'69 GTO||-0.016||11.43||117.81|
|Pypes Performance Exhaust Pro|
|Winner||Rick Lucas||Columbus, OH||'79 Trans Am||0.005||11.391||117.06|
|Runner-up||Nick Hastings||Shelby, OH||'81 Pontiac||0.004||11.992||106.28|
|Tin Indian Performance Street|
|Winner||Rick Sutter||Tiffin, OH||'99 Trans Am||0.001||13.782||74.82|
|Runner-up||Brad Shoemaker||Riverton, IL||'65 GTO||-0.351||19.467||39.28|
|Super Duty Promotions Front Wheel Drive|
|Winner||Chris Yates||China Grove, NC||'00 GTP||0.047||11.957||120.31|
|Runner-up||Andy Harper||Sandusky, OH||'04 Grand Prix||-0.028||17.543||68.82|
|K&N Performance MR-1 Heads Up|
|Winner||Jeff Kinsler||Elkon, MD||'68 Firebird||0.165||9.036||150.87|
|Runner-up||Glenn Sedig||Sterling, IL||'69 Grand Prix||0.4||9.172||148.53|
|#1 Qualifier||Jim Pickett||Druel Hill, PA||'63 Tempest||N/A||8.766||152.06|
|Butler Performance Frantic Four|
|Winner||Rodney Butler||Leoma, TN||'63 LeMans||0.191||6.278||228.11|
|Runner-up ||John Welter||Mitchville, IA||'02 Trans Am||0.106||6.926||199.29|
|#1 Qualifier||Rodney Butler||Leoma, TN||'63 LeMans||N/A||6.421||222.11|
|AllPontiac.com Super Pro|
|Winner||Lou Greco||Edinburg, PA||'70 GTO||0.019||9.338||142.78|
|Runner-up||Ron Baisden Jr.||Columbus, OH||'77 Astre||0.042||10.313||128.73|
|Pypes Performance Exhaust Pro|
|Winner||Charley Schmidt||Sullivan, MO||'66 GTO||0.042||10.248||129.54|
|Runner-up||Rick Shofner||Athens, IL||'67 Firebird||0.044||9.629||131.68|
|Tin Indian Performance Street|
|Winner||Jeremy Porter||Akron, OH||'74 Ventura||0.15||14.166||97.8|
|Runner-up||Erin Gish||Lawrenceburg, IN||'86 Firebird||0.041||15.611||86.79|
|Super Duty Promotions Front Wheel Drive|
|Winner||Bill Owen||N/A||'99 Grand Am ||0.042||14.48||88.84|
|Runner-up||Brett Tackett||Greenwich, OH||'98 Grand Prix GTP||0.119||15.424||89.84|
|KRE Quick 16|
|Winner||Todd Filson||Fairborn, OH||'96 Spitzer R/E Dragster||0.017||7.602||169.53|
|Runner-up||Jim Scott||Orwell, OH||'68 Firebird||0.038||9.185||145.11|
|#1 Qualifier||Jeff Kauffman||Glenmont, OH||'96 Digger||N/A||6.609||210.28|
|Winner ||Kevin Shar||Canfield, OH||Firehawk||0.055||13.53||102.43|
|Please note that dial-ins for the bracket classes were not available.|