While we skipped out on yesterday so that we could go do normal things and enjoy a day off, we are back at it today with the E3xtreme list of the top moments in 2018. So for your viewing pleasure, here is the third installment of the Top Moments.
Jonas Aleshire Comes from Third to Capture the Mid-West Pro Mod Series Championship
One of the best things about drag racing is when you have true championship chases, and that is exactly what we saw with the Mid-West Pro Mod Series this year. All season was a back and forth between three different drivers that were in the hunt to secure that number one for 2019. A wrench was tossed in the mix though at the end of the season. The final race of the year was supposed to be contested at Tulsa Raceway Park in October, but at the last-minute Mother Nature decided that wasn’t going to happen and the event had to be moved. A couple of options were discussed, and it was determined that the World Finals would be contested during Keith Haney’s inaugural Elite 16 in Texas. Another twist was that the MWPMS World Finals would be contested under Elite 16 rules. Jonas was sitting in third when they rolled onto the Texas Motorplex property and trailing Ron Muenks along with Jim Sackuvich. It meant that Jonas certainly had his work cut out for him because Jim and Ron would have to go out early with Jonas having to reach and win the semifinals. Well for Jonas and the Chris Duncan Race Car team the planets aligned with Ron and Jim going out early, Jonas shined. Not only did he lock up the championship by winning in the Semi-Finals, but he also went on the win the MWPMS World Finals. Going from third to World Champion in a matter of 48 hours.
Preston Tanner Wins in St. Louis while skipping his High School Graduation
The younger generation of drivers is really the future of our industry, and Preston Tanner showed the world that our industry in going to be in good hands going forward. Preston, along with his sister Lexi, Mom Melissa, and Dad Andy, made the trip over to St. Louis in May for Heads up Hootenanny with their newly finished roots blown Mustang. Preston was previously a successful Jr. Dragster racer before moving to a door car. It’s not often in this social media, technology driven world, that someone decides to miss a large social event, but Preston wanted to go racing and his family is extremely supportive of him, along with his racing sister Lexi. Fact is that no one thought Preston had a chance to win the race versus the heavy hitters of the class that were quite a few numbers ahead of him. Never deterred, Preston went on to rack up round wins and eventually at the end of the night collected that victory. To add on to the summary, Preston not only missed his graduation, but weeks after the win he headed off to Basic Training. He has since graduated from that and will start his college career soon.
Ronnie Proctor Grabs his first Wally in Gainesville
While we discussed championships, and big event wins, for most in drag racing an NHRA Wally is the biggest accomplishment that you can obtain. Ronnie is a long-time racer and even better a Ford man, but the elusive NHRA Wally has been just out of reach until 2018 in Florida. Top Sportsman might be one of the most difficult NHRA classes to secure a national event win, and with this being Ronnie and his wife Karen’s first NHRA National Event victory it was a mighty big deal. You can usually catch Ronnie where they are running a Top Sportsman event, whether it’s in NHRA, PDRA, or races like YellowBullet Nationals. As a Ford guy myself, I could not be happier for Ronnie and Karen on this win, he accomplished something that some will spend 30 years trying to do and not reach the national event victory circle. A big congratulations to Ronnie on the win, and being one of the most kind & professional racers I have ever been around.
Danny Rowe Steps Away from NHRA Pro Mod
Some may not see this as a big moment, but I think that they may be severely understating the importance of this. For years Danny has been competing at the highest level within the pro mod world. At the beginning of this season we saw Danny bring out his brand-new blown Camaro to compete for the championship in NHRA. The season didn’t go as Danny and the team would have liked, but he still finished up the season in 12th with a brand-new car. After the season was completed and the championship was crowned, it was announced that Danny would be stepping out of the car and taking a hiatus from NHRA pro mod. Danny is heavily involved in his businesses, which include worldwide traveling, and inherently causes scheduling conflicts as well. It’s disheartening that Danny, who has competed at such a high level for so long had to step away, and we continue to hope that Danny is able to come back sooner than later.
Jim Oberhofer & Kalitta Motorsports part ways
Few times within the motorpsorts industry do we see long lasting relationships. Whether it is driver/owner, team/sponsor, etc. the fact is that we no longer see 20 years and longer with a team. That is why we were all so shocked when it was announced that Jim O and Kalitta parted ways. While there were plenty of random, unsubstantiated rumors about the parting, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is the shockwave it sent when the two parted. Jim had been part of that team for longer than I can possibly remember. While Jim has moved on from his old position with Kalitta and will be now part of the Paul Lee team and assisting with Clay Millican teams as well. Not sure if there is anyone left in NHRA that has been with their team as long as Jim O was, but we wish Jim the best with the Paul Lee team in 2019.