This is Rick Butler's dragster...
This is Rick Butler's dragster doing what it does best: running with the Big Dogs. Butler's effort for 2001 included three titles in the Indy Cylinder Head-sponsored division.
As the leaves on the Blue Ridge Mountains changed with the seasons, Mopar drag racing and show enthusiasts still had one last chance to enjoy their avocation on the East Coast for 2001. This was the much-anticipated finale of Jeff Johnson's Chrysler Classic Event series. The final of the five events held during the course of the year, participants in the only drag-racing points program for Chrysler competitors and its accompanying car show were looking forward to crowning champions in their respective categories.
Prior events leading up to this one made some of those titles a matter of simply needing to go a few rounds, while others would go right down to the wire. The Chrysler Classic season-long points standings are promoted by our friends over at Mopar Collector's Guide magazine, and a number of racers attended all of the events this year. On the other hand, locals from the Old Dominion State as well as other racers were in attendance to garner some hometown glory as well. On the show side of things, the points champion was Dennis Kohr with Joe Stentella's Hemi Road Runner, who took Best of Show at Hamilton and won First Place "B-Body Plymouth Stock '68-'70" at every event.
Meanwhile, as the action was going hot and heavy out on the dragstrip, the swap meet in the pits at Virginia Motorsports Park was a beehive of activity, with vendors selling new and used parts and accessories as well as cars. The car show portion of the event was also well attended.
In a couple of months, Mopar Muscle will again team up with Classic Events for the 2002 season-long Yearbook that will be printed in the magazine. A sixth event in Milan, Michigan, has been added for 2002, and we're planning a special treat for fans of the Supercar Showdown persuasion. Meanwhile, here's how the 2001 racing season sorted out.
The Original Max Wedge Shootout...
The Original Max Wedge Shootout crown for 2001 went to Allen Kohr and his '63 Dodge, while Don Edelstein's show-quality Dart was the race champ in the Hemi Super Stock category.
The Big Dog category is open to vehicles capable of running 8.99 or better in the quarter and allows all the tricks in the book as long as safety requirements are met. Door cars, altereds, and dragsters run the gamut of body styles in the Big Dog category, and at VMP, times in the 7-second range were fairly common.
The biggest Dog of 2001 was Rick Butler from Holland, Ohio. Butler's '97 Adkins dragster uses serious big-block motivation to get down track, and he started the year off with a win at the Chrysler Classic season-opener in May at Columbus. The division, which was backed by Indy Cylinder Head, proved popular. Scott Sanford, whose '23 altered is also based out of Ohio, was his toughest competitor, winning back-to-back titles in Kansas City and Hamilton, Ohio. But Butler returned to the winner's circle at Norwalk and, coupled to a runner-up spot to Sanford earlier in the season, basically only needed to show up for the title. Nonetheless, Rick decided to teach the other dogs one more lesson and finished out the season with a third event title, beating Chris Wheatcraft's dragster in the final in Virginia.
Doug Geobel from Edgerton, Ohio, took his '87 Charger bracket machine to the title in Super Pro, the 9.00-11:99 class for cars using electronic assists. Like the other champions, Geobel's willingness to attend all of the events, coupled with an ability to go late into the program, garnered him the honors. Geobel didn't win any events on the five-race tour, but he posted runner-up honors at Kansas City.
For the finale in Virginia, the trophy stayed in the home state. Tommy Corbett's Hampton, Virginia-based '92 Daytona took on all comers to win the event title, beating Stan Milam's Barracuda out of Georgia in the final.
The show field on Saturday...
The show field on Saturday was filled with dozens of great-looking cars from the tidewater region of Virginia. Joe Lasko's blown Duster was the Best of Show winner at this event.