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.
Like Butler, eventual Champion Kevan Moore's season began with a title at Columbus. Moore's ride is a late-model type altered, and it runs down in the 10-second zone. Pro is a class for cars running 9.00-13.99 that doesn't allow electronics. He wasn't able to post another final round showing during the season, but attended all of the events and went far enough in the elimination rounds to get the honors.
At VMP, the title in the division for the Pro category went to die-hard racing couple Laura and W.C. Glasscock. Laura used her "home-track advantage" and drove her show-quality '71 Dodge Challenger to victory over a solid field of competitors, beating Bill Bourguignon's '74 'Cuda for the event title with a 12.34 on a 12.32 dial-in.
Hemi Super Stock
One of the most popular classes at the Classic Events series is Hemi Super Stock, and this year's champion was Don Edelstein from Addison, Illinois, whose '68 Dart shows as well as it goes. Edelstein was another eventual champion who won at Columbus. He also took the crown at Norwalk, with class honors both there and at VMP to round out the season. His nearest competitor going into that final race was Kevin Krejci, whose '68 'Cuda had taken home the honors at Hamilton, Ohio.
On an aside, fellow racer Larry Rife posted a runner-up to Don at Columbus. Rife's original Hemi Barracuda was totaled over Labor Day weekend when he had a nasty top-end accident at Bobby Roger's Mopar Southern Classic in Clay City, Kentucky, and Larry ended up in the hospital with some head trauma that he's still recovering from as of this writing.
This Barracuda was a give-away...
This Barracuda was a give-away prize that the Tidewater Mopar Club spent most of the show season promoting. The car featured a nice 340/auto combination, and on Sunday, the winner was drawn.
Max Wedge Shootout
While his brother Dennis was busy winning the 2001 Best of Show trophy and prize with Joe Stentella's black four-speed Hemi Road Runner (more on that car next month; stay tuned), Allen Kohr was in hot pursuit of the crown in the Original Max Wedge Shootout division. Allen's machine is a magenta-hued '63 Dodge based out of Fredricksburg, Pennsylvania, and when the smoke cleared for the season, it came down to Kohr and veteran pilot Harley Day from Dellroy, Ohio, in a '64 Savoy. Kohr won in Kansas City and posted runner-up honors in Norwalk. However, he fell out in round one, opening the door for Day to make up lost ground. As it happened, Day went to the final before falling to Bill Krause's Dodge, but it wasn't enough to make up the difference, and Kohr took home the accolades. To his credit, Day posted a runner-up finish in Columbus as well.
The Sportsman racing division is for any car running 14.00 and up, and like Pro, is a no-electronics class. At Columbus, it was Lester Johnson who took home runner-up honors, and he would return to post a victory at VMP. Johnson's '68 Satellite is a four-door machine, but has enough motivation under the bonnet to run high-14-second passes.
However, the season title went to the man who lost to Johnson in that final, Gordon Stevens. Stevens' efforts, which included wins at Kansas City, Hamilton, and Norwalk, prior to the VMP race had given him an almost insurmountable points lead, with Johnson at his heels in Third. This very credible effort was accomplished by victories at his titles at Hamilton (which was a no-points deal due to using a buy-back in earlier rounds), Kansas City, and Norwalk. Gordon campaigns a '76 Dart Sport powered by a slant six and also won the Slant Six crown for the season as well.
The final in Sportsman at...
The final in Sportsman at VMP came down to Lester Johnson (near lane) and Gordon Stevens. Johnson won the battle, but Stevens won the war, taking home the crown for the year.
Swap meet treasures included...
Swap meet treasures included this selection of intakes (note the rare Edelbrock STR-14 Six Pack manifold, formerly the "big deal" in '70s-era Super Stock racing) and this automatic A-Body console with factory-mounted tachometer. Both sold before the end of the weekend.