NC (October 22-24) -- The IHRA Hooters Drag Racing Series closed out
its 12-race season on Sunday in Rockingham (NC) with the 9th annual
Bethesda Softworks World Finals. Team Hoosier put the final touches on
another stellar season. Hoosier-shod Al Billes (photo) set a new world
record in Pro Modified and was one of ten finalists riding on Hoosier
tires. When the event was over, five of the ten carried away an
"Iron Man" trophy, while four drivers were crowned World
Champions riding on the Hoosier brand.
The Pro Modified class had 43 cars in competition starting on
Saturday. Al Billes, using a pair of Hoosier 34.5/17.0-16 C2050 tires,
was not only the #1 qualifier, the Barrie, Ontario, Canada driver also
set a new world record during qualifying with a 6.102 ET (229.35 mph)
run. In fact, not only did Team Hoosier have the top qualifying
position they also claimed the #2 spot with Rick Distefano (6.114) and
the #4 spot with Carl Spiering (6.127).
It was Billes, however, making it all the way to the
class finals driving the SMP '53 Corvette. Billes got the jump at the
line with a .064 RT to his opponent's .076 RT. When his adversary's
car began to shake violently forcing him to shut down, the win was
Billes' to take. Once again, the Hoosier-shod Canadian and his
supercharged engine made an arrow-straight pass--posting an ET of
6.191 seconds (227.46 mph) to take the win.
A Hoosier-shod winner in Funny Car was a sure thing when Fred Tigges
and Rob Atchison met in the finals as both drivers compete on Hoosier
tires. Tigges in a Camaro and Atchison in a Firebird set up a classic finish
to the season. This one went to Tigges who had a .044 RT and a 5.910
ET (223.80 mph). Atchison, did however, claim the 2004 Alcohol Funny
Car World Championship.
Sixty-two cars started competition in Top Sportsman before the field
had been whittled down to two. Those two drivers both rode on Hoosier
tires so, yet another Iron Man winner would be a member of Team
Hoosier. Bob Mandell and Glen Maine were the two finalists. This one
was very close with Mandell claiming the win by a mere four feet at
the line. Mandell had a near perfect light at .005 coupled with a
9.926 ET (6.90 dial) en route to the win.
Tony Ward came up about four feet short at the stripe and settled for
runner-up honors in Top Dragster.
Although there were no Hoosier-shod finalists in Stock, Craig Marshall
did, however, claim the 2004 Stock World Championship for Team
Shannon Waycaster took runner-up honors by the slimmest of margins in
Quick Rod. Ron Folk, who competes on Hoosier tires, was also crowned
the Quick Rod World Champion.
Richard Bateman carried the Hoosier banner into the final round in
Super Rod. A huge 90-car field was on hand until there were just two
competitors remaining. Bateman got the jump at the light (.025 RT)
over his opponent and went on to claim the win with a 9.890 ET (-.010)
on the 9.90 index. Not only did Team Hoosier claim the victory, the
World Champion was also a member of the elite group with Steve Furr
crowned the 2004 Super Rod World Champion.
Eighty-three cars started out in the Hot Rod class at Rockingham
until only two remained. Just one of the two drivers, however, was on
Hoosiers. Jeff Blardinelli was that driver and Blardinelli did not
disappoint, winning the Iron Man when his opponent broke out in the
final contest. Blardinelli had a .084 RT coupled with a 10.917 ET
(.017) on a 10.90 index en route to the win.
Matt Morgan, driving a '69 Camaro, settled for runner-up honors in Top
Stock coming up just 20 inches short at the stripe.