Palmdale, Calif.'s Los Angeles County Raceway is the birthplace of organized import drag racing. And at the IDRC Nitto Tires International Finals, it saw more power than ever.
The IDRC rented a street sweeper and ran it up and down the racing surface and shut-down area until the driver was dizzy. Then the entire racing surface was prepped with VHT and a close eye was kept on track conditions throughout the two-day event. With 7-second cars such as Abel Ibarra's stable of Mazdas and Marcos Acosta's 20B-powered MX-3 grip was at a premium. Factor in East Coast racers Craig Paisley and Chris Rado along with Stephan Papadakis and a gang of Quick Class warriors, and it's easy to see the need for such preparations.
The proof this worked was clearly evident in the timeslips. Abel Ibarra's Pro Class RX-7 qualified with a 7.93 at 171 mph, while his Flaco Racing counterpart Efren Vasquez was number two in the R-100 with a 7.98. In Outlaw, half of the field was able to break into the 8s during qualifying. Craig Paisley and his TRD-backed Supra edged out RX-7pilot Ray Lochhead 9.866 to 9.875. Adam Saruwatari posted an impressive 8.90 to get the third spot on the grid and Stephan Papadakis rounded out the 8-second contenders with an 8.96 at 162 mph, the highest trap speed in the field. Because of weight and fuel factors, Honda uni-body racers Ed Bergenholtz and Chris Rado found themselves surrounded by jungle-gym cars. They fared well, making the field in the number six and seven spots, running 9.65 and 9.75 respectively. In Quick Class, Lisa Kubo blasted a 9.61, easily the quickest time for a uni-body Honda at Palmdale.
In Street, league leader Ari Yallon was number one with a 10.32, but Rhys Millen was close on his heels with a 10.39 in the UPRD Supra. The All-Motor Class had it toughest, as the track's 2,800-foot elevation took a toll on competitors' power output. What's about these cars? The equal level of performance. Top qualifier Joel Mandl checked in with an 11.48, while the number four qualifier, Erick Aguilar, was a scant .06 seconds back at 11.54. The entire eight-car field was in the 11s.
Toyo Tires Street ClassThe Street class consisted of four RX-7s, a pair of Supras, a '92 Skyline GT-R and a '77 Mercedes. Events unfolded predictably with number one qualifier and division dominator Ari Yallon and his RX-7 and number two car, the Rhys Millen-piloted Supra from UPRD meeting heads-up in the finals. However, predictability went out the door at the flash of the green as the Supra sizzled the RX-7-10.02 to 10.23. During Saturday's qualifying session, the UPRD Supra, which is a handful coming out of the box because of its six-speed transmission, got a lackluster start, but its acceleration at half-track was a real eye opener. UPRD reported 60-foots of 2.2 seconds have been the norm because the old multi-plate clutch would be launched at 6500, but as it would catch, the clutch would pull down the revs to 1800 and the car would bog off the line. But on Saturday, the Supra was pulling 1.8s, thanks to a new six-puck, single-plate clutch from ACT. The ACT clutch was installed a mere four days before the event and no testing was possible prior to hitting the track. After some adjustments and fiddling with tire pressure, the Supra nailed a 1.5-second, 60-foot in the finals en route to its best-ever effort and the class win.