The IDRC Summer Slam has earned its reputation among drag race fans and car show enthusiasts with record-breaking racing action, 1048 slammin' show cars, hot hydraulic competition and beautiful bikini show beauties. Held during the 4th of July weekend at famed Old Bridge Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, the 2002 edition delivered the goods to more than 24,000 fans.
Drag Sports Magazine Pro ClassThe action was fierce in the Pro Class and the standing room only crowd knew the big boys were the cars to watch as the drama unfolded. All qualifiers were in the 7-second range, making the field closely matched. However, the second round of qualifying was a wake up call for all the racers. Craig Paisley and his Toyota Tundra scared everyone when his truck drifted out of the groove. Craig lost traction causing his truck to go sideways. He managed to correct with steering, but the Tundra flung back and caught its rear wheel, tipping over on its roof and sliding for 200 feet or so. Craig was shaken up but emerged to a cheering crowd with fists in the air. The Tundra, unfortunately, didn't fare so well. The nose and roof of the cab were irreparably damaged. This incident left seven competitors for eliminations.
The powerhouse team to watch was Bullish Motor Racing, with its identically painted and powered Solaras. In qualifying they ran side by side, with George Ioannou running 7.100 and Ara Arslanian running 7.108, both at 191mph-it doesn't get much more "identical" than that. Both cars made quick work of their opponents in the first round, but the staging order dictated they'd run against each other in the semis, squelching any hopes of a one/two finish for the Bullish team. Driver and Bullish team owner Ara Arslanian managed to get a slightly better reaction time against Ioannou, who always posts rock solid .5-second reaction times. Ioannou did get a better 60-foot time, though, and both cars ran side by side the entire length of the track with neither giving an inch. Finally, Ioannou squeaked past Arslanian at the finish line, pushing himself into the finals.
The car to look out for was the Turbonetics Drag Barrier Celica driven by Matt Scranton. He defeated David Buschur in the first round in a David vs Goliath-like race. Honorable mention must go to Buschur for finally breaking into the 7-second realm with his Mitsubishi powered, tube-frame Talon. But his 4G63 had half the cylinders and 40 percent of the displacement compared to that of the Celica. In the semis Scranton was supposed to race the Venom Racing Toyota Tundra driven by Grant Downing, but in an effort to gain lane choice the Venom crew pushed their motor too hard and broke as they defeated Jose Torres in the first round. Unable to make the semis, Scranton made it to the finals against George Ioannou. It could have been anybody's race as Ioannou's rock solid performance and potent turbocharged inline-6 was up to the task of humbling Matt Scranton and the twin turbocharged iForce V8 in the Turbonetics Celica. The reaction advantage Ioannou hoped for didn't occur when the tree turned green, though. Both cars left at virtually the same time and it was just a matter of a few more ponies the Turbonetics Celica was able to squeeze out to push them one tenth faster through the traps. It was the closest race the Drag Barrier Celica has ever had as the Solara was in striking distance the entire length of the track. But the Celica's 7.057 at 197 mph was enough to defeat Ioannou, who finished with a 7.190 at 190 mph.