Palmdale hosted the first sport compact drag racing event of the 2002 season-the IDRC Advanced Clutch Technology West Coast Nationals. Business was booming as more than 16,000 spectators crowded the stands and some of the wildest cars kept them on their feet. Mazda had a field day as the Wankel ruled the Pro, Outlaw and Street classes, GM made a big splash in its debut and the Japanese invasion was still in effect.
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The Japanese invasion was playing out again at the ACT West Coast Nats as the number one and two qualifiers hailed from the Land Of The Rising Sun. Tatatoshi Wakita and his Blast Racing SC400 set the benchmark with a 7.64-second qualifying effort. The Escort Drag Racing Service 300ZX, piloted by Hiroshi Shiohara, was in second with a 7.77. The field was rounded out by Adam Saruwatari and his twin-turbo NSX at 8.29 and Efren Vazques and the K&N Engineering R100 from Abel Ibarra's stable at 8.60.
The K&N Engineering Mazda upset the top qualifier in the first round as a 1.3-second reaction time killed the Lexus' chances. It should be noted that when the SC400 finally got going it posted an 8.16 to the R100's 8.62. In the other showdown Hiroshi and his Z dropped Adam and his X 7.98 to 8.45. In the finals, the R100 again proved to be an Upset Special as the 300ZX had mechanical problems opening the door to the K&N Mazda which went through that door and took the victory with an 8.41.
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The big news here was GM Racing's FWD Cavalier piloted by Stephanie Reaves. We thought is was poignant that GM elected to kick off its FWD drag racing effort at Palmdale's LACR because the phenomenon that is sport compact drag racing was born on this strip of pavement in the high desert. In fact, the first tube-frame front drive also debut in Palmdale. The Cavalier represented The General well qualifying in the number two slot with a 9.29. The turbocharged air-cooled-engined New Beetle of Ron Lummus was head of the class with an 8.95. The rest of the field consisted of Ray Lochhead (9.37), Ed Bergenholtz (9.67), Rene Franco (10.19), Jose Vidal (10.52), Rick Stiles and Dante Villasenor.
In the first round the number seven and eight qualifiers were no shows. This did not subdue the adrenaline of Lummus or Reaves. Lummus generated a 9.04 while Reaves ripped off an 8.895 at 167 mph. This definitely puts GM on the map.