As expected, it was two Puerto Rican racers in the final. Raul Acevedo and his rotary-powered '72 Datsun were up against Wilberto Anaya's rotary-powered '95 Miata in the Quick 16 final. When the tree dropped, Acevedo launched a 9.27 second pass at 141-mph (9.25 dial) while Wilberto Anaya had trouble getting off the line and stumbled to a 19.12 (8.55 dial) finish.
True to drag racing tradition, the quickest cars race last and the Pro Mod Extreme cars were plenty quick with more than a few 7-second rotaries in attendance.
The quickest time belonged to La Atrevida, a well-known '82 Starlet piloted by Jorge Juarbe (who was also NHRA Sport Compact Modified Champion Cesar Febus' crew chief during his championship run). Juarbe hot-shoe'd his way through the dozens of competitors, which were comprised mainly of old-school imports with race-proven, turbocharged Mazda rotaries or Toyota 3TC four-cylinder motivation. Juarbe's red Starlet matched up with Jose Rodriguez's Starlet for the final and drove to the finish line first with a 7.72 at 174 to an 8.16 at 161 victory. Juarbe walked away with a cool $4,000 payday for his efforts.
Maybe the showdown of the day wasn't for money or trophies, just bragging rights. Englishtown pulled a racing coup when it set up a match race between reigning NDRA Xbox Cup champ Ara Arslanian and NHRA POWERade competitor Bob Benza-the first import vs. NHRA Pro Stock battle of its kind.
Bullish Racing's Ara Arslanian and his Street Glow Solara agreed to take on BNB Racing's Bob Benza and his Chevy Cobalt in a best two-of-three showdown. It was 500 naturally aspirated cubic inches vs. 3.4 turbocharged liters (201 cubic inches). Chevy vs. Toyota. Carburetors vs. fuel injection. Jerry Haas chassis vs. C&F Racecars chassis. Most of all, it was import vs. domestic.
The result? Both teams had troubles in the first two matchups. The Bullish team fought through a weekend full of carnage before the 6-second/200-plus mph final pass. On the first pass, the Solara broke a transmission and coasted through the traps. In the second stanza, shock from tire shake broke intercooler piping and forced Arslanian to pull to a stop at the 1,000-foot mark. The crew also scrambled to repair a boost leak.
Benza's team also had their work cut out for the day. To its credit, the team operated on a single-day schedule, with the first match race pass right off the trailer. Benza hooked hard to the left right off the starting line and let off for the first race.
For the second pass, Benza again had troubles near half track and coasted across the timers. With no full passes from either racer, there were no clear winners for the first two passes. While both racers found it hard to get down the track this weekend for two of their passes, Arslanian and Benza provided a thrilling last race.
It began with a prolonged staging battle. Both racers refused to stage first and were finally asked by the starter to restage before the lights dropped green. Benza left first and had an advantage through the 60-foot mark. Arslanian then pedaled his car and drove through tire shake while dancing near the center line in his right lane to catch Benza, who had to lift just past half track. Arslanian came from behind with a 6.89 at 209 finish for the thrilling victory, while Benza coasted across the finish line.
It was a fitting, thrilling end to a weekend full of excitement.
Ninth Annual BFGoodrich Tires Summer Sport Compact Slam Winners
Old Bridge Township Raceway Park
Englishtown, N.J. (July 3)
Bracket 1 (15.00 and Slower)
W: Victoria Kent ('94 Duster) - 15.442, 81.22 (15.37 dial)
R/U: Frederick Simmons ('89 Cavalier) - 15.621, 82.05 (15.51 dial)
Semi's: Ronald San Andres ('98 Civic); Jack Cogliano ('95 Eagle)
Bracket 2 (13.00 - 14.99)
W: Peter Church ('94 Integra) - 14.400, 85.16 (14.30 dial)
R/U: Jeff Hartsell ('03 SRT 4) - 13.735, 105.35 (13.40 dial)
Semi's: Zhen Jin ('95 240SX)
Bracket 3 (12.99 and Quicker)
W: George Gonzalez ('91 Talon) - 12.922, 92.08 (12.50 dial)
R/U: Carl Buchbinder ('86 Charger) - 26.059, 65.23 (12.35 dial)
Semi's: Edwin Burgos ('82 Starlet)
W: Raul Acevedo ('72 1200) - 9.275, 141.86 (9.25 dial)
R/U: Wilberto Anaya ('95 Miata) - 19.123, 73.98 (8.55 dial)
Semi's: Ivan Padilla ('72 1200); Hommy DeAlba ('82 Starlet)
Pro Mod Extreme
W: Jorge Juarbe ('82 Starlet) - 7.726, 174.23
R/U: Jose Rodriguez ('82 Starlet) - 8.163, 161.59
Semi's: Jose Ramos ('81 Corolla); Marcelino Lopez ('69 Toyota)
W: Sean Ivey ('92 Talon) - 9.743, 148.36
R/U: Harry Sohn ('94 del Sol) - 11.560, 102.84
Semi's: Johnny Ortiz ('87 Accord); Jan Roman Negron ('84 Rabbit)
W: Alex Batista ('92 Civic) - 12.674, 96.53
R/U: Anthony Morel ('93 Civic) - foul
Semi's: Spiridon Doupis ('92 Civic)
W: Stephen Lockett ('97 Neon) - 10.089, 144.53
R/U: Joe Simpson ('95 Civic) - 11.111, 109.04
Semi's: Felix Medina ('92 Civic)
W: Randy Owens ('93 Civic) - 13.076, 112.39
R/U: Dennis Melendez ('92 Civic) - 13.222, 102.74
Semi's: Greg Samaroo ('94 Civic); Duffant's Inc ('95 Honda)
W: Keith Loforte ('92 Talon) - 11.188, 130.69
R/U: Al Friedman ('03 EVO) - broke
Semi's: Dan Back ('92 Civic)