Perseverance Prevails at IHRA Team Finals

September, 29 2020

   Story courtesy of:  MDIR



The IHRA Summit Racing Equipment Team Finals was filled with perseverance, triumph, and the loss of a will to quit. The event was one that was more mentally challenging and demanding than physically, but not necessarily in a way that one would think. Mother nature would begin a weekend stay on Friday afternoon, and refused to leave until late Sunday afternoon. The Maryland International Raceway ™ (MDIR) and International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) staff would work tirelessly attempting to dry the track. Racers from MDIR, Sumerduck Dragway, US13 Dragway, and Roxboro Motorsports Park would wait patiently all weekend for an opportunity to race.

Friday’s Gamblers race was impacted by showers during the time trials. Then, off and on sprinkles during first round eliminations would arrive. The sprinkles would be just enough to halt racing for a few minutes, but not turn into a steady shower. A simple tire drag on the surface would get track back ready to go. This would happen multiple times during each class in first round and during first round re-entry until the rain arrived during second round of Mod ET and stayed. A decision was made to pull the plug on Friday’s Gamblers race and would be finished on Saturday.


Saturday’s race was forecasted to be better than Friday. However, that was not the case for the day. As the team arrived at a soaked racing surface, the team started to dry the track. With temperatures and dew point being almost identical, no sunlight, no wind, and plenty of humidity, the rain-soaked track was difficult to dry. The MDIR team would be able to get the track just on the verge of being ready and cars were about to be called to the lanes, when a thick mist would arrive and shut the drying operation back down. The MDIR staff would go back to drying once this mist pushed out, then before forced to stop again for another wave of mist coming through the area. This process would continue a handful of times and would force the call of Friday’s race to be considered completed and the purse to be split among the remaining drivers. Shortly after, a possible break in the weather would arrive. The team would get the racing surface dry and Junior Dragsters were called to the lanes. As the Juniors were strapping up, the mist would be back and settle in again. This time for good. This would now cause the cancellation of all racing on Saturday. Not a single car would go down the track all day. Showers would arrive overnight and stick around until the morning.

Sunday started off with similar weather as Saturday. With Sunday also be plagued by showers and a
persistent mist the special judging format would be adjusted and track operators race cancelled. The team photos were also cancelled due to COVID-19 Restrictions. The staff would continue to try to fend off mother nature. Finally, at around 2pm, there was a major break in the weather pattern. The sun started peeking out around 2:30pm adding much needed sunlight and heat to the racing surface and helping to speed up the drying process. Finally, at 3pm, Juniors would be called to the lanes and at 3:15pm, Junior motors would roar to life and the stage would be set for a fantastic day of racing.

MDIR Team A would take all three of the semifinal spots in Top ET with Ben Calhoun, Jason Kirby, and Billy Thomas racing to go to the final. Thomas would get the bye run with Calhoun and Kirby racing each other. Calhoun would take the stripe to go to the final. Thomas and Calhoun would put on a great race in the final with Calhoun taking the event win as Thomas was six thousandths too quick up at the top end.

Mod ET Competition would be dominated by US13 with 4 of
the final 6 spots in the quarter finals. The other two would be MDIR Team B racers Tony Mattera and Brian Mclaughlin. Mattera on his previous two runs had impressive back-to-back perfect reaction times. But unfortunately, neither MDIR driver would be able to move on. It would be an all US13 Team A Final with Daryl Beauchamp taking the win over Russ Archer.



Junior Dragster competition would be tight. Reaction times from these young guns would be impressive. We would see numerous .00X lights and even a perfect reaction time from MDIR Team B racer Ellyse Gailey, who was MDIR’s alternate, during first round eliminations. The semis would hold Sumerduck Team B racer Austin Keys, MDIR Team A racer Tyler Sandy, and MDIR Team B racer Gillian Mattera. Mattera and Sandy would race each other with Sandy taking the win to face Keys, who had a bye to the final. Austin Keys would be able to best Sandy to take the event win in Junior Dragster.


Best Appearing and Best Engineered judging would be selected by IHRA officials as drivers would sit in the staging lanes instead of representatives being voted by their peers then selected by an IHRA official as per usual. Below is who won each respective award.

  Award Name Track Hometown  
  Best Appearing Open Body Troy Cooper Sumerduck Midland, VA  
  Best Engineered Open Body Mickey Nelson Maryland Leonardtown, MD  
  Best Appearing Full Body Bobby Mattera Maryland Waldorf, MD  
  Best Engineered Full Body Keven Yates US13 Odenton, MD  
  Best Appearing Jr Dragster MacKenzie Williams US13 Laurel, DE  
  Best Engineered Jr Dragster Cole Foskey US13 Rhodesdale, MD  
  Best Team Spirit   US13    
  Best Appearing Team   Sumerduck    
  Best Decorated Grandstand   Maryland    

The points were tight between three teams right up until the completion of 4th round. MDIR Team A, MDIR Team B, and US13 Team A were all locked in a tight fight. MDIR Team A and US13 Team A would come all the way down to the wire to see who the Team Finals Track Champions would be. At the end of the night, down to the final runs, the Team Finals track Champion would be crowned. US13 Team A would take the championship with 55 points, one more than MDIR Team A. Second place MDIR Team A would have 54 points, MDIR Team B would have 44, Sumerduck Team A would have 24, US13 Team B would have 23, Roxboro Motorsports Park would have 6, and Sumerduck Team B would have 4.



• Events will be open to participants, their family and crew only, with a maximum of 10 people total (including driver) on any race team.

• No spectators will be permitted. Crew and family must enter with the participant or leave names at the gate for a late-arriving family or crew member.

• All race trailers, both open and enclosed, must be parked in every-other 12’ pit space. That way, a trailer is taking up one 12’ space and there is an empty 12’ space for race vehicle, family and crew beside it. No trailers can be parked side-by-side. This will help ensure social distancing.

• All additional vehicles that come into the pits must park in front of the race car in your pit area or in the Pitside parking lot… NO EXCEPTIONS.

• All staff and participants will be wearing masks in any indoor structures, restrooms, tower, etc. and outdoors anywhere proper social distancing is not achievable. Masks will not be required outdoors with proper social distancing, but they are recommended.

• Hand washing/sanitizing must be done on a regular basis.

• The tower will have restricted access and will be limited to essential staff only.

• The crews will be limited on the starting line and front of the staging lanes, with social distancing extremely enforced. Our security staff and starting line staff will closely monitor this area to prevent unauthorized gathering.

• When not racing, racers are to abide by social distancing requirements. Racers and crew members will be required to stay within their own pit areas when not racing.

• Each group must have adequate PPE for each crew member and must wear masks when required. All groups will be required to acquire their own PPE and bring it with them to the track.

• Our restrooms are equipped with hands free fixtures. Restrooms will be cleaned, stocked and sanitized throughout the day or evening. All Pitside portlets will be moved and taken out of service.

• Concessions will be open, and lines will be marked for proper social distancing. Concession stand will follow all guidelines in place for local food service businesses. We will be open with a limited menu of food items that must be consumed within your pit area or in the grandstands with proper social distancing but not in front of our concession area.