The Pro Nitrous Motorcycle final round at the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) North vs. South Shootout at Maryland International Raceway featured a side-by-side, 3.99-second battle between two of the toughest competitors in the PDRA’s two-wheeled class—multi-time world champion Travis Davis and veteran rider Paul Gast.
Davis grabbed an .018 starting line advantage on his Davis Transport/Timblin Chassis Suzuki and held that lead to win on a holeshot with his 3.996 at 175.39 beating Gast’s 3.994 at 172.78.
“When you race that red machine, you better bring your A game,” said Davis, who thanked wife Brandy, son Brayden, Dan Wagner with DTM, and Steve Nichols with Maxx ECU. “You better have everything loaded in there and be ready because [Gast] is a tough racer. He’s been doing it a long time.
“The weekend was pretty good. We tested a new combination, a new motor that we built, on Thursday. It showed a little promise, but we took it out and put old reliable back in. Qualified with the 3.99 and felt like I could pick it up through the weekend, but then the heat got on us. I did what I had to do to win.
“Our close friend, Walt Timblin is going through some health issues right now, and this race here is for him.”
Davis, who qualified No. 2, won the first round over Tyron Lemons with a 4.07 at 175.23. The Georgia rider ran a 4.04 at 174.89 in his second-round win over a red-lighting Mohammed Alawad.
73-year-old Gast qualified No. 1 with a 3.972 at 172.94 aboard his Fast By Gast Suzuki, and continued to have the quickest bike through eliminations with a 4.005 at 177.32 in the first round over Gerald Smith and a 3.982 at 172.47 over Meshal Al-Saber and his 4.054 in the semis.
“The conditions here in Maryland are a little tough, but still capable of running good times,” Gast said Friday night after qualifying. “I ran about the same as I did in Norwalk under different conditions. We were smart enough to not touch the bike. We just maybe put some rings in it and checked it all out. But for the most part the bike’s doing really good.
“I did just have a teeny, little malfunction there with the clutch, but was able to get through it. I was hoping to run a little better there. It still runs really good. Even when it’s hot out or really wet out, these nitrous vehicles tend to really still run good. I don’t blame conditions for much because we have controls for a lot of things that we can step the thing up at any point. I’m proud of the bike.”
Davis was the only other rider to dip in the 3-second range in qualifying with his 3.998 at 175.80 to qualify second. Ashley Owens was close, though, recording a 4.000 at 175.23 on his McKinney Motorsports ’14 Suzuki to take the third spot. Defending world champion Chris Garner-Jones qualified No. 9, just missing the eight-bike field.
Maryland native Jim Halsey scored his second win of the season in Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous Saturday night. The defending world champion defeated another Maryland racer, Fredy Scriba, in a 3.69-second final round to build a solid points lead going into the second half of the eight-race PDRA season.
Along with Halsey, pro class victories went to Kurt Steding in WS Construction Pro Boost presented by P2 Contracting and Ty-Drive, Johnny Pluchino in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock presented by AED Competition, Lexi Tanner in $hameless Racing Pro 632, and Ty Kasper in Menscer Motorsports Pro Street presented by AFCO.
Wes Ervin became the first winner in PDRA’s new small-tire class, AFCO Super Street presented by Menscer Motorsports, after becoming the first No. 1 qualifier on Friday.
In the sportsman classes, the winners were Henry Underwood in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by US Rail, Steve Furr in Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster presented by Laris Motorsports Insurance, Robbie Crenshaw in MagnaFuel Top Sportsman 32 presented by Vortech Superchargers, and Dickie Smith in Lucas Oil Top Dragster 32 presented by Laris Motorsports Insurance. Donnie Yeatman picked up the win in Edelbrock Bracket Bash presented by COMP Cams in his ’88 Beretta, cutting a .002 light and running 6.603 on a 6.60 dial-in to beat Brandon Bachmeier, who went red in his ’03 S&W dragster.
The North vs. South Shootout also included the Jr. Dragster classes, where Nyck Shirkey (Coolshirt Systems Pro Jr. Dragster presented by PRP) and Gavin Wood (Classic Graphix Top Jr. Dragster presented by PRP) were victorious. Shirkey, from Ridgely, Maryland, bounced back from a DNQ at the last race, using a starting line advantage and a 7.915 to beat Chris Suppers’ 7.917, both on a 7.90 index. Wood earned his second win of the season on the starting line when final-round opponent Ayden Tilghman went red, while Wood posted a 9.09 on a 9.03 dial-in for the win.
story by Nate Van Wagnen, photos by Tara Bowker for PDRA