Al-Balooshi Dominates Orlando World Doorslammer Nationals
Drag racing fans gathered at Orlando Speed World Dragway over the weekend for the second annual CTech Manufacturing World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS. The popular event attracts the stars of Pro Stock and Pro Mod to the Sunshine State to compete for $75,000-to-win in Pro Stock and $50,000-to-win in Pro Mod, and $15,000-to-win in $hameless Racing Pro 632. In addition to those star-studded fields, heavy hitters competed in Comp Eliminator, Ray Skillman Auto Group Factory Shootout, Top Sportsman and Strange Engineering Stock/Super Stock divisions. In lieu of a qualifying ladder, drivers in both Pro Mod and Pro Stock drew chips to determine pairings for Round One eliminations and continued the draw process to select head-to-head competitors before each subsequent round.
Pro Mod driver Rick Hord came to Orlando to debut his brand-new Corvette. Unfortunately for the doorslammer veteran, a leak in the car’s rollover valve greased the right rear tire causing his bright white Corvette to take a sudden turn to the right. Fortunately, the purpose-built ‘Vette was equipped with additional framing to allow the car to run Turbochargers or ProChargers. The beefier front end did its job as Hord darted across the center line and slammed hard into the outside wall. As the safety team at Orlando Speed Dragway rushed to put out the flames, Hord escaped unharmed through the driver’s side window. With no chance of repairing his new ride before the first round of the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod at Gainesville Raceway, Hord’s immediate plans included getting the Corvette back to chassis builder Jerry Bickel in hopes of making the NHRA race in Atlanta.
To add an extra layer of excitement to the Pro Mod division, drivers will have to shift gears manually at 2021 events. A minor detail for Khalid Al-Balooshi who praised the off-season work put in by the Bahrain 1 Racing Team to have his Chevrolet Camaro at peak performance for the Orlando event. The former E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod world champion qualified Number One with 5.659 ET at 251.25 mph. However, that was just a preview of what was to come. On Sunday, Al-Balooshi completed a record-setting pass at 5.617 ET at 253.18 mph while eliminating Kris Thorne. After eliminating Jerico Balduf, Al-Balooshi posted a 5.625 ET at 230.06 mph in the semifinal round to put class newcomer J.R. Gray on the trailer.
Alex Laughlin, the 2020 Orlando winner, was working his way up the other side of the ladder posting with wins over Lyle Barrett, Dustin Nesloney, and Justin Jones to advance to the final round. After tuner Brad Personett put the final touches on the Baharain 1 Racing ProCharger-powered Camaro, Laughlin’s hope of taking home the $50,000 began to disappear. Laughlin did have the quicker reaction time at the tree in his new Elite Motorsports Procharger-powered Mustang, but Al-Balooshi nailed his shifting points enroute to the quickest run in the history of the Pro Mod with a pass of 5.613 seconds at 254.76 mph. In Pro Stock competition, brothers Cristian and Fernando Cuadra Jr. put their CORRAL sponsored Ford Mustangs in the final round with wins over Erica Enders and Greg Anderson, respectively. After a near-perfect start in the semifinal with a .001 reaction time, Cristian left early in the final round giving his brother a free pass for the $75,000 winner’s purse.