Norwalk Hosts Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals
Norwalk is a small city in northern Ohio that is filled with drag racing fans. As a longtime host of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, the city sits at the center of the Firelands, a subregion of the Connecticut Western Reserve and a colony founded by fire sufferers after many east coast cities were destroyed by fire during the Revolutionary War. Summit Motorsports Park (originally Norwalk Raceway) has hosted the National Hot Rod Association’s NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series for the past fourteen years. Prior to the pandemic, the annual event was regularly held on the July 4th weekend. Nonetheless, the same patriotic spirit filled the streets again this year, as the all-American downtown greeted race teams, drivers, and race fans who were eager to return to the stands.
Privately owned by the Bader Family and originally the host of the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) World Nationals, Summit Racing Equipment purchased the naming rights to facility in 2007 and invested millions of dollars in improving the popular drag strip. Today, Summit Motorsports Park reflects the decades of big league drag racing that has graced the small town spectacle. Often called a driver’s track, teams typically struggle to find the optimal settings for drivers to hook up with the aged concrete surface. You can also add to the equation the blistering summer heat, unexpected downpours, and one of the most competitive fields in NHRA history. Moreover, the track has continued a fan-favorite tradition (started by Bill Bader, Sr. back in 1987) of selling one pound of velvet ice cream for a dollar.
Steve Torrence Nails Holeshot Win in Top Fuel
Top Fuel driver Brittany Force started the final day at the 13th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals as the No. 1 qualifier. As drivers worked their way down the ladder, Torrence wasn’t the fastest - that honor went to Antron Brown with a top speed of 328.14 mph. Torrence wasn’t the quickest, as a 3.696 ET was posted by runner-up Brittany Force, and Torrence didn’t have the best reaction time, as Shawn Langdon nailed a .024-second RT. What Steve Torrence did do was get off the tree in .058 seconds for a 3.736 ET at 313.88 mph to defeat Force’s faster 3.730 ET at 326.24 mph final pass.
First Funny Car Win in Three Years for Pedregon
Overdue for a win, veteran Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon ended his three-year drought at Summit Motorsports Park. With extra head clearance in his Snap-On Dodge Charger Hellcat, Pedregon denied Bob Tasca III of his shot at a third win on the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing series. Nonetheless, the driver of the Ford Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang maintains the points lead in Funny Car at 495 points to John Force’s 480 points in the PEAK Chevrolet Camaro SS. Pedregon nailed a .053 reaction time and needed the starting-line advantage, as he had just enough power to hold off Tasca III by just over a foot at the finish line to claim the 37th Wally of his career.
Enders Denies Anderson's Bid for Most Wins
Erica Enders is probably Greg Anderson's toughest rival and stole his thunder Sunday at Norwalk with a holeshot victory in the final round. Thanks to her .005-second reaction time, Enders won with a 6.606 ET at 205.44 mph to Anderson’s quicker and faster 6.594 ET at 206.20 mph. The back-to-back defending NHRA Camping World Pro Stock champion prevented her longtime rival from tying Warren Johnson at 97 victories for the most wins in NHRA Pro Stock history. Anderson, who qualified No. 1 for the sixth time in seven races in 2021 in his HendrickCars.com Camaro, made his fourth finals appearance in seven races on Sunday and maintains a 105-point lead for the 2021 Pro Stock season.
Matt Smith Stops Four-Valve Suzuki Win Streak
Steve Johnson was coming off a win at the NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals last month in Charlotte at zMAX Dragway. On Saturday in qualifying, Johnson was the Number One qualifier and the first pro stock motorcycle rider to reach the 6.70's at Summit Motorsport Park. Smith posted a 6.782 ET at 200.56 mph on his Denso Auto Parts/Stockseth/Matt Smith Racing EBR, breaking the Elapsed Time track record Johnson set the previous day on his new four-valve Slick 50 Suzuki. The victory, Smith’s second of the season and 28th of his career, strengthened his points lead through five events in Pro Stock Motorcycle, while Johnson moved into second place.
Photo credit by Keith J. Finks
Dodge//SRT Mile-High NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil
The next race is at Bandimere Speedway on July 16-18 in Morrison, CO