Hagar, McDaniel, Selleck, and Philbeck are crowned as WDRA Summit World Champions; four racers also claimed $5K wins at the WDRA Summit Racing Equipment World Championships.
Write-up provided by WDRA
Photos provided by Chris Simmons Photography
HARTSVILLE, SC- The first-ever WDRA Summit Racing Equipment World Championships presented by SunCoast Performance took place October 19-21, 2023 at Darlington Dragway. This prestigious invite-only event featured a pit vehicle race on Thursday, FREE entry $5,000-to-win races on Friday and of course, the World Championships main events on Saturday.
The WDRA Summit Racing Equipment World Championships presented by SunCoast Performance is made up of an extremely small and elite field of racers. The ONLY way to get an invite, besides winning the SSDRS championship at your track, is to be registered by July 1st and complete the small task of beating the best racers in your region and win a WDRA Summit Bracket Finals presented by Laris Motorsports Insurance event.
See results below!
Pit Vehicle Race
Mason Crews and Kadden Collins with Darlington Dragway were the semifinalists.
Friday featured $5,000 to win races in four categories with no entry fee for the competitors. Title sponsors for each class were American Race Cars for Box, Laris Motorsports Insurance for No Box, Renegade Race Fuels for Sportsman, and Wild Willy Fuel Fragrance for the Junior Dragsters. After completing the time trial and nearly first round, a rainstorm created a pause in the program, but the clouds eventually parted, and the track was restored to racing conditions.
American Race Cars Box
Three door cars and one dragster made their way into the American Race Cars Box semifinal: Jeff Sobczynski, Kevin Crawford, Johnny Hellams, and Parker Dotson. Sobczynski puts together a .014 package which leaves Hellams’ .022 light mathematically ineligible. Crawford is .007 on the tree and runs dead on with a six to eliminate Dotson who was .020 up front.
Two first generation Camaros rolled into the water box for a nearly heads up final with Sobczynski representing Empire Dragway and Crawford calling Darlington Dragway his home track. The race is over at the starting line when Crawford is .0004 red while Sobczynski is .043 green and runs 5.963 on his 5.96 dial to take the $5,000 back to New York.
Laris Motorsports Insurance No Box
The Laris Motorsports Insurance No Box semifinal came down to Kaden Jenkins, Tyler Duff, Donnie Hagar, and Brian Yerger, Jr. Duff is .0009 red while Yerger is .050 green and runs dead on his 6.21 dial to advance. Hagar also runs dead on his dial paired with a .010 reaction time which leaves Jenkins’ mathematically ineligible with his .040 reaction time.
Two newsworthy drivers who have recently conquered big money bracket racing face each other in the final with Hagar hauling from US 131 Motorsports Park and Yerger representing Darlington Dragway. Only one hundredth separate the pair on the starting line and both drivers run one above their respective dial ins but Hagar’s .003 light gives him the winning edge to pick up the $5,000 purse.
Renegade Race Fuels Sportsman
The Renegade Race Fuels Sportsman dwindled down to three cars with Brandon Cox from Keystone Raceway Park, Dustin Carroll from Darlington, and Chris Brooks from Prescott Raceway. Cox was behind the wheel of one of the slower rides on the property but takes the .022 starting line advantage and breaks out .0004 for the win beside Carroll who runs .007 under his dial.
Brooks made the most of the long haul from Arkansas by taking the $5,000 win over Cox who was .013 red in the final.
Wild Willy Fuel Fragrance Junior Dragster
Wild Willy Fuel Fragrance sponsored the next generation of racers and the Junior Dragster semifinal featured Camren Laffoon, Brayden Jones, Emerson Green, and Wesley Clark. Darlington’s Jones goes red beside the .038 green reaction time of Laffoon who is representing Eddyville Raceway Park. The next pair have nearly identical reaction times but Green runs dead on the 7.93 dial for the win while Union Dragway’s Clark runs three above for the loss.
Iowa takes the $5,000 win in the final when Laffoon is .009 and runs 8.00 off his 7.99 dial while Ubly Dragway’s Green is .034 and dead on but must settle for the runner up.
An elite field of racers traveling from across the United States and Canada converge in South Carolina to add their names to bracket racing history by conquering the first World Drag Racing Alliance (WDRA) Summit World Championships presented by SunCoast Performance. Summit Racing Equipment is the title sponsor for the quarter million dollar Sportsman Drag Racing Series which rewards local bracket racers who qualify to compete at the end-of-the-year championship event. Every qualifier receives $500 cash to aid in offsetting the travel costs and each round the payouts multiply eventually reaching thousands of dollars in each class. Box and No Box champions earn $20,000 each while the Sportsman and Junior Dragster champions leave with $10,000 each.
Clear blue skies, sunshine, and a steady wind spread throughout the host track, Darlington Dragway, on Saturday as drivers prepared for five rounds of competition where each opponent had already accumulated the word Champion on their racing resume. WDRA President, Skooter Peaco, explains the skill it takes to qualify for the WDRA Summit World Championships by saying, “The amount of talent gathered together this weekend from all across the US and Canada is incredible. We founded the WDRA to specifically support the bracket racers and the tracks they call home. This weekend was a dream realized for us and a lot of memories were made for our racers and their families.”
Box World Championship
The Box class eventually dwindled to eight remaining drivers in a mix of door cars and dragsters. Matthew McDaniel, Parker Dotson, Jared Ledford, Kevin Crawford, Rodney Gomes, Jared Micetich, Kevin Knight, and Jeff Sobczynski. The winners would return in round four where Crawford is .006 red to advance McDaniel who breaks out on the solo shot. Knight also leaves the line too soon while Ledford is green and runs dead on to advance in an attempt to become a World Champion for the second year in a row.
The Northern door car versus Southern dragster final features McDaniel from Farmington Dragway staging his father’s dragster beside the wheelstanding Camaro of Ledford who traveled from Mid Michigan Motorplex. All the anticipation is over on the starting line when Ledford is .009 red in front of McDaniel who is .021 and runs dead on his 4.66 dial for the prestigious win. Matthew McDaniel earns the $20,000 purse, WDRA Rod trophy, WDRA Champion Card, and most importantly, WDRA Box World Champion title during his first trip to a world final event.
No Box World Championship
The No Box class consisted of both footbrake competitors and bottom bulb racers leaving with a transbrake but without the assistance of a delay box. The quarterfinalists included Brandon Iamele, Kaden Jenkins, Jeff Kerl, Allan Holloway, Mike Howell, Donnie Hagar, Tommy Duff, and Charlie White. Four advancing drivers met in the semifinal and the first pair results in Iamele launching and quickly watching his win light illuminate when Howell leaves a red light shining on the tree. Duff is .004 and runs two above his dial beside Hagar who is .005 and two above also, but Hagar gets to the finish line by five thousandths to advance into his second consecutive final round of the event.
Two Northern natives face off in the South with $20,000 and a WDRA World Championship title on the line. Empire Dragway track champion Iamele runs dead on after his red light start while Hagar is .028 green to take the win while representing US 131 Motorsports Park. Hagar adds World Champion to his incredible 2023 season which includes his second consecutive No Box track championship, the Million Dollar Drag Race main event victory, and the Laris Motorsports Insurance free $5,000 win yesterday. Over two days, Donnie Hagar turned on the win light eleven rounds in a row in an impressive show of talent deserving of the WDRA No Box World Championship, WDRA Rod trophy, and Champion Card.
Sportsman World Championship
Footbrake competitors in what is considered the slower side of the field these days clashed in the Sportsman class where Brad Perkins, Jeff Taylor, Virginia Bohanon, Brandon Cox, and Robbie Philbeck created the quarterfinal round. Only three drivers kept their hopes of winning alive and advanced into the semifinal. Perkins is .007 red in his 11-second Chevrolet to advance Philbeck who was .015 red leaving second in his Mustang. Cox cruised his large Lincoln down the eighth mile with a .007 reaction time on his bye run.
Drivers from Pennsylvania and North Carolina met in the $10,000 Sportsman final round as Cox from Keystone Raceway Park pulled up beside Philbeck, who was representing Union County Dragway. Cox is dialed 11.17 and leaves with a .040 light but Philbeck patiently waits to crush his third amber with a .002 reaction time and runs one above for the win. Robbie Philbeck captures the WDRA Sportsman World Championship, WDRA Rod trophy, WDRA Champion Card and ten thousand dollars, which he says is the highest paying win of his career.
Junior Dragster World Championship
One of the most interesting classes on the property is the Junior Dragster division where drivers from the ages of eight to eighteen have earned the chance to battle on the big stage. The quarterfinalists include Evan Muchler, Samantha Chatwood, Alex Selleck, Stephen Rodgers, Phillip Jones, Grace Varner, and Wesley Clark on the bye run. Four kids turn on their respective win lights and return for the semifinal when Muchler is .011 on the tree and runs one above to take the .005 margin of victory over Chatwood who was .028 and dead on with a three. Clark goes .010 red to end his day while Selleck slowly makes his way down the track and runs 11.99 off his 11.97 dial for the win.
It was an all-Michigan final round when Muchler from US 131 Motorsports Park lines up beside Selleck who was representing Mid Michigan Motorplex. The younger driver leaves first with a .032 light and soon becomes a World Champion when Muchler turns on the dreaded red light by one ten-thousandth of a second and coasts across the finish line. Alex Selleck becomes the WDRA Junior Dragster World Champion at only eight years old and picks up $10,000 cash and the eight-pound WDRA Rod trophy as a third grade student. Winning is no surprise to the juvenile driver as he earned the Mid Michigan track championship for the second year during his racing career, which has only been two years so far.
Four WDRA World Champions each representing different WDRA member tracks from Michigan, South Carolina, and North Carolina have made history during the new sanctioning body’s inaugural season. The event atmosphere embodied everything that is great about drag racing and the connections made within the sport.
Even though there could only be one winner in each class, the sportsmanship among drivers was evident through high fives and congratulations in the winner’s circle celebrations. Peaco remarks, “We couldn’t be prouder of the Alliance right now and all we accomplished together this weekend.”
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