People Places & Racing News

Racing News: Bakersfield to Host Flowmaster/NMCA West Coast Season Opener


Geoffrey Cooley piloted his No. 22 Alumi Craft/Competitive Metals Pro-Buggy to a fifth-place finish in Round 1 and third place in Sunday's Round 2 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.


Cooley Leads Team Competitive Metals to the Podium at Lucas Oil Off Road Season Opener
Rookie Driver Geoffrey Cooley piloted his No. 22 Alumi Craft/Competitive Metals Pro-Buggy to a fifth-place finish in Round 1 and battled for the win placing third in Sunday's Round 2 of the season opening Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series at Firebird International Raceway. Cooley qualified with the fastest time of 44.548. He was the only driver to crack the 44-second mark. The team entered the event with a goal of just finishing the race and possibly getting into the top 10. But Cooley had bigger expectations as he raced in the lead pack competing against and beating some of the series long time veterans.

For teammates Justin "Bean" Smith (Pro-Lite) and Dave Mason Jr. (Pro-Buggy) the weekend was not as kind. Piloting the #84 Alumi Craft/Competitive Metals Pro-Lite "Bean" grabbed the early lead in the Saturday Round 1 event after qualifying fourth and being inverted to the pole, but fell off the pace after four laps due to a flat tire. He was able to salvage a 16th-place finish. In Sunday's Round 2 "Bean" qualified 21st and gained five positions to finish 16th, but wasn't able to get the truck up front with having to battle traffic. Despite the rough start "Bean" showed signs of being a front runner. The team will turn their focus to Rounds 3 and 4 at Lake Elsinore, where they are likely to be a strong contender.

Mason had a string of rough luck in his debut driving the #65 Rigid Industries/Competitive Metals Pro-Buggy. A computer issue with the engine led to a 22nd place starting position for Round 1. Mason drove hard fighting his way up through the field. He was caught in a mid-air collision that left his right rear arm heavily damaged. Mason kept the car going and finished out the race with a 10th-place result. After a long night of repairs Mason and his crew were ready for a new day of racing in Round 2. But once again a mechanical issue held him back to a 17th-place qualifying spot. Mason was working his way up the field and had a good car until he was hit hard in the left front wheel. The wheel was barely hanging on but Mason continued getting his wounded race car to an 18th-place finish.

Competitive Metals also rode on the No. 91 Pro-2 Truck of Nick Tyree and Tyree Motorsports. Tyree started Round 1 in seventh place and was quickly inside the top five early on in the race. He was scuffled back a few positions ending the day in ninth. For Round 2, Tyree started in the 10th spot and within a few laps was again inside the top 5. Tyree ended the second round with another top 10 bringing his Diffenbaugh Construction/PAC Springs/Competitive Metals truck home ninth in both rounds.


Mitchell DeJong finished in the top 5 at the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series (LOORS) at Firebird International Raceway during opening weekend.


Mitchell DeJong Finishes Top Five at Firebird International Raceway
In his #24 Traxxas/Red Bull Pro-Buggy Unlimited, 14-year-old Mitchell DeJong finished in the top 5 at the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series (LOORS) at Firebird International Raceway during opening weekend.

Saturday's Round 1 LOORS main event started great, but in the second half, #24 suffered a brake failure forcing him to adapt quickly. DeJong held off most of the field to salvage an 11th-place finish.

In Round 2, after experiencing a power steering system failure, DeJong earned fifth place, making a remarkable recovery coming from the 25th position and passing 20 racers without contact in a traditionally hard-to-pass Pro-Buggy Unlimited class.

Bakersfield to Host Flowmaster/NMCA West Coast Season Opener
The Flowmaster NMCA West Street Car Series season opener will be contested June 22–24, 2012, in Bakersfield, California, at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

The NMCA recently expanded its racing series to include a West Coast division sponsored by Flowmaster Performance Exhaust Systems. The series was originally scheduled to begin in Fontana, California, at Auto Club Dragway, Fontana, April 20-22, 2012; however, a recent court ruling put the brakes on the season-opener Fontana date.

Auto Club Dragway, Fontana has been engaged in a legal battle between community residents and the facility concerning excessive noise since its relocation to the east side of the facility. Charlie Harmon of NMCA West said he is confident that if the International Speedway Corp. (ISC) truly desires to maintain an active, vibrant drag-racing facility in Southern California, a compromise can be worked between the facility, county and community that will allow the opportunity to proceed with racing activities culminating with the NMCA West finals at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, October 19–21, 2012.

The Flowmaster NMCA West Coast Street Car Series will consist of four events in 2012 as a part of the Aerospace Components NHRA Unleashed program, featuring a complete championship drag racing series that offers the opportunity to compete for a points championship, the NHRA Wally at each event, along with the potential to garner a special edition Flowmaster Top Ten Jacket, a Nitto Tire Diamond Tree Ring and a double-tiered NHRA Championship Wally for each of the series champions. At this time, the NMCA West series is close to announcing an August 17–19 date for the rescheduled Fontana opener at either Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California, or Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield.

With the final event scheduled for Fontana still pending due to the ongoing litigation, the NMCA is investigating options, such as Bakersfield and Pomona to conclude the 2012 Flowmaster/NMCA West championship season. The 2012 Flowmaster/NMCA West Coast Street Car Series Championship Awards Ceremony will take place at the NHRA/Wally Parks Motorsports Museum in late fall of 2012 where the top-10 points finishers, in 10 different categories, will be recognized for their accomplishment in the inaugural NMCA West season.

  Lee Zane

Zane and McHugh to Form Pro Stock Team
Two-time Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series world champion Lee Zane and returning Super Stock driver Kevin McHugh have formed a team to race together in the sportsman ranks in 2012 and then take it to the next level when they debut a Pro Stock team for a large portion of the 2013 season of NHRA Full Throttle drag racing.

Longtime sportsman competitor Zane of Perry Hall, Maryland, will compete in Stock Eliminator this year while coaching McHugh in his return to Super Stock after a 35-year respite. In 2013, McHugh will turn in his driving gloves once more to focus on seeing the Pro Stock team to success with Zane behind the wheel of a Pontiac GXP purchased from legendary Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson. The GXP was formerly piloted by Johnson's son, Kurt, a 40-time national event winner and the first driver to run in the six-second zone in the category.

Zane began assisting McHugh in preparation for his return to racing, and McHugh is now ready to rejoin the sportsman ranks after recently obtaining his NHRA competition license at the Frank Hawley School of Drag Racing in Gainesville, Florida. The effective collaboration between McHugh Racing and Lee Zane Motorsports ignited new ideas and the structure for a Pro Stock team operating under the banner of Lee Zane Motorsports was built.

The team, receiving assistance from Coppermine Applicators, is in the process of leasing a notable engine and R&D program and will test the Pro Stock car later this year. The team intends to make their professional debut at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville early next year and compete in 10–12 events or more if they are able to acquire further financial backing.

  Marty Hart celebrates his Round 1 victory of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.

Team ReadyLIFT Racing's Marty Hart Finishes First Place in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Season Opener
Off-road racing veteran Marty Hart and Team ReadyLIFT Racing rolled into Firebird International Raceway for the season debut of the 2012 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing series last weekend. A fast qualifying effort put Hart on the outside of the second row to start. Right out of the gate Hart wheeled his #15 ReadyLIFT Off Road Suspension machine into a battle for the lead with Robby Woods. As the yellow flag was drawn to signal the half way point of the race and the mandatory pit stops, Hart made one last charge coming out of the final corner and blew past Woods to nab the lead at the line.

After the pit stops the field took to the track behind the ReadyLIFT-sponsored Toyota Tundra pace truck. Hart now out front followed by Woods, Rob MacCachren and Rodrigo Ampudia, each of whom had shown to that point they had the muscle to make a run to take away the lead. But the waving checkered flags in front of a sold-out crowd was the canvas on which Hart in his ReadyLIFT Off Road Suspension/Maxxis Tire/ Unlimited Pro 2 Ford earned a win in one of the toughest classes in the sport.

Hart qualified his steed on the second row yet again for Round 2 last Sunday. Right out of the box it looked like this was easily going to be a repeat of Saturday's race. Within a lap, Hart took the lead. At the mid-race caution, Hart had the field in his rearview mirror and was poised to sweep the weekend. Two laps into the restart as Hart had made a big gap on the field, the rear sway bar broke, taking away Hart's chance to double up on the weekend wins. But a digging effort to keep pace earned Hart a fifth-place finish, enabling him to retain the overall points lead leaving Firebird.