The reigning champion, Shawn Bowen, got the win over the first series champion, Paul Romine, at the Hedman Husler Hedders DragRacingOnline.com Nostalgia Nitro Challenge at Pennsylvania’s Maple Grove Raceway on July 19.
Jimmy Young, driving the lone TF dragster competing with the DRO series after the 2015 rule change allowing Heritage-legal N/TF and AA/FA to compete with the N/FC, qualified well with a 6.031/217.74. Unfortunately, the East Coast team had a brand new rod break in half, destroying the engine and keeping them from racing on Sunday, which dropped the field to six cars.
But the track management insisted on running an 8-car ladder. As number-one qualifier, Romine got a bye and when Young was unable to fix his Chevy-powered Top Fueler his opponent, Mike Lewis, also had a competition bye! Instead of running the two cars on singles they ran as a pair in the first round with both drivers advancing to the semifinals.
In other first round match-ups Steve Nichols in his carbon fiber ‘70½ Camaro got the win over Troy Ray’s old school “Wildchild” Challenger. Ray, who built and races an exact copy of a sixties era Logghe Funny car chassis, ran an astounding (for that car) 6.874/206.32.
In the other match-up Bowen raced John “Bodie” Smith in the “Jungle Jim” blue Vega. Smith won the last DRO race at Maple Grove in 2013 in the same car, but this year he was clobbered by Bowen, who ran a stellar 5.799/247.11 to Smith’s game 6.005/223.38.
The semifinals found Bowen and Nichols facing off with Bowen overcoming a massive holeshot to beat Nichols. Nichols was ahead at the 330-foot clocks but was behind by .001 to Bowen at half-track and never caught up. In the last pairing of the semifinals Romine raced Mike Lewis (VP at Don Schumacher Racing) in the red “Jungle” car. Lewis was right with Romine when he started spinning the tires at the 330 mark and then watched Romine motor away for the win.
In a classic final round, defending and two-time DRO national champ, Shawn Bowen, and his Dodge Challenger lined up against another two-time DRO Funny Car champion, Paul Romine, and the “Man O’ War” ’79 Mustang. Although Bowen left on Romine the “Man O’ War” galloped to the lead early and was in the lead at the quarter-pole. Then the Mustang’s tires started spinning and a hooked-up “Violator” charged by Romine at the 1,000-foot mark and went on to the win. Bowen ran a 5.880/250.88 to Romine’s 5.932/241.93.