One of the best NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events in the country is coming up this weekend. The 9th Annual Cavalcade of Stars presented by Budweiser, May 15-17, is celebrated by the racers and fans alike, with upwards of 30,000 spectators expected to pour into the gates at Summit Motorsports Park, despite a spotty weather forecast. Track owner and promoter Bill Bader Jr. and his staff turn the Sportsman racers into the stars of the show. Instead of parking in the weeds and racing in front of a few spectators, teams get prime parking and the chance to put on a show for standing-room-only grandstands.
If you’re within a couple hundred miles of Norwalk, Ohio and you’re looking for something fun to do this weekend, consider checking out the Cavalcade of Stars. Some local Mickey Mart convenient stores still have free tickets available, and the track will have tickets available at the gate for $20 per day or $50 for a weekend pass. We’ve compiled just a few of the exciting features of this event here.
1. The Sportsman Racing
NHRA’s Division 3, “The Land of the Winners”, is one of the hotbeds of Sportsman racing in the country, and some of the area’s best make this race a priority. While some categories will be down slightly due to scheduling conflicts (the Spring Fling five-day bracket race at Bristol and the Summit Racing Southern Nationals in Atlanta), the rest of the competition should make up for it. Both pre-entry lists for the alcohol classes have at least eight cars, including the two most recent North Central region champions in Top Alcohol Dragster, Marty Thacker and Brandon Booher, as well as Indy regional winner “Miss Mia” Tedesco. Defending TA/FC world champion Steve Harker is entered, along with west coast star Doug Gordon and Todd Robertson (pictured), who scored his first NHRA Wally at Indy two weeks ago. Other categories in competition are Comp Eliminator, Stock, Super Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street.
2. The Specialty Series Racing
Didn’t see something for you in the first list? How about some fast doorslammer action, courtesy of the Brodix/Steve Schmidt Top Sportsman series? Prefer dragsters? They’ll have those too, with the bump spot for the 32-car Spitzer Race Cars Top Dragster field expected to end up somewhere in the mid-six-second range. The always-popular Top Fuel and Pro Fuel bikes will also be in attendance, as well as the other classes that compete within the NHRA Harley-Davidson Drag Racing Series. Pro Stock Snowmobiles round out the special classes scheduled to compete at the Cavalcade of Stars.
3. The All-Access Atmosphere
Drag racing is well known for the open pit areas and access to drivers and teams, and it’s hard to find a track that pushes and embraces this concept as much as SMP. The Top Alcohol teams and exhibition vehicles are all pitted up front near the grandstands, providing fans with easy access to the stars of the NHRA Lucas Oil Series. The racers are usually extremely appreciative of the front-row billing and will make time to sign autographs and talk with fans. If you don’t catch your favorite driver in the pits, you can probably find them at the track’s huge autograph session, scheduled for Saturday at 1 PM.
4. The Show
The Baders are famous for putting on massive shows with all of the jets, wheelstanders and fireworks they can find. This event is no different. Four jet cars are booked for the weekend; Jill Canuso and Scotty “Heat” in Dragster and Ken Hall and Rich Hanna in Funny Car. Nostalgia fans will appreciate the exhibition field of AA/Gassers coming in for the race. The exhibition vehicles are scheduled to run as a part of the show time on Friday and Saturday night. Both evenings will conclude with Norwalk’s legendary fireworks.
5. The Ice Cream
You can’t write a story about a race at Summit Motorsports Park and not include the dollar-for-a-pound ice cream. You just can’t. So what if there’s a good chance you’ll be eating your softball-sized scoop of ice cream in the rain? It’s local, quality ice cream and at just $1 for a pound, you’re not going to find a better deal at a concession stand at any race track in America.
- Another Top Alcohol Dragster driver scheduled to race at the Cavalcade of Stars is J.P. Gutierrez, driver of the MGM Grand Detroit blown alcohol dragster. Gutierrez shared some of his pre-race thoughts with us, including his reasons why you should make plans to attend this race.
- Summit Motorsports Park owner and co-president Bill Bader Jr. offers some insightful answers to Ainsley Jacobs’ questions in this Q&A from our 2014 Interview Issue, with topics ranging from small-tire racing’s effect on the sport to the future of drag racing.
- As a part of the ever-expanding Drag Illustrated web presence, many of the columns from the magazine will now be available here at DragIllustrated.com. Senior Editor Ian Tocher starts us off with his thoughts on the current state of the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA).
This week’s Wheels-up Wednesday video comes from Eric Vollmer in his baaad blown alcohol dragster. The record-holding Outlaw Dragster racer was testing his new Top Alcohol Dragster at Route 66 Raceway when he hiked the front wheels up, as shown here.
The Nitro Harleys seem to be one of the few classes with universal appeal in drag racing, and it’s easy to see why in this video from the 2013 Cavalcade of Stars.
Here’s another one of the unique entries you can expect to see at the Cavalcade of Stars this weekend. The Scheid Diesel dragster is a usual competitor in Top Dragster throughout Division 3.