Every year, numerous drivers, crew members, media members, and other PDRA-focused personalities appear on the Drag Illustrated 30 Under 30 list. That’s because the series presents so many opportunities for young people to participate in the sport, while also pushing them to become better on and off the track. It’s also one of the most competitive arenas in drag racing, making accomplishments in the series all the more impressive and worthy of a spot on the list.
While the five individuals found here didn’t make this year’s list, their efforts and contributions to the 2023 PDRA season still deserve recognition.
An undefeated season is all but impossible in today’s competitive drag racing environment, but Scott Kincaid accomplished that feat, albeit on a part-time basis. The 24-year-old son of Limited Drag Radial champion Tim Kincaid made his debut in Menscer Motorsports Pro Street presented by Afco Racing at Norwalk, where he ended up in the winner’s circle in the family’s roots-blown ’69 Camaro. Kincaid won again at Maryland and skipped the Michigan race, using the spare time between events to switch to a screw-blown platform.
The Tennessean picked up where he left off at DragWars at GALOT Motorsports Park, winning his third consecutive event. He went into the World Finals with an outside chance at the world championship. Fellow contender and eventual champion Bill Riddle went too many rounds for Kincaid to catch him, but Kincaid did everything he could, winning for the fourth time in as many races. He came up just 24 points – about a quarter of one round – short of the championship despite running two less races than the other top five finishers. The Kincaids plan to run the full tour in 2024, making Kincaid an early championship favorite.
When multi-time and reigning Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle world champion Travis Davis hinted that his 17-year-old son, Brayden, might make his debut in the bike class this season, many who’ve followed Brayden’s early career knew he’d be an immediate contender. His success was truly immediate, as he raced to victory at the season opener at GALOT. To make his debut win more impressive, he also claimed the first win of the season in Coolshirt Systems Pro Jr. Dragster presented by PRP for a historic first-ever double-up in the pro and Jr. Dragster categories.
Davis repeated what seemed like a one-off performance at the third race of the six-race Pro Nitrous Motorcycle season in Maryland. He picked up his second win on the family’s Timblin Chassis Hayabusa, then turned on the final win light in Pro Jr. Dragster for a second double-up. This time, he had to win an extra round to do so since the class expanded to a 32-car qualified field when car counts are high enough.
The past Top Jr. Dragster world champion dealt with second-round exits at the final three races of the season to finish third in the championship points standings. In Pro Jr. Dragster, however, he rolled into the World Finals with the world championship wrapped up. Along with his victories at the season opener and Maryland, Davis won at the spring Virginia race and at Darlington before taking runner-up honors at the World Finals. He won the title by more than 1,000 points despite not qualifying at Norwalk and skipping the Michigan race.
In her second full season of Pro Jr. Dragster competition, Ava Meloni accomplished multiple “firsts” in an increasingly competitive class. Driving her TT Motorsports dragster, Meloni reached her first final round at Darlington, where she fell to eventual world champion Brayden Davis in a double breakout final round – Davis went .005 under the 7.90 index, while Meloni was .007 too quick. The Massachusetts-based driver then picked up her first No. 1 qualifier award at the World Finals on the strength of a 7.906-second best.
In between rounds in her own car, Meloni also serves as the main crew member for her father, 2021 Top Sportsman world champion Nick Meloni. She helped him go rounds in his TT Motorsports ’69 Camaro in Top Sportsman and his ’16 Dan Page dragster in Top Dragster. The elder Meloni finished third in Top Sportsman points and seventh in Top Dragster. Last year, he finished second in Top Sportsman and third in Top Dragster. When he won the 2021 title in Top Sportsman, he was the championship runner-up in Top Dragster. Will 2024 be the year this father-daughter duo becomes the latest parent-child duo to win championships together?
Though we’ll have to wait for the PDRA Championship Awards Banquet to know for sure, it’s safe to say Victoria Beaner is a leading candidate for the Jr. Dragster Rookie of the Year honors. The Florida-based driver and her family committed to running the full season in Classic Graphix Top Jr. Dragster presented by PRP with the VRB Motorsports ’20 Mike Bos dragster. She earned No. 1 qualifier awards at two of the first three races of the season, then went to the final round at the next three races, earning her first win (and the proverbial Long-Haul award) at the Michigan race.
Beaner was in a tense championship battle going into the World Finals, where she qualified No. 6. That ended up being the difference maker in the championship fight, as Wyatt Stanley qualified No. 1 and won the title by just three points. Watch for Beaner to be a title contender yet again in 2024.
Rising star drivers might make the headlines, but the PDRA is also home to future tuners and standout crew members. One of those rising talents is Kameron Koch, who can be seen assisting numerous teams, but primarily Mike Achenbach and his Canvas Plus “Deep Purple” ’69 Camaro in Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous. Koch started going to his home track, Cecil County Dragway, with his father Kevin when he was 8 years old, always asking questions about the cars. A couple years later, he started helping Andy Jensen with his single-turbo, small-block-powered Pro Mod Camaro.
Now 16, Koch works with Achenbach and the Mountain Man Racing team, which includes tuner Brandon Switzer. Koch has a variety of duties in the pits between rounds, then he brings Achenbach into the beams on the starting line. He also helps out recent first-time winner Jamie Fowler in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by PAR Racing Engines. Koch’s goals include winning championships and eventually becoming a tuner himself.