On an oppressively hot weekend at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, KS, past Pro Mod world champion Jason Hamstra beat all comers June 30, to earn his first victory with the Frankenstein Engine Dynamics Mid-West Pro Mod Series (MWPMS).
“We haven’t had a lot of racing luck this year, and it was so hot, the track was very hot and it really wasn’t like the normal prep we’re used to,” said Hamstra, who started his supercharged ’69 Camaro from second-place in the 16-car qualified field. “Conditions were definitely challenging, so it was good to finally have it all come together.”
After 20 entries completed four rounds of qualifying, Jonas Aleshire and his blown ’06 Corvette entered eliminations from the top spot thanks to a 3.82-seconds blast at 198.58 mph in the first session. Despite making a pass only in the opening round of qualifying, Hamstra’s 3.83 at a class-leading 205.69 mph held up for second overall, followed by Brandon Pesz, Eddie Rogers and MWPMS owner and promoter Keith Haney with the first of the nitrous entries at 3.89 seconds and 193.13 mph.
“It was hot and muggy and uncomfortable for everyone and we were looking at track temperatures up in the mid-140s, which is always going to be tough to deal with, but I was proud of what our Mid-West Pro Mod racers were still able to achieve,” Haney said. “In fact, several crew chiefs told me they actually enjoyed the challenge; it really made them think about how they approached what turned out to be a very difficult track.”
Once eliminations began (pushed forward to shortly after 4 p.m. due to threatening weather on the way), Hamstra made short work of Mike Bradley, then beat Justin Jones, but lost lane choice for the semis to third-place qualifier Brandon Pesz and his ’58 Vette. Once there, Hamstra posted his worst time of the weekend at 4.05, but Pesz slowed even more with traction woes to 4.35 seconds.
“The right lane had a pretty bad spot in it and the only time we didn’t get down was in the semi-finals when I was put over there and had to pedal it,” Hamstra said. “That was actually the first time the car didn’t go down the track since several races ago.”
On the opposite side of the ladder, number-nine starter Jim Sackuvich reached his second-straight and third final of the year. Though still looking for his first MWPMS win, Sackuvich led a charmed life in Topeka as first-round opponent Kevin Maddux left before the tree was activated, Jerry Hunt jumped the start by four thousandths in round two, and Haney was a no-show for the semis after suffering transmission breakage in the quarter finals.
Back in his preferred left lane, Hamstra quickly overcame a slight advantage by Sackuvich and his nitrous-fed ’69 Camaro off the start and streaked to the win in 3.84 seconds at just over 205 mph, while Sackuvich ran his best pass of the weekend at 3.93 and 204 mph.
“The car ran well all weekend, really no problems at all,” Hamstra said later, after thanking parents Kevin and Karen Hamstra, along with his wife, Patsy, for their help all weekend long.
“We were a little conservative for the final even though we got to go back in the good lane—or at least the not-so-bad lane. Anyway, I was just trying to have a good light and run around 3.83, .84, and that’s exactly what happened,” the Demotte, IN-based driver added. “We just needed to make a nice, safe pass on a track that we knew was pretty tricky, even if we did have the better lane.”
In the MWPMS Slammers class for non-qualifiers and first-round buybacks, Jon Stouffer of Neosho, MO, steered his blown-Hemi-powered ’71 Cuda to his first series win.
The next MWPMS event scheduled for Aug. 2-4, at Gateway Motorsports Park, near St. Louis, will feature all MWPMS classes, including the unique and always exciting Radial vs. the World.