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PDRA Stars Returning to Norwalk for American Doorslammer Challenge

Tara Bowker

After making its long-awaited debut at Summit Motorsports Park in 2021, the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) returns to the popular northern Ohio track this weekend, May 26-28, for the DeCerbo Construction American Doorslammer Challenge presented by Callies Performance. A full lineup of professional and sportsman classes is on tap for the all-eighth-mile series’ third of eight championship points races.

“Everyone at the PDRA is looking forward to racing at Norwalk again this weekend,” said Tyler Crossnoe, race director, PDRA. “Despite challenging weather here last year, we had a successful debut at ‘America’s Racetrack’ and we’re eager to build on that this time around. The Bader family always provides a great racetrack and a fantastic experience for racers and fans. It’s going to be a big weekend of racing as we get closer to locking in the fields for our Summit Racing Equipment PDRA ProStars race in July.”

The headlining stars of the show will be the PDRA’s two quickest and fastest eliminators, Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous and WS Construction Pro Boost presented by P2 Contracting and Ty-Drive. Pennsylvania’s “Mountain Man” Mike Achenbach has a commanding points lead in Pro Nitrous with a win and a runner-up finish, though three-time and defending world champion Jim Halsey and class veterans Jay Cox, Tommy Franklin, and Jason Harris are chasing him down. In Pro Boost, Todd “King Tut” Tutterow is the clear leader with back-to-back wins to start the year.

“Pro Nitrous and Pro Boost just keep getting better and better,” Crossnoe said. “We’ve seen record performances and side-by-side racing at the first two races. Between nitrous-only Pro Nitrous and the numerous different power adders in Pro Boost, there’s something for every Pro Mod fan in these classes.”

The two most recent world champions in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock presented by AED Competition, Johnny Pluchino and Chris Powers, are locked in a two-way tie atop the points going into Norwalk. Powers, the defending world champion, won the season opener, while 2020 champion Johnny Pluchino won the Kentucky race last month.

“Extreme Pro Stock has never been tougher in the PDRA,” Crossnoe said. “Racer participation is way up, and they’re all quality cars with a shot to win on race day. It’s looking like we’ll have another full 16-car field this weekend, so Mountain Motor Pro Stock fans are in for a show.”

There’s also a close battle brewing in $hameless Racing Pro 632, with newcomers Amber Franklin and Alan Drinkwater leading the way. Both drivers have a win and a semifinal finish this season, though a few mere qualifying points give Franklin the points lead following her win at the last race.

“After the dominant performances of Johnny Pluchino (2018-2019) and Wes Distefano (2020-2021), it’s exciting to see some new drivers mixing it up in Pro 632,” Crossnoe said. “Amber is a past Jr. Dragster world champion behind the wheel of a Pro Nitrous championship-winning car, and Alan has championship-caliber power and tuning from the Pluchinos on his side. It’s going to be interesting to watch those two fight it out with the rest of the Pro 632 field all season.”

The Norwalk race will mark the return of the Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle and Menscer Motorsports Pro Street presented by AFCO classes, which both compete at six of the eight races on the 2022 PDRA schedule. Both classes last raced at the season-opening East Coast Nationals in April, where defending world champions Chris Garner-Jones (Pro Nitrous Motorcycle) and Tim Essick (Pro Street) were victorious.

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“Pro Nitrous Motorcycle and Pro Street both got off to a great start at the season opener,” Crossnoe said. “Even with a mix of new competitors, Chris and Tim proved why they’re the defending world champions. We’re definitely glad to have those classes back on the tour at Norwalk. They’re exciting for the fans, and a lot of the racers in those classes have been racing at Norwalk for years.”

The PDRA’s championship-chasing, touring sportsman racers will be joined by a slew of the Midwest’s best fast bracket racers in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by U.S. Rail, Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster presented by Laris Motorsports Insurance, MagnaFuel Top Sportsman presented Vortech Superchargers, Lucas Oil Top Dragster presented by Laris Motorsports Insurance. Edelbrock Bracket Bash presented by COMP Cams will also give local bracket racers the chance to race on a big stage.

The sport’s future stars will compete in Coolshirt Systems Pro Jr. Dragster presented by PRP and Classic Graphix Top Jr. Dragster presented by PRP.

Spectator tickets are available for $15 on Thursday, $20 on Friday, and $25 on Saturday, while a weekend pass is available for $50. Kids 12 and under get in free. Tickets can be purchased at or at the gate.

American Doorslammer Challenge participants will get the opportunity to test from 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. on Thursday before qualifying starts Friday morning. Pro qualifying begins Friday at 2 p.m., followed by Friday Night Fire with its back-to-back pro sessions starting at 5:30 p.m. Sportsman and Jr. Dragster classes will get one final qualifying session Saturday starting at 9:30 a.m. before eliminations. Pre-race ceremonies and the first round of pro eliminations will begin at 3 p.m.

This story was originally published on May 23, 2022. Drag Illustrated

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