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RTRA Crowns 2021 Season Champions in X275, Ultra Street, and Limited 235

Founded on the premise of giving small tire racers a place to focus on championship-caliber drag radial competition, the Radial Tire Racing Association (RTRA) has named its 2021 overall season winners to be Rob Goss in Neal Chance/Precision Turbo & Engine X275, Dave Fiscus in the Vortech Superchargers Ultra Street Shootout, and Jason Riley in Haltech/Toy Makerz Limited 235.

Originally created by Gene Nicodemus and Rodney Whatley, X275 creator John Sears took over the RTRA series in 2020 to streamline rules, tech, planning, promoting, points, and more. The RTRA team works hard to produce races that benefit not only the competitors, but also its fans, marketing partners, track owners, and everyone who is affiliated with the organization by delivering hot side-by-side radial racing action, excellent track prep, great payouts and prizes, and much more.

John Sears (James Sisk photo)

Coming off of the 2020 season which prevailed despite challenges from the unprecedented events and track closures surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, Sears was cautiously optimistic about the RTRA’s 2021 year. “We were apprehensive, but all of our generous sponsors came through and things even picked up to the point where we were able to pay back further than we have been able to do in the past,” affirmed Sears, who was also able to increase payouts in several classes thanks to commitments from the series’s primary sponsors, High Horse Performance, ProCharger, Holley EFI, Summit Racing Equipment, among many others.

The car count, too, also saw an uptick for 2021 thanks in part to Sears’s efforts to maintain parity as much as possible and offer stability through minimal rule changes during the off-season. Record car counts in the Ultra Street Shootout were further bolstered by big fields in X275 and Limited 235, and the competition was tougher than ever as a result.

A story of consistency and focus for the 2020 RTRA Neal Chance/Precision Turbo & Engine X275 season champion Rob Goss, however, paid off in spades when he became the series’ first-ever back-to-back champion with a repeat title in 2021. Goss, who hails from his home in Wyoming, has put together a winning combination with his crew chief Bruce Miachle of High Horse Performance and tuner Wade Hopkins of Southern Speed Racing.

Fielding his familiar Gen 3 Hemi-powered and ProCharger-supercharged Dodge DragPak Challenger, Goss started his season out on a high note when he captured the X275 win at the U.S. Street Nationals in January at Florida’s Bradenton Motorsports Park, his second in a row for the event.

Goss continued on to the Lights Out 12 event at South Georgia Motorsports Park in February but went out in round three of eliminations. Undeterred, Goss got back at it at the Outlaw Street Car Reunion in April at Virginia Motorsports Park and went home from the race as the runner-up.

“From there, we went to the YellowBullet Nationals in May and won, then went to the PSCA race in St. Louis and won that, too,” recounted the champion who earned additional wins at the NMRA/NMCA combined event in Martin, Michigan, and the second YellowBullet event later in September at Maryland’s Cecil County Dragway. “We closed out the year by making it to the semi-finals at the Shakedown race at Virginia and another win at No Mercy 12 at SGMP.”

It was truly a standout season for Goss, who won six of the nine events that he attended in 2021. “It wasn’t without hard work, though” noted the man of how he considers each round to be equally as important, because he knows the individual wins are critical to forming the foundation for which he can advance to the finals. “Bruce [Maichle] is the best crew chief and keeps the car maintenanced at High Horse Performance between races. Nothing is ever overlooked or left undone, we’re always prepared and ready. And Wade [Hopkins] knows this car inside and out, and his knowledge of mechanics gives him an edge on the tuning.”

Goss has assembled a loyal team and crew consisting of more than just his trackside support, but also the manufacturers who supply him components that have a winning advantage. In addition to the BES-built HEMI engine he relies on which receives fuel via Billet Atomizer injectors and ignited by NGK spark plugs, Goss works with Coan for both his transmission and torque converter. He has trusted ProCharger since day one, too, and has coupled the supercharger with a FuelTech engine management system to get the most power possible

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“Everyone at the track, even down to the guys that put water in the burnout box and blow debris off the starting line, we couldn’t race without any of them and I’m the lucky one to be in the car,” Goss said, grateful of all those who make it possible for him to chase his dream. “Thanks also to my family, especially my wife, CB, and our kids, for allowing me to be away from home so often and for supporting me through all of this.”

In the Vortech Superchargers Ultra Street Shootout, the newly minted champion Dave Fiscus of Batavia, Ohio, never lost sight of his goals and overcame adversity all season long while rising to victory. Working with longtime friend and tuner, Jason “Cheeseburger” Waterman, underdog Fiscus bested the rest of the pack with his turbocharged and Buick V6-powered Ford Mustang.

Fiscus kicked off his year at the U.S. Street Nationals as well, but almost didn’t qualify due to a mysterious knock in his engine. Refusing to throw in the towel so soon, he and Cheeseburger tore the entire thing apart. Fortunately, they found what turned out to be a simple issue, got it fixed, made the field, and ended up winning the race outright in true storybook fashion.

The following month, while racing at Lights Out 12, Fiscus was doing great until a lifter failed and he had to thrash to make the necessary repairs. “We were definitely behind the eight ball then, and went to an old cam which slowed the car down,” he recalled of his less-than-stellar finish for the weekend which included only a single round win.

At the Outlaw Street Car Reunion, Fiscus was a semi-finalist and hopes were high. “Then I went to the Prize Fight and qualified number one, but I red lighted in eliminations and it was awful. A real punch in the gut,” lamented the driver.

“We had a few other decent showings here and there and were doing well, but broke a ring and pinion at the NMRA/NMCA race in Michigan and went straight to Ron Rhodes’s shop before the YellowBullet Nationals at Cecil,” Fiscus recalled of how his friend and fellow racer had his back by checking things over and sorting out an unexpected issue in the tricked-out two-speed Turbo 400. “Rodney Massengale at RPM Transmissions overnighted us some parts and other people stepped up to help us out, and it was all very much appreciated.”

The hard work yielded dividends, and Fiscus found himself in the winner’s circle at the conclusion of September’s YellowBullet event. He maintained the momentum and Fiscus was once again crowned the Ultra Street class winner at Lights Out 12 at South Georgia Motorsports Park.

Fiscus wrapped up his RTRA season with another showing at the World Street Nationals in Orlando, Florida, but had to leave the race early as his special needs son, David, needed to make an unexpected trip home to receive treatment. Fiscus wound up skipping the Snowbird Outlaw Nationals, too, to focus on what truly matters most – his family.

Despite the highs and lows of his 2021, which also included a second place points finish in the NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street category thanks to strong showings at various other events, Fiscus maintained his trademark positive attitude and was richly rewarded with his first national championship.

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“None of this would be possible without Jason Waterman. I’m honored to drive his Mustang with my engine and transmission. Why he agreed to partner with me, I’ll never know, but I’m incredibly grateful,” Fiscus shared with true appreciation.

His “oddball engine combination” requires him to carry a plethora of spare parts at all times, including a complete short block, and Barker Machine keeps Fiscus’s Buick V6 engines at the ready. A Tin Soldiers 9” rear end, Precision turbocharger, FuelTech engine management system, PTC torque converter, and Menscer Motorsports-calibrated shocks all add up to a winning equation for Fiscus who also receives assistance from Lorenz Performance and Hartline Performance.

Fiscus’s love of Buicks was inspired by his late mother, Debbie King, who passed away shortly after the 2021 U.S. Street Nationals. “This year was dedicated to my her. She loved racing and was the coolest mom ever,” said Fiscus, whose grandmother, Esther, also supported his drag racing endeavors. “I’m so blessed that my wife, Natalie, loves going to the races, too. We even bought an RV a few years ago so we can do this as a family and travel together comfortably with our son and be able to take care of his needs. There’s nothing better than that, but winning sure does make the drive home a lot nicer.”

Finally, in Haltech/Toy Makerz Limited 235, Jason Riley dominated throughout the season with a steady pace and brought it all together at the end of the year with his first-ever championship title. His bright orange 1987 Ford Mustang turned heads both for its appearance and for its performance, and Riley reaped the rewards of having the support of the KBX Performance team by his side.

Running a small block Ford bullet from Bennett Racing Engines with KBX’s Justin McChesney and John Kolivas on hand for expert tuning, Riley has relied on Walt Sipp’s guidance to select his ProCharger superchargers over the years.

Riley started racing his streetcar-turned-racecar Fox body in Limited 235 around 2018 and scored his first runner-up finish in 2019. His 2020 year was full of ups and downs from the Covid-19 pandemic, but his 2021 season was substantially smoother.

Racing at Lights Out 12 to start his year, Riley qualified second but was able to convert the position into his first heads-up event win. “It was a huge event to do that at, and I’ll never forget that moment,” said the driver from Estill Springs, Tennessee.

The 4th Annual No Brainer Nationals in May at North Carolina’s Shadyside Dragway saw Riley in the top three as eliminations whittled down the field, but the race was called before it could be run to completion due to challenging weather conditions.

In June, Riley ran at the Ohio Valley Prize Fight event and was hoping to secure a win for his 12-year-old son, Jaxson, who was with him that weekend, but instead went out on a holeshot and had to settle for second. “That was the turning point in my season where I started concentrating on the tree and my lights, and it got better from there on out,” he elaborated on his strategy.

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Jaxson didn’t have to wait long, though, as Riley ran the gauntlet on the rest of the Limited 235 field at the Shakedown at Virginia Motorsports Park in September and the two got to enjoy a well-deserved winner’s circle celebration experience.

Back in South Georgia for small tire mayhem at No Mercy 12 in October, Riley ran 5.008 at 142.51 mph in qualifying to start eliminations from the number two position, just a touch behind Brad Schehr. The two men met in the finals, and although Riley had the quicker pass with his 4.925 at 144.03 mph trip – which was also a new personal best for the man – Schehr got the holeshot win by just sixteen-thousandths of a second.

Running his sixth and final event of the year, the Fall Brawl at Mississippi’s Holly Springs in November, Riley wrapped up the year with his third win overall and clinched the championship in the process.

“We’ve come a long way since 2018, and it felt great to win my first title,” the man said excitedly. “I wouldn’t be where I am now if not for Justin McChesney and John Kolivas of KBX. Plus, Jon Bennett and Ray and Lee at the shop always do me right.”

A Powerglide from RPM Transmissions with a ProTorque converter also helped Riley make huge strides in recent years, as did the chassis updates by Marty Gundt of Gundt Fabrication. Finally, the Menscer Motorsports shocks round out the straightforward combination that translates to success on small 235 drag radial tires.

“We tried so hard for so long, and I really appreciate everyone who worked with me – especially my friends Ridgley German and Jim Collier who have come to a ton of races to help out and have been with me through thick and thin,” added Riley. His daughter, Kenzie, also loves tagging along and is showing an interest in racing just like her daddy. “Thanks also to my girlfriend, Carla, for supporting my hobby. It’s refreshing to have someone who likes watching me succeed. And to my mom, Diane, who watches over things when I’m gone.”

Riley plans to return to the RTRA in 2022 to defend his Haltech/Toy Makerz Limited 235 title. He may also try his luck in Ultra Street at a few races, too, to see how quick he can run his car.

From start to finish in 2021, the RTRA trended positive all season long with increased car counts and amped-up excitement. “More cars are being built, more people are participating, and our upcoming 2022 season is looking even better,” said Sears, whose loyalty and commitment to the series is paying off. “We are dedicated to keeping the classes stable so they don’t burn out and so that we give our racers the opportunity to build cars that can still be competitive a few years down the line.”

It’s thanks to Sears, as well as backing from overall RTRA championship series sponsors such as High Horse Performance, ProCharger, Holley EFI, and Summit Racing Equipment that the racers have a place to earn championship titles and receive accolades for their outstanding achievements.

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In Neal Chance/Precision Turbo & Engine X275, additional support is courtesy of Mickey Thompson, Vortech Superchargers, Nitrous Outlet, and Moore Racing while the Vortech Superchargers Ultra Street Shootout category is also bolstered by JSC Race Cars, MPR Racing Engines, Precision Turbo & Engine, and Nitrous Outlet. The Haltech/Toy Makerz Limited 235 category is further backed by Ultimate Converter Concepts, RC Components, Forced Induction Turbos, SFE Services, Vortech Superchargers, IRD Carbs, and Salvato Designs.

With great collaboration opportunities open to marketing partners, expanded media coverage, affordable cost-of-entry, and so many other positive elements surrounding the RTRA’s push to bring organization to small tire radial racing, there’s no doubt that the series will continue to thrive.

This story was originally published on February 18, 2022. Drag Illustrated

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