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Tenth PDRA Season Rolls On at Mid-Atlantic Showdown at Series’ Home Track

Tara Bowker photo

After a thrilling start to the 2023 season, the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) is continuing its 10th season of all-eighth-mile drag racing this weekend, April 20-22, at the series’ home track, Virginia Motorsports Park (VMP). The second of eight points-earning national events, the Mid-Atlantic Showdown presented by Classic Graphix will feature competition in all 12 classes the PDRA offers between professional and sportsman categories.

“Virginia Motorsports Park has been a staple on the PDRA tour since the very beginning,” said Tyler Crossnoe, who is both the PDRA series director and the vice president of VMP. “VMP is the only track to host a PDRA race in each of the past nine seasons, and we’ve hosted two races per season for the last few years. It’s our home track as a series and the home track for a lot of our racers, especially in the sportsman classes.”

VMP is also the home of the third annual Summit Racing Equipment PDRA ProStars race held during the track’s Night of Fire on July 22. The Mid-Atlantic Showdown is one of just three races left on the schedule before ProStars, so racers in several pro and sportsman classes will be competing to earn enough points to secure their spot in the race-your-way-in event.

“We created the ProStars event to reward the racers who support the series throughout the season,” Crossnoe said. “In just a couple years, it’s turned into one of the standout events on both the PDRA schedule and the VMP schedule. With a thrill show and live music on top of the ProStars action, it’s a can’t-miss event for racers and fans. This weekend will be yet another critical race for those racers fighting their way in.”

In Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous, four-time and reigning world champion Jim Halsey is seeking another win in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro after winning the season opener. He leads a roster that includes Virginia’s own Tommy Franklin, perennial contender Jay Cox, and multi-time Pro Mod world champion “Tricky” Rickie Smith.

Melanie Salemi’s bid for her first world championship in WS Construction Pro Boost presented by P2 Contracting and Ty-Drive is off to a strong start, as she qualified No. 1 and won the season opener in Eddie Whelan’s screw-blown Steady Eddie’s ’19 Camaro. She’s fending off the quick and consistent ProCharger entries of Johnny Camp and Travis Harvey in the top 3.

Veteran driver Dwayne Rice scored his first win in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock presented by AED Competition to start the season. The driver of the DR Excavating ’22 Camaro is now on top of a group that features young guns like Dillon Voss and Justin Kirk also near the top of the standings.

A new winner also emerged in M&M Transmission Pro 632 at the season opener. Jeff Melnick drove Alan O’Brien’s unique AMC-powered Greenbrier Excavating & Paving to the win, taking out reigning world champion Amber Franklin and fellow phenom Lexi Tanner in the process.

A diverse group of contenders is making things interesting in Menscer Motorsports Pro Street presented by Afco, but two-time and defending world champion Tim Essick came out on top yet again at the season opener. Essick in his home-built “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang outlasted a full field of competitors, including No. 1 qualifier Bill Riddle and two-time winner Ty Kasper, to lead the class into Virginia.

Rookie rider Brayden Davis made waves at the season opener in Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle, taking his father Travis’s championship-winning Timblin Chassis Hayabusa to the winner’s circle in his debut. The 17-year-old also won in Pro Jr. Dragster for a rare double-up. Other early-season players are Kuwait’s Meshal Al-Saber and multi-time world champion Eric McKinney.

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The Mid-Atlantic Showdown is the season opener for the PDRA’s newest class, Afco Super Street presented by Menscer Motorsports. The small-tire class is expanding from its trial phase last season, competing at six races this year. The expanded schedule also means the class will compete for a world championship.

Virginia’s best sportsman racers will clash with competitors from around the country at the Mid-Atlantic Showdown in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by PAR Racing Engines, MagnaFuel Top Sportsman presented by Corbin’s RV, Laris Motorsports Insurance Elite Top Dragster, Laris Motorsports Insurance Top Dragster, and Edelbrock Bracket Bash presented by COMP Cams.

The sport’s future stars in the Jr. Dragster classes will also share the stage with the pro and sportsman drivers in Coolshirt Systems Pro Jr. Dragster presented by PRP and Classic Graphix Top Jr. Dragster presented by PRP.

Spectator tickets are available for $20 on Thursday, $25 on Friday, and $30 on Saturday. Kids 12 and under get in free. Tickets can be purchased at or at the gate.

Fans who can’t attend the race in person can watch the official event livestream on

Racers at the Mid-Atlantic Showdown presented by Classic Graphix will get the opportunity to test on Thursday from 10 a.m. to just before the start of Top Sportsman and Top Dragster at 6:30 p.m. The Jr. Dragster classes will start qualifying Friday at 9:30 a.m. Pro qualifying kicks off Friday at 2 p.m., with Friday Night Fire and its two pro sessions starting at 5:30 p.m. Jr. Dragster qualifying will wrap up Saturday at 9:30 a.m. before starting eliminations. Pre-race ceremonies and first round of eliminations will begin at 3 p.m.

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