MEMPHIS, TN — Two great programs. Once intense race.
The IHRA Summit SuperSeries and Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions were both decided at Memphis International Raceway over the weekend. The IHRA World Finals brought North America’s best grassroots and sportsman racers together in Memphis, TN to decide champions in both programs.
Summit Racing SuperSeries
The real excitement behind the Summit SuperSeries program is that anyone, anywhere can win it.
Drivers from the United States, Canada and even a few additional nations have the opportunity to race for a track championship and, with a little luck and a lot of skill, make it all the way from their local track to the big stage at the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment World Finals at Memphis International Raceway compete for a world championship.
And that is exactly the tale told by Tim Butler, Shane Kay, and Austin Johnson.
All three drivers won at their local tracks, advanced further at the Team Finals level, and eventually found themselves walking in Memphis along with 48 other drivers from as far away as Alaska going after a championship. Butler (Sarasota, FL) took the title in Top ET, Kay (Ragland, AL) claimed the Mod ET championship and Johnson (Pearisburg, VA) won the very first Junior Dragster world championship.
Austin Johnson will forever be remembered as the very first winner of the Junior Dragster Summit SuperSeries championship as he traveled all the way from his home track of Motor Mile Dragway in Pearisburg, VA to compete in Memphis this weekend.
With the win, Johnson claims a $3,000 prize, a brand new Junior Dragster built by Vic Puglia with an engine courtesy of Steve Waller, a championship trophy, diamond ring, and more. Johnson earned his way to the World Finals via a runner-up finish at the Division 1 Summit Team Finals event at Richmond Dragway earlier this month.
While Johnson will go down in history as the very first winner of the new SuperSeries Junior program, Mod ET winner Shane Kay will be remembered for a different reason.
Kay honestly should not have even been in Memphis after an untimely break put his machine out of commission just one week prior. But through the kind act of his home track Alabama International Raceway and owner Jason Collins, Kay was able to borrow a car to compete at the World Finals and is now $10,000 richer because of it.
“It has been a long season. I won the track championship for the third year in a row, but we had some breaks including last weekend,” Kay said. “I came into last weekend for the bracket finals running the best I have run all year and the first round after the main event I blew an engine and was in a bit of trouble.
“Within no time, Jason Collins had a car lined up for me and on Wednesday we had it loaded and we were here on Thursday. I had never spent a second in this car until Friday.”
Kay won the Division 2 West Summit Team Finals at Memphis International Raceway just one week prior, but had to make an unscheduled trip back home to get his new ride. And after a long week and four big wins Kay was able to drive his borrowed ’69 Camaro to the winners circle and collect the IHRA World Championship in Mod ET.
With the win Kay claims a $10,000 prize courtesy of Summit Racing, a brand new Pace trailer, custom Golf Cart, championship trophy, diamond ring, a trip to Aruba, and more.
Tim Butler wrapped up the Summit SuperSeries champions with the longest haul of the three winners. Butler, representing Immokalee Regional Raceway, traveled nearly 1,000 miles to be in Memphis with one of the fastest cars in the competition.
Advancing to the World Finals via a win at the Division 2 East Summit Team Finals at Carolina Dragway last month, Butler put together a tremendous day with four big wins, a championship, and a brand new dragster all going back home with him to Florida for the year.
“This is just awesome. I have been racing since I was 17 and I am 54 now,” Butler said. “I have had some pretty big wins and I have been so blessed over the years, but this is right up there with all of them.”
Butler went four rounds on Saturday, eliminating Chris Dean, Ken LaBoe, Alan Glatt, and eventually Jonathan Robin from State Capitol Raceway for the win. In the final, Butler had the better light – a .007 to a .016 – but the race quickly turned into a breakout battle as Butler ran over by .004 with a 7.766/169.76 in his very quick dragster while Robin ran a 7.641/171.62 on a 7.65 dial.
With the win, Butler claims a $10,000 prize courtesy of Summit Racing, a brand new dragster built by American Race Cars with a Trick Flow engine and major components from Moser Engineering, Abruzzi Transmissions and Converters and many more, a championship trophy, diamond ring, a trip to Aruba, and more.
Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions
From a 17-year-old fresh out of the ranks of Junior Dragster to a 64-year-old reveling in one more shot at glory, the 2012 IHRA Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions featured just about everything you could cram into an event.
A grand total of seven world champions were crowned in the Tournament of Champions on Saturday led by Top Sportsman TOC winner Mike Thompson (Naples, FL), Top Dragster winner Wesley Washington Jr. (King George, NC), Super Stock winner Michael Beard (Seagrove, NC), Stock winner Brent Darroch (Monaca, PA), Quick Rod winner Corey Manuel (Winston Salem, NC), Super Rod winner Mike Ruff (Orlando, FL) and Hot Rod winner Patrick Forster (Pittsburgh, PA).
Among that class, only Michael Beard has claimed a prior IHRA championship.
You can learn more about each driver and their path to the championship on the IHRA website.