Motorsports

IHRA Crowns Summit Racing SuperSeries Champions

The IHRA Summit Racing SuperSeries gives thousands of grassroots racers a chance to complete on a national level for true sportsman World Championship.

By competing and earning points at local tracks, participants have an opportunity to qualify for the World Championship event. This year, four champions were crowned at Memphis International Raceway in Memphis, TN.

Keith Cleveland: Top ET

Keith Cleveland’s efforts in Memphis could not be topped.

The suburban Buffalo racer drove to the top of the racing world by winning the Top ET division championship at the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Summit SuperSeries World Finals at Memphis International Raceway.

And he looked good doing it.

Cleveland’s championship-winning car is quite the head-turner. It’s a 1923 Ford T bucket with a 383-cubic inch small block motor and a Powerglide transmission.

It wasn’t the car which qualified him for the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals, Cleveland said.

“We get some looks, but it runs the number and works. It’s a low-budget racing operation with me and my father,” he said. “We also race a 1970 Oldsmobile that we run with a 468 big block. But, the Ford T bucket just fits me and I feel so comfortable in that car.

Cleveland, who works as a painter and mechanic for a company which manufacturers offshore equipment, was spot-on throughout the Saturday eliminations. Representing Lancaster Dragway, he defeated Paul Peterson from Dragway 42 in the final round with a .010 reaction time and a 5.66-second run at 119.80 mph.

His championship package included $20,000 from Summit Racing, a seven-night/eight-day vacation for two on the island of Aruba courtesy of Around Aruba Tours, a golf cart from Darts Carts, a world championship diamond ring, a world championship Ironman Trophy, and IHRA Gold Card.

Cleveland also took home an additional $500 from Battle Born Battery for having the best reaction time of all the final round competitors.

“It was a surreal experience. I’ve been racing for 20 years and my father has been racing since ’81,” Cleveland said. “There are no slouches there. When I got back home, they had on the board at work, ‘World Champion.’ It’s hard to put into words, but it’s an amazing experience.”

Kaden Harrill: Junior Dragster

Kaden Harrill may only be 15 years old, but he had experience on his side with a second straight trip to the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Summit SuperSeries World Finals at Memphis International Raceway.

Harrill, from Madisonville, TN, used it to his advantage for his biggest victory ever in the Junior Dragster division final.

With that, he took home $25,000 in cash and prizes including $3,000 from Summit Racing, as well as the world championship Ironman Trophy, a world championship diamond ring, and an IHRA Gold Card.

In addition, he won a custom-built IHRA Junior Dragster built by Half Scale Dragster featuring a custom paint scheme from Imagine That Customs, a car cover from Summit Racing, tires from Hoosier Racing Tire, a tach from Digatron USA, a digital dial board from Digital Delay, seat belts from RJS Racing Equipment, a powerful 7.90-second engine from Nic Woods Racing Engines, and a gift certificate from Keizer Wheels toward the purchase of front and rear wheels.

“It was a dream come true,” said Harrill, who has been racing since he was 8. “I really wanted to win that car after it got unveiled last night and now, I get to bring it home. After the second round, I was like the Good Lord was with me and I got through some more rounds.”

For the second year in a row, Kaden qualified for the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals by winning the championship at IHRA-member track Knoxville Dragway. After an early exit in the 2018 World Finals, he raced at Memphis again in the IHRA Division 2 Summit Team Finals where he won a Gambler’s race and advanced a few rounds.

Dustin Avondet: Mod (No Box)

Representing Mo-Kan Dragway, Avondet had a 6.144-second pass at 110.64 mph in the final round to claim the Mod World Championship over Chris Roth who was representing Mid-Michigan.

Avondet, from Pierce City, MO, drives a 1969 Dodge Dart which ironically has been the same car that he has raced since he was 17-years-old. He credited the win on Saturday due to the consistent lights he cut, and to Brian Jones and Wilbanks Auto and Machine for a keeping the car in top shape throughout the year.

The car, which has been updated over the last 21 years, remains incredibly consistent at the track.

Avondet had great lights throughout the day. He started with a .014 in the opening round, had a perfect .000 in the semifinals, and followed with .040 in the final round to propel him to the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Championship.

“This win means a lot to my family and me,” Avondet said. “My dad, who has been with me since day one, was with me in Memphis. Having him there to celebrate made it even more special. This is by far the biggest win of my career and it is special to be called an IHRA World Champion.”

With the win, Avondet won $20,000 from Summit Racing, a seven-night/eight-day vacation for two on the island of Aruba, a golf cart from Darts Carts, a world championship diamond ring, a world championship Ironman Trophy, and an IHRA Gold Card.

Dustin Carroll: Sportsman

Dustin Carroll from Olar, SC, was crowned the first-ever IHRA Summit SuperSeries Sportsman champion.

“It’s an exciting feeling,” Dustin Carroll said. “The feeling of winning one of the most prestigious championships hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Carroll. representing Union County Dragway in Union, SC, took home the win by defeating Larry Doty who was representing Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Fla., with a .042, 7.696-second pass at 90.53 mph.

“The day went fast,” Carroll said. “It felt like I couldn’t do anything wrong. I got lucky a few times with competitors breaking out or red-lighting, which helped me advance to the final round. I thought my weekend was over and went too quick against my dial-in in the third round, and luckily saw the win light come on keeping my weekend alive.”

With the win Carroll took home a $5,000 payday, IHRA World Championship ring, IHRA Gold Card, and an IHRA Ironman trophy.

Carroll drives a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro during weekly events at Union County Dragway and South Carolina Motorplex in Neeses, SC.

He bought the car in 2017 year from his cousin Sanders who owned Danny’s Classic Cars. Carroll then put a 350 cubic-inch engine in the car and built it to compete in the Sportsman class.

“I credit Summit Racing Equipment a lot for helping us on the car,” Carroll said. “The majority of the parts we have were purchased from them and it helped us get the car in tip-top shape to compete at our weekly tracks and the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals.”

IHRA staff contributed to this report.

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