BTE WORLD FOOTBRAKE CHALLENGE DAY 1
As has been the case for the past 11-years, some of the greatest footbrake only racers in the country lined up early to park at Bristol Dragway’s Thunder Valley for the 12th edition of the BTE World Footbrake Challenge presented by Yukon Gear & Axle.
Warm-up Thursday began in the afternoon for a Test n’ Tune session which was followed by a Gambler’s race for early arrivals and those wishing to get “warmed-up” to the competition for the weekend.
“We’ve had the gates open since noon time and the trailers and race cars continued to flock in,” said Coalburg Promotions’ co-promoter Jared Pennington. “And we want to especially welcome everyone to what we call the world’s greatest footbrake race.”
Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be contested in typical bracket racing form with first round buybacks available. Turn on two win lights in rounds one and two and you begin to get paid both in the weekend’s races as well as the two Gambler’s Races. As for both of those Gambler’s Races held tonight and on Friday night it was typical drag racing with no buybacks due to a time management issue; two go down and only one comes.
Custom at any World Footbrake Challenge race is when the field of each race has been pared down to eight cars or less, the field is paired up according to reaction time from the previous round. For the Thursday Gambler’s Race, there were six left; Josh Bryan, Gage Burch, Adam Davis, Jamie Holston, Seth Phillips and Wayne Mabe, a total who’s who of footbrake racing’s best.
In the quarterfinal round, Mabe defeated Bryan, Burch moved on to the semifinals by defeating Davis and finally, last year’s Thursday night Gambler’s Race winner Holston will continue his Thursday night winning streak by defeating Phillips. With three cars left, Mabe will get the bye run to move him into the final round, while Burch and Holston will face off to see who will face Mabe for a $3,000 payday.
Semifinal round with Holston taking the starting line advantage over Burch and holding on for the win, while Mabe telepathically used a perfect reaction time on his bye run to assure himself lane choice in the final.
And for that final, two guys from Virginia who beat up each other on regularly basis at Elk Creek Dragway faced off with Holston; stop if you’ve heard this before; taking once again the starting line advantage and earning himself another WFC Thursday night Gambler’s Race win.
BTE WORLD FOOTBRAKE CHALLENGE FRIDAY RESULTS
With a “not so nice” forecast, officials chose to begin time trials one hour earlier than scheduled; 7:30 am; and the racers in attendance cooperated fully.
“We knew this was going to be a ‘challenging’ day,” said co-promoter Jared Pennington, “and as such chose to make the schedule change. However, for those not getting the message, we weren’t about to short-change anyone, so that had anyone missed their allotted time trial, we were prepared to allow them their opportunity.”
Rather than the expected noon or so start to eliminations, it was shortly after 10:30 when the first round began. With that whole round completed, the skies turned dark and the decision made send everyone back to their trailers to batten down the hatches. Mother Nature whipped up a strong one, but by 3:30 the skies lightened and track drying commenced. In the meantime, racers do what racers do, as the word comradery kicked in, visiting each other and enjoying some “play time.”
Originally scheduled for Friday night after eliminations of the Yukon Gear & Axle Friday was another Gambler’s Race which was canceled but will take place on Saturday night in addition to the Saturday night Racer Appreciation Dinner.
With the drying close to completion, Mother Nature once again decided to “rain on the parade.” After careful consideration, officials had to make the executive decision to halt the racing for the day. The decision was made that even though only one round was completed, it wasn’t a complete race and both Yukon Gear & Axle Saturday and Sunday will both be $15,000-to-win races versus the $10,000 advertised. “Our entire purse is guaranteed and as such, both the Saturday and Sunday purses will reflect that,” Pennington announced. “The entire purse, every round, will be one and a half times what was advertised.
“We’re extremely sorry for any inconvenience,” Pennington added, “but we just had to deal with the cards which we were dealt.”
A single time trial will be given to each entry beginning at 8:00am on Saturday, of which over 300 cars made the first round call today, which should only increase as the weekend transpires.
BTE WORLD FOOTBRAKE CHALLENGE SATURDAY RESULTS
Since well after last year’s BTE World Footbrake Challenge event, the 2018 version; the twelfth such event in the WFC history; was billed as the Yukon Gear & Axle Triple $10s, three days of racing with three separate $10,000-to-win races for those leaving off the bottom bulb with no electronic driver aided devices. However, Friday’s race was cut short by Mother Nature. One round of racing was complete but that wasn’t enough for co-promoters Steve Stites and Jared Pennington to deem it an official race.
“Partly because we guarantee the entire purse,” said Pennington, “and mostly to be fair to our customers, we chose to scrub the whole day and instead take the Friday purse and split it amongst the Saturday and Sunday races. If you had lost that first round, it didn’t matter, you were back in for Saturday and Sunday.”
In essence, both Saturday and Sunday now became the “Double $15s” for lack of a better term. A single time trial session began at 8:00 am and by 11:00, the first round of eliminations began with an invocation by Jeff Gatlin and the singing of the greatest song in our country, the Star Spangled Banner. Three hours after the first round was complete, a total of 383 entries made the first round call ranking it right there as one of the best fields in WFC history.
Once the Saturday $15K event was done, the schedule called for a second Gambler’s Race to take place during the Saturday Racer Appreciation Dinner.
But back to the main event first and with five still left in round eight, the survivors and quarterfinal combatants were Lee Zane, Jonathon Surratt, Matt Sayers, Cody Barnhart and Devin Dudley. Sayers and Zane battled which didn’t last long as Sayers turned on the red-light, handing the win to Zane who was not giving much up as he had a .004 reaction time. In a double break-out affair, Dudley came out on top of Surratt. And finally, Barnhart took the bye run which set up a unique affair. With three remaining, each had already received a bye run which reverts to the best winning reaction time of the winning trio, which was Zane’s, giving him the semifinal round bye to the final.
Looking to match-up with Zane, Dudley and Barnhart staged up with reaction times respectively at .049 and a .016 and a double break-out with Barnhart the lesser offender to advance him to the final.
With Barnhart driving Chance Lykens BTE-sponsored Chevrolet-powered Volkswagen of all things, both he and Zane were close in dial-ins with Barnhart at 6.22 and Zane 6.19. Reaction time advantage went to Barnhart by just a slight .007 and it was Barnhart who seemingly parked his car at the finish line to force Zane under his dial handing the win to the 22-year old from Cullman, Alabama.
“I was so nervous every round,” said Barnhart. “I was praying every round before I got in the car and all the glory goes to God.”
Still left to complete was the Saturday night Gambler’s Race with an unusual father versus son final. It was dad Rodney Finchum and his son Jake squaring off at 12:30 in the morning to finish off the day. And it was old age and treachery which overcame youth and exuberance with dad behind in reaction time but using a dead on the dial with a “0” to defeat his son for the win.
BTE WORLD FOOTBRAKE CHALLENGE SUNDAY WRAP-UP
The 12th edition of the BTE World Footbrake Challenge presented by Yukon Gear & Axle came to a close today after what was thought to be a “challenging weather forecast” became a reality on Friday when the rains hit to cool things off both in temperature and racing. However, with the entire purse guaranteed, co-promoters Steve Stites and Jared Pennington decided to simply move the money over to make both the Saturday and Sunday races $15,000 to win rather than the posted Triple $10s.
In an effort to give back, and the complete understanding that oftentimes some… questionable language might be spoken after a hard loss, officials instituted a “Swear Jar” of sorts in the tower. All money collected was donated to ArmedForcesRacing.org, an organization started for the purpose of providing recreational therapy to veterans. Regardless of the “swear,” racers took to giving back to a worthy cause, with donations of over $600.
As for Sunday’s race, in the quarterfinal round, those left were Brad Plourd; Rocky Pintavalle; Kevin Pollard, who has done quite a bit of winning already this year; Gage Burch, driving Matt Weston’s Super Street car; Bob “Big Bucks” Mullaney; Tim Griffith, Shawn Pitts and Troy Stafford. In the round itself, Mullaney used a .008 reaction time to defeat Burch. Stafford held the reaction time advantage but it was Pintavalle’s dead-on the dial with a “1” which took the win. Plourd then used a better reaction time to defeat Griffith and finally, Pitts turned on the red-light to advance Pollard and set up the semifinals.
As for the semis, round eight, Mullaney and Pintavalle squared off with only .002 separating them in reaction time, but it was Mullaney’s Ed Franks-owned Nova dropping a dead-on the dial with a “7” which earned him a WFC final round berth. Pollard and Plourd squared off with Pollard holding the reaction time advantage and the win.
With a series of double-0 reaction times leading up to the final, Mullaney might have skipped a beat a little, coming up short in that department to Pollard’s .008 which sealed just another win for Pollard to take home to Salem, Virginia.
“We can’t thank enough all those who had the confidence in us to give them everything we promised,” said co-promoter Jared Pennington. “Anybody can put on a race, but it’s the racers who make it special and each of those who came here did just that. This has become a ‘bucket list’ type of event and for that, on behalf of my partner Steve Stites and the entire Bristol Dragway staff, thank you all.”
FINAL SCORECARD - BTE World Footbrake Challenge - Bristol Dragway
W-Jamie Holston, Wytheville, VA
R/U-Wayne Mabe, Pulaski, VA
Yukon Gear & Axle Saturday
W-Cody Barnhart, Cullman, AL
R/U-Lee Zane, Pennsauken, NJ
W-Rodney Finchum, Newport, TN
R/U-Jake Ball, Newport, TN
Yukon Gear & Axle Sunday
W-Kevin Pollard, Salem, VA
R/U-Bob Mullaney, Mays Landing, NJ