The ever-changing weather precipitated a challenge for all racers, dial adjustment being the main issue, when predicting elapsed times throughout unpredictable conditions.
In the 13-17 Junior Dragster Category, both 16-year old Brett Bowman of Homer and 15-year old Taylor Ramsey of Commerce struggled with matching their dial-ins, Bowman running an 8.05 on an 8.00, and Ramsey an 8.02 on a 7.99.
The race became all about reaction time, with Bowman ending the race at the starting line with a .059 light against Ramsey’s .092, claiming the win with a .008 margin of victory.
Bowman met the victory coolly.
“It’s a big race, but just like any other win,” he said. “A lot more people watching, you know.”
Seventeen-year-old Amber Stroud of Douglasville took the number three position.
Eight-12 Junior Dragster winner 10-year old MacKenzie Butler of Jackson met the weather challenge with determination, cutting a perfect .000 light against 10-year old Cole Wood of Jefferson, who broke out by .05 seconds, running an 8.85 against an 8.90.
MacKenzie was bursting with pride at winning the big event, telling Embry-Riddle jet car driver Elaine Larsen, “I’m very excited. I cut a .000!!”
Ten-year old Alex Krause of Peachtree City placed third.
In addition to the Summit ET Series bracket-racing program, the Night of Fire event features exhibition runs, from wheel-standers to jet cars, and the grand finale of a huge fireworks show.
Corvettes dominated the visiting Pro-Mod category, namely the ’63 model, with Salem, AL, racer Dan Parker at the head of the pack. Parker ran 180.28 MPH in 4.06 seconds against the non-conformist ’04 model driver James Hancock III, of Opelika, AL, whose car gave out mid-race, running 48.82 MPH in 8.93 seconds. Keith Baker from Dothan, AL, and Steve Kirk, Jr. from Monroe, placed in the semi-final round.
The Pro Mod show was topped off with a face-off between Scott Kennedy’s “Controlled Insanity” Funny Car and Ken Nelson’s “Cool Bus,” racing to the finish line on just two wheels each.
To complete the set, Elaine Larsen rolled up in the Embry-Riddle jet dragster, with three successful runs, the final pass offered a unique insight into the process, as an in-car radio amplified the conversations of the Embry-Riddle jet dragster crew, including Elaine’s exclamation of “Woohoo” following each 280-plus mph run.
The culmination of the event was the annual fireworks display, highlighting the approaching July 4th weekend, in celebration of independence and the sport of drag racing. The show was made more spectacular by nature’s own contribution; the clouds behind the fireworks lit up with lightning, carried by an approaching storm.
Conveniently enough, the clouds did not break until after the official highlights of the show came to a close, bringing the curtain down on the remaining racers of the accompanying Summit Snap-On points race. The winnings were split among the nine Super Pro, nine Pro, eight Sportsman, and six motorcycle racers left in competition, while the Junior Dragster and Pro Mod classes were able to finish.