The weather professionals tried everything they could in the Midwest to keep racers from battling potential horrible conditions to attend the 5th Annual DragstersForSale.Com Practice Tree Race, presented by Streetway Marketing and Media this past Saturday. The event has become a must attend event during the off season, attracting champions and who’s who at every level of the drag racing, 150 racers came to show off their skills.
The Warm-Up offered weekend entries to premier bracket races in the nation, including Triple’s at the Million Dollar Event, Triples in Vegas and No Box Nationals, The Main Event included big cash payouts leading into 2 – Million Dollar Races with 32 entered racers for an entry to the Million Dollar event in Montgomery, AL, we close with Racepak Shootout battling for a Sportsman Racepak and Pit Mat. New this year to the event is “The Race for the BOXO,” which was a fully loaded tool box from BOXOUSA.
“I can’t believe that we have completed 5 events and they keep getting better and bigger, we are fortunate to have remarkable companies supporting our events, we have a great customer base that continue to tell their circles about our event, it truly is something special,” said Don O’Neal, event organizer.
The Warm-Up saw 271 entries stage up chasing weekend race entries in the 2019 season. The first few rounds were quickly becoming fiercer as the fingers became more comfortable letting go of the Richardson Boyz Billet Steering wheels. Last year Doug Foley Jr, went into many late rounds and 2019 was not any different, as he, Tyler Sizemore, Jared Fulcher and Brett Williamson all made it to the final 4. Tyler Sizemore chose a Triple Entry to the Million, Jared Fulcher likewise, while the traveling road-show Foley Jr laid claim to the Vegas Triple, while Williamson chose the No-Box Nationals at Wagler Motorsports park in 2019.
The Main Event combined the competitive top bulb racers with a slice of the best bottom bulb racers in the country. The event started with 620 entries to chase an advertised Winner’s Purse of $4000, with the number of entries going over 500, it was announced that the purse would be increased at every payout position. The structure allowed the racers hitting the bottom to match up against each other until only one was left, Michael Beard and Christopher Martin were dominate all night off the bottom, not to mention the best of the best with last names like Lynch, Fields, Lancaster and Plourd taking shots at each other.
“Last year we started the racers off the bottom racing themselves until there was one, this has appeared to be the answer to getting bottom bulb racers to attend, as the numbers almost doubled of people who competed, if this is what the customers want, I will figure out a way to make it happen,” O’Neal continued, “it’s a fact that I work in the fun business, our racing, the rv business and our marketing company is all about fun business, I want that when you come to our event,” O’Neal smiled.
The Main Event saw a World Champion, NHRA Division hitters, bracket racing experts and even a couple junior racers battle it out for 5 long hours of staying focus and letting go of the button. Close races, with some upsets and just great racing with the flip of a wrist. The night progressed whittling down the number on the bottom side until it left two racers that you could pick at any race track in the country if they are on the property to be around in the late rounds. Which two? Heavy hitters Nick Gowan and Christopher Martin, two of the toughest all night off the bottom. Who would come out on top for the final bottom bulb competitor? Once they staged up, patiently waiting for each led light to fall, the tree flashed on the side of Martin, as he grabbed the final win light for the Bottom Bulb Racer, Martin now moves on with the Top Bulb side to compete for the big cash.
Two practice trees from Port-A-Tree were getting worked like a three-day race weekend until it was time to start paying money. Exceeding expectations of entries called for rewarding the racers with the above mention increased purse, that meant adding money to every payout position. The money round started with racers named, Gowan, Cotton, Lancaster, Bohannon, Sizemore, Whitworth, Fulcher, Jarrell to name drop. Years past, racers have had multiple entries left in the late rounds, however, that would not be the case in 2019. This also marked the first year for one of the youngest to make it to the money round as, Jacob Mickey (being assisted by Jake Hodge) rolled into the Quarters to collect a little cash, at age 11, just showing off. The Semi’ round started with a payout conversation of having $5K to Win along with $1500 to Runner-Up and $400 to Semi. This conversation didn’t take long as the phrase “Not Splitting” was uttered, back to racing!
The Semi’s had 2-Seater Foley bow out along with Matt Lauterbach, leaving Top Sportsman competitor Eric Burnett and longtime bracket racer Zach Schlumpf to hold that steering wheel for the big money. Racing for a cool $5K in the middle of January while the snow is flying, and race cars need to be repaired.
“In full disclosure, there was a moment when I thought that Burnett and Schlumpf were going to split, but it was put to bed very quickly as Burnett said, “NO” I was ok, let’s race, that is big difference on how much your pockets weigh when you leave,” O’Neal chuckled.
The two chatted one last time before turning the staged bulbs on, the room that was always a little noisy and distracting at times, suddenly was eerily quiet. The whispers of not splitting, all of the smirks and facial expressions had quickly turned to focus on the two racers racing for $6500 on this one release of the button. Lights flashed, heavy pause and the flashing lights on the side of Zach Schlumpf who picked up $5K over Eric Burnett! Quick handshakes between both and the celebrating began! But wait we are not done yet!
Million Dollar Race Shootouts have been a corner stone for our events since the first event. Folk Promotions by Randy and Jennifer Folk have been supportive since day one that I pitched them for support. It is truly a great highlight of the night to see people still maintain focus and be competitive after a grueling timeline. included hitters from all over the country. 64 racers on this night competed for an October race paid for in January. As in the past competition to claim the entry to the Million was no small feat, the first Million saw longtime blower loyalist Cody Wiggins, from KY knock down Lee Newmeyer in from Ohio securing the victory. The 2nd Million Shootout saw two familiar faces square off in the finals as James West and Zach Schlumpf foes in the tri-state region battled. West claimed the victory over Schlumpf. Wiggins and West are off to the Million, while Newmeyer and Schlumpf picked up $500 runner-up cash.
“We had a great idea with one of our newest companies with Streetway, BOXO USA, they sell tool storage with tool sets,” O’Neal continued, they are huge in the off-road series, atv’s, road racing, etc., they wanted to be in drag racing. They are great tools and solid quality, perfect for the bracket racer or touring sportsman racer, what better way to show them off than racing for a complete $700 Dollar Toolbox. Yes, that’s right complete, with tools!” explained O’Neal.
Chris Mullins came out on top by racing thru a blind draw 8 Racer shootout for the “Race for the BOXO.” Mullins was extremely happy as he gave a big fist pump when his light came on. Who would have thought that you could come to a practice tree race and leave with a toolbox and tools? We look forward to having the BOXO team in 2020, who knows what will happen?
The final event included racers with close but no cigar efforts to send them home with a RacePak logger or Pit Mat from RacePak. Closing it out was Chase Murray in a squeaker against Carson Griffith to take home a Sportsman Logger from the great folks at RacePak.
One long day with a great staff, 60 pizzas, 30 cases of beverages and thousands of times a transbrake button was let go, the bright LED lights from Porta Tree once again will wait for the cold winter months of January 2020 to see who will emerge with entries to the greatest bracket racing events in the country and cold hard cash.
The evening could not have been a success without the great support of VP Racing Fuels, Mickey Thompson Tires, Lucas Oil, NGK Spark Plugs, Porta Tree, Brodix, JEGS, Carts Gone Wild, Performance Tees, Simpson, Stainless Works, Callies Components, Comp Cams, This is Bracket Racing.Com, Meyer Distributing, Auto Meter, Porta Tree Timing Systems, BOXO, AFCO, Strange, Dynatech, RacePak, Longacre Racing, Holley Performance and Tim Mcaims Race Cars.