Drag race opener draws record numbers

When Garden Isle Racing Association leaders held the first drag race of the 2006 season earlier this month at the Kauai Raceway Park in Mana, the season opener drew record numbers of both spectators and racers that left standing-room-only fans at the fences.

The gates were opened an hour early due to the arrival of many spectators who wanted to get a place at the fences to set up their “camps” for a good vantage point of the race track. Racers also came early to set up their pits and ready their cars for the start of time trials at 2 p.m.

Spectators were asked not to drive into the pit area, but were welcome to walk through the pits to meet and talk with the drivers and to see the cars close up.

After a dinner break at about 6:30 p.m. and the racers had turned in their dial-in slips (dial-in slips have the time in seconds the racers think their cars will run in the quarter mile), the class eliminations were started. Cars are eliminated if they leave the starting line before the starting lights turn green or if the car in the other lane beats them to the finish line.

The brief rain delay did not dampen anyone’s spirit or affect the evening’s exciting rounds of elimination racing.

“Since safety is one of our major concerns at the track, we won’t run the cars, some of which can run as fast as 180 miles per hour in the quarter, if the track gets wet,” GIRA President Bill Turk said.

In the elimination rounds of Jr. Dragster sponsored by PS&D NAPA, winner Sheldon Costa bested second-place finisher Cortney Brock. No times were available.

It is interesting to note that this is the class where many racers get their start, since the drivers of these small dragsters are between 8 and 17 years of age and are timed in the 1/8 mile.

The very popular Street class saw Nestor Cabatan in his 2000 Honda Accord run a 16.479 win over second place Derrek Brock’s 16.521 in his 1977 Toyota Corolla.

In Sport Compact, Brandon Fujishige’s quick ’92 Honda Civic turned a 13.613 win to second-place finisher Elena Kealoha in her black ’56 VW Bug at 14.226.

BIKE class (motorcycles) sponsored by Suzuki Kauai had its share of excitement, too, as John Hirata’s 650cc Suzuki turned a winning 14.884 to second-place finisher Matt Kaleiohi, who red-lighted on his Hayabusa Suzuki.

In the new Auto Stylin & Performance/Island Image Embroidery sponsored MUSCLE V8 class, Calvin Costa ran a quick 12.084 in his small-block 350 Toyota pickup to the slower, second-place finish of Roy Higa’s 13.641 run.

Finally, the Destination Autoworks sponsored PRO ET class saw the very fast cars of Chris Loew and Mark Perales paired in the elimination round.

Loew, driving his ’69 Chevelle, turned in a winning 11.232 with a dial-in time of 11.21 seconds to Perales’s second-place Mustang dial-in of 10.50, running a 10.599.

But he lost with a red light at the start line.

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