Night of Fire;Summit Motorsports Park
Night Under Fire lights thrills and pyro!
Wednesday 14 August, 2013
As promised, Bob Motz’s Jet Semi torches the sign!
NORWALK, Ohio – The 2013 Golden Anniversary celebration at the Auto Plus Night Under Fire presented by Kelly Services mixed pageantry with good old fashioned, metal mashing fun August 10, 2013 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
The fiery extravaganza glued fans to their seats all the way through the death-defying thrill shows, the star-studded racing, and the Bader Family Signature Fireworks.
Tim Chitwood, from the legendary Chitwood family, drove a pickup truck on two wheels, then Chris Morena, a Disney stuntman, climbed out a window and stood on the side of the truck, going across the finish line still on two wheels!
Afterward, Tim Chitwood said he started stunt driving in the ’60s, and each new trick required years to perfect. Tim Chitwood uses street tires on astreet truck for the two wheel stunt.
“I put 80 pounds of air in the tires,” Tim Chitwood said. “But I don’t recommend it.”
“Okay, Norwalk. Are you ready?” Bill Bader Jr. said. “It’s time for some good old fashioned drag racing! This is opening round for America’s race track, the 50th Anniversary Auto Plus Night Under Fire presented by Kelly Services!”
Billowing smokey burnouts followed the Gassers to the starting line. Later in the lineup, two Gassers: – Ted Turley in the red The Traveler, andSkip Coverdale in the green Special Edition II – curled smokey burnouts the whole length of the track.
Top Sportsman driver Tim Molnar welcomed his 85 guests to the Auto Plus Night Under Fire presented by Kelly Services, and wished his daughter, Rachel, a happy birthday, then turned out a 6.642-second elapsed time at 209 mph.
Larry “Spiderman” McBride wrestled his monster of a motorcycle the whole quarter mile for a track elapsed time record of 5.885 seconds and 220 mph.
During the Fuel Funny Car show, Bill Bader Jr. said 15-time Funny Car World Champion John Force piloted the Golden Anniversary Funny Carfor its solo event opposite his son-in-law Robert Hight in the AAA Automobile Club of Southern California Funny Car.
“John Force is the gold standard,” Bill Bader Jr. said. “What Michael Jordan is to basketball, John Force is to drag racing.”
After sizzling Jet Dragster performances by Jill Canuso, Elaine Larsen, Lou Pereira, and Ernie Bogue Jr., Bill Bader Jr. introduced Bob Motzand his 211 mph Jet Kenworth by saying, “Happy 50th burn down the sign night.” Fans cheered. Of course, the sign torched on the second pass by the legendary semi truck.
The thrill show opened with Benny “The Bomb” Kosky explaining life at the age of 72.
“But I don’t have anybody any more,” Benny Kosky said. “I lost my wife. I lost my dog. It’s just me, now.”
“And the dynomite,” Bill Bader Jr. said.
“If you don’t like cooking in the kitchen, get out,” Benny Kosky said.
After fans counted down from 10 to zero, a bomb detonated with Benny Kosky inside a white car spray painted with black letters. The initial fireball erupted about 15 feet into the air, lowered, then Benny Kosky climbed out and waved.
“It feels like being in a hurricane with everything swirling around you,” Benny Kosky said, adding even though he takes precautions, there are risks. The heat can penetrate his fire suit.
The next thrill show adventure brought Harley-Davidson rumble to right in front of the Summit grandstands, where mere feet from fans, Bubba Blackwell jumped his motorcycle over a line of cars and through flames shooting up.
Bill Bader Jr. called Bubba Blackwell a modern-day Evil Knievel.
“My name is Bubba. I’m from Alabama,” Bubba Blackwell said. “Lots of career options, Baby.
“I love Harley-Davidson. I wouldn’t wear any other colors than red, white and blue,” Bubba Blackwell said. “And it’s such an honor to be here. I can’t tell you how awesome it is, before my ride is over, I get to perform at the Night Under Fire.”
Bubba Blackwell reminded fans to look this fall for a special feature show on his stunts on the Discovery Channel.
After what looked similar to a scene from the movie, “A Bugs’ Life,” the pavement glistened, wet under the grandstand lights.
Disney Stuntman Chris Morena said he was ready to go on with the show, performing a suicide spiral jump in a red car.
Bill Bader Jr. explained many jumpers consider the suicide spiral the most dangerous jump a man can perform.
“They call it the suicide spiral for a reason,” Bill Bader Jr. said. “It causes many jumpers to get out of the business.”
“Basically the challenge is getting it done right,” Chris Morena said. “It takes two to three days to prepare a jump car. It’s not a guessing game.”
But some things the jumper has no power over, Chris Morena said.
The point was to drive the car up a ramp and cause it to spiral like a beautifully thrown football pass, then to land rubber side down in cars lined up under the ramp.
Chris Morena’s stunt car hit the ramp at about 60 mph and spiraled through vertical flames, then landed on its top.
For many tense minutes, no one heard a response from Chris Morena, as NHRA Safety Safari crews scrambled to turn over the car and free him. Then Chris Morena yelled.
Eventually the rescuers pulled him out.
“I’m fine,” Chris Morena said, adding he thought he wasn’t claustrophobic. He could have performed the stunt in the rain, but he wanted the most people in the stands.
“I put myself in danger all the time,” Chris Morena said. “Why not add a little rain?”
“Chris, that was spectacular,” Bill Bader Jr. said. “This is my 36th year, and that was one of the coolest things I’ve seen.”
Wise ones say, “Face your fears.”
Especially when during the show the rough and tumble duo cranked up the rpms, and climbed over Chris Morena’s pile of junk cars in freestyleperformances just feet from fans lined up along the trackside fences.
Did anyone wonder if the concrete retaining wall would fit neatly between the treads of a Monster Truck tire as it rolls on over as if the wall weren’t there?
At fan voting time for the Monster Truck freestyle, John Force rooted for both of them. But Dan Runte and Bigfoot won with applause volume and enthusiasm.
When Dave Roemer’s Summit Racing Equipment Gladiator rolled into the staging lanes, large patches of green splashed across the right side and rear, evidence of an early season crash of the bright red 1968 Camaro, bought this year from Jerry Bickel.
“The green is raw Fiberglas,” said Daniel Roemer, marketing director for Roemer Motorsports and R&R Auto Body, Cleveland. “We ground it down to get the front end back together. It’s got a new wing, and we fixed the quarter panel and front end.”
Dave Roemer walked away from the crash, Daniel Roemer said. “.He’s fine.”
But a big disappointment for the team included the Golden Anniversary Auto Plus Night Under Fire presented by Kelly Services.
“We wanted to put on a show,” Daniel Roemer said, adding the old Gladiator semi retired, opening room on the team for the new ’68 Camaro, a previous National event winner. “We bought a new car with a new way of looking at it. We’re working a few bugs out. We’re making a pass this weekend. But we’ll be here for the Shakedown.”
For now, the new Gladiator sports the rugged, adventurous look.
“Our plan is to race it like this for the rest of the year, a little battle scarred,” said Daniel Roemer. “We’ll repaint it over the winter. We’ll have it fully painted for next season.”
“We want to have a good showing at our home track like we did at the ADRL race,” Daniel Roemer said.
In the Budweiser pits, Ernie Bogue and Bob VanSciver showed off the Jersey Thunder Jet Dragster and updated fans on the Beast from the East.
“Ernie has been driving this car on and off for four years,” said Bob VanSciver, owner of the Jersey Thunder. “He needed a good replacement.”
“I’m building a brand new Jet Dragster,” Ernie Bogue said. “It’s not done yet. I’m a little bit behind. This (Jersey Thunder) is a twin to my old Beast from the East. I’ve been driving it since the end of May.
“My new one will be the Beast from the East again,” Ernie Bogue said. “It’s a carbon fiber car, and it’s got a cockpit in it, so it should be safer, hopefully faster, too.”
But what happened to the old Beast from the East?
“I sold it,” Ernie Bogue said, and grinned. “The same chassis builder who built the Queen of Diamonds II is building the new Beast.”
After the racing and thrill shows on Saturday night, the stars brought their sweet rides back onto the track, talked with fans and signed autographs.
In the Winner’s Circle, John Force held onto his Norwalk trophy, won by besting his son-in-law, Robert Hight, with a 4.04-second elapsed time compared with Robert Hight’s 4.08-second time.
“I still can’t get over Bob Motz burning that sign down,” John Force said. “I want to do that some day.”
All evening fans raved about their faves at the Auto Plus Night Under Fire presented by Kelly Services.
Mike Snyder, in commercial plumbing and heating in Hayesville, Ohio, shared his fourth Night Under Fire with his grandson, Jake, 8, and seven other family members.
While Jake liked the Junior Dragsters and the War Wizard Monster Truck, Mike Snyder chose John Force.
“I’ve liked him from day one a long time ago,” Mike Snyder said. “I like the way he interacts with the fans. A lot of guys won’t. He signs autographs even when he doesn’t want to, or when he doesn’t have time. He likes the fans.”
Karen Bry, a healthcare worker from Green, Ohio, near Akron, attended her third Auto Plus Night Under Fire presented by Kelly Services with friends.
“I like the excitement of the cars,” Karen Bry said, adding her favorite is John Force. “He seems real adventurous and outgoing. I think he’s funny because he just goes and waves. He’s interactive.”
Katy Alcorn, 11, Navarre, Ohio, chose Bob Motz and his 211 mph Jet Kenworth as her favorite thrill at her first Night Under Fire.
“And Benny the Bomb,” Katy Alcorn said. “That was funny. I actually don’t know why.”
Cassie Rivera, 15, Fostoria, Ohio, also reacted to her first Night Under Fire.
“I love it. I absolutely love it,” Cassie Rivera said, choosing John Force for top star. “Because he’s just really exciting and he’s really fast and he’s a champion. That excites me.”
Cassie not only lined up for John Force’s autograph, she made sure he penned it on a John Force Racing shirt.
“I have seen lots and lots of YouTube videos of him,” Cassie said.
Cassie’s cousin, Ridge Dugger, 18, Clyde, Ohio, chose the Monster Trucks as his favorite part of his second Night Under Fire.
“It’s pretty cool,” Ridge Dugger said. “I liked them both pretty equal.”
Gage, 13, and his father, Reggie Reed, Parma, Ohio, attended their third Night Under Fire and chose an unusual favorite.
“Tonight it was Bob Motz burning the sign down,” Reggie Reed said. “But usually it’s Nitro Methane and fireworks. But the whole program is excellent.”
The Junior Dragsters impressed Gage.
“They were cool,” Gage said. “I would like to drive one.”
Since 1999 the Reeds shared wrenching on a 1972 Monte Carlo.
“We just go to the local shows,” said Reggie Reed, who works in municipal sales. “But we don’t race. It’s one of those father-son projects: Come to the races; hang out in the garage. He races go-carts in the back yard, and mini bikes.”
Tim Besett, Twinsburg, Ohio, said, “I’m wildly, wildly impressed with this facility. It’s family friendly. I’m big into motorsports of all types, especially off-road motorcycle races.
“This place, it’s beautiful,” Tim Besett said. “One of the things is the ease of going in the pits. I was telling my wife it’s beautiful. You even have landscaping here.
“My favorite thing to do was to go in and get close to the incredible machinery,” said Tim Besett, a healthcare recruiter for Allied Healthcare Systems. “I work for hospitals.”
Even though Tim Besett rides dirt bikes, he chose John Force as his favorite racer.
“John Force is at the top of the pyramid in drag racing,” Tim Besett said. “You see a full pass, that’s it. That’s the best you’re going to see.”
Jim Besett, Tim’s father, a retired engineer, lives in Kent, Ohio.
“Heck of a place, Summit. I love it,” Jim Besett said. “It’s just fabulous. I haven’t been here for a long time. Walking through pit row close to theFunny Car Fuelers, they lit it up. That was a thrill. Hopefully we’ll see them start it up again. That’s as fun as watching them race.”
The sensory experiences at a dragstrip set the sport apart from football, basketball and golf.
“It’s so much better to watch sports on TV, except drag racing,” Tim Besett said. “Drag racing is so much better in person.”