For Combs, competition keeps him on dragway


April 10, 1994|By STAN DILLON

Not many people have become involved in drag racing as much as Bruce Combs. In addition to operating a drywall business, Combs finds time to maintain and race dragsters throughout the East Coast. He races regionals and nationals each weekend from March through October.

When he isn't racing a National Hot Rod Association event on the road, he races locally at 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia. This weekend, Combs will be competing in the sixth annual Winston Invitational in Rockingham, N.C.

Combs, 45, has been around drag racing most of his life. He started going to the track with his brothers when he was 14, a few years later he was racing and he has been going ever since.

He started racing when the fastest car down the quarter-mile track was the winner. When money became such a factor that it almost wiped out the sport, he is quick to point out that bracket racing saved the sport and made it what it is today, a sport where everyone can participate.

The biggest change in drag racing has been the introduction of electronics. To be competitive on the national circuit, drivers have weather stations that measure the temperature, humidity, barometric pressure and a computer that adjusts the air altitude and throttle-stop. On Combs' level of competition, you can't race without it all.

Combs always has gone fast racing in the Super Pro and Class I cars. Two years ago he switched to the "Super" competition level. And he has done it in a big way. While most competitors have only one car, Combs has four Super Class cars, two Chevy Vegas and two Super Comps and another S&W dragster on its way.

One Vega is a Super Gas car, a sportsman racing category with full-fledged national event status that is reserved for full-body cars with fenders, hood, grille, windshield and functional doors. The Vega is powered by a 427-cubic-inch Chevrolet motor. The Super Gas Eliminator runs on a pro, heads-up start, on a 9.90-second index, with no break-out (below 9.90 seconds) allowed.

The other Vega is a Super Street car that is almost featured exclusively at the divisional racing level. The Super Street Eliminator is patterned after Super Gas, but runs on a 10.90-second standard, with pro, heads-up starts and no break-out (below 10.90 seconds) allowed. It has a 350-cubic-inch Chevrolet engine.

Combs' other two cars are Super Comp dragsters, which are becoming very popular in the area. The Super Comp is featured basically at the divisional racing level and is the swiftest of the three "Super" categories. The Super Comp entries all run on a common 8.90-second standard using heads-up pro starts and no break-out (below 8.90 seconds) allowed. Combs' car only weighs around 1,400 pounds and is powered by a 454-cubic-inch Chevrolet engine.

Combs' best season was when he teamed with Dave Peters in 1975, and they were the No. 1 money winners at 75-80. Last year, he traveled to the U.S. Nationals at Raceway Park in Indianapolis, one of the biggest events on the NHRA circuit, and went five rounds. He competed against cars from all over the country, and it was down to 10 cars when his air shifter broke.

Racing continues to run in the Combs family. Combs' two sons and his wife, Linda, are with him every week. The boys race on the divisional level and help their father in the national events. Linda helps with the record keeping, a must in the day of computers.

The younger Combs already have shown that they have their father's talent. Mark, 21, who races in the Super Street division, won the Dutch Classic the first time out and finished in the top 10 in Division I competition. Mike, 25, races the Super Comp car.

Weekend results

Racing on the oval tracks was in full swing last weekend. At Lincoln Speedway, Cris Eash of Woodbine was fifth in the super 25-lap sprint feature. Jesse Wentz of Manchester won the third qualifying heat and placed seventh in the 25-lap feature. In the semi-late feature, Howard Williams of Westminster was seventh, John Morris was eighth. Bobby Feeser of Millers was 10th in the thundercar feature.

In the opener at Williams Grove Speedway, Eash was seventh in the 25-lap super sprint main event.

In the 25-lap late-model feature at Winchester Speedway, Rick Jones of Westminster was third after winning his heat.

At Trail-Way Speedway, Westminster's Steve Owings was second and Dave Parrish third. Rookie Jerry Parrish completed the top 10. Owings also won his heat. In the thundercar feature, Corky Stull of Westminster was third and Greg Messersmith of Manchester was fifth. In the four-cylinder feature, Brad Green of Westminster was fourth, Jeffrey Young and Matt Barnes of Westminster were sixth and seventh, respectively. Young won his heat. Dan Wonder of Westminster was sixth in the street stock feature.

At Hagerstown Speedway, Gary Stuhler of Westminster was third in the 25-lap late-model feature and Charlie Schaffer of Hampstead was eighth. Mike Walls of Taneytown was sixth in the four-cylinder feature.

In go-kart racing at Shippensburg Pa. Speedway, Wayne Karcher of Upperco won the Yamaha Light feature.

Drag racing finally got started at 75-80 Dragway. In his first year in Class I, Jim Peddicord of Westminster won in his first time out against 32 cars. In Class II competition, Scott Lowman of Woodbine was runner-up and Ben Snouffer of Mount Airy was quarterfinalist.

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