Pare' uses experience to repeat as champion

On Motor Sports

October 05, 1997|By Stan Dillon | Stan Dillon,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

One of the highlights of the area drag racing season is the Craftsman National Hot Rod Association Northeast Division Bracket Finals, held annually at the Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa.

Last weekend, over 850 drivers from 20 Division I tracks in the northeastern United States and Canada competed in a three-day championship to see what race track will record the most round points in five classes. The top 16 drivers in points in each division from each track are invited to represent their home track.

After finishing second last year, the team from 75-80 Dragway dropped to seventh in the finals this year, still a good showing considering how many tracks are competing.

Each year, a Carroll County driver has turned in a winning performance for the 75-80 team. No stranger to the bracket finals, Robert Pare' of Union Bridge won the Class II Heavy Eliminator division over 319 other competitors. This was the second time in three years that Pare' has won the Class II bracket finals. He went three rounds last year.

This was the fifth year since he started racing seven years ago that Pare' went to the finals, but it didn't mean less pressure.

"After winning two years ago, I felt that the pressure was greater," said Pare'. "I did it once, the odds were against me doing it again and I actually thought it was tougher than the first time. It seemed like everyone was out to gun me down. I wanted to prove to myself as well as others that I could do it again."

When the racing started on Saturday morning, Pare' naturally felt nervous, but at the same time felt confidence.

"I was just concentrating on doing the same thing I always do, superstitions and all. I did all the same things and just hoped that everything would come together," said Pare'. "And I didn't let my confidence show because there was always a chance that someone is going to beat you."

Driving the same car that he won the finals with in 1995, Pare' combined quick reaction times and solid elapsed times to work his way through the early rounds.

By the end of the fifth round, Pare' was on a roll and in the final round he had that feeling the national title was his. Standing between him and the championship was 75-80 teammate Ed Talbert of Lisbon. Both were nervous, but the experience of being there before played in Pare's favor.

"I felt better this year going into the final round. I felt I was going to win," said the 28-year-old. "I've been there before. I've raced Ed before and knew what kind of racer he was and knew it was going to be a good race. In all the times we have raced against each other, I would say we are even in our wins. I just felt that I was going to win."

That's what Pare' did. He drove his Chevelle SS, sponsored by Gunters Machine & Rebuilding, Cititrust Financial Corp., Bruce & Linda Combs and Kanuck Drywall, to victory, 12.377 (12.34 dial) to 14.538 (14.55). Pare' picked up top prize money and several contingencies as well as a gold pass for all NHRA events.

"When I am on top of my game, my car is right and the chemistry is right, I usually come away successful," added Pare'.

Other Carroll County drivers who qualified for the bracket finals in Class II were Glen Mason, Reisterstown; Steve Dustin, Westminster; Chris Hruska, Mt. Airy; Mickey Kappes, Westminster; Roger Jorss, Westminster; Jim Peddicord, Westminster and Mike Stambaugh, Union Bridge.

Area drivers in Class I included Joe Mayne, Mt. Airy; Sev Tingle, Mt. Airy; George Hoff, Westminster; Ben Snouffer, Mt. Airy; Russell Barefoot, Mt. Airy; Cliff Peddicord, Westminster; Rick Holden, Manchester; Henry Fryfogle, Sykesville and Scott Lowman, Woodbine.

In motorcycles, Carroll County riders were Gene Belt, Taneytown; Mark Hoff, Westminster and Tim Lippy, New Windsor. The Mason-Dixon team finished 14th.

Weekend results

Gary Stuhler of Westminster finished second in the Winchester 200 for late models. Charlie Schaffer of Hamstead was 13th. Al Shawver Jr. of Finksburg was fourth in the small modified feature in the Octoberfest at Hagerstown Speedway. At Lincoln Speedway, Cris Eash of Woodbine was second in the super sprint feature, Jeff Shepard of Upperco was fifth and Jesse Wentz of Manchester was seventh. Fred Cullum of Hampstead was eighth in the thundercar feature.

This weekend, Rob McCall of Sykesville will be going for his second win in the AMA Pro Stock Nationals at the National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio. After leading most of the year for the championship before dropping to second when he experienced mechanical problems at Indianapolis National, McCaw needs a win today on his Kawasaki to re-take the lead with two more events remaining.

Pub Date: 10/05/97

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