Playthings Racing-AMA Dragbike Norwalk “Track or Treat” Nationals
The Playthings Racing Team headed north to the Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk Ohio for the 7th stop in the AMA Dragbike National Championship series. Arriving in the pre-dawn hours the Team is greeted by cool temps and a light, but steady rain that cancels the Friday test session.
The rain moves out for Saturday’s qualifying sessions, but unfortunately does not take the cool, edit that, COLD air with it!! Crew Chief and expert tuner Anthony Navarro faces the unenviable task of interpreting weather conditions and track surface to formulate just the right tune up for the PTR turbo charged Suzuki’s. Qualifying goes well and puts Team riders Nick Mazieka and Darren Burnett deep in the field and has Mike Slowe (returning under the Playthings tent for the Norwalk race) in the #1 spot!
Slowe and Burnett opted to pass on the Dunigan Racing Prostreet Shootout Saturday night. Slowe had found a nice warm spot in front of the TV in the motor home and Burnett stated he was saving his luck for race day. With the integrity of the Team resting solely on Mazieka’s shoulders, he would not disappoint!! After a spectacular holeshot win over Bud Yoder on the RMR Suzuki, Nick secured a runner up finish in the final round against Curtis McDougal!!
Sunday morning the Team woke to conditions nearly identical to Saturday……except colder!! Racers huddled in trailers between rounds and stayed bundled in leathers and coats while in the staging lanes. First round action was a rematch of Saturday night’s race between Mazieka and Yoder with Yoder taking the win in this one, but it was not without a fight…..Nick posted a very strong 7.33 against Yoder, confirming the Team has unlocked the secrets to getting the GSXR 1000 going in the right direction….in fact the 1000 posted a string of low .30 passes over the weekend!!
Slowe and Burnett both advanced to face tough challenges in the second round. With Mike Slowe in contention for a 4th AMA National Championship just ahead of 2nd place Mike Kavos and 3rd place Bud Yoder…..the second round couldn’t have held anymore pressure……Slowe vs. Yoder and Burnett vs. Kavos. If Burnett could pull an upset against 2nd place Kavos, that would certainly help Slowe’s points lead. Mike shows again he performs best under pressure running a low ET of the race, 7.19 and after a battle of the wheelies the win light would come on in Burnett’s lane against Kavos putting the Playthings Team on an emotional high!!
Slowe advanced to the finals in a close race against Taylor Wood in the semi’s and Burnett would be going to his first final round in P/ST after a competition bye when Jason Dunigan was unable to continue due to a mechanical issue.
The final round would be a challenge for both riders. Running in cold air, on a cold track, well after dark……..neither knew exactly what to expect...in fact Burnett had no idea at all. Putting complete trust in confidence in Navarro’s tuning, Burnett did not question the tune up at all……..Navarro’s words of wisdom to Burnett as they rolled to the line was “You gotta pin it to win it!!” And pin it indeed both rider did……..Slowe would light the tire on the hit and Burnett once again had the headlight pointing skyward…….after that it was a battle of survival….who could best negotiate the tricky surface the rest of the way down the 1320!! At the end it was Burnett getting the win!!!
To say this was a “breakout” event for the Playthings Team would have to be an understatement. With Mazieka in the Finals Saturday night and both Burnett and Slowe in the finals Sunday…..it was just an amazing weekend for the Team and a great confidence builder!! Solving the issues with the GSXR 1000 that had been robbing performance all season and discovering a couple of gremlins on Burnett’s Busa that had been holding us back as well is going to make Valdosta an exciting event !!!!
Knowing the success of this event would not be possible without the support of our great sponsors, Playthings Racing would like to express our sincere appreciation to: