NHDRO $67K Big Bracket Shootout Season Opener
presented by Liguori Drag Racing
National Trail Raceway, Hebron, OH
May 13-16, 2021
Lee and Adams Take NHDRO’s $67,000 Shootout
Words and photos by Tim Hailey
NHDRO’s Brian and Niki Welch have really perfected their Big Money bracket shootout formula with last weekend’s $67,000 Big Bracket Shootout presented by Liguori Drag Racing at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio. A no-box ladder and delay box ladder (64 bikes each) raced for $33,000 a piece before facing off against each other for a $1,000 bonus. How fair is that for spreading the wealth?
Dustin Lee won the Box side of the ladder (beating Tom Klemme in the final) and the then won the Shootout run-off when Kevin Adams redlit by .010. What’s Dustin going to do with all this money? “I’ll save it for hard times, I guess,” said the owner of Hard Times Parts & Service.
Lee’s racing schedule is very, very full, with limited time for repairs and running his business before getting back out on the road. But it helps to have big time support at home. Dustin talked about having a head gasket issue while racing on Mother’s Day, calling his wife Tamara on the way home and saying “’Figure out where you want to go to dinner for Mother’s Day and we’ll go out to eat.’
“So I get home, I back in the driveway, she comes outside and we get everything situated in the camper and go inside, and she’s got food cooking and everything rolling. She goes ‘Get out to the garage and get to work!’”
So with the repaired bike entered on the Box side of the ladder and his other bike on the No-Box side, Lee figured he was going to see better results in No-Box.
“I was wrong. I got a 12-pack put on me in No-Box, so I got beat.”
But the repaired bike was on autopilot. “I never touched the delay box, I never checked the tire, I never changed my dial-in all day. I just left it alone, raced, and had good lights. First round I was .012, second around I was .008, third round I was .010, then I think I was .014. I started being a little careful. I was .020 and .020. In the final, the No Box-Box run off, I was like .013 or .014. It was one of them days that couldn’t do wrong.
“Also this week was me and my wife’s anniversary of dating, and I have a really good track record on our anniversary weekends. I’ve never lost.”
So with some priorities at home and the biggest win of the weekend already in the bag, Lee decided to pack up and set sail back to Tennessee first thing Saturday morning.
“This is a lot of money to us. It’s more than I’ve ever won. I won twelve grand a few years ago at GALOT. I appreciate everybody that put this on—Brian and Niki, and Liguori for sponsoring the Shootout.
“I’m very blessed. I never thought that I would sell performance race parts or motorcycle parts in general, and drag race as a job. I’m lucky, and then to come here and win is just like a cherry on top.”
While missing the glory of winning the run-off, Adams still collected only $1000 less than Lee. “It was my first race of the year and—wow—what a way to start the year! What a tough field of competitors, and for me to make it through still gives me goose-bumps.”
Adams beat fellow Norwalk racer Joey Brandgard in the No-Box final. “What a great feeling to have people that race at Norwalk be in the finals!” said Kevin. “Joey is going to be a great competitor for years to come.
“I want to thank Brian and Niki Welch first off. They (NHDRO) are the only organization that I feel really support our racing. Not everybody may agree with everything they do, but they really do try to support racing and listen to the racers.
“Next, what can I say to be able to do this with my family at my side—my father who got me started and has supported me and my brother since we were 13, and has been there every step of the way. My wonderful wife, who just lost her father, was there and my two awesome kids Connor and Gavin. It means so much to have them at my side, and my brother Craig who has been my biggest supporter since I was a kid! All my racing family—Lloyd PV Patterson, Tommy Richardson, Sheet Shaker, Buzzy, and all the rest that support me. Thank you!
“And finally to the Kubach’s—Greg and Maria—for supplying me with the awesome bikes and friendship. Greg has been such an inspiration going through and beating bone cancer. What a tough battle he is fighting. Watching him go through that makes me think winning a race is easy!”
Kevin and Dustin both also thanked this writer/photographer.
Schnitz Racing Top Gas
Schnitz Racing Top Gas 8.20 index champion Jeremy Teasley started his title defense in the right way, pushing Donnie Emerson out the back door (by .003) despite a 16+ MPH bigger speed from Teasley. Jeremy had a .012 advantage at the start.
“Really surprised I pulled off the win,” said Teasley. “I haven’t gave my personal bike any attention, being I’m so busy with work, but she came through. The bike has been awesome from day one since HTP built it.
“It was a perfect weekend. I had a lot of the family around, being a local race to home. I would really like to thank NHDRO’s Brian and Niki Welch for coming to National Trails. It was a great turn out. Seen people I haven’t seen in a long time.
Schnitz Racing Top Gas number one qualifier Richard Gadson fell to Emerson in a very close semifinal.
M2.Shocks 8.70 Quick Street
Duane Jackson’s blue Suzuki Hayabusa (every winner discussed so far rode a ‘Busa) resembles Teasley’s in every nearly every aspect—including landing itself in the National Trail winners’ circle. Jackson even beat Teasley’s cousin Chanston Moll in the M2.Shocks 8.70 Quick Street final to get there. Jackson took the tree (.063 to .103) and ran closer to the number (8.75 to 8.76) for the win.
“One thing is that it was a very fun and different atmosphere, because I don’t run that series (NHDRO) and I hope that I could make at least one more this season,” said Jackson. “It was nice to win Quick Street because it’s a faster index then what we have on the East Coast.
“I was just running my lane like I always do, one round at a time. I get to the finals and the kid’s leathers has Teasley written on them (Moll wears an old pair of Jeremy’s) so I knew it was gonna be work. I took the tree and stayed one wheel in front to the finishline.”
Number one qualifier Dave Page lost to Jackson in the semi.
Kevin Dennis Insurance Street ET
Jackson wasn’t finished with finals, though, as he also made it to the last round of Kevin Dennis Insurance Street ET. “Runner-up in Street ET was bittersweet. I set a goal out for myself last season when I put the bike together (true hand clutch [THC] and no auto-shifter) to be a challenge for myself since XDA doesn’t allow Gen 2 clutches. Made it to the last five Saturday, then went to the finals Sunday against a buddy of mine, John Markham (AKA Spooky). We saw each other in the quarterfinals and we said we’d see each other in the finals and we did.
“I left the tree .017 to his .076 got down to the bottom and gave him the stripe, thinking I was breaking out.”
Running .002 off his dial is what saved Markham after giving up .059 to Jackson at the starting line. “I couldn’t find the tree all weekend,” said Spooky, who was battling allergies. “My buddies Terry and Ann Muter found me some Visine and immediately my reaction times were better! So big thanks to them.”
Starting with three wins at Ohio Valley’s Derby race, Markham has a string of good fortune on borrowed motorcycles. That string continued with Sunday’s Kevin Dennis Insurance Street ET win on his son Dalton’s half naked ‘Busa. “I guess I need to start riding other people’s bikes. Seems I can find the winner’s circle a lot easier.
“Had a good time. Thanks Brian and Niki for a great weekend—as usual—and to my sponsors Jeff Nelis and Millennium Trailers, Ray Mancini and Xtreme Motorsports, Dan Rudd at MPS Racing, and my son Dalton for letting me ride his awesome bike.”
Patrick Vaughan rode his old school Suzuki GS1150E streetbike to the Kevin Dennis Insurance Street ET win on Saturday night. Vaughan’s 11.54 dial might have put final round opponent Turon Davis (8.64) to sleep, as he had an .092 light to Vaughan’s .053.
BB Racing Super Comp 8.90
Joe Klemme took the tree (.053 to .092) and played the stripe (8.98 to 8.94) for the win against Brandon Childress in the BB Racing Super Comp 8.90 index.
“I would like to thank my brother Tom, who owns the bike I was riding in Super Comp and is my racing partner. With Tom getting runner-up on the Box side of the $67,000 Bracket Shootout Friday, we were off to a pretty good start financially as a team for the weekend.
“Saturday’s Pro ET didn’t go as planned, so we focused on Sunday’s schedule, which included the index classes we run. After some hard work by the team as a whole, I found myself in two finals—Dirty 30 and Super Comp—and competing against some very tough competition. I was fortunate enough to come away with a win in Super Comp.
“I would like to dedicate this win to my sister Judy Grothus, who lost her year long fight against cancer on Tuesday following the race. And thanks to the entire racing community for their outpouring of love and support.
Super Comp number one qualifier Mike Nearhoof lost to Tylan Beckelheimer in round 2.
Advanced Sleeve Dirty 30
As noted, Klemme came back around to runner-up in Advanced Sleeve Dirty 30 9.30 index, as Marshall Hutchinson Jr. took the close win this time. Klemme took the tree by .011, but Hutch was .016 closer to the index.
“Well man, it’s a tear-jerker for sure,” said Hutchinson. “It’s my first NHDRO Big Check and it’s the first big win since I lost my mom to colon cancer. My mom helped with my dad to get the bike—formally Rob Schenz’s Super Comp bike. She went into nursing home and never got to see it finished. But she was with me on Sunday.
“I’d like to thank Nola and Marshall Hutchinson Sr., Jaymi and Russell Hutchinson, Tyler Lowe, Bruce Sauer, Thomas Cole, Bruce Damewood, Bill Bullers, and special thanks to National Trail’s Jason Murray and Jay Livingston. Prayers to the Damewoods for there little one Natalie. And of course you sir (referring to this writer/photographer). Thanks for all you do.”
Dirty 30 number one qualifier Kris Halstead lost to Eric Ford in round 2.
Grothus Dragbikes/Klemme Performance Motorcycles Pro Ultra 4.60
Grothus Dragbikes/Klemme Performance Motorcycles Pro Ultra 4.60 boiled down to a final with two hardcore veteran sportsmen racers—Harvey Hubbard and Dan McCarten. Harvey took both ends of this one, with a slight .002 advantage at the tree and a 4.64 that was .013 quicker than McCarten.
“I won the race thanks to Brunson Grothus,” said Hubbard, a man of few words. “It is a Grothus chassis with a GS platform.”
Number one qualifier Terry Hoke bowed to McCarten in the semi.
MTC Pro Street
MTC Pro Street Midwestern powerhouse Quicktime Motorsports struggled with various issues on their trailer full of turbocharged ‘Busas. Team boss Rudy Sanzottera came off the trailer strong, but had a problem that pulled him first to the left, then to the right in his qualifying rounds.
But worse for Rudy was when the cam sensor went bad and kept his bike from starting for a semifinal bye to the final.
Champion (and number one qualifier) Brad Christian’s bike had a spun rod bearing knocking when he started up to burn out for round 1, Brett Ware bogged and died off the line, and Jeff Lindeman’s clutch would not engage for round 2.
All of this left Pro Street first timer Josh Ford as the last man standing. “Man, it’s amazing!” said Ford. “It’s been five years of gathering parts and the last few months of getting it together.”
“In November, we talked about running Pro Street at NHDRO,” said fellow racer and teammate Jeff Dalton. “After going back and forth, it was finally decided to build the nitrous PST bike. Josh and I built the exhaust together. The motor and chassis was built by JD Performance, with Josh assisting in assembly of the chassis. Ryan Schnitz wired up the Motec, and Ryan and I worked together on tuning as we have on several other projects.”
“Last week the bike was finally ‘finished’ and we were able to get a couple heat cycles in it before it finally was moving under its own power Thursday during testing!” said Ford. “Almost every pass was better and more comfortable than the last. We broke almost every personal best of mine this weekend.”
“With eleven passes on the bike and only seven of them being nitrous passes, everything worked well,” noted Dalton. “NHDRO did a great job with track prep and we were able to get some very good data and go fast quick.”
“I couldn’t have done it with out my wife, Jeff Dalton, Ryan and Trevor Schnitz, my dad, and a few others,” said Ford. “I really owe it all to them. It was an amazing weekend! We can’t wait to turn the second kit on and see what we can do in Martin!”
MPS Pro ET
“Sweet” Bruce Sauer beat his old National Trail rival Rod “Spicy” Bland in the Saturday MPS Pro ET final. With only .001 separating them at the tree, it was down to playing the finishline and Bruce took the stripe closer to his dial-in.
“I raced a bunch of great racers to win on Saturday,” said Sauer. “Bradley Shellhouse, Janie Palm, The GOAT Roy Hagadorn, John Markham, and Rod. It was like murders’ row! We had fun and I really liked seeing a bunch of my old Prostar buddies.”
Sunday’s winner was Doug Fisher, who won when Greg Mallett redlit in the other lane. It was a nice turnaround for Fisher, whose RV had a flat tire and brake pad malfunction on the way down from Michigan. There’s a motorhome disaster story at every event, and this time it was Doug’s turn.
“The Doghouse crew helped with repairs—Chad Otts, Angie Smith, Blues and Ronnie. Can’t thank them enough for the good food and helping to get the motorhome back together.”
Fisher’s bad luck was out of the way, and went down to the final eight in both other races the ‘Busa was entered in. “The bike was on kill all three races, the rider was on Sunday,” laughed Fisher. “The bike varied three hundredths all weekend
“Thanks to Payne Walsh, Tyler Fisher, Alexis Baker, Richard Gadson, and of course, Donna Fisher.”
Hard Times Parts & Service Jr. Dragster
Ian Burt took two Hard Times Parts & Service Jr. Dragster wins, each time against Kaleigh Welch in the final.
“He has won six of eight so far this year, and his mom and I could not be more proud,” said Ian’s dad Roger. “He started racing at eight years old. One more year of Jr. Dragsters, then he can’t wait to be on a bike!”
And that’s what Hard Times Parts & Service Jr. Dragster at NHDRO is all about.
Saturday night saw some good, old-time VooDoo Grudge racing. Even with the Muhammad Ali of Grudge—Keith “Shine” Dennis—on hand, the highlight Grudge race of the weekend was between NHDRO regulars Wiggle and Canman. Wiggle spun and Canman won.
Brian and Niki Welch are brewing up more Big plans with a Big Index Shootout for NHDRO’s June 11-13 Vanson Leathers sponsored event at beautiful U.S.131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan. NHDRO is the most fun a racer can have on two wheels, so you gotta be there!
- Advanced Sleeve
- BB Racing
- Green Bay Anodizing
- Grothus Dragbikes
- Hard Times Parts and Service
- Kevin Dennis Insurance
- Klemme Performance Motorcycles
- Liguori Drag Racing
- MPS Racing
- MTC Engineering
- Schnitz Racing
- Voodoo Custom Motorcycle Components
- Vanson Leathers
2021 Drag Racing Schedule
- May 14-16 / National Trail Raceway / Newark, OH
- June 11-13 / US 131 Motorsports Park / Martin, MI
- July 30 – Aug 1 / Lucas Oil Raceway / Indianapolis, IN
- Aug 27-29 / US 131 Motorsports Park / Martin, MI
- Sept 17–19 / Summit Motorsports Park / Norwalk, OH
- Oct 1-2 / Ohio Valley Dragway / Louisville, KY (no points)