New Winners grace the winner circle at Mid Atlantic .90 at Atco!
Story: Rob Keister Images: Dave Milcarek, Rob Keister, and Phil Hutchison
Atco Dragway – Atco, NJ – The Mid Atlantic .90 Association hit the mid-point this past weekend with a trip to New Jersey to the famed South Jersey Atco Dragway. This event is always an extremely popular one as it’s the week before the Lucas Oil Series event in which racers can test and park for the following weekend. Between the .90 event, Dave Ley’s East Coast Stock/Super Stock Association was on the grounds along with Atco’s normal Super Pro, Super, and Sportsman racers making for nearly 300 cars in competition at the N.J. facility.
On Saturday, forty-four cars showed up for first round of Super Comp, marking the largest count for the series this year, which is on verge to set an all-time car count record for the season. Kathy Smulligan grabbed the Number #1 after 2 qualifying rounds with an 8.901 in a very impressive fields where and 8.908 only got you the #9 qualifying spot.
As the rounds progressed being mixed in with the Saturday bracket program, it was two locals who would match up in the finals. Shamong, NJ resident Tony Iacono and Atco, NJ resident Nick Olt battled it out for the trophy.
Tony was better at the tree (.012 to .023) and parlayed that into his first victory in some time with an 8.927 to 8.889 breakout for Olt.
In Super Gas, James Alston laid down a 9.903 to claim the number #1 spot but it was a pair of NHRA Division 1 legends in the finals. Bel Air MD racer George Donhauser drove his 79 Plymouth to his first victory since winning the Uncle Buck Pig Roast back in 2017. Donhauser, who is enjoying one of his best years in awhile with a runner-up already on the NHRA D1 side, matched up with Royersford, Pa driver Rich Price.
Price who already had one runner-up to his credit for 2022, was looking to grab a win but went -.022 red to hand the win to Donhauser who would have been tough to beat as he went .014 on the tree and a perfect 9.900.
Rounding out Day # 1 was Super Street; Scott Lang stole the #1 spot with a 10.901. Sean Lanigan decided to join the 150 mph club in the off-season and build a bigger bullet for his Camaro with the help from Ron Riegel. The increase in MPH helped him throughout the weekend and in the final where he matched up with another 150+ Camaro and Kelli Barbato.
Lanigan got the slight advantage at the hit (.012 to .024) and pulled out the win in a double-breakout 10.897 to Barbato’s 10.884 for the loss. The win moved Sean into second place in points behind 6X Champ Keith Mayers.
Once the finals had wrapped up, a tradition that is known at the Mid Atlantic .90 events is the Racers BBQ and this one at Atco always holds special meaning too it as it is in memory of President Rob Keister’s stepmom who passed in 2017. The 5th Annual Beth Keister Memorial Meatball Social was held in the pits where a tradition was continued of doing Meatball Sandwiches for all racers. Once everyone was full everyone flooded the Atco Bar to honor a great sponsor & friend Bill Phillips who passed away in December.
The “Last Call for Cupcake” held in his honor, which a round of drinks being bought by fellow racers, sponsors, and the club. A speech was made by Rob Keister, Bill’s Racing partner Bill Hardifer and his fiancé Tina Kromer to honor the memory of the 4-time winner of the series.
On Sunday, the car counts fell off a little as some left their rigs for this weekend’s Lucas Oil event but it was still a stout field of some of the top tier racers on the East Coast in the .90 categories.
In Super Comp, a field of thirty-six cars led the way with New York’s John Bruzzo taking the Number #1 spot after a single qualifying session. The finals pitted Tom Oliver and his dragster and Don Bangs. Oliver was on a mission and looking to claim his first win in over 10 years in his Quay Dragster. Bangs was coming off a runner-up at Race # 3 and was looking to cut into Chase Fahnestock points lead.
Oliver though was on his game where besides a tardy .034 light in round one, his worst light the rest of eliminations was .006. In the finals Oliver used another .006 to Bangs .023 to claim victory in a double breakout 8.877 to 8.842 victory.
In Super Gas, 2020 & 2021 Champ Hank Smith claimed the #1 qualifying spot with a 9.915 and would parlay that into a final round appearance. Frank Volpe III was waiting in the other lane driving his dad’s Mustang. Volpe had been playing in the 9.90 ranks while his new Super Street Mustang was being built and finished to be debuted in the upcoming weeks. In the final Volpe was thirsty for that first victory in the 9.90 class as he strapped a ten thousandths package on Smith with a .010 light and a perfect 9.900 to Smith’s .001 breakout 9.895 for Volpe to take his first win in Super Gas trim.
Rounding out the day with Super Street, Lanigan was riding a hot streak as he claimed the bonus points for being #1 qualifier on Sunday with a 10.901. In the finals it was a battle of first-time finalist as James Antonette Sr. wheeled his 67 Camaro against Ed McCleaft and the Orange Crate 63 Nova. At the flash McCleaft took a huge starting line advantage (.020 to .057) but, the hard charging Antonette made McCleaft give back the stripe to a 10.935 to a losing 10.986. This mark’s JA first victory since the Virginia National in 2012 in Super Comp.
Chase Fahnestock, Derek Clark & Keith Mayers continue to lead the points chase going into the final four events. The next race on the schedule is the famous 29th Annual Uncle Buck Pig Roast on August 20th & 21st at Cecil County Dragway. For more info you can find the series on Facebook or Instagram or reach out to President Rob Keister at 856-332-2851.