Drag Racing Action Online  Images: Phil Hutchison, Diane Kubicke and Andy Anderson

York Pennsylvania racer Andy Anderson had some unfinished business to address coming into Vegas for the NHRA Summit Racing Series National Championship. The “Race Within a Race” at the Nevada Nationals at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway featured the best of the NHRA divisional bracket racers.

In 2009, Anderson won the Division One Pro title and the right to race for the Summit title in Pomona Calif., what was then then the deciding event for the Summit series.

Against Tibor Kadar in the 2009 finals, Anderson had a 0.038 light in his ’71 Dodge Dart as Kadar, driving his ’67 GTO had a 0.008 reaction time and won the title on a double break out final.

“For years I have thought about that race,” Anderson said. “I could have won since we both broke out. I left that win on the table.”

The “Road to Vegas” starts at the NHRA Divisional level with as many as 80,000 racers competing across NHRA member tracks across North America. The NHRA Summit Racing Series is the world’s largest motorsports program when it comes to racer participation. More than $140,000 is paid out to the 40 competitors attending the finals, plus contingency, while each division champion receives a Wally, jacket, and purse, along with $3,000 bonus money to attend the national championship in Las Vegas.

Anderson’s trip to the 2022 Summit finals was circuitous at best. At the start of the season, Summit and NHRA’s Alan Reinhart and Brian Lohnes pick a “Wild Card” racer to fill out the eight car fields at the Finals. Before 2015, just the seven division winners raced but the NHRA and Summit added an eighth car to round out the field.    In 2022, NED Summit Pro ET was chosen. The NHRA Northeast Division decided that the winner of the Race of Champions would be the eighth car in the field.

 Dan Caissie’s Capri won the D1 Championship but went red in R1 at Vegas

 Dan Caissie, returning 2021 Pro ET Summit champion, won the Race of Champions at the Summit Finals at Maple Grove beating Anderson in the deciding final round. So, you would assume Caissie was the “Joker”. But Caissie’s ‘85 Mercury Capri had already sewn up the Summit Pro title putting Anderson in the position to make some amends.

“It was the weirdest way to make the show,” Anderson said. “Division One had the Race of Champions winner going to the Summit Finals. I lost in round four in the regular Pro ET eliminator. Caissie won the Race of Champions in which I was runner up, and he also won the Bracket Finals in Pro ET. We were watching each round at Maple Grove, and he was turning the win lights on all weekend. Caissie couldn’t take two spots in Pro ET, so me, being runner up at the Race of Champions got the final spot in Vegas.”

“We got three shots to get the car ready and I was nervous going into round one having a second chance to win the Finals.”

In round one Anderson was up against D2’s Tim Butler’s ’79 Camaro from Sarasota Fla.  Both drivers had great lights with Butler’s 0.006 a tick better than Anderson’s 0.010 RT. Anderson ran a 9.18 on his 9.15 dial as Butler lost with a 9.772 on a 9.73.  “I ripped it a couple of times and I saw his nose drop down and I jumped on the brakes and crossed first by seven thousandths to get by that round. He stayed flat in it, and I had to drive it tight. It was a huge win in the first round to get by Butler who is a legend in D2 bracket racing.”

Getting by D2 racer Tim Butler (near lane)  in Round One got Anderson on his way to the title

Anderson had Jason Scott from Weatherford Texas in the next round and again, both drivers were nearly dead even off the line with 0.040 lights. “We both missed the tree, and I knew it and at the stripe I let him go.” Anderson said. “He ended up not jumping on the brakes to make it tight and broke out.”

Anderson won with a 9.173 on his 9.16 dial as Scott was way under his dial with a 9.412 on his 9.46.  In the finals on Sunday, it was two of the more popular Pro ET cars as Anderson’s ’02 S-10 was up against the ’68 El Camino of Boise Idaho racer Steve Lambert. Before the green flashed, Lambert got antsy and left 0.010 too soon fouling out his chances and putting Anderson in the winner’s circle.

Lambert (near lane) cut the tree a little too close and fouled out in the finals

“As I passed the tree, I thought I saw his red light, but I wasn’t sure. So, once I cleared the tree I looked up and saw my win light on I knew it. I was fist pumping and yelling all the way down the track. It was that realization that I finally won. After twenty years it was great to know you are the best. What a mountain to climb. And to come home and you are the 2022 World Champ it is incredible. And to be on the stage with Joe Costello interviewing you was unbelievable.”

 To add to Anderson’s win at Vegas was the sendoff for retiring NHRA Northeast Division Director Dave Mohn who flew out to Vegas to be with the NED team. “I grew up with Dave’s wife Jodi (Glick) and we raced Juniors for years together. I won Indy in 1998 in the 16–17year-old class and she and her dad were the folks that drove me out to Indianapolis. To have Dave in the winner’s circle with us was just great. It was cool to share my win with him.”

“I need to thank my wife Samantha for all the sacrifices she makes for me and our kids who also race. It’s a lot to ask of anyone. Our children, Logan, Paisley, and Landen are all involved in Jr Dragster.

“The truck was built and is maintained by Shane Sweigart who is my partner in FRBR Promotions (For Racers By Racers) series. Lee Reem’s C2 Competition Converters and Machine built the naturally aspirated 555 cubic inch motor and they supply the transmission and converter. C2 is also a big supporter of the FRBR series.

“Once I got rid of the Dart, Sweigart found the S-10 and originally was going to just flip it but once he got the truck, he fell in love with it, and we decided to have a go with it. He makes it possible to make the truck competitive.

“Having Nitro Fish onboard as a sponsor is great. Ken Koretsky, who bought Nitro Fish in the early 2000’s was at the Maple Grove banquet in 2004 as a guest of track manager Lex Dudas when I won the track Championship. After my winner’s speech, Kenny came up to me and said, ‘I like the way you present yourself and I want to sponsor you.’ It’s been 17 years together and he treats me like family and the Glick’s are the same, it’s all about family. Having two sponsors for that long is just great.”

“Captain Chaos” Kenny Koretsky 

“Shawn Sweigart is my crew chief and is instrumental in letting me just focus as during the weekend I am involved with the kids in Jr Dragster. I would not have been able to get it done without him.”

“Dave and the whole Northrop clan helped me get the truck to and back from Vegas and it would have been great to have his son Paul in the winner’s circle with me. The Northrops have been huge sponsors for our FRBR series, and we go way back. We’ve been friends for many years, and they are a big part of my racing family.”

Paul Northrop (near lane) put the family Camaro in the finals of Summit Sportsman losing to the Valiant of Jason Hildebrandt 

Andy ended with, “For 2023 its business as usual and race the truck when I can but my kids racing in Jr Dragster are #1. Winning Vegas was the culminations of my racing career, but I really want to watch my kid’s careers grow.”

It’s celebration time at Vegas for Team Anderson. From left to right. Paul Northrop, Shane Sweigart, Logan, Paisley, Samantha, Landen, Anderson, and crew chief Shawn Swiegart.