HARRISON TWP, Mich. (November 25, 2015) – Todd Robertson and his Eaton Corporation team had little experience with flip-top Funny Cars when they entered NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car competition in 2012. The former Outlaw Pro Mod standout admits he still has a lot to learn, but Robertson has progressed significantly in four years of competition. He kicked off the 2015 season with his first TA/FC win and went on to win the season championship in the NHRA North Central Region.

Robertson started the year with high expectations after reaching the final round at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2014. The Michigan native picked up his first-ever NHRA Wally when he drove his Eaton Monte Carlo to the winner's circle at the season-opening Lucas Oil Series North Central regional event in Indy.

“We left everything pretty much untouched from the year before since we did well at the U.S. Nationals in the fall. That strategy worked out for us. It was a crazy weekend because the parachutes kept going underneath the car, then I had no brakes or parachutes in the final so I ended up in the gravel. The winner's circle photos were taken after we towed the car back and dusted off the body,” Robertson remembers of the exciting weekend.

The Eaton/Aeroquip team continued their success at the next race at Norwalk. Racing in front of a sold-out Summit Motorsports Park crowd, Robertson again raced to the final round, this time falling to west coast sensation Doug Gordon because of an engine failure. Robertson struggled with early round losses at the next three races, but maintained his lead.

“We had the regional points lead all season long,” Robertson said. “After Columbus we shared the points lead with Paul Noakes until we passed him at the next race at St. Louis, where we passed him by only whatever points we received for going through tech inspection. We had issues with the car and didn't qualify.”

Robertson's season picked back up at...
Pomona, CA – Johnny Ahten and the Island Renovations / Combust Filters Dragster advanced to the second round at the 51st Annual Auto Club NHRA Finals last weekend at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. After qualifying with a 5.338 /265.48, Ahten entered the final race of the year in the number twelve position, won their first round match-up with 2014 World Champion Chris Demke, and finished the year in the number five position in Regional points.

“I feel good that we qualified and got a round win over the champ,” said Ahten. “The new chassis turned us into detectives, and now we have to follow the clues. We will go over the car, look at the data, and prepare for a strong campaign in 2016.”

Thursday qualifying started out with a 5.338 /265.48 which put Ahten in the number six position for the day. Friday’s qualifying session started off well, with the Stump Puller launching well off the starting line. Tire shake then reared its ugly head and Johnny wisely ended the run. Saturday morning’s final qualifying session was a repeat of that performance. At the conclusion of qualifying, Ahten was slotted in the number twelve slot. That paired him against fellow CleanBoost Oil racer Chris Demke in round one.

In Saturday’s first round of eliminations, Johnny had to pedal the car due to tire shake but got the 5.441/264.44 win over Demke's 9.775/84.67, as both drivers had issues. The Island Renovations / Combust Filters dragster was then paired against David Sheetz in round 2 Sunday.

Occasional rain showers delayed the running of the Top Alcohol Dragster class until after the second round of the professional classes. At the hit, Ahten got the advantage, and began to thunder down the track. Sheetz was right there with Ahten until the Stump Puller lost fire in a cylinder, and raw fuel began to pour out. Sheets crossed the line first with a 5.410/269.83 to Ahten’s 5.587/259.41.

As the crew drove down to pick Johnny up, a gentle rain began to fall. Ahten Racing must now...
POMONA, Calif. (November 20, 2015) – Defending NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster national champion Chris Demke completed his 2015 season at last weekend's Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway. The local favorite bowed out in an uncharacteristic first-round loss and watched as rival Joey Severance went on to win the 2015 national championship title.

Demke qualified fifth in one of the most impressive national event fields in history with a stout 5.261 et. The Peen Rite team's defense strategy was already foiled at that point, as Severance qualified on the opposite side of the ladder, meaning Demke couldn't prevent him from reaching the final round and winning the championship.

“It was somewhat of a hopeless feeling, but I was really looking forward to racing on Sunday because of the great atmospheric conditions that were going to be available. Unfortunately we lost first round due to an unknown ignition issue. I kept my foot in it for two seconds before I realized there was no chance of catching Johnny,” Demke said of his race with fire captain Johnny Ahten.

The Maddern Racing team had a “buyback” of sorts when they had the chance to lend a motor to a competitor on Severance's side of the ladder.

“We tried to take another stab at controlling things by loaning a motor to Ross Stickler. His team owner, Kevin Cantrell, came over to us looking for a spare crankshaft after first round and we told him we had one, but it had a motor and tune-up wrapped around it. We worked that evening and the next morning to get our motor transferred to his car. Unfortunately his tow strap got wrapped around the front wheel while towing up to the line and prevented Ross from running, which ended our second chance.”

Demke took a minute to reflect on the loss of championship, but was eager to offer congratulations to Severance, a first-time NHRA Lucas Oil Series national champion.

“When you're at the top, you want to stay at the top. I didn't take being champion for granted. I...
POMONA, Calif. (November 12, 2015) – Just one race, the 51st Annual Auto Club NHRA Finals, remains in Chris Demke's Top Alcohol Dragster national championship defense season. Held this weekend at the home track of Demke and his Maddern Racing team, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the Finals is Demke's last chance at successfully defending his championship. He is in true defense mode this weekend, as all he can do is block rival Joey Severance from winning the 2015 title.

“We have our work cut out for us, but so does Joey,” Demke admitted. “We can't claim points at any more races; all we can do is block Joey and hope that we meet up with him in the semifinals or earlier. If he makes it to the final round he wins it all. It's a tall order at the Finals because there are a lot of strong cars entered for this weekend. I'm hoping for a semifinal matchup with Joey. If I have to pair up with him at any time, a semifinal pairing would make for a great story, win or lose.”

Demke and the Peen Rite/Boost Performance Products Top Alcohol Dragster recently competed at the final NHRA Lucas Oil Series regional event of the year in Las Vegas last weekend. The Jerry Maddern-led group qualified No. 1 with a 5.296, but slowed to a 5.398 in the first round of eliminations after having to swap engines.

“A couple things were missed on the engine swap and the car slowed down in the first round of eliminations. It was a bummer. We gave up the West regional championship on that run. It was unfortunate, but we'll keep our chins up heading into Pomona, hoping to hold on to the national championship.”

Before entering the final race of the season, Demke reflected on his 2015 season, which was highlighted by three national event wins (Pomona 1, Norwalk and Chicago) and three regional event victories (Las Vegas 1, Columbus and Seattle).

“It was a great year. We certainly made mistakes, but so did Joey and his team. We've done our best to give the championship back and forth to each...
Marstons Mills, MA-November 12 2015-Jay Blake's Permatex/Follow A Dream winds up its best season ever this weekend at the NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif. Sixth in the standings with one race to go, driver Todd Veney looks to improve on a quarterfinal finish last year in his only previous Finals appearance.

"The whole team has worked hard all year for this opportunity," Blake said. "The car has run great all season, and everybody's ready to rock. We got to the final here in 2005 and won it in 2006, so the whole team is pretty excited about it."

"Pomona's always been one of my favorite tracks, and it's a real thrill to be running the Finals again," Veney said. "I lived just a few miles from the track for 11 years, so it'll be great to be back."

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Thursday, 1:45 p.m. Friday, and 10:00 a.m. Saturday, and the first round of eliminations is set for 1:45 Saturday afternoon. The race will be televised on ESPN2 Sunday Nov. 22 at 8:30 PST.
Pomona, CA – The battle that was the Vegas Regional has now moved to Johnny Ahten’s backyard. Pomona is Johnny’s home track, and he is not taking any chances. The full Ahten Racing Team has been assembled from around the country. This weekend’s 51st Annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona has twenty-five entries in the Top Alcohol Dragster class and reinforcements were necessary.

“We are expecting a dogfight, and we have a full regiment ready,” said Johnny Ahten. “We have my dad and Crew Chief Al Ahten who, along with Team Partner Howard Katano, will be our Generals. Our nitro commandos include Bob Ahten, Kevin "Shark" Colvell, Chuck Costabile, Todd “Rocky” Rockwell, and John Rogers. Pomona is our home, so there are plenty of distractions. Family, friends, and the desire go rounds and capture the flag. Our A-Team will give the strength to continue the battle we fought in Vegas. We qualified for a tough Vegas Regional field last weekend and we are bringing that positive home.

Providing added support to Ahten Racing’s Pomona campaign are local representatives from Fireman’s Brew, who provide crucial supplies and support. Also in attendance will be One 11 ink. They are the Santa Clarita, CA company that wraps the Stump Puller, and the new Mini Puller Ahten Racing golf cart. Big Ben from DJ Safety will also be around making sure everyone stays safe. THR5 Communications will handle the media. Past and present firefighters from LA County will also be in attendance if necessary.

Johnny Ahten’s A-Team is about to descend upon the Pomona Fairplex. The Island Renovations / Combust Filters Dragster is already there, and waiting to start the campaign. The support staff is in place and the battle for the 51st Annual Auto Club NHRA Finals begins on Thursday afternoon – Battle on! To stay informed with the latest please visit: www.facebook.com/JohnnyAhtenRacing

Island Renovations...
Jonnie Lindberg has all he can ask for. With the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series season coming to an end at this weekend’s Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., the 26-year-old driver and tuner from Upplands Vasby, Sweden, controls his own destiny with a one-point lead over Annie Whiteley in the Lucas Oil standings.

Four drivers have a chance at the title including Lindberg, Whiteley, John Lombardo Jr., and Doug Gordon. The points system takes a driver’s best seven-of-10 national event finishes and best three-of-five regional finishes. For that reason, Whiteley would assume the points lead by winning the first round since she is replacing a first-round loss. Rather than play out the scenarios, Lindberg is focused on winning the event which would award him the season-long prize regardless of what his competitors do.

“I need to go one round more than Annie Whiteley,” said Lindberg. “Lombardo and Gordon are hunting behind me, too. I need to go to the semi’s to gain 11 more points, but I think I really need to win the race to make sure I win. I’ll do my best as always.”

Furthering Lindberg’s cause is a return to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona where he looked dominant during his first career NHRA win during the Circle K NHRA Winternationals in February.

“The car ran perfect in February,” Lindberg recalled. “The car ran perfect for this track. Hopefully I can go even faster since I have more experience now than I did in February. It’s going to be a fast field, of course, because everyone has stepped up this year. I’m pretty confident that our car is going to work perfect this weekend. We checked everything with all the electronics before this weekend. I hope for some more luck this weekend, too.”

Electrical issues had plagued the Landmeco-sponsored Chevrolet Monte Carlo during Lindberg’s recent efforts in Las Vegas. Lindberg was able to reach the semifinals at the NHRA Toyota Nationals and take the points lead despite battling ignition issues and subsequent...
PEAK Team has Another Good Weekend at Home Track in Vegas

The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event held in Las Vegas is the last NHRA regional event of the year and one of the biggest with over 840 cars competing. In additon, most of the Top Alcohol teams stay over from the Toyota NHRA Nationals held the weekend prior to compete one last time on the regional level whether they are in the points hunt or not.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway is Duane Shields’ home track and the PEAK team pulls out all of the stops to qualify for this difficult eight car field where it’s not unusual to see two dozen Top Alcohol Dragsters trying to squeeze into an eight car field. “This is a very tough race. There were teams that went to the final round last weekend that didn’t even qualify for this race” Duane said. To add to the pressure there was a good turn out of local fans and friends that picked up free tickets to the race from Shortline Express stores.

Duane qualified 4th with a 5.320 at 272 MPH and drew Championship contender Joey Severance in the first round. Severance qualified 5th with a nearly identical 5.329 at 266 MPH. As the lights came down Duane was off the line first with a stellar 0.021 reaction time to Severance’s respectable 0.030. As both cars moved off the concrete pad, Severance experienced some tire shake which increased Duane’s lead which he would never relinquish. At the finish line it was Duane taking the win with a 5.34 at 271 MPH to Severance’ 5.76 at 207 MPH.

In round two Duane faced Shawn Cowie, another tough blown alcohol racer from the Northwest Division. At the hit, it was Cowie off the launch pad first with an 0.081 to Duane’s 0.104. Both dragsters were side by side all the way down the Las Vegas strip in an exciting race. At the top end of the track Cowie nipped Duane at the stripe by just inches! “It was a great race. I wish that I would have had a better light but you know what? I'm very happy with the car’s performance...
Bateman Captures Emotional First National Event Win in Vegas

Las Vegas, NV – Tears were shed at the top end of the racetrack on Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Garrett Bateman had just won the Top Alcohol dragster race and was the NHRA Toyota Nationals champ. This was his first national event win, after four final rounds and fifteen years of desire.

“It feels like a thousand pound gorilla is off my back,” said Bateman. “I have been trying so hard for years it seems. I have been fortunate enough to have success at Bonneville and at the LODRS Regional level. My first goal when I started racing was to win a national event. At my first race I actually went to the final round. It was against a Randy Meyer car with Alan Bradshaw driving. We lost that race, and ironically enough, we beat both those guys this weekend.“

Bateman’s journey to the winners circle started on Friday with a round one qualifying effort of 5.477/265.90 which put the HipLink/NGK Dragster in the number six position. Round two Saturday morning was when the power of the Rick Henkelman tuned dragster stole the show. Prior to the run tuner Rick Henkelman saw something on the track he liked and decided to step it up. A 5.249/269.94 blast catapulted Bateman to the number one spot. The decision to sit out the final round of qualifying was then made to prepare for the first round.

In the first round of eliminations, Bateman faced Casey Grisel and a 5.331/269.46 took the win to a losing 5.454/260.71. In the second round it was Bill Litton in the other lane. Bateman rocketed off the starting line with a .024 light and a 5.285/267.00 bested Litton’s 5.384/270.54. On to the semi-finals, familiar foe Alan Bradshaw was in the other lane. Bateman advanced to the final with a 5.300/268.65 over his first-race ever opponent Alan Bradshaw’s 5.469/255.00.

In the final round Jackie Fricke lay in...
Dallas Runner-Up Chris Demke Chasing Second National Championship at Toyota Nationals

LAS VEGAS (October 28, 2015) – The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has never been a particularly successful track for Chris Demke and the Maddern Racing Top Alcohol Dragster team. The defending NHRA Lucas Oil Series national champion will need to change that at the NHRA Toyota Nationals this weekend, though, as he's in a tight points battle with Joey Severance, who is known to nearly dominate The Strip.

“Even Jim Whiteley pointed that out to me after Dallas, and I responded with, 'Who won the last NHRA event at Las Vegas? Who stopped Joey's streak?' Well, that was the Peen Rite/Boost Performance Products dragster. We just want to pick up where we left off. We don't typically do as well as we'd like there, but our backs are against the wall. We'll see how it goes,” Demke said.

Demke is coming off of an explosive performance at the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals in Dallas, where he went 5.225, 5.185 and 5.215 in eliminations before backfiring the supercharger upon start-up in the final round.

“That was the best set of runs that this car has ever made, then that 5.18 capped it off. That is the second quickest blown alcohol dragster pass in history. When Joey Severance red lit in the first round and I ran the 5.18, I had high hopes. I figured we'd be bringing home the Wally and I'd be getting a cowboy hat. It didn't work out that way, though. The engine was popping and banging when we tried to start it for the finals Kevin goosed it to try to clear it out. It knocked the blower off at the start. A $5 part in the magneto broke and was sending spark to random cylinders. It just wasn't meant to be,” admitted Demke, who went on to congratulate his opponent, Bill Litton, on his first NHRA event win.

Despite the strong performance, Demke and the Peen Rite/Boost Performance Products team expected more. The California-based team will continue to...