The second race of the National Muscle Car Association’s NMCA West series drew hundreds of racers and muscle car fans to the historic Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, CA. Always the favorite venue of the season, the weekend was packed with full-throttle racing action and more than a few upsets. The Hedman Hedders Nostalgia Street Car class was once again one of the largest classes of the event, with 41 cars making the grid for the start of elimination racing on Sunday morning. Though the field was packed with seasoned veterans like Mike Nordahl (who won 3 Wallys in a single event last year), Ron De Hoop, Steve Cox, and Frank Coscarelli, stiff competition and some very determined racers would see many of these icons fall.
The first round of eliminations on Sunday was full of close racing and very few red-lights. Frank Coscarelli, winner of the season opener in Bakersfield, CA, drove his big block Camaro to an easy first round win, running an 8.594 on an 8.50 dial-in against Jim Lemond’s 9.498 on a 9.0 dial-in. 2012 Season Runner-Up Steve Cox narrowly defeated Jacob Wright when both racers broke out in their first run, while 2012 Season Champion Mike Nordahl and his ’64 Nova were knocked out by Ryan Chesleigh’s and his ’68 Camaro by a mere 0.007-seconds. Veteran racer Ron De Hoop was also knocked out in the first round when Jan Vanderpool drove his ’67 Mustang to a 10.563 against De Hoop’s 10.676 on 10.5 dial-ins.
In the second round, the crowd was treated to another series of epic battles where the winner and loser were separated by fractions of a second. Hot off his win against Ron De Hoop, Jan Vanderpool lined up against “Mr. Consistency” Steve Cox. With both racers running a 10.5 dial-in, the cheering crowd was treated to a heads-up race that started with side-by-side wheelstands as Vanderpool got a .05-second jump on Cox off the line. As the two roared down the strip Cox edged ahead of Vanderpool and crossed the stripe first, but it was Vanderpool’s lane that had the flashing “winner” lights. Cox had broken out by .070-seconds as Vanderpool ran a near-perfect 10.544. Frank Coscarelli also faced a tough opponent when he lined up against Scott “Lucky” Hudson and his ’66 Nova. Running an 8.50 dial-in and a 9.50 dial-in, respectively, both drivers ran within nearly .02-seconds of their target, but it was Coscarelli’s slightly quicker reaction that earned him a spot in the next round.
Both Jan Vanderpool’s and Frank Coscarelli’s third round opponents suffered red-lights off the tree giving them an express pass to the next round. But Josh Edwards’ round three battle was anything but easy. He was lined up against Mark Rapp, the top qualifier of the class, in a battle of the 10.5-second ’70 Novas. When the lights dropped Edwards left the line with a perfect .000 reaction time, but Rapp was only .001 seconds behind him. As the two Novas crossed the line, only 0.053-seconds separated them. With both drivers breaking-out and running faster than their dial-ins, it was Edwards who took the win, running a 10.482 against Rapp’s 10.429.
With the pressure of the very close competition building, Edwards’ and Coscarelli’s fourth round opponents both left the line early, handing them the round and advancing them to the semi-finals. Jan Vanderpool and his 351 Cleveland-powered Mustang squared off against Ron Aschtgen and his Ford 427-powered Mercury Cougar for the quarter-final round. Vanderpool bested Aschtgen’s reaction time off the line, but failed to run his dial-in while Aschtgen ran a scant 0.043-seconds off of his.
In the semi-finals, Frank Coscarelli was treated to a BYE run while Edwards faced down Aschtgen. Off the line, Edwards’ reaction time was twice as quick as Aschtgen’s. As the two streaked down the quarter-mile, it was clear that this was going to be another close battle. As the dust cleared at the stripe only a tenth of a second separated the two racers, but thanks to his superior reaction time, it was Edwards who emerged victorious, running a 10.520 on a 10.5 dial-in against Aschtgen’s 10.051 on a 10.0 dial-in.
In the sixth and final round Josh Edwards faced off against series points leader Frank Coscarelli to see who would go home with the coveted Wally trophy. With his 10.5 dial-in, Edwards was the first to leave the line, and did so with a very quick .019 reaction. Two seconds later Coscarelli got the “go” light and the chase was on. Coscarelli’s monster, big block Camaro was streaking down the track in hot pursuit of Edwards, but was already facing a deficit of 0.062-seconds. Crossing the line first after running his best time of the day was Edwards who ran a 10.509 on his 10.5 dial-in. Even though Coscarelli’s 8.524 on an 8.50 dial-in wasn’t good enough for the event win, his runner-up finish keeps him firmly planted in the number one spot in the series points standings, bringing him one step closer to a free set of Hedman Husler Race Hedders for winning the season. The next race coming up on September 6th-8th in Las Vegas will be exciting as Coscarelli works to maintain his series dominance.