<i>By Jim McCombe</i> 

More than 250 drag racers worked off their Thanksgiving meals with a busy day of racing at the final STP ET bracket race of the season on Nov. 27 at Infineon Raceway.  The racers were rewarded with record personal performances thanks to low 60 degree temperatures and air that measured in the 300-foot range. A large contingent of racers made the long tow from the Eureka area and for them it was just like being at their home track at the Samoa Dragstrip.

The day’s big winners were John Murphy (Super Pro), Jeff LaSalle (Pro ET), Bob Choisser (Sportsman), Denny Alves (Motorcycle), Stephanie Paz (Super Street) and Scott Sterley, who topped the field in the 60-car Trophy class.

Murphy, a retired San Francisco Fire Captain living in Yountville, put his 61 Corvette to work scoring wins over Orangevale’s Mike Winston (67 GTO) and Vacaville standout Joe Brown's 70 Duster. Next in line was Gene Fridolf’s popular 57 Chevy from Napa and a win in the semis over Napa's Kathy Ball with her 59 Camaro.

On the other side of the ladder was Larry Ball in his 71 Chevy truck who stopped the dragster of Carmichael’s Chad Axford who fouled with a -.045 light. Ball then got around Lodi's Tim Koehler (70 Camaro) and backed that up with a win over Sean Eling’s Rohnert Park-based 71 Datsun 240Z.

In the semis, Stephanie Paz (68 Nova) fouled sending Ball into the final and a meeting with Murphy for the $1,000 winner’s prize. Ball got the early lead with a .048 RT to Murphy's slightly better .040 light, but at the finish it was Murphy with a dial matching 8.537 (8.53) at 155.49 to Ball's right on 10.134 (10.13) at 129.01

Some 47 entries made the call for the first round in Pro ET, but in the end it was two familiar faces who would decide the Championship. Steve Parrish, a retired lather from Richmond driving his Dodge-powered 55 Chevy wagon, set his plan into motion taking out Foresthill’s Mark Lelchook's 69 Barracuda in the opening frame then followed that up with a win over Jessica Opperman's MP Motorsports-backed 69 Camaro. Parrish then sent Dwayne Opperman's Napa-based 2010 Camaro to the sidelines. Next to feel the sting was Napa's Dan Brown (70 Camaro), which then put him into the semi finals where he ended Santa Clara's Dave Shaeffer’s day and put his 66 Mustang on to the trailer.

Jeff LaSalle of Santa Rosa (67 Dodge Coronet RT) eliminated Concord's Hank Raney's 56 Chevy in round one, then backed up that win dropping the 70 El Camino of Santa Rosa's Volney Howard. LaSalle continued his march stopping the 67 Camaro of Castro Valley's John Tobias which then advanced him into round 4 where recorded a perfect 000 RT ending the day of Moraga's Willie Woo and his 84 Corvette. LaSalle then received a bye in the semis and his eventual meeting with Parrish.

Parrish put up a .026 light to La Salle's .037, which forced Parrish into a break out with a too quick 10.339 (10.35) at 118.49 to La Salles winning 10.217 (10.19) at 129.22

A field of 30 entries made up the Sportsman class, with an old fashioned Ford vs. Chevy match-up between underdog Maryo Mendez from San Jose in his 69 Ford Torino and Bob Choisser’s 73 Vega wagon out of Vacaville. Mendez put away former Sportsman champ Scott McKenna's Dublin-based 68 Camaro then removed Vallejo's Steve Del Buono Sr who fouled out with his 72 Nova. Mendez then put away Novato's Brad Bowen (94 Mustang GT) followed by a bye in Rd. 4  Santa Rosa's Barrie Beffa decided his own fate with a red light in his 93 Mustang which then advanced Mendez into the Sportsman final and a meeting with Choisser.

Mendez brought his day to an untimely end fouling out with a -.022 light then ran a 19.202 effort (19.30 dial in) at 71.00 mph in a losing cause. Choisser then legged out with a .094 light and a winning 12.493 (12.50) at 111.08

The final day of the season attracted 16 Motorcycle riders, including some of the area’s finest riders. El Cerrito's Denny Alves served notice early that he was going to be tough right from the opening bell on board his 77 KZ 1100 Kawasaki.

Alves put away Pinole's Joe Truel 85 Harley in Rd. 1 then a bye in Rd. 2. In the semis, Petaluma's Randy Monte on board his All American Muscle-backed 96 Buell fell short despite a near perfect .001 RT, which then put Alves into the money round.

STP Wednesday Night Drags racer Doug Love from nearby Novato riding his street ridden 01  Bonneville Triumph squared up against Fremont's Tyler Garlock (01 Kawasaki) and avoided a loss when Garlock was unable to match his dial in. Love then defeated his nephew Richie Love of San Rafael and his 90 Zephyrm followed by a huge victory over veteran rider Trace St Germain of San Jose 02 Kawasaki ZX9.

In the final, Love trailed Alves at the start, .043 to Alves’ .013 light, with the win going to Alves 9.953 (9.92) 117.40 to Love's close 12.911 (12.90) 101.90

The Nor Cal Super Street Association held its final event of the season, which was led by low qualifier James Ernest from Napa who put up a solid 10.907 with his Shakers Vodka 76 Olds Starfire. Joe Sabastiani of South San Francisco in a 65 Malibu got the nod in the opener after Vacaville's Mickey Curry 69 Camaro fouled with a scant -.001 red light.

In Rd 2., Stockton's Dennis Paz and his Paz Performance 41 Willys pick up broke on the start which then moved Sebastiani into the semis where he eliminated Rohnert Park's Mike Eling's "Beyond The Glory Sports Bar" 65 El Camino and a shot at the big money against Stephanie Paz.

The Super Street final was decided on the starting line as an over-anxious Sebastiani pulled the trigger too soon, which ended up with -.014 red light and a disappointing right on the index 10.908 effort. Paz had a .048 light then shut it off after seeing Sebastiani's red light and coasted through with victorious 11.840 (10.90) at 84.84 mph.

One of the largest classes of the day was in the Trophy division. Before a winner could be decided in this 60 car field, it would take six rounds of intense competition before a champion would be crowned. The two eventual finalists were San Rafael's Scott Sterley behind the wheel of daughter Nicole Sterley's 67 Chevelle and Palo Alto's Jim Bailey 2008 C6 Corvette Coupe.

Bailey got by the 67 Volkswagen of Ken Porter of El Dorado Hills in the opening frame then followed that up edging out San Leandro's Eric Coker's 98 Pontiac Trans AM. The determined Bailey then ousted San Jose's Gabriel Hin's 07 Mazda  which then led to a victory over Dublin's Scott McKenna's 68 Camaro. Bailey then received a bye in the semis and a automatic berth in the final

Sterley was taking business on his side of the ladder recording wins over the 84 Camaro of Gary Collins of San Ramon, Don Waltenspiel's Santa Rosa-based 91 GMC Cyclone, and another win over Petaluma’s Marko Perivolaris and his 71 Datsun, then a win in the semi finals over Jessica Opperman's 69 Camaro from Napa.

In the final, Bailey's late leaving .243 RT ended up being the difference and was no match for Sterley's better .114 light, giving the win to Sterley 12.808 (12.66) 91.18 to Baileys fast closing but not enough race track left 12.813 (12.70) 113.07

The 2012 drag race season gets underway on Sunday, Jan. 8 with our first non points ET Bracket race of the new season. On Monday, Jan. 16, it will be a Test And Tune session only.  Jan. 28-29 will be the first of the Summit ET points races and will be a two day, two race event.  Weather could be a issue so please check the DRAG RACE HOT LINE: 1-800-870-7223 EXT. 209 or visit www.infineonraceway.com.

Please note, the complete 2012 schedule will be soon be posted on the web site and is SUBJECT TO CHANGE! With the exception of the National event, all other drag racing events will be aired live on www.1320go.com

On behalf of everyone at Infineon Raceway, the management and staff would like to express our thanks to each of you for your support and wish all of you and your families a happy and safe Holiday Season.