Last Man Standing Winner Left No Man Standing
On Saturday Northeast Dragway held its annual Last Man Standing race.
A special race that somewhat differs from the typical bracket race that most drivers are a custom to. The bracket tree is changed to a Pro Tree; most people who watch drag racing understand the Pro Tree concept. The heads up racing, the car to finish line first wins, but in bracket racing there is a lot more than beating you competitor to the stripe. There are professional drag racers that have been honest enough to say that they could not bracket race. It was too much to think about, too many things to factor in. This weekend the classes of Modified and TOP ET ran their individual classes. Posting a dial in like they would normally do but instead of waiting on the lights to come down, the tree was set to a 500 Pro Tree giving the driver one burst of light to leave on.
Eighteen year old Hannah Winslow of Edenton moved up from a very successful three years in the Jr Dragster division to the Modified Class at age sixteen. With a bigger field and more experienced drivers, Winslow found it a challenge to win rounds against some of the most talented racers, but on Saturday night Winslow proved that she could be one of the big dogs.
In the Last Man Standing the winners from each class, then faces off in the big finals. Winslow who had not yet won a race in her division went round after round knocking out some of the best. To her surprise she found herself in her very first finals facing Ervin Askew, with a .047 reaction time Winslow left the line and raced her way to the stripe, giving her the win.
In TOP ET Jesse Casper of Edenton faced Steve Brinkley of Greenville. Casper’s .004 reaction time gave him the advantage that he needed to take the win.
The winners of each class then met for the Title of “Last Man Standing”. Commonly the TOP ET driver has the advantage over the foot breaking Modified driver. “I was excited to get my first win tonight in my class so I told myself, I know that it’s not impossible for me to win the Last Man Standing and my heart would not be broken if I didn’t win, but I wasn’t willing to give up that easily and let the other guy think that he had it easy. I cleared my mind and told myself to do like I always do, just stay focused. It takes one round at a time to win a race. I just have to win this round too.”
With their dial-ins posted, the two drivers rolled into the staging beams, the flash of the lights lit up the tree with green lights for each driver, and Winslow was well on her way. Although Casper ran dead on his dial, Winslow had the better reaction time giving a greatly needed advantage over Casper. “Driving a slower car I knew my light would come on first, but I had to be ready. I needed all the advantage I could get. I had to have a good light and hit all my shift points. I kept looking in my mirror for him thinking that any minute he would be in my site gaining ground on me. So I whopped it a few times to assure myself that I would not break out. As I crossed the finish line I looked up and there it was. The win light was for me. I couldn’t believe that on the night I won my first win in MOD class that I would actually win twice in one night, especially against a TOP ET driver. I love the Pro Tree. My lights were good all night. My best was a .027, I wish we could run the Pro Tree more often, but really at the end of any race day I can say that I am truly blessed. My parents support me all the way. My mom is my biggest cheerleader. I think she gets more nervous than I do when I’m going rounds, and my dad is usually the one who keeps me calm and relaxed. Repeating to me before each round, stay focused, stay safe, I love you and I’m proud of you. He reminds me of the saying that I had painted on my Jr Dragster years ago, “I’m living my dream one round at a time”. You just got to win one round at a time to win a race. On the days I won rounds against some of the veterans of this sport I thought I had accomplished something. I respect the guys out here. They have been supportive and encouraging to me. They have given me advice and helped work on my vehicle not knowing that they might be facing me in the next round. I love this sport and all the really awesome people I have met being a part of it.
Hannah’s passion has been for the safety surrounding drag racing. She is enrolled at Coastal Carolina Community College where she is pursuing a degree in Emergency Management while she also completes her studies to becoming an EMT to Paramedic. She hopes to one day be a part of the Safety Safari Team that works with the NHRA and IHRA teams and tracks in the safety of drag racing.
Next week Northeast will open again its gates to a Bracket Points race in all five classes. Gates will open at 11am with time runs from 1-3 pm and racing to start immediately after time runs. On Sunday May 4 the track will host the “757 Blockfest” an all bike race. Gates will open at 12pm. For more information log on to www.northeastdragway.net.