WDRA Crowns 2023 Summit World Champions
An elite field of racers traveling from across the United States and Canada converge in South Carolina to add their names to bracket racing history by conquering the first World Drag Racing Alliance (WDRA) Summit World Championships presented by SunCoast Performance. Summit Racing Equipment is the title sponsor for the quarter million dollar Sportsman Drag Racing Series which rewards local bracket racers who qualify to compete at the end-of-the-year championship event. Every qualifier receives $500 cash to aid in offsetting the travel costs and each round the payouts multiply eventually reaching thousands of dollars in each class. Box and No Box champions earn $20,000 each while the Sportsman and Junior Dragster champions leave with $10,000 each.
Clear blue skies, sunshine, and a steady wind spread throughout the host track, Darlington Dragway, on Saturday as drivers prepared for five rounds of competition where each opponent had already accumulated the word Champion on their racing resume. WDRA President, Skooter Peaco, explains the skill it takes to qualify for the WDRA Summit World Championships by saying, “The amount of talent gathered together this weekend from across the US and Canada is incredible. We founded the WDRA to specifically support the bracket racers and the tracks they call home. This weekend was a dream realized for us and a lot of memories were made for our racers and their families.”
The No Box class consisted of both footbrake competitors and bottom bulb racers leaving with a transbrake but without the assistance of a delay box. The quarterfinalists included Brandon Iamele, Kaden Jenkins, Jeff Kerl, Allan Holloway, Mike Howell, Donnie Hagar, Tommy Duff, and Charlie White. Four advancing drivers met in the semifinal and the first pair results in Iamele launching and quickly watching his win light illuminate when Howell leaves a red light shining on the tree. Duff is .004 and runs two above his dial beside Hagar who is .005 and two above also, but Hagar gets to the finish line by five thousandths to advance into his second consecutive final round of the event.
Two Northern natives face off in the South with $20,000 and a WDRA World Championship title on the line. Empire Dragway track champion Iamele runs dead on after his red light start while Hagar is .028 green to take the win while representing US 131 Motorsports Park. Hagar adds World Champion to his incredible 2023 season which includes his second consecutive No Box track championship, the Million Dollar Drag Race main event victory, and the Laris Motorsports Insurance free $5,000 win yesterday. Over two days, Donnie Hagar turned on the win light eleven rounds in a row in an impressive show of talent deserving of the WDRA No Box World Championship, WDRA Rod trophy, and Champion Card.
The Box class eventually dwindled to eight remaining drivers in a mix of door cars and dragsters. Matthew McDaniel, Parker Dotson, Jared Ledford, Kevin Crawford, Rodney Gomes, Jared Micetich, Kevin Knight, and Jeff Sobczynski. The winners would return in round four where Crawford is .006 red to advance McDaniel who breaks out on the solo shot. Knight also leaves the line too soon while Ledford is green and runs dead on to advance in an attempt to become a World Champion for the second year in a row.
The Northern door car versus Southern dragster final features McDaniel from Farmington Dragway staging his father’s dragster beside the wheel standing Camaro of Ledford who traveled from Mid Michigan Motorplex. All the anticipation is over on the starting line when Ledford is .009 red in front of McDaniel who is .021 and runs dead on his 4.66 dial for the prestigious win. Matthew McDaniel earns the $20,000 purse, WDRA Rod trophy, WDRA Champion Card, and most importantly, WDRA Box World Champion title during his first trip to a world final event.
One of the most interesting classes on the property is the Junior Dragster division where drivers from the ages of eight to eighteen have earned the chance to battle on the big stage. The quarterfinalists include Evan Muchler, Samantha Chatwood, Alex Selleck, Stephen Rodgers, Phillip Jones, Grace Varner, and Wesley Clark on the bye run. Four kids turn on their respective win lights and return for the semifinal when Muchler is .011 on the tree and runs one above to take the .005 margin of victory over Chatwood who was .028 and dead on with a three. Clark goes .010 red to end his day while Selleck slowly makes his way down the track and runs 11.99 off his 11.97 dial for the win.
It was an all Michigan final round when Muchler from US 131 Motorsports Park lines up beside Selleck who was representing Mid Michigan Motorplex. The younger driver leaves first with a .032 light and soon becomes a World Champion when Muchler turns on the dreaded red light by one ten-thousandth of a second and coasts across the finish line. Alex Selleck becomes the WDRA Junior Dragster World Champion at only eight years old and picks up $10,000 cash and the eight pound WDRA Rod trophy as a third grade student. Winning is no surprise to the juvenile driver as he earned the Mid Michigan track championship for the second year during his racing career, which has only been two years so far.
Footbrake competitors in what is considered the slower side of the field these days clashed in the Sportsman class where Brad Perkins, Jeff Taylor, Virginia Bohanon, Brandon Cox, and Robbie Philbeck created the quarterfinal round. Only three drivers kept their hopes of winning alive and advanced into the semifinal. Perkins is .007 red in his 11-second Chevrolet to advance Philbeck who was .015 red leaving second in his Mustang. Cox cruised his large Lincoln down the eighth mile with a .007 reaction time on his bye run.
Drivers from Pennsylvania and North Carolina met in the $10,000 Sportsman final round as Cox from Keystone Raceway Park pulled up beside Philbeck, who was representing Union County Dragway. Cox is dialed 11.17 and leaves with a .040 light but Philbeck patiently waits to crush his third amber with a .002 reaction time and runs one above for the win. Robbie Philbeck captures the WDRA Sportsman World Championship, WDRA Rod trophy, WDRA Champion Card and ten thousand dollars, which he says is the highest paying win of his career.
Four WDRA World Champions each representing different WDRA member tracks from Michigan, South Carolina, and North Carolina have made history during the new sanctioning body’s inaugural season. The event atmosphere embodied everything that is great about the drag racing community and the connections made within the sport.
Even though there could only be one winner in each class, the sportsmanship among drivers was evident through high fives and congratulations in the winner’s circle celebrations. Peaco remarks, “We couldn’t be prouder of the Alliance right now and all we accomplished together this weekend.”
For more information on the WDRA and Summit Sportsman Drag Racing Series, visit our website at www.racewdra.com.