Walla Walla — Drag racers from across the Inland Northwest have two weeks to prepare in the battle for titles at Walla Walla Drag Strip as the season concludes Sept. 22-24.
Friday, Sept. 22 is a test and tune day on the eight-mile track with a pair of NAPA Points Series events and King of the Track racing the next two days at the NHRA sanctioned facility.
Medical Lake’s Justin Cooper (53 points) is the defending Super Pro champ and is in a battle with Spokane driver Darrell Pasher (47) for that crown in 2023 while driving a 1967 Plymouth Satellite.
Doing double-duty, Cooper is in another race in the Pro Class with current leader Brian Jennen from Spangle, Wash. where Jennen has a 52-43 margin in points.
“Jennen is gonna’ have to have a pretty rough weekend next race in order for Cooper to have a chance to beat him,” track promoter Kasey Kelty wrote in an email. “Cooper and Jennen are dominant racers and both multiple time points champions,” he added.
Jennen and his GTO enjoy a 61-49 lead over Shaun Neal from Adams, Ore and Brit Bann out of Lewiston (45). “Nobody will catch him in Sportsman,” Kelty predicted of Jennen.
Walla Walla runs a pair of Junior Dragster classes, Thunder and Lightning, both focused on young newcomers.
Braxton Bann from Lewiston has a 47-32 margin over Dalton Olson out of Moscow, Idaho in Thunder while Walla Walla’s Jeg Holbrook clings to a 38-33 edge over Adam Upton from Culdesac, Idaho in Lightning.
“Bann is dominating,” Kelty said, with the driver still having one more season before aging out of the class.
Junior Street is a fairly new program offered by NHRA for 13-16-year-old kids to have a chance to race. “It’s a pretty neat program,” Kelty said.
Bella Contreras (19 points) tops that class with Michelle Brown from Yakima, and Gabby Halverson from Kuna, Idaho tied with high points.
Walla Walla has one of the longest histories of any drag strip in Eastern Washington, having hosted races since the summer of 1970 when it was originally known as Bonanza Raceway.
According to its website, in late 2008 it was made known that the drag strip was going to be closed. Not wanting to see this happen, five local businessmen, who were avid racers and fans themselves, decided to purchase the track.
At that time the track was renamed Walla Walla Drag Strip and ownership have been able to make improvements to the track. The first was to lay down 1/8 mile of new concrete track in 2011. In 2013 came new display signs after a lightning storm destroyed the original one.
A peek at the point standings shows Walla Walla draws from a diverse area.
“Yes, we draw out of a large area; there isn’t any population in Walla Walla to drag from,” Kelty explained.
“Even after Spokane (Qlispé Raceway) opened back up, we still draw a lot of racers from that area,” Kelty said.
“We have a lot of racers out of the LC Valley (Lewiston/ Clarkston) too, plus Yakima, Tri Cities, Hermiston and Pendleton. Even a few guys out of the La Grande area,” Kelty added.
Further information on Walla Walla Drag Strip can be found on Facebook or by visiting www.wwdragstrip.com.
Typical scene at the starting line at Walla Walla as a pair of racers head down the track...
The Funny sign at the starting line at Walla Walla. Both getting to 350 mph and stopping after present problems on the 1/8-mile track.
Paul Delaney has been writing about Motorsports in the Pacific Northwest since 1976. He welcomes learning about your racing accomplishments.
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