MONTGOMERY, Ala. --
Three time NHRA Winston Top Fuel Champion Shirley Muldowney was on hand for the Mayor's Cup Federal-Mogul Drag Racing event at Montgomery Motorsports Park this weekend. Muldowney's weekend kicked off with a press conference on Friday afternoon at the track. Shirley, coming off her recent appearance at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, answered questions from the media and talked about her first round lost to Doug Kalitta.
"It was great to go up against Doug and Connie, especially in Indy," Muldowney said with a smile. (Connie Kalitta serves as crew chief on nephew Doug's Top Fuel Dragster). "We had them covered and had won the race when the front of the car just came up on me. I lifted immediately and when the car came back down it broke the wheel and pulled me across the center line which disqualified us."
Muldowney was scheduled to run a match race against Terry Mullins this weekend at Montgomery but her car was badly damaged and the team was unable to make the repairs. However, to the delight of her fans, Muldowney signed over 500 autographs and took pictures with fans for over three hours Saturday afternoon.
Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright issued a proclamation naming Saturday, September 9th as Shirley Muldowney Day in Montgomery.
"The track and the people here are fabulous, I'm really impressed. I'll be back next year with my car, for sure," said Muldowney.
In a starting line ceremony Saturday night, Muldowney was joined by George Howard with Montgomery Motorsports Park, Jim Byard, Mayor of Prattville and Tallassee Mayor Bobby Payne to welcome out the crowd and kick off the night's festivities. Mayor Payne presented Howard with a Key to the City of Prattville and thanked him for everything he has brought to, and done for the community.
The fans were promised a top fuel match race and with the uncertainty of Muldowney's car, Montgomery Motorsports Park General Manager George Howard brought in the Peek Bros. Top Fuel car driven by Jim Cavalieri to run against Terry Mullins to see who would be the first driver to run 300 mph at Montgomery.
The 300-mph barrier never fell but the fans were treated to two spectacular side by side top fuel drag races. Mullins took the first race with a speed of 299.30 mph in 4.83 seconds to Cavalieri's 5.05 second, 279-mph pass. Cavalieri came back in the final race of the night with a 4.87 second run passing Mullins just before the finish line as Mullins blew his motor sending a ball of fire into the night.
Marty Thacker won on consecutive hole-shots to take the Federal-Mogul Dragster Championship at the Mayor's Cup Saturday night at Montgomery Motorsports Park. Thacker recorded reaction times of .412 and .424 to take out the quicker Troy Buff and number one qualifier Lee Callaway respectively.
In his semi-final pass, Thacker ran 5.829 seconds at 238.53 mph to Buff's quicker 5.796 at 244.29. He then took out Callaway in the final with a run of 5.830, 235.91 to Callaway's 5.781, 238.22.
"This is great," exclaimed Thacker as he climbed from his car. "Everybody did there job this weekend. Hats off to my crew. The car was consistent all day with 5.80's and I did my job with the driving. This is great!"
Tate Branch made his own trip to the winner's circle with a win in the Federal-Mogul Funny Car category when he left Chuck Chessman at the starting line and clocked a 4.972 second run at 244.16 mph. Chessman hurt the car at the starting line and was no match for the stronger Branch Team out of New Mexico. The win moves Branch into the points lead ahead of former Funny Car National Champ Tony Bartone in the South Central Division with the division's final event coming up September 22-24 in Noble, Oka.
"The car was a little soft the last two rounds," said Branch after the win. "We just wanted to run our race and that's what we did. We'll take the lead over to Noble and see what happens. I've heard Bartone isn't going, but you know Todd (Simpson) will be there and looking to knock us off."
Lee Callaway and Chuck Cheeseman each took home $1,000 from R J Reynolds and The Winston Top Qualifier Award. Callaway ran a 5.695 second at 242.91 mph to land him in the number one spot in Federal-Mogul Dragster while Cheeseman was clocked at 5.799 at 246.03 in his Federal-Mogul Funny Car. Also receiving a check from Winston were Larry Pritchett in Comp., Jerry Silveus in Super Stock, and Olin Welborn in Stock Eliminator.
Joe LoCicero presented Wittnauer clock trophies to the John Brener
Race Team for the Wittnauer Best Appearing Crew Award and to Dan Morrow and
his 2000 Super Gas Corvette for the Wittnauer Best Apearing Car Award.
Corky Markwart's '38 roadster won the Best Engineered award which was
presented by NHRA's Southeast Division Director Bill Holt.