JOLIET, Ill. (June 2) – In the 2009 edition of the JEGS Allstars competition, the $20,000 top prize awarded to the overall winning team wasn’t claimed until the final run of the event when reigning NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster champ Bill Reichert turned on the win light to seal a narrow victory for the host team from the North Central Division. Reichert’s final round victory over Chris Demke gave the title to the home team by just one round; denying the North Central Division team what would have been their fourth-consecutive title. That type of 11th hour drama has become commonplace in the JEGS Allstars event, an annual competition featuring the sport’s best Lucas Oil Series racers, held each year during the United Association Route 66 Nationals in Joliet.
Racers can qualify for the JEGS Allstars by earning points during a yearlong battle within their home divisions. Each team is composed of one racer in the following NHRA eliminators; Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, Competition Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street, and new for 2010, Top Dragster and Top Sportsman. In addition, the reigning JEGS Allstars champions are invited to return each year as (non-points earning) blockers. The racers compete for a share of nearly $120,000 including a $20,000 bonus which is split among the winning team.
As is often the case with an Allstar event in any sport, there are no “easy outs” to be had as each driver who has qualified for the team has done so on his or her own merit. Some of the brightest stars in the field include 13-time NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car champion Frank Manzo, who will be gunning for his eighth JEGS Allstars title and Bill Reichert, the defending JEGS Allstars Top Alcohol Dragster champion and the winner of four-straight NHRA world championships.
In order to better his own record, Manzo will have to outlast a field that includes Southeast Division champ Mickey Ferro, rising North Central Division star Andy Bohl, and West Coast heavyweight Steve Gasparrelli, who will be representing the Pacific Division.
Likewise, Reichert will find it tough to repeat his 2009 title as he will have to stop Shawn Cowie, who ran the table in the Northwest Division last season and Duane Shields, the current points leader for the class. Also in the Top Alcohol Dragster field are Jim Whiteley, of the Pacific Division team and newcomer Malcom Wahle, who is one of the favorites for the South Central Division team.
The Comp eliminator class is also stacked with talent including defending event and national champion Bruno Massel, Northeast Division ace Frank Aragona Jr., successful team owner Arnie Martel and former U.S. Nationals winner Doug Lambeck.
Some of the other drivers who bear watching at this year’s event include Northeast Division Super Stock driver Joe Santangelo, who is currently ranked second in the class, touring sportsman driver Mark Faul, who will be representing the Northwest Division in Stock and reigning NHRA Super Gas champion Ray Connolly, who will be aiming to lead the North Central Division to a repeat championship.
The newest NHRA eliminators, Top Sportsman and Top Dragster, also figure to generate a lot of attention with their six-second, 200 mph performances. The Top Sportsman field will include South Central Division rep Keith Raftery, who is one of the class’ most successful drivers and Ricky Adkins, an accomplished sportsman driver who finished second in last year’s North Central Division points competition. The Top Dragster class will feature 20-year old Ray Miller III, who will be representing the Southeast Division in both Top Dragster and Super Comp.
JEGS Allstars Fast Fasts
At the age of 20, Ray Miller III is the youngest competitor in this year’s JEGS Allstars field. Miller, who represents the Southeast Division, is also the only driver qualified in two classes, Super Comp and Top Dragster.
The only woman in this year’s JEGS Allstars field is Jackie Alley, who will be representing the Northwest Division in Super Stock.
Northeast Division Super Gas representative Jason Kenny enters the JEGS Allstars on a hot streak, having won the last two Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events.
Defending JEGS Allstars Comp champ Bruno Massel will return to this year’s event as a blocker. His father, Bruno, won the JEGS Allstars Super Comp title in 1989.
Other than the reigning champions, who are automatically eligible to return this year as blockers, the only other former JEGS Allstars champion in this year’s field is Southeast Division Super Stock racer Mike Crutchfield, who won in 1990.
Current NHRA pros Jeg Coughlin Jr., Morgan Lucas, Shawn Langdon, Rod Fuller, and Spencer Massey are all former winners of the JEGS Allstars race.
South Central Division Super Stock rep Gary Emmons has three brothers, Harvey, Terry, and Jerry, who are all former JEGS Allstars winners.
The Northwest Division team won their first JEGS Allstars overall team title in 1998 and did not win again until 2005.
Frank Manzo has won four of the last five JEGS Allstars Top Alcohol Funny Car titles
By The Numbers
JEGS Allstars Edition
0 – JEGS Allstars Team Championships for Divisions 5 and 7.
5 – Former or current World Champions represented in this year’s JEGS Allstars competition
6 – JEGS Allstars Team Championships for Divisions 1, 2, and 3
7 – JEGS Allstars wins for Top Alcohol Funny Car racer Frank Manzo, the most of any driver
18 – Appearances for Frank Manzo in JEGS Allstars competition, the most of any driver
29 – U.S. states represented in this year’s JEGS Allstars event (along with 3 Canadian provinces)
80 – Competitors in this year’s JEGS Allstars, the biggest field in the 26-year history of the event
119 – Dollars, in thousands, awarded to this year’s JEGS Allstars participants
Scott “Woody” Woodruff
JEGS, Director of Media & Motorsports
Office: 800.345.4545 (#3, ext 412)
Email: email@example.com -or- firstname.lastname@example.org