Canadian Drag Racing Update
Many have tried before him, but it will be the name Kenny Lang that the annals of drag racing history will show as being the very first Canadian World Champion in Pro Modified class racing.
Lang was assured the title when his closest season series rival, New York’s Mike Castellana, suffered an unexpected center line disqualification during round one of eliminations. That mathematically made Lang the 2008 World Champ. From there he proceeded on to a strong semi-final round finish at the World Finals event.
“Back in the Spring I felt we had things in place to do this (Championship),” Lang reflected. “I had
a great car, great crew and I had Al Billes with us for the season. By far we don’t have anywhere near the most money out there but we overcame that with great chemistry and high determination.”
After stumbling out of the season gate with
a first round loss at San Antonio TX last March, the team’s fortunes took a big turn for the better when they won back-to-back events at Rockingham NC and Milan MI. In the end they won three times on the season tour, had three more “final four” finishes and qualified at all ten IHRA national events. In the final tally their points total of 771 beat out 2nd place Castellana by 64 points.
“There is no doubt that Al Billes is our biggest asset,” Lang continued. “I needed a reliable engine program and I needed horsepower – and he provided both. We ran the whole season with one motor and we never oiled the track or had
a black flag penalty. Nine times out of ten the car went down the race track. That is a credit to my all volunteer crew. They spent a lot of time and energy to get this accomplished.”
The IHRA World Championship title was also a rewarding development for Al Billes, whose tuning reputation within drag racing has reached modern day legendary status. Billes, from Barrie, ON., had come close to the IHRA Pro Mod title as a driver, finishing 2nd in final World points twice during the 1990’s.
“I guess this is some consolation because
it didn’t happen to me as a driver,” Billes said. “So it feels good to get it as a tuner. It felt like it was a long time coming – I’m very happy for Kenny and his guys. They did an awesome job without a lot of money.”
Late Season Lightning Strikes!The reputation of Canada’s drag racing scene received a huge late season boost during the concluding two IHRA national events of the season held at Epping NH and Rockingham NC. Both of those events featured memorable and first ever Top Fuel class victories for the upstart new racing combination of Tim Boychuk (Edmonton AB) and Barry Paton (Paris, ON). By prevailing, the budding new team became the first Canadians to win a Top Fuel race in IHRA since Gary Beck did it in 1983 and overall since Frank Hawley (in NHRA in 1990).
For Boychuk, who at Epping was making only his 4th career start as a Top Fuel driver, the wins helped to deliver a lifelong dream for his team owner, Barry Paton. Both victories featured strong driving and solid tuning decisions.
“We very exciting about our late season success,” said Boychuk. “There is no doubt that we exceeded our expectations. ”
Boychuk himself has developed quickly into a very capable Top Fuel driver. Both his IHRA event wins have included hole shot win lights during eliminations. That is something that has not gone unnoticed.
“I don’t think these wins should be totally unexpected,” added Barry Paton. “Tim has spent the last decade racing sprint cars and alcohol Funny Cars. He has a natural ability which I think is just beginning to show itself.”
The team, which also dabbled in some late season NHRA POWERade circuit competition is now busy firming up plans for 2009.
“We will run the IHRA circuit, but we would also like to run more NHRA events,” Tim added. “In the IHRA I think we can hold our own but in NHRA it’s a lot tougher to compete with our current budget. To carry on in NHRA we need to find financial help and that is going to be a big focus for us during the off-season.”