Cunningham Win Big with MWDRS at St. Louis
ST. LOUIS, MO (Aug. 19, 2020) -- In a final-round clash of
world champions, Sean Bellemeur maintained his perfect
record Aug. 16, by scoring a second-in-as-many-tries Top
Alcohol Funny Car win with the Summit Racing Equipment
Mid-West Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service (MWDRS).
Bellemeur, the two-time and reigning NHRA TAFC champion,
defeated first-time Funny Car pilot and defending NHRA Pro
Mod world champ "Stevie Fast" Jackson for the Domino's
Summer Speed Spectacular title at World Wide Technology
Raceway, near St. Louis.
"Stevie and his team, they're proven champions, so it
didn't surprise me at all they made it to the final,"
Bellemeur said. "He's a great driver, makes waves wherever
he goes and likes doing it, so it was a fun weekend. And
I'm especially glad the outcome turned out the way it
Also on the St. Louis eighth mile, class veteran Tommy
Cunningham scored his first official MWDRS Pro Mod event
title, Marty Blair prevailed over 20 entries in the Pat
Musi Racing Engines Top Sportsman class, and Tim Paap won
over a packed field of 27 entries in the Race Star Wheels
Top Dragster class.
In the American Logo and Sign Jr. Dragster ranks, Brianna
Chancey of Bixby, OK, got the better of Sam Stewart in
Friday night's Pro Jr. Dragster final, but Stewart
rebounded on Saturday with a win of his own over Lauren
Chamberlain in an all-Missouri final. Keeping it in the
family, Stewart's sister, Sarah, also won Friday's
Sportsman Jr. Dragster final over Tyler Wells, then posted
an equally impressive victory over Rylee Clocker in
Saturday's final to sweep the weekend.
Originally scheduled to wrap up on Saturday, just the
opening round of racing was completed before a
late-afternoon storm postponed all remaining eliminations
to the next day.
"I have to give all the credit to all my Mid-West Series
crew: Jimmy Boles, Randy Hancock, Lonnie Grim, Misty
Hayes, Ellen Eshenbacher, as well as everyone at World
Wide Technology Raceway for not skipping a beat," MWDRS
founder and owner Keith Haney said. "They reorganized
everything and got the track back in perfect shape for
Sunday's racing. We wrapped everything up in about
four-and-a-half hours time and sent everyone home happy."
All eyes were on the recently added Top Alcohol Funny Cars
in St. Louis as Jackson made his class debut in a car
owned by Jim and Annie Whiteley and prepared by crew chief
Mike Strasburg. Meanwhile, Jim Whiteley strapped into "The
Shadow," Jackson's screw-blown 2016 Camaro that usually
competes on radial tires, to race on slicks in the MWDRS
Pro Mod class at St. Louis.
A quick learner, Jackson qualified third among seven
entries with a 3.68 at 207.24 mph, behind only Kyle Smith
and Bellemeur on top with a 3.64 at 211.69 combination in
his Steve Boggs-tuned ride. Fourth through seventh
included Bryan Brown, Bob McCosh Jr., Shane Westerfield
and Robbie Massey.
Bellemeur opened with a 3.61-seconds bye run on Saturday,
then posted another 3.61 to get past McCosh and set low
E.T. for the meet, while Jackson ran 3.68 to beat
Westerfield and improved to a 3.62 to oust Smith from the
Unfortunately, despite the showdown everyone anticipated
all weekend long, the TA/FC final was over right at the
starting line. Jackson turned on the dreaded red bulb by
two-thousandths of a second, signifying a false start and
negating a solid 3.64 at 211.03-mph effort while Bellemeur
left with a .012 light, then charged to a 3.63 win at
214.11 mph that also set top speed for the weekend.
"I knew that he had a fast hot rod. And when you go up
there knowing you got to get it on the tree and push it,
sometimes you push too far," Jackson admitted later. "So
yeah, it was two-thousandths away from being a spectacular
Meanwhile, Bellemeur felt he may have staged a little too
quickly, allowing his car's clutch to heat up a little
while Jackson followed to the start line in his convertor-equipped
"I'm not saying he hung me out or anything and I'm
definitely not complaining," Bellemeur stressed. "But my
car started creeping a little and I felt it. So when the
tree came down I saw a red light on and because my car was
creeping I wasn't positive if it was for me or him. Then I
looked up and I saw our win light on, up on the
scoreboard, so I knew, alright, we got this."
Bellemeur added that his entire Tony Bartone-owned Hussey
Performance team also was racing in memory of longtime
shop manager, crewman and team driver Charlie Kominski,
who just last week succumbed to leukemia after
successfully fighting through a recent Covid-19 infection.
"Charlie had a huge role and worked for Tony for a long
time, so it was hard for all of us," Bellemeur said. "It
was kind of good and bad all at the same time that we had
a race so soon after. We knew how difficult it was going
to be our first race without Charlie, so I'm glad we were
able to get it out of the way and get the win for him."
The Pro Mod class also saw a debut driver make it all the
way to the final round as Joey Oksas made his first laps
in the twin-turbocharged '67 Mustang usually driven by his
father, Scott. After running a best of 3.81 at 211.03 in
qualifying, Oksas actually missed the 16-car cut by just
one-thousandth of a second, but was reinserted into 11th
place after Todd Moyer's car broke and was unable to
On top of the field, after 20 entries made qualifying
attempts, was John Camp at 3.68 and 202.94 mph, followed
by defending class champion Aaron Wells, Khalid al
Balooshi, and eventual race winner Cunningham at 3.74 and
Round one of racing saw Oksas score a big holeshot win
over sixth-place starter Whiteley in Jackson's Camaro. He
then eked out a two-thousandths advantage at the finish of
round two courtesy of a second holeshot over Jim Widener
and advanced to meet Cunningham after Wells went red
against him in the semis.
On the opposite side of the ladder, Cunningham overpowered
Jeff Rudolf in the opener before notching his own holeshot
win over Todd Martin, then outlasted Jon Stouffer after
both encountered troubles.
For the final, Oksas again left first with a .015 reaction
time, his best in eliminations, but a 3.74 at 214.48
wasn't quite enough, as Cunningham countered with his
quickest run of the weekend at 3.71 seconds and 200.53 mph
to put the young Oksas on the losing end of a
He credited his dad and crew chief, Larry Cunningham, for
the winning tune-up and thanked his mother, Susan, and
wife, Anita, as his only additional crew members. "I also
have to thank everyone back at Stroud Safety for running
the shop and keeping things going while we're out here
racing," Cunningham added.
"I knew he (Oksas) got out on me, but it was so close at
the end I told Dad I drove it a little further out than
what I normally do. I waited 'til I heard him get out of
it before I got out of it, just in case," he explained.
"I didn't really have much of a clue once we got to the
finish line, so it was great when I learned we'd actually
won. It's our first win in the big show. We've won the
second-chance Slammers race twice before, but this is our
first main-event win with the Mid-West Series, so it feels
In the Pro Mod Slammers class, long-time supporter Kurt
Riffel took the win. This is Kurtís first win with the
MWDRS. Popular with the crowd, Kurtís wife Shelly Riffel
fired up the Pro Mod and drove it back to the pits after
Leaving St. Louis, Clint Satterfield holds the MWDRS Pro
Mod points lead, followed by Wells, Cunningham, Jim
Sackuvich and Martin in the top five. Of course, with two
wins after two races, Bellemeur leads the J&A Service Top
Alcohol Funny Car ranks, with McCosh, Smith and Bryan
Brown following, and the top spot in Pat Musi Racing
Engines Top Sportsman belongs to Blair, with Bob Henry
leading the Race Star Wheels Top Dragster crowd. In the
American Logo & Sign Juniors classes, Brianna Chancey
leads in Pro Junior while Tyler Wells leads in Sportsman
The Summit Mid-West Drag Racing Series--featuring Pro
Modified, Top Alcohol Funny Car, Top Sportsman and Top
Dragster--will return to action Sept. 11-12, at U.S.131
Motorsports Park in Martin, MI, where the Tulsa-based
series will stage a unique double-points event for all
classes prior to the MWDRS World Finals at Osage Casino
Tulsa Raceway Park in October.
Two-time and defending NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car World
Champion Sean Bellemeur qualified number one and went on
to win his second-straight MWDRS TA/FC final against
reigning NHRA Pro Mod World Champion Steve Jackson Aug.
16, at World Wide Technology Raceway, near St. Louis.
Pro Mod superstar "Stevie Fast" Jackson came up just short
of a win Aug. 16, in his debut performance in Top Alcohol
Funny Car at the Summit Racing Mid-West Drag Racing Series
event at World Wide Technology Raceway, near St. Louis.
Kentucky's Tommy Cunningham overcame an early
starting-line advantage by rookie Joey Oksas to win his
first MWDRS Pro Mod final Aug. 16, at World Wide
Technology Raceway, near St. Louis.
Stroud Safety's Tommy Cunningham broke through with his
first MWDRS Pro Mod win Aug. 16, at World Wide Technology
Raceway, near St. Louis.
In honor of fallen crew member Charlie Kominski, Sean
Bellemeur and his Bartone Bros. Racing teammates celebrate
their second-straight Top Alcohol Funny Car win in the
Summit Racing Equipment Mid-West Drag Racing Series
presented by J&A Service.
Marty Blair of Spicewood, TX drove his '96 Corvette to the
Top Sportsman win Aug. 16, at World Wide Technology
Raceway, near St. Louis.
After qualifying 7th in a 27-car field, Tim Paap of
Charleston, IL, outlasted all rivals to pick up the Top
Dragster win Aug. 16, at World Wide Technology Raceway,
near St. Louis.
Photos courtesy MWDRS/Gary Rowe/Damon Steinke
ABOUT THE SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT MID-WEST DRAG RACING
The Summit Racing Equipment Mid-West Drag Racing Series is
an all-eighth-mile, no-profit organization funded entirely
through marketing partnerships and passed along to benefit
MWDRS host tracks (typically about $10,000). The Mid-West
Drag Racing Series also provides trackside sponsor banners
to be displayed at each event, on-site PA sponsor
announcements, and links to each company on the MWDRS
website (www.MidWestProModSeries.com), plus an extensive
social-media presence, texts and e-mail blasts, and
commercials during all events. Complete class rules are
posted on the MWDRS website.