IHRA Takes Grand Bend By Storm

By Shayna Keller

(GRAND BEND, ON) – After two consecutive runner-up finishes, Pro Stock driver Trevor Eman earned the first IHRA Drag Racing Series victory of his career Sunday at the IHRA Mopar Canadian Nationals presented by Williams Racing.  Jay Turner (Nitro Motorcycle), Mark Sanders (AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car), and Billy Harper (Pro Mod) also won their respective titles at Grand Bend Motorplex.

Eman was the runner up at both the IHRA Good Vibrations Texas Nationals in April and last week’s President’s Cup Nationals in Mechanicsville, MD. He defeated JR Carr in the final round.

“It feels really nice to get the win,” Eman said.  “It’s one of the furthest races from home so we are antsy to get home and share it with everybody. Last weekend in Budds Creek was tough for us. We blew a motor, made it to the final with a backup motor, scraped the wall in the final, went back to South Carolina to patch everything back up and fixed the motor. After 48 hours, we got back in the truck to come here so to make it all happen today is very satisfying. The third time’s the charm.”

Mark Sanders gets under way in the Nitro Funny Car finals during the IHRA's 2016 Mopar Nationals at the Grand Bend Motor Speedway in  Grand Bend, ON, on 26 June 2016. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Mark Sanders gets under way in the Nitro Funny Car finals during the IHRA’s 2016 Mopar Nationals at the Grand Bend Motor Speedway in Grand Bend, ON, on 26 June 2016.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Sanders, who also won the 2015 Mopar Canadian Nationals, won the AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car title with a 5.725-second effort on a final-round single run. Fellow finalist and No. 1 qualifier Jason Rupert broke on the starting line and was unable to make the run.

This year marked the third-consecutive year that Sanders and Rupert met in the Mopar Canadian Nationals final round.

“The car was right down the boardwalk here at the IHRA Canadian Nationals,” Sanders said. “We made five runs in the 5.70s and never hurt anything. It was a great crowd at a great place and a great win. Our car went down the left lane, but I know everybody was picking the right lane. If they say, ‘What lane do you want?’ I look at the crowd, and I want to be closest to the crowd. That Ford Mustang’s gonna go right down Broadway, and it did this weekend.”

Jay Turner catches some air but managed to win the Nitro Motorcycle finals against Tracy Kile during the IHRA's 2016 Mopar Nationals at the Grand Bend Motor Speedway in  Grand Bend, ON, on 26 June 2016. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Jay Turner catches some air but managed to win the Nitro Motorcycle finals against Tracy Kile during the IHRA’s 2016 Mopar Nationals at the Grand Bend Motor Speedway in Grand Bend, ON, on 26 June 2016.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Turner, who won the Good Vibrations Texas Nationals in April in Nitro Motorcycle, won his second race of the season at the Mopar Canadian Nationals with a final-round win over Tracy Kile. With the win, Turner increased his points lead over Randal Andras, but it wasn’t easy.

It was a struggle,” Turner said. “Every round, it was something; spark plug, blowing out the heads, starter cards, fuel-system boxes, oil pump, everything. Every round was a struggle. The final round was smooth. I think we just willed it to the winner’s circle. It wanted us to quit, but we weren’t quitting.”

Billy Harper beats out Bruce Boland in the Pro Mod finals during the IHRA's 2016 Mopar Nationals at the Grand Bend Motor Speedway in  Grand Bend, ON, on 26 June 2016. Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Billy Harper beats out Bruce Boland in the Pro Mod finals during the IHRA’s 2016 Mopar Nationals at the Grand Bend Motor Speedway in Grand Bend, ON, on 26 June 2016.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Harper won his second Pro Mod race of the 2016 season with a final-round win over No. 1 qualifier Bruce Boland. Like Turner, he also took top honours at the Good Vibrations Texas Nationals in April.

Since he was the only top-five Pro Mod driver competing in the Mopar Canadian Nationals, Harper will enjoy a significantly larger points lead following the event.

“It’s great. The car’s just on rails,” Harper said. “The crew I’ve got had it set up, and my job’s easy; just let the clutch out and hang on. It’s been a great weekend, and I love the fans up here. We need this in the US where we can get all the fans back at the track. The guys (Canadian Pro Mod racers) up here are a fun bunch of guys. They’re great to race with. We’re hoping we can get them to the States to race with us some.”

In the quarter-mile Top Fuel exhibition, Todd Paton made the quickest pass of the weekend Friday night when he needed just 4.852 seconds to reach the finish line at 278.20mph. With the quickest Top Fuel pass of the weekend, Paton wins the Top Fuel exhibition.

To view the complete results, click here.

The 2016 IHRA Drag Racing Series season continues next month at the IHRA Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals presented by Good Vibrations July 15-17 at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton, AB. The three-day show will feature AMSOIL Nitro Funny Cars, Pro Mod, Nitro Motorcycles, Pro 6.95, a Top Fuel exhibition, and Summit Pro-Am Sportsman racing.

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata
Ian writes for and provides imagery to Square Media Group as well as accepting freelance photographic assignments. In addition, he has contributed to media organizations, sporting groups, and individuals across North America including the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Chatham-Kent Sports Network, the Golf Association of Michigan, League 1 Ontario, as well as numerous colleges and universities in Canada and the United States. Email Ian Shalapata