There was some literal “Hall of Fame” action from Chevrolet drag racers during the 2017 Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals held at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 31-April 2, 2017.
That marquee annual event featured some significant Sportsman-level victories, not the least of which were the first ever NHRA national event wins by Chris Hall and Dean Hall. (Chris and Dean are not related.)
Chris Hall (based out of Utah), racing his classic 1970 Camaro in B/SA (which was previously featured in Chevy High Performance’s Straight Line Spotlight) turned away all of the Stock Eliminator competition driving his high-flying machine. In the final round, Chris cut a perfect .000 reaction time, defeating Phil Mandella Jr. (Upland, California), racing a G/SA 1969 Chevelle.
The Top Sportsman win went to Corvette racer Dean Hall (Guerneville, California) taking his 1963 model to victory when he defeated Pacific Coast area class stalwart Ed Olpin in that final round. Hall got his super-cool nitrous assisted, Korbel California Brandy-sponsored machine away first (.006 reaction time) and ran a winning 7.295 e.t. to hold off Olpin’s 7.160 elapsed time in his Camaro.
The event’s Lucas Oil Division Sportsman Super Gas final round also featured an all-Chevy final round pairing. In that altitude-corrected (10.10) index class, victory went to Texan Rick Cates who drove his 2007 Corvette past Colorado’s Tim Parker driving his Camaro. Cates’ win was his first at the NHRA national event level and came from the No. 5 qualifying position. Parker’s runner-up placing was remarkable as it came while debuting his brand-spanking-new Chevy Camaro.
In Pro Stock racing, it was business as usual of sorts as Chevrolet Camaro cars continued their domination with the brand remaining undefeated for 2017 event wins so far.
Saturday’s race schedule included the highly prestigious and lucrative annual running of the K&N Horsepower Challenge for Pro Stock cars. That eight-car specialty shootout went to Greg Anderson (North Carolina) driving his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro past Shane Gray’s Valvoline-sponsored Camaro to collect the $50,000 First place payout. Anderson clocked a winning 6.684 e.t. at 205.47 mph compared to Gray’s 6.699 at 206.26 mph run.
The next day, however, the Gray Motorsports team did earn some very nice redemption when Tanner Gray, Shane’s son, and at only 17 years old, became the youngest driver ever to win in NHRA Pro Stock class history. Tanner beat Bo Butner (in yet another all-Chevy Camaro final round) on a holeshot (.010 reaction time) 6.681 at 206.61 to Butner’s (.088 r.t.) 6.678 at 206.76.
“I can’t thank everybody enough,” the upstart younger Gray said. “My crew is definitely the reason I’m here. I only do a small part. This [Pro Stock racing] was something I’ve wanted to do since I was real young and I finally got the opportunity to do it. When I started this deal I told my dad I wanted to be the youngest Pro Stock winner, and to be able to do that feels really cool.”
Rounding out the Chevy brand success for the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals was a dominating win in the Top Alcohol Funny Car class category by Shane Westerfield (Anaheim, California). Shane collected his sixth career NHRA TAFC title when he beat Doug Gordon in the all-Chevy Camaro title round bout. Westerfield’s event win, in his Carrillo-sponsored car, came from the No. 1 qualifying position.
Check out our extensive event photo gallery from the 2017 Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals.