Camaro Cage Match!
The battle for 2015 championship supremacy within the IHRA’s AmsOil Nitro Funny Car class category was a ferocious one that featured a seesaw season-long battle between two Camaro-bodied cars. Ohio based racer Mike McIntire Jr., driving his McAttack 1970 model, vaulted from the 2015 season gate in astounding fashion, winning convincingly four of the first five IHRA races of the year to build what was seemingly an insurmountable points lead by mid-season. But McIntire Jr.’s primary challenger was the formidable Jason Rupert-driven Bays & Rupert Black Plague 1969 Camaro, the defending 2014 IHRA Nitro FC champion. Beginning with an event held in Spokane, Washington, in July, Rupert began to turn the tables, and from that point on it was the California-based racer who was the relentless one. Once he got on a roll, Rupert went on to win five of the remaining seven series events and clinched a second-consecutive IHRA AmsOil (presented by Aeromotive) Nitro Funny Car title during a dramatic season-ending World Finals event held in Memphis in October. Rupert put some icing on his championship season cake at that race by running the quickest time of the season for the IHRA fan-favorite class category—at a world record setting 5.595 e.t.—uber quick within the Nostalgia Nitro FC racing ranks.
Virginia is for (Chevy) Lovers
Nick Chiles’ 2009 Chevy Cobalt (from Reedville, Virginia) is part of an impressive multicar drag racing team. Originally owned by Anthony Bertozzi and built by East Texas Race Cars, Nick has been racing his SS/BS-classed car extensively since first purchasing the vehicle in 2012. Depending on event attended, Chiles races with either one of two engine programs (316 ci or 326 ci), both of which have exceeded 800 hp on the dyno after being expertly built by ex-Pro Stock racer Joe Clark. This Cobalt is capable of running in the 8.9 e.t. zone at 150+ mph. Nick, along with his family orientated crew, which includes his father, Dave; mother, Fran; sister Michelle, brother-in-law Brian Martel, and close friend Andrew Jenkins, is highly active on the East Coast. Racing it extensively in both the NHRA Lucas Oil and IHRA Pro-Am event tours, the Cobalt has seen some very impressive finishes. That includes a huge Super Stock win at NHRA Englishtown in 2012 (with Brian Martel driving it) and both an IHRA Sportsman Nationals win and Divisional Pro Am championship title in 2013 with Nick at the wheel. For 2015, the car received a stunning new paint scheme designed by Greg Russell (GRD) and applied by Chris DePascale. The Cobalt currently receives its primary sponsorship from Mickey Thompson Tires and Function Enterprises, and is part of an overall six-car drag racing team—five of which are Chevrolets. Chiles’s racing career, which first began with record-setting numbers of event wins as a Junior Dragster racer, will enter his 15th season beginning in 2016.
A Clever Cavalier
Newburgh, New York, is home base to one of the most creative Chevy Cavalier Top Sportsman cars in the nation. Raced by Bill Janke, who owns a plumbing and heating company (Hunter & Janke), Bill has been racing his Jerry Bickel-built car since starting out with it in 2007. Featuring a naturally aspirated 708ci engine built by legendary Chevrolet Pro Stock racer Frank Iaconio, that engine produces 1,450 hp. The car, which focuses its racing primarily within NHRA’s Northeast Division One, has received some updates (some being of top-secret nature) from C&F Racecars (Pleasant Valley, New York). It also features a stunning paint scheme designed and applied by Korek Designs (New Berlin, Pennsylvania). Bill’s grassroots racing operation, which is funded totally independently, includes his wife, Meredith; 10-year-old son Gavin; crew chief Chris Regan, and close family friends Doug and Kyle. The best time for the race car to date is 6.92 seconds at 203 mph, which came using a Powerglide transmission. In late 2015, during the marquee annual All Sportsman drag racing NHRA Dutch Classic event held at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania, Bill and his crew were rewarded with their biggest day yet when their Cavalier tamed a ferocious Top Sportsman field. “That was our first time ever going to the final and my first win,” Bill confirmed. “It was the happiest moment of my racing career so far.”