Pre-1980 Race Cars Featured in 15th Funny Car Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park

If you’re a “gearhead” who longs for the glory days of hot rodding, when every vehicle was unique, when you could tell the difference between a Chevy and a Ford, a Plymouth and a Pontiac, even a Willys and a Fiat, then US 131 Motorsports Park might be worth a visit this weekend (Sept. 7-8).

As part of its 15th annual Funny Car Nationals, “The Fastest Track in Michigan” will feature the cars and drivers of the Nostalgia Drag Racing League including “Rocketman” Robbie Freels of Island, KY, and his 1941 Willys roadster, Michigan’s own Sue Christopherson and her Clarkston-based ’57 Chevy coupe and Gary Leever of Ketterington, OH, and his awesome ’23 Ford T-model.

Coming off a dominating performance at last spring’s NHRA Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, KY, where they swept the major titles, the NDRL drivers will compete in 7.0 second and 7.5 second Index classes, Pro Comp and Pro Gas.

The featured vehicles, all pre-1980 models, run the gamut from ’32 Bantam roadsters to 1937 Chevys to ’67 hemi-Dodges and Plymouths, Dodge Colts, Ford Fairlanes, early model Chevy Camaros and venerable Pontiac GTOs.

Freels is the reigning NDRL champion in the 7.0 class as well as the reigning Hot Rod Reunion champion.  He’ll be joined at US 131 by his sister, Kelly Freels Key, who, not to be outdone, also is the reigning NDRL champ and the newly-crowned Hot Rod Reunion champ in the 7.5 class.

Others include Billy Smith of Pickerington, OH, who drove his roadster to runner-up honors at Bowling Green and who leads the current NDRL points; 2016 Hot Rod Reunion winner Bo Boles of Slaughters, Ky., whose orange-and-white ’23 T currently leads the 7.5 points and Pat Lamont of Lake Villa, IL, who drove his ’23 Chevy to the Pro Comp title this year at the Hot Rod Reunion.

The NDRL drivers will qualify at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Friday and race for points and championships on Saturday.

They’ll share the Friday stage with eight nitromethane-burning nostalgia Funny Cars including John Lawson’s “Runaway” 1970 Camaro, the “Buzzy’s Bomber” ’62 Chevy II driven by Vandalia’s Mark McElwee plus the “Drastic Plastic” and “Moonshine Express” fuel altereds driven by Troy Martin of Chicago, IL, and Gary Kraus of Buffalo, NY.

On Saturday, NHRA touring pro Dom Lagana will join in the action at the wheel of the “Nitro Ninja” Top Fuel dragster in which he set the US 131 quarter mile records at 4.485 seconds and 338.35 miles per hour.  Also featured on Saturday will be Bob Motz and his fire-breathing, jet-powered 1998 Kenworth conventional truck and Rick “The Shoe” Ream of Mansfield, OH, driver of the 1950 bullet-nosed wheelstanding Studebaker firetruck.

Discounted advance tickets are available online at  If purchased by midnight Thursday, Friday adult tickets are just $12, a savings of $3 on the gate price.  Saturday tickets purchased before midnight on Friday are $19, a $6 savings.  Children 6-12 are $5 Friday and $7 Saturday although a $2 discount is available on Saturday tickets purchase on line.  Children under six are free, as always, with a ticketed adult.


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MARTIN, Mich. – A sampling of cars and drivers competing for Nostalgia Drag Racing League points during this week’s 15th annual Funny Car Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park.  Hometowns are Michigan unless otherwise indicated:

7.0 Class – “Rocketman” Robbie Freels, Island, KY, 1941 Willys roadster; Sue Christopherson, Clarkston, Mich., 1957 Chevy coupe; Cory Millet, Piqua, OH, 1932 Bantam roadster; Jeff Sanborn, Shelbyville, TN, roadster; Billy Smith, Pickerington, OH, roadster; Gordon Horn, Rockport, IN, 1963 Corvette; Dick Schmid, Sharonville, OH, roadster; Mark Vaught, Crawfordsville, IN, roadster.

7.5 Class — Kelly Key, Island, KY, 1934 Bantam roadster; Kerry Millet, Piqua, OH, 1941 Willys roadster; Jarrod Bradshaw, Utica, KY, roadster; “BoomBoom” Leonard, Antioch, IL, dragster; David Shaffer, Lincoln, IL, 1932 Fiat Topolino; Justin Shaffer, Lincoln, IL, 1932 Bantam; Bo Boles, Slaughters, KY, 1923 Ford T-model; Wayne Sears, Middletown, OH, roadster.

Pro Comp – Gary Leever, Ketterington, OH, 1923 Ford T-model; Shane Bowman, Albany, IN, 1923 Ford T-model; Pat Lamont, Lake Villa, IL, 1923 Chevy; Jay Rowe, Connersville, IN, 1963 Corvette; Dan Dishon, Logansport, IN, 1927 Ford; Gary Williams, Mattoon, IL, roadster; Davin Reckow, Kingsley, roadster.

Pro Gas – Nick Dishon, Kokomo, IN, 1969 Camaro; Jaxon Messamore, Hanson, KY, 1970 Camaro; Sam Patrick, Sand Point, 1937 Chevy; Bob Perkins, Milton, Ontario, 1967 Dodge Coronet R/T; Kyle Renfroe, Home, 1962 Corvette; Kenny Robinson, Greentown, IN, 1967 Ford Fairlane; Sal Petrulis, Howell, 1972 Dodge Colt.