FREDERICKSBURG, VA – Laris Motorsports Insurance, a racer-owned insurance company specializing in motorsports, has been named the official insurance provider of the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA). Laris Motorsports Insurance will also serve as the presenting sponsor of the PDRA’s Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster and Lucas Oil Top Dragster classes in 2022.
“Just like the PDRA, Laris Motorsports Insurance is a company for racers, by racers,” said Will Smith, marketing director, PDRA. “They really understand what racers need from an insurance policy. I know a few of their customers already compete in the PDRA, and I’m sure many more of our racers will be interested in learning more about covering their equipment through Laris Motorsports Insurance.”
Laris Motorsports Insurance is an extension of the Laris Insurance Agency, a fourth-generation south Louisiana multiline insurance agency. Members of the Laris family have been drag racing for over 30 years, with numerous NHRA sportsman racing accomplishments to their name. The family created Laris Motorsports Insurance to offer policies to racers that would specifically cover race cars and racing equipment, with coverage extending from the race shop to the racetrack. On-track coverage is also available.
FREDERICKSBURG, VA – It took a near-dominant season for Tim Essick and his ProCharger-boosted “Brown Sugar” ’18 Mustang to win the first-ever Drag 965 Pro Street world championship in the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA). The Outlaw 10.5 veteran’s commitment to the new class paid off, as he won four races and set the record twice to claim the title.
“It’s so special,” Essick said of the championship. “Just to be able to do it the first time out is just phenomenal. I want to repeat it. I want to be like [Jim] Halsey. Keep having [the class] and I’ll keep coming.”
Essick, who built his fan-favorite car in his own home garage, reached the final round at the season-opening East Coast Nationals presented by FuelTech, losing the round to championship rival Jesse Lambert. He went on to win the DeCerbo Construction American Doorslammer Challenge presented by Callies at Norwalk, where he also set a new class record, before suffering a first-round loss at his home race, the North vs. South Shootout presented by Line-X at Maryland International Raceway.
FREDERICKSBURG, VA – An increasingly competitive $hameless Racing Pro Outlaw 632 class made sure Wes Distefano didn’t have an easy road to his second consecutive Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) world championship. Still, Distefano made it look easy with four wins and three runner-up finishes in the eight-race 2021 PDRA season.
“It’s not that we expected to come out and win the championship again,” Distefano said. “We fought and we enjoyed the challenge and the adversity and we just worked through it right up until it was clinched. We never took it for granted. We just worked and did our job. As soon as it was done, it was on to the next thing. We wanted to win the next race.”
The first of three runner-up finishes came at the season-opening East Coast Nationals presented by FuelTech at GALOT Motorsports Park. At the next race, the inaugural Stroud Safety Doorslammer Derby presented by Classic Graphix at Beech Bend Raceway Park, Distefano qualified No. 1, crushed the class E.T. record, and won the event.
FREDERICKSBURG, VA – In just his second year in Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) competition, New Hampshire native Nick Meloni came close to winning a pair of world championships. Driving for car owner Tommy Zarella, Meloni won the MagnaFuel Top Sportsman world championship and finished second in Lucas Oil Top Dragster points.
“Honestly, this year was really just a dream year all around,” said Meloni, who ran Top Sportsman in the early 2000s and returned to competition in 2020. “It was one of those years where I had really solid cars. When I needed to be good, I was good, and when I needed to be lucky, I was lucky.”
In Top Sportsman, Meloni drove the Nesbitt-powered TT Motorsports ’69 Camaro to event wins at the DeCerbo Construction American Doorslammer Challenge presented by Callies at Norwalk and the P2 Contracting Northern Nationals presented by P2 Racing at Maple Grove. He added runner-up finishes at the Stroud Safety Doorslammer Derby presented by Classic Graphix in Kentucky and the North vs. South Shootout presented by Line-X in Maryland. He clinched the championship at Proline Racing DragWars presented by Modern Racing at GALOT Motorsports Park.
FREDERICKSBURG, VA – Despite a top-end crash at one of the last races of the 2021 Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) season, Kevin Rivenbark was able to maintain his points lead long enough to secure his third Penske/PRS Pro Boost presented by WS Construction world championship. It was also the third consecutive title and fifth overall PDRA world championship for the GALOT Motorsports team.
“Every championship that we win proves what kind of team and effort we put into it,” said Rivenbark, who won his other championships in 2016 and 2019. “Everybody says if you get so many championships, it’s just another thing, and it is to a certain extent. It’s still a feeling of accomplishment for me as a person or as a team for GALOT and Proline Racing. It’s hard to put it in words. I don’t want to say it’s expected now, but at the same you know you’ve been on top and you don’t have anywhere to go but down. You just have to push harder to keep that momentum going to stay on top.”
Rivenbark in his ProCharger-boosted GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro kicked off the season with a runner-up finish at the East Coast Nationals presented by FuelTech at GALOT Motorsports Park. He added semifinal appearances at the next two races, then a second-round loss in Maryland. Back-to-back event wins followed at the Summer Shootout presented by Ty-Drive and the P2 Contracting Northern Nationals presented by P2 Racing.
With A Little Luck and Help from Friends, Tim Molnar Wins First PDRA Elite Top Sportsman World Championship
FREDERICKSBURG, VA – A combination of luck and skill helped veteran sportsman racer Tim Molnar secure his first Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) world championship in MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by Tejas Borja. Molnar drove his nitrous-assisted ’68 Camaro to victory at the first race of the year and added late-round finishes at nearly every race to earn the title.
“Usually when it comes to drag racing, I have very little luck,” Molnar said with a laugh. “I can usually have the best losing package of the round. The season started off with four red lights against me out of four rounds, so it doesn’t get much easier or luckier than that, but it certainly set the tone. The luck carried on through the year. I was good when I had to be good, the car was exceptional every run, and I had luck when I needed it.”
Molnar’s victory at the East Coast Nationals presented by FuelTech gave him the points lead right out of the gate, and he kept it up all season. The Ohio driver added three semifinal appearances and runner-up finishes at Maryland, Maple Grove, and the Brian Olson Memorial World Finals presented by ProCharger at Virginia Motorsports Park. He clinched the 2021 world championship when he won second round at the World Finals.
FREDERICKSBURG, VA – When legendary engine builder Sonny Leonard passed away in January, Chris Powers knew he had to go out and give his best performance yet in the 2021 Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) season. Powers, a friend and customer of Leonard’s, went on to win two races in five final-round appearances on his way to claiming his first Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock presented by AED Competition world championship.
“We wanted to let the world know that Sonny’s Racing Engines is here to stay,” said Powers, who made his Extreme Pro Stock debut in 2017. “Everybody at Sonny’s stepped up: his daughter, Kelly [Ward], his wife, Francis, and his son-in-law, Jr. [Ward]. It means a lot to them and to us to be able to give Sonny’s this championship. For my entire team – Rob Bealko and Chuck Samuel and my daughters and my wife and son – it means the world to us to be able to accomplish something at such a high level like this.”
With Sonny’s World Class Racing Engines branding placed prominently on his ’14 Camaro, Powers started the season with an emotional win at the East Coast Nationals presented by FuelTech. His final-round opponent was unable to make the call for the round, so Powers took the tree and idled down the GALOT Motorsports Park eighth mile while the announcer listed off Leonard’s accomplishments. It was a fitting tribute, and it set the stage for the rest of the season.