Michael Galimi
September 15, 2017
Photos By: Christina High

The fourth day of competition on Hot Rod Drag Week, powered by Dodge and presented by Gear Vendors Overdrive, is a monumental one for competitors. This year, the drag racing portion went down at the historic Great Lakes Dragway, located in Union Grove, Wisconsin. Following the on-track antics, competitors complete their road tour, circling them back to where it all started at Cordova International Raceway. The last drive of the week totaled 196 miles, bringing to the week’s total distance traversed to 900 miles.

Alex Corella and his co-pilot, Christina High, were embroiled in a difficult battle in the Street Race Small Block Power Adder class. The rules call for true stock suspension, small tires, and all of the engine’s power adder components must be kept under the hood; meaning the intercooler couldn’t be riding shotgun. The goal is to keep the cars looking very sedate and the final rule slams home that message as no funny car cages are allowed.

Best run of the day was an 8.54 at 161 mph, bringing the four day average down to 8.5558 and putting Corella fifth overall in his class.

Over the past few years, the category has evolved into an 8.50 index class due to the required SFI-certified cage for vehicles that are 8.49-and-quicker. The SFI safety cage configuration includes a funny car hoop, thus putting Street Race on a hard 8.50 max limit. According to Hot Rod Drag Week officials, that wasn’t the original intention of the category, but evolution has turned it into a limited index. That hasn’t stopped the popularity of it with 51 entries taking a green light on the first day of competition.

It has been a week of ups and downs for Corella and his Lujan Motorsports-constructed 1993 Mustang LX. The car hasn’t had any issues on the dragstrip or on the streets, but rather Corella has been working hardest on keeping the car consistently in the 8.50s. Last year, he finished third in Street Race Small Block Power Adder with an 8.6356. This year, he held the top spot for one night but fell back on Wednesday, to sixth, with an 8.5590 average. It shows how difficult and challenging the category has become in just one year.

A leaky valve stem was the only problem with Corella’s 1993 Mustang LX through 900 miles of street driving and ten runs on the dragstrips. Thankfully there were some Drag Week competitors who were around to supply a new valve.

Great Lakes Dragway was a short trip for Corella; he knocked off an 8.54 at 161 mph right out of gate, after the two hour delay due to fog. He made one more attempt to get closer to 8.50 but it resulted in tire spin, so he and High decided to turn in the 8.54 time slip and hit the road for Cordova.

Up until this point, Corella and High have had trouble-free rides, except for when their teammate Mike Jovanis and your author were caravanning with them. Monday was spent stopping every hour to drain oil out of Jovanis’ catch-can. Tuesday featured a brief stop to get us setup at a diner when the Jovanis’ car was unable to continue. Wednesday had the longest drive of the week with 285 miles. Thursday’s adventure wasn’t bad except for a leaking valve stem that Corella fixed on the side of the road. They also stopped to help fellow NMRA racers and Super Street Small Block Power Adder class leader, Cal Hayward, with a split front tire.

Pulling into the hotel around dinnertime, High and Corella checked the official results and were pleased to see they moved up one spot to fifth place. Corella’s four-day average dropped down to 8.5558. It is an up-hill task to improve on his position with the two cars ahead of Corella logging 8.5390 and 8.340 averages over four days. Each of those racers would have to slip up considerably in order for Corella to leap frog past them. For now, Corella is focused on running in the low 8.50s and protecting his current position with a racer just .001 behind him.

Check back tomorrow to find out how Corella finished off the 2017 Hot Rod Drag Week adventure as he goes all-in for the final day of competition.

With Mike Jovanis and your author bowing out of competition, Corella linked up with fellow NMRA racer Cal Hayward and Bullseye Power’s “Wild Bill” Devine with their Pinky Mustang.
Hayward lost a front tire but a local shop was able to make repairs to keep him in competition and ready for the last day of racing. Hayward leads the Super Street Small Block Power Adder class by a large margin with a 7.7220 average.