Drag Illustrated Issue 177, July / August 2022 - Page 38

Dirt

STICK SHIFT NATIONALS
a bad light ,” Charcalla confesses .
Saturday ’ s main event victory did represent sweet revenge for Charcalla , as he and Krishner have a storied past . “ Last year , me and Colton were battling for the Pro Stick championship , and it came down to the last race of the year in Maryland , and he beat me to win the championship , so I kinda got redemption on him at Farmington ,” smiles Charcalla , who ’ s a 2012 champion within the Pro Stick Series .
Charcalla ’ s Mustang that once carried him back and forth to high school is a vehicle that he says he ’ ll never part with . It ’ s always been a manually shifted car , but is now anchored by a G- Force 5-speed and motivated by a 429-cubic-inch small-block Ford powerplant that propels the car to 5.40-second elapsed times in the eighth mile .
“ Sure , it was a long haul from Pennsylvania for me and my dad and my uncle , but there ’ s just nothing that compares to this race , and I ’ ve got
to give a shoutout to my whole family for all their help . There ’ s actually nine of us in my family that race ,” says Charcalla .
While the main event has never had a repeat winner , the Second Chance race has had several over the years , and the most recent running saw it happen yet again , as Bill Hull went the distance on his second attempt to score the victory over Kenny Regenthal Jr ., whose past accomplishments include a main event final-round appearance in 2016 . Chad McCreary drove his dad ’ s 1957 Chevy Wagon to a semifinal finish , with Cam Drake picking up the Dash for Cash victory .
The Stick Shift Nationals continues to be one of the most impressive growth stories , starting with just five cars at the inaugural event , and eventually hosting a record 176 cars in 2021 .
“ All things considered , I ’ m happy with the car count of 136 this year ,” comments Regenthal , as he referenced the rampant inflation and record fuel prices as an obvious hindrance . “ Our friends from the Pro Stick organization turned out in large numbers and the Classic Gear Jammers really
represent . These dedicated club racers make up a huge demographic .”
Roughly four years ago , Butner Construction stepped up and was responsible for making the winner ’ s purse $ 5,000 , but it obviously didn ’ t stop there . It was at last year ’ s event when Greg Butcher – a complete stranger at the time – walked up to Regenthal and pledged $ 10,000 to the winner of the 2022 running . Every bit as mind-boggling as his $ 10,000 pledge was the fact that last year ’ s event was the first drag race Butcher had ever attended !
Butcher wanted to join the gear jammer movement and had recently purchased the 1967 Chevelle of his friend , the late Steve Tedder . On the Monday following last year ’ s event , Butcher called Regenthal and reportedly told him to come get the money . Just in case he died , he wanted Regenthal to have it . “ Those were his exact words ... I ’ ve never heard anything like that in my life !” marvels Regenthal . And Butcher promptly committed to sponsoring the 2023 event with another 10 grand .
The Scarlette ’ s Performance Friday night gambler ’ s race is another aspect of the Stick Shift Nationals that ’ s taken off in a very short amount of time . The gambler ’ s race wasn ’ t even on the schedule last year and was thrown together the week of the event . On the Monday before the race , Regenthal put out the word on social media , and Farmington was promptly flooded with 110 race cars . Fast-forward one year and now the event pays $ 5,000 to win thanks to Sandy Scarlette of Scarlette ’ s Performance .
It ’ s Regenthal ’ s textbook sponsor gathering that has made this event what it is today , and many of those sponsors have supported the event since its inception .
As always , Ken heaps high praise on his wife , Lisa , for all she does to make this race happen . “ Also got to say thanks to our son , William , who kept up with all the statistics this year and was a huge help ,” Regenthal adds .
As the event continues to gain notoriety , it ’ s become the stick shift racer ’ s bucket list event and shows no signs of fizzling out anytime soon . DI
PHOTOGRAPHS BY GREG BURROW
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