Eight junior drag racers outlasted the fields in their respective age groups to claim top honors Friday at the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing Western Conference Finals presented by CatSpot.
And one of those youngsters to hoist a coveted Wally trophy was 11-year-old Hunter Millican of Waxahachie.
The win, which netted Millican a $1,500 prize, also comes after the young racer had recently returned to the track following a two-year hiatus. His mother, Sandy Millican, stated the family decided to step away from racing while they completed the adoption process for two small children.
"This is a huge accomplishment as many will go a lifetime of racing without winning such an accolade," Sandy stated via email. "This talented kid is looking forward to finishing this racing year with a few more wins, and hopefully with local fans cheering him on at the Texas Motorplex."
Millican represented Team Texas Motorplex and traveled at speeds up to 74 miles per hour to claim his title. His father is also an accomplished drag racer.
Millican outlasted Ty Gaynor, of Vancouver, Washington, in a double-breakout final round, winning on an 8.830 (8.90) to 9.133 (9.25) count.
Millican was joined in the winner's circle by Tyler Janousek (age 6-9), Brody Tigue (10), Lilly Kinne (12), Body Bennett (13), Charlie Burkevics (14), Ian Theofelis (15), and Tyler Lloyd (16-17). The group is comprised of first-time winners at the event, according to an NHRA press release.
The NHRA Jr. Drag Racing Western Conference Finals is one of two national events in the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League. The release also notes that Bremerton Raceway took home the team championship after being bolstered by late-round showings by several team members.
In a battle of Texas racers, Janousek, of Pflugerville, defeated Montgomery competitor Parker Richey in the 6-9 age-group final round. Janousek got off the starting line with a near-perfect .004 reaction and carried the advantage it gave him into a 12.011 (11.92 dial) to 12.093 (12.10) win against Richey.
Texas competitors were also victorious in the 10- and 11-year-old age group. Euless, Texas’ Tigue used a better reaction time defeated Norman, Okla., runner Race Ragland to earn the Wally in the 10-year-old bracket. Tigue clocked an 8.968 (8.93) on his winning pass vs. the 8.933 (8.90) of Ragland.
Kinne took the 12-year-old class Wally home to Canton, Illinois, Kinne got off the starting line first by over a tenth and used the advantage to defeat Auburn, Washington, racer Cole Dickoff, 9.007 (8.96) to 8.923 (8.91), in the title round.
Shallowater, Texas’ Bennett gave the Lone Star State another victory when he bested Logan Scrivner, from Hillsboro, Oregon, in the 13-year-old class final. In a great title-round match, Bennett crossed the finish line first in a 7.931 (7.90) to 7.933 (7.90) contest.
Burkevics and Thoefelis made their long hauls from Washington pay off when they landed in the winner’s circle. Graham, Wash., runner Burkevics scored top honors in the 14-year-old age group, outlasting Leander, Texas’ Emma Heidkamp, 8.338 (8.31) to 7.921 (7.93).
Theofelis denied the Burkevics a double win when he bested 14-year-old winner Charlie’s older brother, Bobby, in the 15-year-old title round. Theofelis, who hails from Port Orchard, Washington, got off the starting line first and never looked back, crossing the finish line ahead of Bobby, 7.920 (7.90) to 7.964 (7.93).
After finishing as the 16-17 class runner-up last year, Lloyd was able to close the deal this year, defeating Maddie Smith in the final. Lloyd cruised to an easy victory when Smith’s car broke after staging. Lloyd ran an easy 9.010 (7.90) en route to victory.
Bremerton Raceway won its first team championship, tallying 32 points to claim the top spot. Ardmore Dragway finished second with 27 points, followed by Tulsa Raceway Park Team 1 (24), World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (23), and Texas Motorplex Team 2 (22).
Portions of this article are courtesy NHRA.