2002 Summit Racing Series
Belle, Rachel, Hefler, Pedraza win Summit national titles
When rains hit Southern California during the 38th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, racers in the NHRA Summit Racing Series National Championship were forced to extend their stay for another day to compete on Monday. For Les Belle (Super Pro), Martin Rachel (Pro), Jerry Hefler (Street), and Richard Pedraza, the extended stay paid off as they laid claim to the national titles.
The four outlasted a seven-car field in their respective classes during the third Summit Racing Series National Championship, which was held in conjunction with the 38th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. Drivers earned their berth into the championship event by winning their division's Summit Racing Series Finals, which featured the top racers from more than 130 NHRA member tracks and were contested during the months of September and October.
The championship weekend kicked off with a special banquet and ceremony Thursday at the NHRA Motorsports Museum, where racers were welcomed by NHRA Founder Wally Parks, NHRA Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Graham Light, and drivers Dan Fletcher, Cory McClenathan, Scotty Cannon, Mark Pawuk, and Craig Treble. Also at the ceremony, McClenathan, Cannon, Pawuk, and Treble conducted a random drawing to determine qualifying positions for the race. The No. 1 driver on the ladder received a first-round bye, and pairs were made of the second and fifth drivers, the third and sixth, and the fourth and seventh.
In Super Pro, Les Belle, who represented Division 3 after champion Bob Biser chose not to attend, took out Division 7's Kenny Teer for the crown. Division 6 ace Rachel drove his '78 Malibu to the Pro title with a final-round win over Division 2's Mike Griger, and in Sportsman, Hefler notched one for Division 4 when he ousted Division 2's Leon Robertson in the final. Pedraza, representing Division 6, became the first to win a national title on a snowmobile when he topped Division 1 runner John Snyder in the Super Pro Motorcycle trophy round.
For their win, each received $5,000, a jacket, champion's trophy, and an NHRA Gold Card. All qualifiers were guaranteed a minimum of $3,500.