After the two rounds of qualifying were completed, Art Jones of Webster, NY found himself atop the qualifying list with a perfect 9.900 elapsed time (E.T.) on the 9.90 index, while our winner was mired near the bottom of the qualifying list at 18th in the record 20 car field. However, Cira’s 9.888 E.T. really wasn’t as far off as his qualifying position would have had one think. Regardless, his qualifying effort earned him a first round matchup with the third place finisher from the previous WNYSRA event, Matt Gregoire, in his gorgeous 1966 Chevy II. At the flash of the green, Cira and Gregoire left the starting line within 0.001 seconds of each other, with the very slight advantage going to Cira. At the end of the race, both drivers had run identical 9.939 elapsed times, giving the win to Cira by the slimmest of margins: fifteen ten-thousandths of a second (0.0015), or approximately 3.5 inches.
Things wouldn’t get any easier for Cira in round 2, as he found himself up against the runner-up from the previous WNYSRA event, Jon Pellicane, in his 2013 Chevy Corvette roadster. As with his first round race, Cira and his competitor were only separated by 0.001 seconds at the starting line, but this time the advantage didn’t go Cira’s way. As they crossed the finish line, Pellicane was ahead, but he went too quick with his 9.882 elapsed time, while the astute Cira was on the brakes slowing to a perfect 9.900 E.T. to claim the victory.
In the quarterfinals, Cira was paired up with Len Oleksy. Once again, the reaction times of the two drivers were close, with Cira taking a 0.014 to 0.019 advantage off the line. But, Cira was just too much for Oleksy on this run by laying down an excellent 9.904 elapsed time for a 0.018 second “package” (total amount of time away from a perfect run, calculated using the racer’s reaction time at the starting line and elapsed time). Cira’s winning package was the best of the day for all competitors, which earned him the “Jiffy-tite Package Award”, and a $50 gift certificate from Jiffy-tite Motorsports.
With 3 cars left in the semifinals, Kirk Parry received the bye-run into the finals, meaning that Cira and Doug Lynden would need to race for the remaining spot. Drag racers often say that you need one lucky round to win an event, and this semifinal race was probably that round for Cira. When the Christmas Tree (starting line lights) flashed and the cars left the starting line, Cira was a bit tardy with a less than stellar 0.052 reaction time. But, in the other lane Lynden left the starting line a mere 0.010 seconds too soon, and was thus disqualified for a foul start. The foul start by Lynden turned this run into nothing more than a free time trial for both drivers. While Cira was running a much too quick 9.851 E.T. on his free pass, Lynden also ran his car out the back door and ran a near perfect 9.904 elapsed time. Had Lynden not left the starting line too soon, he would have been very difficult to beat on that run. Instead, Lynden had to settle for a 3rd place finish for the day.
This set up the finals between John Cira in his ’68 Chevy Nova and Kirk Parry in his ’78 Ford Pinto, both long-time Super Rod competitors. Regardless of the outcome, this hot and humid day was going to come to a close with a new winner crowned in the Western New York Super Rod Association. Given his performances up until the semifinals, Cira most likely would have been considered the favorite in this matchup, but one had to wonder if that subpar semifinals performance would affect Cira in the finals. In short, the answer was no. When the cars left the starting line, Cira had a huge advantage as something obviously distracted Parry as he was extremely late leaving the starting line. But, as the cars roared down the track, Parry was able to not only make up the difference, but take the lead, and as the cars crossed the finish line Parry actually got there first. However, in trying to make up the large starting line deficit on the track, Parry went far too quick and handed the win to the slower, but much closer to the index, John Cira.
After the victory, John, the proprietor of Cira Brothers Automotive, wanted to thank his wife, Sharon, above all others for her unwavering support over the years. In addition, Cira thanked his sons, John and Nicholas, his daughter, Chrissy, and his good friend, Lance Pinto. “I couldn’t do this without the support of my family, as they have been a big part of my racing program over the years,” stated Cira. Cira also wanted to thank his sponsors; Sam DeMareo Auto, Bruce Ward’s Engine Assembly, and Lance’s Automotive, as well as Jan-Cen Motorsports, Tread City Tire & Wheel, Jiffy-tite Motorsports, and S&W Race Cars.
Race 3 of the 8 race Tread City Tire / Western New York Super Rod Association series will take place on Sunday, July 20th, again at Empire Dragway in Leicester, NY. Gates open at 9:30 am, with open time trials for all competitors starting at 10 am. WNYSRA qualifying sessions are currently scheduled for 10:30 am and 11:30 am, with final eliminations slated to start at 12:00 pm. For more information, visit at the WNYSRA website at http://www.wnysra.com.
About the Western New York Super Rod Association (WNYSRA):
The Western New York Super Rod Association was founded in 2014 to provide an outlet for some of the best heads-up, pro-tree competitors in western New York, southern Ontario, and northwestern Pennsylvania to compete in one of the longest running sportsman drag racing categories, IHRA's Super Rod or NHRA's Super Gas. The 8-race series includes 6 events at Empire Dragway in Leicester, NY, and 2 races at Toronto Motorsports Park in Cayuga, Ontario, Canada, with the winner of one of those two races taking home a coveted NHRA “Wally”. In addition to serving the racers, it is the goal of the WNYSRA to provide their sponsors with unprecedented marketing value for their money through exposure at the track, in printed media, and on-line. For more information, visit the WNYSRA website at http://www.wnysra.com, or find them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/
Photo Credit: Mary Neffke