San Antonio, TX.,(Sept 25th, 2015) Looking for a semi-local driver to cheer on in the IHRA Pro classes this weekend? Let me introduce Scott Benham(Magnolia), or ‘Sweet’ to his Jersey friends, who dives into the IHRA Pro Stock world with both feet. Making only his second attempt, Benham realizes he’s up against some stiff competition.
“We plan on surprising them,” said Benham. “I’ve raced most of my life underfunded and on a budget. That hasn’t stopped us from winning in the past. We do realize this is a new level of competition and I have the utmost respect for them all.”
“We have several goals. First is qualifying. You can’t win if you’re not in.”
The 50-year old, second generation driver does come into the Pro Stock with some impressive credentials. Since beginning his racing at age 18, Benham has competed in Super Street, Super Stock, Modified Eliminator and Competition Eliminator before moving to Pro Stock.
His trophy case includes three Competition Eliminator championships, in two divisions and a Division 4, 25K to win bonus race, plus winning the only two races in IHRA Modified Eliminator he’s ever entered, one here in San Antonio. He lists Texas Motorplex(Ennis) as his favorite track after winning two races in the same weekend, plus a national event.
Benham, who owns Race Engine Development in Conroe, also comes from a good racing background with his father, Crawford Benham, a former US Nationals Champion in Modified Eliminator. His son, Chris, continues the family racing tradition taking two different Outlaw 330 Jr. Dragster series championships, the same year, in two divisions.
Previous to beginning his own Pro Stock career, Benham helped defending IHRA Pro Stock Champ, Cary Goforth, who he now races against to two titles, as well as Mark Martino on the NHRA Pro Stock side.
“I’m new as an IHRA Pro Stock driver, but come in with a lot of experience.” Benham continued. “We build our own motors and tune our own cars. We’re kind of old school like Bob Glidden and Rickie Smith. I’ve raced with Rodger Brogden, Richard Freeman and Chris McGaha in Competition Eliminator. It’s good to see them them having some success at the level they’re competing at.”
“Long time friend Richard Otwell funds the car, without him we couldn’t do this, that’s where ‘Team O’ comes from. We’ve always had the tradition of not putting a drivers name above the door, just ‘Team O.’ We believe that it’s a team effort and the driver is just one part of it. The team is 100% volunteers, all have day jobs and a strong passion for racing.”
Car Owner/Sponsor; Richard Otwell
Crew; Jeff Owen, Tim Ortiz, Chris Vang, Rick McConathy, Chris Benham
The San Antonio Nationals Fueled by Sunoco did not disappoint as fans witnessed a points lead change in the Pro Stock class.
John Montecalvo came into the San Antonio Nationals Fueled by Sunoco with the Pro Stock points lead but after a consistent performance by Cary Goforth, the lead changed. Goforth won his first Pro Stock race since the season-opener at Tucson in February. He was the top qualifier and followed it up with a holeshot win against Scott Hintz in the final round. The 6.36 at 221.13 mph placed the 2014 IHRA World Champion in the winner’s circle and gave him the points lead with one race remaining.
Fresh off of their final round appearance at the Southern Nationals, Team Aruba was looking strong at the IHRA Nitro Jam Palm Beach Nationals. Although back-to-back weekends can be tough for a team whose driver resides in another country, it proved to be beneficial to Team Aruba. They carried the momentum from the runner up finish across the state of Florida Palm Beach International Raceway. They qualified third with a 6.343 elapsed time, setting themselves in the top half of the field for eliminations.
In round one the Aruba.com Mustang took on JR Carr. Eman had over five hundredths of an advantage on reaction time alone, but wouldn’t need it as he bested Carr on both ends of the track with a 6.38 elapsed time to Carr’s 6.45. The semi final round would be a repeat of the Southern Nationals final round, in which Eman had to run competitor and good friend John Montecalvo. Unfortunately, the result would also be the same with Montecalvo getting the win and then going on to capture his second victory in as many weeks. Still, Team Aruba’s showing at the last two events was enough to move them to fourth in Pro Stock points.
“This is a result of a combination of a great team, a great Jerry Haas built car and great Jon Kaase power in our Ford Hemi engine,” told Eman. “My father, Ven and I cannot be more proud and happier with the team we have. Our guys, John Peterson, Bruce Morgan, Shawn Scruggs and Doug Schriefer, all have the same desire to do good and win just like my father and I have. Not only do they want to do good on the race track, but they also understand the importance of Team Aruba’s additional goals, which is to promote our native island Aruba as the tourist destination that it is most known for.
“The past weekend in West Palm Beach was a nice weekend for me, especially, as I had the company of my wife Nicole,” continued Eman. “She does not get to go to all the races now that we reside back in Aruba after finishing college. Not only was I happy to have her at the race track, but all the friends that she has made at the race track were also happy to see her again. My cousin Nelson was also in West Palm Beach with us. Nelson is a ‘distant’ crew member of Team Aruba. He used to always travel with us to the races in the States as an active crew member, but due to work obligations cannot make it to all the races as before.
This sort of company is nice for us, due to the fact that when we head out to a race we fly over from Aruba and leave our family behind for the duration of the race. In this case it was three weeks total from the time we left Aruba to the time we returned.”
Although it was a great event for Team Aruba, with friends, family and a semi-final finish, an on-track accident in Pro Stock cast a shadow over the entire race.
“Our thoughts go out to Cale Aronson as he recovers from his crash,” Eman added. “This accident happened right before I had to make my run, so I saw the accident as we were still sitting in front of the burnout box. I know he hit the wall pretty hard and unfortunately that put him in the hospital. I know he is undergoing procedures to correct the fractures he has suffered. I hope he recuperates quickly and comes racing back soon. The Mountain Motor Pro Stock category is a tight group and there are not many of these cars in the country. The class has been recently building up with new competitors, I hope this setback does not put Cale on the sidelines for too long. We wish him, his wife Tinzy and his father Chuck well and hope to see him and the race car recover soon.”
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For more on your Aruba vacation visit www.Aruba.com and www.Destination-Magazines.com.
U.S. BOUNTY HUNTERS PRO STOCK
- John Montecalvo (Speonk, New York) 2013 Camaro 6.252 sec./223.99 mph
- Cary Goforth (Holdenville, Oklahoma) 2013 Camaro 6.3008 sec./222.29 mph
- Dean Goforth (Holdenville, Oklahoma) 2014 Camaro 6.342 sec./212.56 mph
- Trevor Eman (Pos Chiquito, Aruba) 2011 Mustang 6.343 sec.//221.27 mph
- R. Carr (Pasco, Washington) 2015 Camaro 6.352 sec./219.04 mph
- Cale Aronson (Chillicothe, Missouri) 2010 Mustang 6.356 sec./221.20 mph
- Matt Bertsch (Tecumseh, Michigan) 2007 Mustang 6.388 sec./219.90 mph
- Kevin Bealko (Bridgeport, West Virginia) 2013 Camaro 395 sec./221.23 mph.
Did not qualify:
John Konigshofer (Otterville, Ontario, Canada) 2013 Mustang 6.399 sec./220.73 mph
John Pluchino (Commack, New York) 2006 Escort 6.401 sec./219.12 mph
John DeFlorian Jr. (Arnold, Missouri) 2015 Camaro 6.404 sec./214.01 mph
Scott Hintz (Odessa, Texas) 2013 Mustang 10.118 sec./110.80 mph
Winner: John Montecalvo (Center Moriches, New York) 2014 Camaro .038 6.317 sec./222.91 mph
Runner-up: Matt Bertsch (Tecumseh, Michigan) 2007 Mustang .043 6.366 sec./220.30 mph
John Montecalvo defeated John DeFlorian Jr., 6.356 sec./222.82 mph to 6.477 sec./212.61 mph.
Cary Goforth defeated Cale Aronson, 10.621 sec./84.19 mph to 13.693 sec./80.55 mph.
J.R. Carr defeated John Konigshofer, 6.411 sec./221.89 mph to 6.441 sec./220.64 mph.
Trevor Eman defeated Matt Bertsch, 6.417 sec./219.56 mph to 6.398 sec./220.15 mph.
Montecalvo defeated Aronson, 6.357 sec./218.65 mph to 6.398 sec./220.31 mph.
Carr defeated Eman, 6.383 sec./222.66 mph to 6.377 sec./220.21 mph.
Montecalvo defeated Eman, 6.318 sec./222.77 mph to 6.969 sec./154.47 mph.
After a long off season, Team Aruba was anxious to get back on the track and tackle the 1320 feet of an IHRA Nitro Jam racing surface. State Capitol Raceway in Port Allen, La. played host to the IHRA Mardi Gras Nationals this past weekend and was the stage for Team Aruba’s return to the restructured and renewed racing organization.
“It was great to personally meet all the new members of the IHRA ownership and staff,” told Trevor Eman, pilot of the Aruba.com Mustang. “We could not feel more welcome in a racing sanctioning body than we did from them. The race was really fantastic all around. It was great to be back with the IHRA.”
Despite Mother Nature cancelling Friday’s test session, Team Aruba qualified for the elite eight car field with a 6.39 elapsed time at 222 MPH. Eman and team were then set to take on number one qualifier and former World Champion, John Montecalvo, in round one. Although Montecalvo was a very formidable opponent, the Aruba.com Mustang made easy work of Montecalvo’s bowtie entry, when Montecalvo was forced to abort the run. Eman posted his best elapsed time of the weekend, a 6.326.
Rainy weather on Friday made for tricky track conditions on race day and in round two, this would prove to be Team Aruba’s nemesis. Eman encountered tire shake that forced him to let off the throttle, giving opponent J.R. Carr the semi final victory.
“Rain took its toll on the racetrack and affected the schedule in such a way that we could not test nor qualify on Friday,” Eman explained. “However, the IHRA staff did a phenomenal job on the racetrack getting it ready for Saturday. We were certainly impressed in their accomplishment of getting not only the track ready for racing, but certainly even the entire event in the books with all the added difficulties they faced. It has been several years since we have raced quarter mile so pre race testing and additional qualifying runs would have been helpful, but we were able to get the Aruba.com Mustang qualified and past round one, which was a great accomplishment for our first race back on the quarter-mile.
“Regardless of the rainy weather conditions that hindered our testing and qualifying, this was truly a great event,” Eman added. “Besides being able to race quarter mile again, the greatest aspect of the entire weekend was the treatment we received by the people. The people from State Capitol Raceway and all of the New Orleans area fans treated us especially well.
“I think you can comfortably say that New Orleans has somewhat of a different culture compared to the rest of the entire United States. And in our case, as we are from a different country and thus also differently cultured, we automatically create a connection with people that have different customs and traditions. We immediately felt connected to the people of New Orleans and appreciated their unique flavors, sights and sounds.”
The Mardi Gras-themed Nitro Jam brought much of that culture right to the track, providing great entertainment for fans and racers alike. In recent years the IHRA has placed greater emphasis on the fan experience at their events, a move that has proven beneficial to fans, racers and sponsors alike.
“We can’t wait to get to Bradenton to continue our effort in accumulating points,” Eman said, speaking of the next IHRA Nitro Jam to be held April 17-19 at Bradenton Motorsports Park. “We have a very good working race car, an engine producing a tremendous amount of power and above all, a very good team in place who all work together very well. This combination, together with a great group of people in the IHRA will make for great racing this season.”
Kevin Bealko, of Bridgeport, West Virginia, qualified seventh in an eight-car field. He defeated Cary Goforth in the first round of eliminations, then faced teammate John DeFlorian Jr. in the second. Bealko defeated J.R. Carr in the final, 6.272 sec./224.71 mph to 13.602 sec./62.20 mph, to collect the coveted IHRA Ironman trophy.
“It was a big win for us,” said Bealko. “Having to race my teammate, John, in the semi-finals is never our best-case scenario. To be able to get by him, then run J.R. Carr, who’s been stellar all day. I just got switched up on the lights and got an awful long light before I left. But the car went right down there and the whole way there I was just thinking of my crew they’re gonna kill me if I don’t get in front of him. I was able, by the grace of God, to get in front of him and we had a nice win.”
U.S. Bounty Hunters Pro Stock
1. John Montecalvo (Center Moriches, New York) 6.235 sec./224.94 mph.
2. Cary Goforth (Holdenville, Oklahoma) 6.270 sec./223.49 mph.
3. Dean Goforth (Holdenville, Oklahoma) 6.290 sec./223.65 mph.
4. J.R. Carr (Pasco, Washington) 6.305 sec./221.83 mph.
5. Scott Hintz (Odessa, Texas) 6.320 sec./225.05 mph.
6. John DeFlorian Jr. (Arnold, Missouri) 6.339 sec./222.88 mph.
7. Kevin Bealko (Bridgeport, West Virginia) 7.134 sec./142.15 mph.
8. Trevor Eman (Pos Chiquito, Aruba) 6.390 sec./222.44 mph.
9. Scott Beham (Conroe, Texas) 6.554 sec./192.06 mph.
10. John Konigshofer (Otterville, Ontario, Canada) 10.846 sec./99.74 mph.
U.S. Bounty Hunters Pro Stock
John DeFlorian Jr. defeated Dean Goforth, Goforth fouled and DeFlorian ran 215.51 mph (E.T. was ruled invalid).
J.R. Carr defeated Scott Hintz, 6.305 sec./224.10 mph to 6.339 sec./223.15 mph.
Trevor Eman defeated No. 1 Qualifier John Montecalvo, 6.326 sec./222.05 mph to 7.913 sec./115.57 mph.
Kevin Bealko defeated Cary Goforth, 6.275 sec./223.99 mph to 6.397 sec./221.72 mph.
J.R. Carr defeated Trevor Eman, 6.314 sec./223.71 mph to 7.554 sec./162.07 mph.
Kevin Bealko defeated John DeFlorian Jr., 6.379 sec./222.88 mph to 11.035 sec./77.68 mph.
Kevin Bealko defeated J.R. Carr, 6.272 sec./224.71 mph to 13.602 sec./62.20 mph.
One of the most expensive and highly technical classes in drag racing, U.S. Bounty Hunters Pro Stock is seeing a nice increase in participation. The trend began with the Southwestern Nationals in February and will continue into the Mardi Gras Nationals in Baton Rouge, LA on March 13 & 14.
Returning, at the Southwestern Nationals in February, were former IHRA racers, J.R. Carr and John Montecalvo. Both drivers have the experience and knowledge to win races with their powerful Chevrolet entries and will be in fight form at the Baton Rouge event.
Joining the list of new entries at the upcoming Mardi Gras Nationals in Baton Rouge will be the Ford of Eman Racing with driver Trevor Eman leading the charge. Equipped with a new John Kaase Ford engine, the team hopes to take their flagship “Aruba” sponsored entry into the winners circle in celebration of Aruba National Anthem and Flag Day on March 18.
Also joining in the championship hunt is IHRA newcomer Scott Benham behind the wheel of the Team “O” Motorsports Jerry Haas built Chevrolet Cobalt owned by Richard Otwell. Benham, no stranger to racing is a former NHRA Competition Eliminator and Top Sportsman competitor. He will be representing Texas with pride heading into Cajun country.
The U.S Bounty Hunters Pro Stock entry list also includes reigning World Champion Cary Gofoth along with his father Dean in their Dean’s Casing Service entries. Plus the Black Diamond Motorsports cars of John Deflorian (U.S. Bounty Hunters) and Kevin Bealko (Amsoil), the Canadian based Koningshofer brothers Ford along with the Fords of Scott Hintz and Brad Waddle (Innovators West) .
The IHRA Nitro Jam Mardi Gras Nationals will mark the biggest drag race in the history of Louisiana at one of the sanctioning body’s most prestigious tracks in United States.
Nitro Jam is “heads-up” drag racing entertainment – first racer to the finish line wins – in all four pro categories. The exciting show includes qualifying and eliminations for: AMSOIL Nitro Funny Car presented by Aeromotive, U.S. Bounty Hunters Pro Stock, Nitro Harley and Jet Dragster classes.
The Aruba.com Drag Race Team from the ‘One Happy Island’ has headed back north to kick off their 2015 race season. This year the team will be back contesting their fast Ford Mustang with the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA). IHRA will venture to Baton Rouge, La. March 13-14 for the Mardi Gras Nationals. Driver Trevor Eman and his crew will join the increasing number of Mountain Motor Pro Stocks who are returning to the organization that gave birth to the class.
To gear up for their season opener, Team Aruba recently tested at Union Dragway, a facility located just a few miles from their Union, SC based shop. “We flew into Union, SC last Thursday,” told Eman. “On Saturday we went to our home track for a little ‘shakedown’. It’s very nice to have a track so close to our shop. In a very short period of time we can load the race car, drive out to Union County Dragway, make a couple of runs and be back home to unload the race car.”
With a quick test session in the books and more prepping at the shop, Team Aruba began making the trek to Louisiana to join the Mardi Gras Nationals festivities.
“Thursday night the IHRA will be having a small Mardi Gras celebration at the track that we are looking forward to,” Eman continued. “Perhaps we can bring a little bit of Aruba flavor by mixing up some of the popular ‘Aruba Ariba’ drink that everyone enjoys.
“All in all we have a well prepared race car for this weekend’s race. The Aruba.com Mustang is ready for the quarter-mile where we hope to see some fast numbers and go some rounds.”
Besides wanting to get a good start to the season, Eman and team are also hoping for a good showing in celebration of Aruba National Anthem and Flag Day on March 18. No matter how many hours the team logs on American soil, their roots are firmly set in their island home, and they enjoy nothing more than bringing new fans to a paradise vacation.
“As usual, we will have our Aruba information booth set up where all our fans can come by and pick up any information they would like about Aruba, together with some free souvenirs,” Eman explained. The Aruba.com pit area is always colorful, indicitive of the One Happy Island and it’s friendly natives.
“We’re looking forward to connecting with new and old fans at the IHRA this season. I hope they all stop by our pit area and say hello. It’s sure to be a good time down in Louisiana!”