Drag Racing: Widmer wins ’08 title in ’09 opening race

John Widmer of Rifle with his Corvette is the belated 2008 King of the Track.

John Widmer finally has another bookend, but it’s not just any bookend.

The Rifle man won the second Wally Trophy of his drag racing career, making a perfect new fixture for his office at home.

Widmer received a Wally Trophy after winning the 2008 Western Colorado Dragway King of the Track title on Saturday at the dragway. The King of the Track races were scheduled to take place in the final race of the season last year, but it was postponed until the 2009 season-opening weekend because of rain.

“I’ve been waiting all winter to get this race won,” Widmer said. “I was afraid after I painted the car, it wouldn’t work anymore. Every time I painted the car, I didn’t win.

“(A Wally is) the genuine article, a real NHRA trophy. It’s cool to have one. Not everybody’s got one.”

The dragway’s Super Quick Series champion beat Super Pro champion John Morgan of Grand Junction in the final by 0.024 of a second. Widmer reached the ¾-mile finish line in 8.73 seconds at 155.66 mph.

Widmer didn’t make any modifications to his 1963 Chevrolet Corvette since the final race in 2008.

“I was working and running good,” Widmer said.

It is Widmer’s first King of the Track race and title. He won a Wally Trophy in a Super Pro event in Salt Lake City with his old dragster four years ago.

Shortly after that, he sold the dragster and bought the Corvette.

“The Corvette wasn’t necessarily what I was after, but I had a front engine dragster prior to this car, but it was a pain to run unless I had help,” Widmer said. “I couldn’t even buckle the seat belt by myself. I wanted a roadster, which is what this is, and this is what I found that fit in my budget.”

Morgan was going for his second King of the Track title in three years in his 1972 Chevy Nova, which he’s had for 18 years.

“It was nerve-racking,” Morgan said of waiting all winter for the King of the Track race. “I had butterflies waiting. There is real good competition.

“It was very difficult to leave the car alone. When you change things, it changes all your data.”

Morgan nearly didn’t make the finals, but got a second opportunity against Bill Sasser of Grand Junction in the semifinal.

Sasser beat Morgan in the first matchup, but the race was re-run because of confusion with the top lock on the staging light (tree).

Morgan took advantage, winning with a time of 10.44 seconds at 126.21 mph.

For Sasser, it was the third consecutive year he competed in the King of the Track, but has yet to win it. Sasser was the 2008 Pro ET Class champion in his 1971 Chevy Chevelle.

Widmer defeated Rifle neighbor Daryl Dinkel in the other semifinal with a time of 8.74 seconds at 145 mph.

Dinkel won the Sportsman Class title in his 1967 Dodge Coronet.

“It was one of those years everything I did was right,” Dinkel said. “The other three are the best year in and year out. They are a model of consistency.”

Widmer proved him right.


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