Author: Jodauga, John
Date published: May 18, 2012
While many racers have to wait several years to enjoy the thrill of winning their first national event, Doug Baumgardner pulled off the feat at the fourth major NHRA race that he entered, the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries. Although he raced for 12 years in bracket competition, which was highlighted by winning the Pro track championship with an '88 Mustang Saleen at Heartland Park Topeka in 2004, and drove in Super Street at some divisional races, he did not compete at a national event until last year in Dallas after he was given a chance to drive the SS/DA '69 Camaro co-owned by Phil Unruh and Mike Chaney. He also competed this year in Phoenix and at the JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals, where he enjoyed his best effort up until then by going four rounds.
"I owe everything to the car," said Baumgardner after his win. "Phil and Mike had been running it for several years, and they got all of the kinks out of it, and it is very consistent. I got the chance to start racing it when Phil bought a new SS/CM Cobalt for himself last year and was looking for someone to drive the Camaro."
When asked if he had any concerns about having to face multinational event winner Gary Emmons in the final, Baumgardner replied, "Absolutely. All of the Emmons brothers are very well-known competitors with records, and I also had to race Jerry Emmons in round three [which Baumgardner won with a .013 light and .007- over 9.427 against Emmons' .026 reaction time and dial-matching 9.610]. I knew that I would have to step it up against them as well as the other racers that I faced this weekend. There was a lot of talent in this year's Houston Super Stock field."
Of racing with Unruh and Chaney, Baumgardner said, "I'm having a great time with these guys, who are among the nicest people that I've ever been around. When we started this, Phil said that our game plan was just to have some fun and go from there. We're already having fun, and winning just adds to it."
The key race: "Everybody was tough during eliminations, including the Emmons brothers," said Baumgardner. "But the one race that really
The runner-up: This was the 14th finalround appearance for Gary Emmons, whose most recent victory was his Stock win in Dallas in 2011. Emmons earned his final-round berth by defeating Tim Hebert's SS/AH '68 Hemi 'Cuda in the quarterfinals, which gave him a bye in the semifinals.
Fast fact: Car owner Unruh scored a semifinal finish in Houston in 2010 with the '69 Camaro that Baumgardner drove to the winner's circle and reached the semi's at the 2011 Houston national event. "We've been to the semi's or better with that car in
Did you know: Baumgardner has owned an auto-repair shop, Pro Automotive Wichita, for the last year and a half. "We do general automotive repair there," said Baumgardner. "I've been an auto mechanic since 1999 and worked at other auto shops before opening my own business."
Quotable: "I took a liking to Super Stock because there are a lot of things that go on in that category that are a drastic change from regular weekend bracket racing, and the class really appeals to me. When Phil Unruh offered me the chance to drive his car, I said yes before he was able to finish his sentence." - Baumgardner.
Best packages: 1. Terry Emmons (League City, Texas), .003/9.966 (9.96 dial) round one; 2. Baumgardner (Wichita, Kan.), .013/9.427 (9.42 dial) round three; 3. Rick Baehr (Wellington, Ohio), .011/10.319 (10.30 dial) round two and Baumgardner, .012/9.468 (9.45 dial) final. ND