Veteran area drag racer Bill Leber has accomplished much in his long career but still has a few items that he says he wants to check off of his drag racing bucket list. One of those items was checked off successfully this past Friday when he won the TNT Super Series eliminations at Lancaster Speedway.
Leber pulled off a double victory of sorts Friday. Not only did he win the TNT class by besting Jeff Sobczynski in the final but another veteran, Joe Karosik emerged victorious in the Mod ET class beating Mason Fix. Karosik's winning engine was built by Leber.
"I've raced maybe six or seven TNT races," Leber said. "I wanted to win one because it's a very tough series. I was thinking that coming here today that I've never won one of these. I better get it done so I can knock it off my bucket list."
Leber, of Tonawanda, was also happy for Karosik.
"Joe's one of the only guys that I do motors for anymore just because he's so easy going," Leber said. "He gives it to me in October and if I get it back to him by June he's happy. That's easy-going."
Karosik, of Depew, also is a long time drag racer who proved he can still win in his 1972 Chevy Nova.
"I'm 63 and I can't believe I can still do it," Karosik said. "I was in two classes tonight. I was in the TNT class also, so the Mod final I won was my 15th trip down the track tonight. Mason is both young and good. I didn't think I was going to get there. It was close."
Other class winners Friday were: Mike Peters, Bikes/Sleds; Ed Semlitsch, Street; Alex Noltee, Top 8; Michael Neri, Top ET.
Balser Sr. perseveres
Ordinarily Bill Balser Sr. is competing behind the wheel of his own 1968 Dodge Dart during drag racing activity at Lancaster but for the last month or so he has been turning the wrenches on his daughter Brittany Balser's car after a devastating fire last month derailed his racing. He is presently in the rebound mode.
"On June 8, the Cheektowaga police called me and said there was a fire and burglaries up where I park my race car trailers and race cars," Balser Sr., said. "When I got there my boat was fine but my motorhome, race car, race car trailer and Brittany's race car trailer were totally gone. They saved Brittany's race car. When they got there they turned all the hoses on her car to save it. It's the only reason we still have that 1964 Plymouth."
Brittany's car was still showing some fire damage on it as the team raced Friday.
"Brittany returned to racing a week after the fire because Vito Antonicelli gave us a lexon windshield for free because the old windshield burned out of it," Balser Sr. said. "Her car was minutes from being totally engulfed in flames. The fire department saved it."
The effort to rebuild Bill's car is on going.
"My car is being totally rebuilt," Balser Sr., said. "We bought new parts, new quarter panels, a new roof and new trunk lid. A friend of mine C.J. Tremper cut a roof off a car and I got two new quarter panels and this week I'm getting two new fenders, a hood, a front bumper, rear bumper and whatever else we need.
"We still here racing. Tonight I'm crew chiefing instead of racing but I'll be back in my own car hopefully by the end of the month. Until then I going to borrow my brother's (Dave Balser) extra race car (1970 Duster) and put my motor and tranny in it until my own car is ready."
Top Fuel Fury
Lancaster also presented their annual Top Fuel Dragster "Nitro Night of Fire" Friday featuring two impressive match race runs featuring the pairing of Dom Lagana and Todd Paton. Lagana won the first race running 3.79 seconds at 163.65 mph down the eighth-mile strip. Paton turned the tables in the second race running 3.39 at 211.
Maduri Jr. wins big
North Tonawanda's Pete Maduri Jr., who was racing at Lancaster Friday, scored a huge NHRA national event win when he captured the Super Street category at the New England Nationals in Epping, N.H. earlier this month.