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Words by Jim Baker

Photos by Brad Baker

Jay Diedrich (far lane) of Firebaugh, CA, stopped a full field of Pro Mod cars to win the feature event at Phil Painter’s MUSCLE CARS AT THE STRIP at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on April 27-29. Jay’s winning time was a near record at 2200 feet of 5.93 seconds at 247.61 MPH. Mike Doushgounian (Green Camaro) ran a quicker semi-final time (5.90 @ 250.51) but lost on a hole shot, .017 to a losing .058.

Runner-up was the stunning ’53 Corvette of Ed Marx who had trouble in the final run after running a best of 6.16 secs. at 211.86 during the first round when #1 qualifier Roger Holder had to lift.

Holding onto top time for the Mopar brand was Sean Renteria from Hollister, CA, driving a ’65 Plymouth Valiant Pro Mod, a fan favorite, who lost in round one with a great 5.92 pass to Ed Thornton’s better 5.88.


A big added feature this year was Mel Roth’s PSCA ‘Small Tire’ Eliminator. Kevin Waller of San Diego won the No Time title over the Mustang of Frank Yee.

Small Tire Final: Kevin Waller (far lane) won over Frank Yee’s popular Mustang.


Waller had a great MCATS event too, as he finished runner-up in the Pony Car Wars category.


Regularly featured at MCATS is the popular Quick 16 Eliminator. The event always attracts fast cars from all over the US and Canada. None are more prevalent than the group from Ohio with their similarly painted (or wrapped) cars. This was another great year for the team as Chris Wheatcraft won the Quick 16 and Paul Peterson claimed the busy Super Pro Eliminator.


Notable Quick 16 qualifiers included: #1 Ron Leach at 6.648 secs.; #2 Western Fuel Altered 2017 Champion, Greg Holman at 6.78; #7 Chris Wheatcraft’s ’02 Dodge Neon at 7.40; #8 2013 Quick 16 Champ, Judy Radford at 7.45; and #10 Darren Williams from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, at 7.47. The ‘bump’ was a respectable 8.24 by Ohio runner Ron Strayer, Jr.

Chris Wheatcraft


One of the event’s largest and hotly contested categories, Super Pro, boiled down to the winner from the large Ohio group backing teammate Paul Peterson who got the best of Mr. Las Vegas, Mark Beavin (see my January ‘Then & Now’ column in DragRacingOnline).

Both drivers ran one hundredth over their dial, but Paul’s better .015 Reaction Time won the day as Mark recorded an off pace .063 RT. The ‘Beav’ and Mark did not feel too bad as they Won the Saturday Gambler race, and were semi-finalists in Pro Eliminator. Mark’s Clovis, CA, MOPAR Club celebrated big time as Adam Hinkle won the Pro title stopping local favorite Nick Ariotti of Boulder City, NV, in the final.

Capturing the largest field of the event, PRO Eliminator, was Adam Hinkle from the Clovis, CA, MOPAR Club. Hinkle went many rounds, defeating the event’s largest field, 54 runners to claim the title.

MCATS was the major event debut of MOPAR MAX publisher Richard Kratz’s new driver, Jennifer Caputo-Armstrong and she was impressive! She went rounds in several contests and only turned on one red light. It was a great start for the new LIQUID GLOW pilot!

Lee Anderson ruled the day in the hotly contested A/FX category. The Grand Jct., Colo. racer bested a large field of 34 factory ‘hot rods’ to claim the title over R/up Rick Ulmer.


Other winners included:


Stock/Super Stock…

Champion…..Jesse Sanderson  South Jordan, UT  10.80 118.02

R/up…………Brian Sanderson   South Jordan, UT  10.84  122.69



Champion…..Lee Anderson  Grand Jct. CO  12.02  110.79

R/up…………Rick Ulmer       Colo. Springs, CO  11.28  118.34


Modern Muscle…

Champion…..Andre Crowe    Sun City, CA   12.35  107.52

R/up…………Lonnie Bartley  Murrieta, CA   12.45  109.32


Helcat Challenge…

Champion…..Robert Wood   Laveen, AZ   10.11  137.36

R/up…………Al Viceacobos  Riverside, CA  NT


Truck Eliminator…

Champion…..Nick Ariotti          Boulder City, NV  12.24  90.47

R/up…………Bryan Swanson  Chino Hills, CA  17.35  77.44


Scat Pac 392…

Champion…..Jess Rose      Ephrata, WA   10.67  136.72

R/up…………Rudy Lopez    Downey, CA   11.64  91.97


Sport Compact…

Champion…..Kendall Garrard   Lake Point, UT  15.64  94.32

R/up…………Clayton Ward       Huntington, UT  14.75  98.02


Pony Car Wars…

Champion…..Phillip Irby      Boulder City, NV  11.40  116.14

R/up…………Kevin Waller   San Diego, CA  10.32  133.68


Street Trophy…

Champion…..John Irving       Boulder City, NV  11.40  116.14

R/up…………Travis Waller    San Diego, CA  12.52  108.07


Mopars vs the World…

Champion…..Aaron Huckfeldt  Hay Springs, Ne  11.15  112.72

R/up…………Nick Ariotti           Boulder City, NV  13.01  100.88


Super Pro…

Champion…..Paul Peterson    Suffield, OH    7.87   155.52

R/up…………Mark Beavin       Clovis, CA   11.14  116.87



Champion…..Adam Hinkle   Clovis, CA   11.69  114.68

R/up…………Nick Ariotti       Boulder City, NV  12.98  103.30



Champion…..John Piller          Lancaster, CA  17.73  61.90

R/up…………Don Faldowski   West Point, UT    9.10


Foot Brake…

Champion…..Phillip Irby          Boulder City, UT   11.36  116.91

R/up…………Mike Cortez       Fresno, CA    10.77  124.49

MOPAR MAX MAGAZINE editor Richard Kratz was a busy man during the three-day event. He is shown here with his new writer for the magazine and driver of the Liquid Glow Dodge Magnum wagon, Jennifer Caputo-Armstrong.

The biggest Champions of the 2018 event are promoters Phil and Jill Painter! They worked tirelessly during the 100 degree heat on Friday, then Friday night at the Downtown Car Show, and kept the race on pace to it’s conclusion.


This writer has had the pleasure of reporting on several Painter events through the years. 2018 had record entries, tons of action, and lots of awards for the racers. We look forward to 2019! 


Nick Ariotti

The Super Pro title went to Paul Peterson from Suffield, Ohio, who out ran Mark Beavin in the final.

Todd Ishibashi’s wheel standing 1969 Chevrolet Camaro.

John Piller, perennial winner at MCATS, won Stick Eliminator.

Nick Ariotti and Brian Sanderson

Rick Ulmer

Darren Williams – Canada



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