Lancaster gasses Williams at drags

Posted: Tuesday, August 01, 2000

Head-to-head, door-to-door, 1/8 mile, first mayor to the end wins. Two out of three times Sunday, the first mayor to the end of the drag strip at the Soldotna airport was hometown favorite Ken Lancaster, who defeated sister-city mayor John Williams of Kenai.

"It was a lot of fun," Lancaster said Monday. "It was an eliminator (race), best two out of three, so I let John have the first one."

Lancaster actually red-lighted with a .490 reaction time on the first run. His time for the run was 8.3 seconds at 85 mph did not count, as a red light disqualifies the racer for leaving the starting line too early.

On his next run, Lancaster posted an elapsed time of 8.2 seconds at 85.88 mph. His third run was a little slower, at 8.6 seconds and 78.53 mph, but was good enough to win nonetheless.

Williams said he had several good runs during the day, but experienced problems in the last race.

"Due to circumstances somewhat out of my control, I was unable to muster enough RPMs or horsepower to complete the run in a winning fashion," Williams said. "It was just an unfortunate set of circumstances that led to the loss of the contest."

Nevertheless, Kenai's mayor said he would absolutely race again if another mayors' grudge race was held.

Williams said his best time was 8.56 seconds at 86.3 mph during the second run.

The rest of his elapsed times and top speed figures were not available.

The mayors staged their races throughout the day, running the first race, one in the middle of the day, and then the last one.

"We wanted to keep their interest and put on a good show for the people," Lancaster said.

Lancaster drove "Happy Bear," a customized 1936 Chevrolet pickup built buy Bill Banta, a city of Soldotna employee.

"The truck ran perfect," Lancaster said. "It's an absolutely beautiful truck."

Williams drove a 1950s era Studebaker Silver Hawk owned by Don Petroze.

Besides bragging rights for the next year, Lancaster received a check from the Cook Inlet Lions Club Drag Racing Division, which sponsored the shootout. He said he will donate the money to the local office of the Blood Bank of Alaska and Hospice of the Central Peninsula.

Soldotna's mayor also took a few runs in a neighbor's 1968 Chevrolet Corvette, but didn't do as good as in Happy Bear.

"I red-lighted the first one, was beat the second run, but won the last one," Lancaster said.

This is the first year the Lions have drag raced in Soldotna, under a deal with the city government.

"I'm excited to have drags out at the airport," Lancaster said. "It's a good draw for people from all around the area."

And with Soldotna's mayor winning the first mayor's shootout, chances are good the races will continue at the airport for some time to come.

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