Skyview Drags' Randi Teed
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Skyview Drags' Jr. Dragster Randi Teed makes history at 2012 IHRA Bracket Finals

TIOGA CENTER, N.Y. -- Skyview Drags in Tioga Center, N.Y. opened mid-season in 2004 as the culmination of a dream that owner George Swansbrough had of putting a drag strip on top of a mountain in the heart of beautiful upstate New York. The track sent its first racing team to the IHRA Division 3 Bracket Finals in 2005 and every year since. This year, the largest team ever, 39 of the track’s best racers, made their way south to Pittsburgh Raceway Park to represent Team Skyview at their eighth Bracket Finals. It would be a historical weekend for the track. On Thursday, Sept. 20, the day began with two time trials for all classes. An Early Bird Gamblers Race was then held and Team Skyview came out strong with Sled Racer Randy Teed from Friendsville, Pa. taking the runner-up spot on his Arctic Cat in the Bike/Sled class, and his 16-year old daughter Haley Teed taking the win in the Junior Dragster class. On Friday, Sept. 21, the racers from all ten Division 3 tracks racked up some more seat time with an additional time trial before the Summit Super Series took over the track. Each team had their own Summit Super Series runoffs at their respective tracks. The racer in Box, No Box, and for the first time in the history of the IHRA Junior Dragster classes who earned the most points in their first 30 rounds of racing earned the Summit Super Series championship for their track. These racers were then pitted against each other, by class, for the Division 3 championship and the right to represent the division at the World Championships in Memphis, Tenn. In the Box class, Don Kiekel from Binghamton, N.Y. raced for Team Skyview for the third time in five years. In the No Box class, Tim Zyla from Sayre, Pa. raced for Team Skyview for the second consecutive year. And in the Junior Dragster class, 15-year old Randi Teed from Friendsville, Pa. was the inaugural Skyview Drags Summit Super Series champion and would race for Team Skyview.

Before taking the track, Teed spoke with 2008 Summit Super Series Division 3 Box Champion Don Kiekel who assured her that she was just as good if not better than every other racer on the track. Teed would take those words to heart and repeat them to herself over and over again during the racing weekend. Round 1 was unkind to the team's Box and No Box champions, but Randi Teed won her first round and now the hopes and dreams of an entire track rested on the shoulders of a 15-year old girl with only a couple of years of competition racing under her belt. Round after round, Teed took out the best of the best as she continued to dominate the field until there were only three Junior Dragster racers remaining.

Lewie Wortman from Thompson Raceway Park earned the bye run into the finals. Teed would have to face the young racer from Oxford Dragway who traveled 12 hours from Maine to represent her track. Just a few seconds later, Teed secured her spot in the World Championship when she won the semi-finals of the Summit Super Series. Teed would now face Wortman for the finals and the rights to being the first ever IHRA Junior Dragster Summit Super Series Division 3 Champion. For the final round, both racers left cleanly in a nearly heads up race. Teed had the advantage off the starting line, and approximately 7.9 seconds later she watched her win light come on and history was made.“When I saw my light come on,” said Teed, “I screamed!” So did all of her Skyview Team who knew exactly what Teed had just accomplished.

This is the third time in eight years that Skyview Drags has won the IHRA Division 3 Summit Super Series. Don Kiekel was the first to win when he did it in 2008 for the Box class and traveled to Rockingham, N.C. where he made it all the way to the final round of the World Championships. Ray Thurston IV from Towanda, Pa. won it in 2010 for the No Box class and traveled to Virginia Motorsports Park for his shot at the World Championships. Teed and her family will now make the trip to Memphis, Tenn. for her shot at the first ever World Championship title in Junior Dragster class. Following completion of the Summit Super Series pictures and awards, the High Dollar Gamblers Race got its start. In the Box class, John Cooper from Binghamton, N.Y. powered his dragster to the quarter finals and Tom Frank from Webster, N.Y. campaigned his Beretta to the semi-finals. In the Junior Dragster class, Dunham Hall from Syracuse, N.Y. chopped down the tree round after round and made it to the finals where he earned the runner-up spot for his efforts.

The track hosted a pizza party for Team Skyview in the evening and everyone enjoyed spending time together and relaxing after a great day of racing. Saturday, Sept, 22 would bring the start of the 2012 Bracket Finals for Team Skyview. With a 50 percent chance of rain on and off for the entire race day, every competitor got one time trial before taking the race track in the Top, Modified, Bike/Sled, Street and Junior Dragster classes.

The National Anthem was once again performed by Skyview Drags' very own Haley Teed. Her pitch perfect voice earned rave reviews for the second year in a row and as a result, IHRA officials asked Teed to perform the National Anthem at the IHRA World Championships in Memphis, Tenn. this year. Rain delays in the morning gave the team a late start to the Big Show, but once underway the IHRA staff and Pittsburgh Raceway Park crew got the show moving at a fast pace. Team Skyview fared well during Round 1 eliminations with most of the racers making their way through. Rain interrupted Round 2 eliminations with only the Street and Junior Dragster classes completing their round.

With the imminent threat of severe weather, the IHRA called it a day and sent the teams scurrying for cover before rain showers, winds and cold temperatures settled into the area. Undaunted by the turn in the weather, the Teed family hosted a racers party in the evening where everyone enjoyed fabulous food and a relaxing time together.

Sunday, Sept. 23 was a cool but beautiful race day. Everyone still in competition got one time trial before racing resumed with the Modified class. Competition was fierce with all classes, and the field was slowly halved round after round. By the semi-finals, only Don Kiekel remained in Top and Randi Teed and Dunham Hall remained in Junior Dragsters. Unfortunately, Kiekel lost his round but was happy to have made it to the final four. “A win would have been better, obviously,” said Kiekel “but my dragster ran well and I was hitting the tree good all day.”

For the Junior Dragster semi-finals, Hall earned a bye run into the finals. Teed would once again have to race in order to earn her spot in the finals. And earn it she did! The Junior Dragster Bracket Finals would now be all Team Skyview for 2012. “I am so proud of our team,” said Skyview Director Amy Culver, who was unable to join her racers at the Bracket Finals due to family obligations. This is the third time in Skyview’s eight years of Bracket Finals that a final has been all Team Skyview. In 2011, Kathy Kiekel from Binghamton, N.Y. won the Top ET class against Jesse Alberts from Fleetwood, Pa. And in 2009, Team Skyview dominated in the Bike/Sled class when Skippy Tamburino from Westernville, N.Y. defeated Lynn Major from Tioga Center, N.Y. With Teed and Hall ready to face each other in the finals, both young racers made their way onto the track. With Teed already securing her place in history with the Summit Super Series win earlier in the Bracket Finals, she would now attempt to make history again by being the first ever Junior Dragster racer to win the Summit Super Series and the Bracket Finals in the same year. Like the Summit Super Series, the Bracket Finals race would be nearly heads up.

Both racers left cleanly, but at the 1/8-mile finish line the large “W” shone brightly for Teed. The only thing shining brighter than her win light was Teed’s smile as she gathered with family and friends to once again celebrate her amazing 2012 Bracket Finals accomplishments and her history making events. Many will come after Teed, but none will ever be first. That honor belongs completely to Teed and she earned both wins with sportsmanship and grace.

While the Bracket Finals were drawing to conclusion on Sunday, a final Gamblers race was also being run at the track. Congratulations to Junior Dragster racers Abby Hacker from Bainbridge, N.Y. and Morgan Burgess from Minnequa, Pa. who both made it to the semi-finals of this consolation race.

“Our Junior Dragster racers carried Team Skyview,” said Skyview’s Junior Dragster sponsor Don Kiekel, owner and operator of Precision Crankworks in Kirkwood, N.Y. “They were the best of the best in every race.” Moved to tears when Randi Teed won both events, Kathy Kiekel added, “I couldn’t be more proud of her and of all of our racers. Four years ago, my husband and I decided that we wanted to grow the Junior Dragster program at Skyview. We worked tirelessly with Amy Culver to put together a really solid program that would encourage young racers to join the sport and to hone their skills.” Both Don and Kathy saw the culmination of all of the hard work come out in this year’s Bracket Finals. “It was a dream come true for us”.

Text written and photos submitted by Amy Culver / Skyview Drags