Parson, Rhodes, Schehr, and Payne Capture Shakedown Wins With Holley EFI


Parson, Rhodes, Schehr, and Payne Capture Shakedown Wins With Holley EFI


The 20th running of the Shakedown Nationals offered several Holley EFI-equipped racers an opportunity to enter the winners circle. The event, held at Virginia Motorsports Park under the watchful eye of promoter Tyler Crossnoe and track owner Tommy Franklin, offers an opportunity for slick-tire and radial-tire racers to come together at the same track on the same weekend, with classes designed to maximize participation while offering spectators an excellent show.

This year’s event featured four classes where Holley EFI shines: X275, Ultra Street, Limited 235 Radial, and Top Sportsman.

X275 Winner: Scott Parson

Shakedown22 X275 Winner: Scott Parson

Just a few short weeks ago, X275 racer Scott Parson captured the event win at the Yellowbullet Nationals, and here, he repeated his performance with a strong showing to take home two healthy payouts in the span of three weeks. His win at the Shakedown did not come without struggle, though – just like the team experienced a few weeks ago in Maryland.

“It was a great weekend. We knew we had a small transmission issue, so we switched to our backup transmission and got there early Thursday to test. We knew we had a small issue with it before the 60-foot mark that was upsetting the chassis, so we switched from our three-speed to our two-speed. It’s a completely different animal,” says Parson.

The Thursday test session gave the team some workable data, and crew chief James Smith of JSC Race Cars put them into the provisional top spot during the evening qualifying session.

Parson, along with Smith and crewman Sonny Nichols, powered through strong competition to nail down the top qualified spot over Domenic DiDonato with a 4.250 elapsed time, just eight ticks quicker than DiDonato’s 4.258 run.

“If I was missing one or the other, we wouldn’t do it. There’s no picking up anybody else for me; I’ve got the people I want to race with,” he says.

Shakedown22 X275 Winner: Scott Parson 2

With two X275 points races going on this weekend, the car count wasn’t as high as it has been at other events in 2022. An odd number of racers on the qualifying sheet put Parson into the semifinals via a first-round bye.

There, he faced off against Jason Berchoff’s small-block Mustang and almost tossed his chance to win the event. Berchoff got out of the hole first with a .032 reaction time to Parson’s .078 light, but on the big end the Charlie Buck-built big-block in Parson’s machine turned on the win light by a scant .032-second to move on to the final round against none other than X275 kingpin Ron Rhodes—also his final-round opponent at Yellowbullet two weeks ago.

Here, he had no wiggle room knowing that Rhodes had lane choice and also the quicker car on this day—Rhodes had posted the quickest ETs all day. The lights dropped and Parson left first with a .016 reaction time to Rhodes’ .037 light. He needed every single bit of that advantage as Rhodes thundered downtrack with a quicker ET: 4.278 at 166.79 mph to Parson’s 4.292/168.32 mph run. Margin of victory at the stripe? Just seven thousandths of a second, or a hair less than 20 ¾ inches. Parson’s reaction time gave him the edge to capture the victory.

“We picked away at it all weekend. I’m very happy with everything. When we ended the weekend, I think we were at 17 or 18 total clean passes on this combination,” he says.

With two major event wins sprinkled into those runs, Scott Parson has set himself up with a winning X275 combination.

Ultra Street Winner: Ronny Rhodes

Shakedown22 Ultra Street winner: Ronny Rhodes

A stacked field of 18 Ultra Street cars took to the track at the Shakedown Nationals, led through the qualifying sessions by Ronny Rhodes. His ‘68 Camaro stopped the clocks with a 4.480 at 156 mph—just the second time the car has been into the .40s—and Rhodes felt good about his chances heading into the elimination rounds on Saturday. With fellow Holley EFI-equipped racers Dylan Wile, Steve Beaston Jr., and Don Barnett hot on his heels, Rhodes had his work cut out for him on race day.

“We’ve been trying a lot of different things throughout this year. We use our races at Cecil to try different things with the motor and converter, trying to gear up for Yellowbullet. We had a good weekend and it seemed like at the end we figured it all out. Going into Shakedown I felt like we had a good car,” he says.

“In Q1 I put something in it that I knew would go down the track and it busted out a 4.48; we were pretty proud of that. After that, I just had to race each race. I think we have a car that we can keep moving forward with. We knew we could get it there, and we finally got it. I’m very, very happy. “

Shakedown22 Ronny Rhodes

Rhodes took out Matt Schalow’s Fox Mustang in the first round, 4.58 to Schalow’s 4.86, then cruised through the second with a bye. On that pass, he dropped a tuneup into the car that he thought would go down the track and was rewarded with a strong 4.52 effort, as the track surface continued to come around into the night. Valerie Clements awaited him in the quarterfinals, and Rhodes continued to chip away at the tuneup, dropping a 4.517 onto the board at nearly 157 mph to Clements’ losing 4.669/151 mph effort.

Fellow Delawarean Billy Brown sat between Rhodes and the final round. Brown got away first with a .069 reaction time to Rhodes’ .081, and at the stripe Rhodes got there first, 4.522 to Brown’s 4.551—just seventeen thousandths separated the pair at the top end, with Rhodes claiming the victory and earning a spot in the final round opposite Chuck “Chuck Wagon” Bartholme—another Holley EFI user. Unfortunately, the Chuck Wagon was rolled back off the starting line after a small leak was discovered, and Rhodes cruised to an easy victory to claim the 2022 Shakedown Nationals title.

He credits his Holley EFI system and the relationship he’s developed with Holley EFI engineer Ryan Witte as a major help to his program.

“The fuel injection system has taken my program to the next level. The motor is a lot happier and more consistent, and it allows you to fine-tune everything. It makes my tuning decisions 100 easier. You can fix anything in the motor; if you have one cylinder that looks a little weird, you can fix it. It’s not like a carburetor deal where you’ve got what you’ve got, and you can’t fix it. It’s made everything easier. And the support has been great,” he says.

Limited 235 Winner: Brad Schehr

Showdown22 Limited 235 Winner: Brad Schehr

As he comes all the way from Fort Myers, Florida, just making it to Virginia Motorsports Park is quite the haul for Limited 235 winner Brad Schehr.

“I was able to pit next to Chuck [Bartholme] and CJ Little and we set up camp in the pits, cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and we had a good time. Those guys enjoy racing as much as myself. After qualifying, We were all as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. We got through first round and that calmed us a little bit so we could focus,” he says.

Without the opportunity to test ahead of time, Schehr had come off a win recently at the Ohio Valley Prize Fight in his ProCharged Mustang, and didn’t have the opportunity to test ahead of the Shakedown. He says the car felt like it never left Ohio all during the race, scoring the second qualified spot behind fellow Holley EFI racer Jason Riley with a 4.917 to Riley’s quicker 4.90 ET.

Schehr switched to Holley EFI several years ago from another, older system. He had been looking for a while, and many conversations pointed him in Holley’s direction.

“I was looking for something user-friendly and similar to my old engine management system. Some of the others are a little bit more advanced. I needed something I could learn quickly. I love it, and I tell everyone about it. One of the coolest things about it; I’ll tell Dez [Mike Dezotell, his tuner] that I wish we could do something, and he says ‘Oh it can do that, we just need to figure out how to build it and wire it to make it work.’ Being able to change your tuneup in the staging lanes is ideal. With radial tire racing, it takes eight pairs to go down and the track is not what it was, and you have to be able to make decisions. We can adjust the timing curve and launch RPM with a 12-way switch. That’s something we’ve worked on recently. If you don’t have a tuner there with you to tell you make a change, your starting line guy can tell you to turn it up or down and that can be done by turning the switch. That’s important for daytime racing. Mike is fulltime tuning several other cars; for me it’s more part-time/remote, but he plays a role. Sometimes I can get lost like a lot of us hobbyists; we start going in the wrong direction, and you need someone like him to reel you back in and clean up the map,” he says.

Schehr navigated the Shakedown by himself as Dez wasn’t able to make it, and it appears he did a fine job all on his own.

Chris Sparks fell to Schehr in the first round as he didn’t make a full pull, while Schehr clicked off an easy 5.002 at 142 mph. In the second round he came up against the familiar “Honk If Parts Fall Off” 1967 Malibu of Rick Steinke, which also didn’t make a full hit while Schehr cruised to an even-stronger 4.94 blast entering the semifinal round, where he had the competition bye to slide right into the finals opposite number-one qualifier Riley.

There, another gift landed in his lap when Riley struck the tire; Schehr’s Mustang was on a roll, clicking off a 4.897 blast at nearly 145 mph to capture the event win.

“In the end, the car did its job, we made good decisions, and we had a good time while we got the W,” he says.

Top Sportsman Winner: Kendall and Mark Payne

Shakedown22 Top Sportsman Winner: Payne

Twenty-nine entries in the Top Sportsman class, with several heavy hitters coming from the PDRA, meant that Kendall Payne would feel right at home in his Holley EFI-equipped LS-powered Cavalier. This event marked Kendall’s first time behind the wheel of the Cavalier; it’s normally driven by his dad, Mark, in the PDRA’s Top Sportsman class.

Joseph Neagle, Andy Tibbs, and PDRA hitters Robbie Crenshaw and Rodney Pryor all fell to the Payne machine, and in the final round, another PDRA hitter-Stacy Johnson, waited patiently. And waited...and waited, as the Payne Cavalier wouldn’t fire. The Payne team thrashed to get the nose off and find a tool long enough to jump the starter, and just as the two-minute clock was nearing its bell, the car fired up and the team slammed the nose back on, while Johnson waited patiently in his Camaro in the opposite lane.

When the tree dropped, Johnson nailed down the advantage, .013 to Payne’s .025 light, but on the big end Payne’s Cavalier ran dead 8 on a 4.30 dial-in to Johnson’s 4.595 on 4.57. Drama, excitement, and pandemonium reigned for the Payne team as they secured a win at one of the biggest races around.

Shakedown22 Payne win celebration

Shakedown 2022 Runner-Ups

Shakedown22 X275 Ron Rhodes

Runner-Up, X275

  • Ron Rhodes

Showdown22 Ultra Street RU Bartholme

Runner-Up, Ultra Street

  • Chuck Bartholme

Shakedown22 Real Street RU Reggio

Runner-Up, Real Street

  • Justin Reggio


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