Champions look back on their stellar Mile-High Nationals win
As seen in the 2022 Bandimere Speedway Fan Guide
Stark’s go back-to-back as Kari snags the prestigious Wally
The Dodge Power Brokers Mile-High NHRA Nationals have been good to the Stark family over the years, and 2021 was no different as Kari Stark brought home the treasured Wally in Top Dragster. But flash back to a week before the event; Stark wasn't even sure if entering the On Track Performance category was in the cards.
“Before the event, I made a last-minute decision to not race Super Comp and race Top Dragster,” Stark said. “Every Mile-High Nationals I’ve ever entered, it was a good time—spend time with friends—but I didn’t think the Mile-High Nationals was ever a thing I could ever put on my list of accomplishments.”
Now it is as the treasured Wally won by Kari will sit next to the trophy awarded to her husband, Tony, in 2019. Racing as a couple means a great deal to Stark and she says it has pushed her to be the best racer she can be. The comfort of being surrounded by friends and family and being at her home track at Bandimere Speedway have certainly played a part in relaxation, focus, and thus, better laps down the race track on the way to the Wally.
”As the weekend went on, I never got in my head like I normally do,” Stark continued. “It was interesting looking back at the weekend at how different I was driving. I do think with less pressure on yourself, you end up surprising yourself. Whatever happens, happens.” It’s the crowning achievement for many racers to win their first national event at their home track, and it will go down as a special weekend.
“I’m thankful for so many—my husband, Tony, and both of our parents. My friends make it so special: Bri, Josh, Bradley, Mikey, Cassie, and Eric, my mom, and even having my father working in the water box on Sunday was incredible.”
Tim Schell Wins Super Street, the Wally for Dad
It’s been a long road of racing for Colorado local Tim Schell that now includes a Wally dedicated to his father.
At such a prestigious event like the Dodge Power Brokers Mile-High NHRA Nationals, it’s understandable for the first-round jitters to get to a racer. But with years of guidance from his father, Woodrow Schell, and the comfort of a home track, something was different.
“I definitely get the first-round jitters like a lot of racers do,” Schell said. “But that particular weekend, I felt like it’s my home track, I’ve raced here for many, many years. I try not to let the whole race overwhelm me. I was more relaxed than I felt at this event then I have been in year’s past. This year was a much more relaxed approach, and it paid off.”
Schell’s road to his Wally couldn’t be achieved alone. He dedicates his Wally to a late close friend and his late father. “Even though he’s not here with us anymore—my father—I’m so grateful. I also had a good friend of mine, Mike Vitamvas, pass away this year. I’d like to dedicate this to him and my dad. They were both so instrumental in my racing and are both very special to me.”
Schell also thanks his mother, Diane, and her husband, Ron; Pat Condon Race Cars; his family including his sister, Vicky; and the entire Johnson family: Bre, Blake, Steve; Fineline Signs and Graphics; and all of his racing friends at Bandimere Speedway that make racing on Thunder Mountain special. “Unbelievable. Like, wow. It was amazing, I have never had that feeling before. Something I’ve been chasing for so many years and I almost had it once, and luckily got a second chance—some people don’t get that second chance—but I got a second chance and came out on top this time.”
Scheitlin’s wait for the Wally is over
For Dwayne Scheitlin, racing at his home track at Bandimere Speedway made winning the Stock Eliminator category at the Dodge Power Brokers Mile-High NHRA Nationals a sweet one. Waiting 50 years, however, made it just about the best weekend ever.
“I’ve been racing for over 50 years,” Scheitlin said of his career that now includes the prestigious Wally. “The national event Wally has been elusive, and it’s so hard to get one. It ranks high; it’s one of those things that I really wanted. To win it at Bandimere Speedway is just icing on the cake because it’s my home track.”
That career of Scheitlin’s includes championships at Bandimere Speedway that date back to the 1970s and a whole lot of laps on his beautiful 440 six-pack 1970 Dodge Challenger. “The car has been way better than the driver,” said Scheitlin, but credit is due to him since he cut the better light in every round of competition he ran. In the finals, Scheitlin utilized the jump-off the line with a .017 light against Craig Maddox and his new muscle, Maddox Motors Dodge Challenger, to edge out the fellow Mopar runner for the Wally.
Scheitlin sends a special thank you to Debbie Parker and racing friends Scott Burton and the late-Steve Hagberg, as well as the many others who make racing at Bandimere Speedway fun and enjoyable.
A family win for the Nicoletti’s in Super Comp
After coming close in several tries at the famed Wally, Shannon Nicoletti finally reached the pinnacle, scoring the win in Super Comp in 2021 with his family by his side—quite literally.
Racing as a family is what the Nicoletti’s do. One by one, the dragsters line up tire-to-tire waiting in the staging lanes. “I think it’s the coolest thing there is,” Nicoletti said. “As a family, three of us running in the same class, the hope is we can get far without racing each other. But at the end of the day it’s fun, and we’re there for each other, win or lose, even if we have to race each other.”
Father, Greg, and sister, Kami, helped clear the way for Shannon who took down a competitive Super Comp category in 2021, including five of the final six drivers all of whom were locals in the category. Nicoletti was on the tree all day, cutting a perfect light in the semi-finals en route to the win.
“I don’t know if there are words to describe the whole thing. One of the craziest things about it leading up to it: that week I had sent my mom flowers and just said ‘hey, we’re going to the Mile-High’s and we’re going to bring home a Wally.’"