ROCKINGHAM, N.C. – Carson “Big Check” Emmett, one of the nation’s most accomplished Jr. Dragster racers, walked away with the biggest prize during the third annual Holiday Jr. Jam championship contested Thanksgiving weekend at Rockingham Dragway.
The Cedar Bluff, Ala., racer got a free ride to the winner’s circle and the $5,000 top prize in Saturday’s Main Event when final-round foe Mayah Gross of Fairmont, West Va., was guilty of a foul start.
A two-time winner of the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing Eastern Finals (2015 and 2018) and a two-time winner at the 2018 Midwestern Super Series event at The Rock, Emmett beat Cohen Layton of Myrtle Beach, S.C., in the transfer round before topping Cole Paone of Galloway, N.J.; Maicy Stewart, also of Fairmont; and Gross.
Gross, runner-up in a major event at The Rock for a second time (she was a 7.90 Index finalist at the same Midwestern Super Series race in which Emmett was dominant in 2018), began her march to the final with a transfer win over 2020 Big John Memorial Bracket Championship winner Michael Hypes of Blacksburg, Va. She then beat Zach Parlett of Charlotte Hall, Md., last year’s 8.90 Index winner, and Jorden Denny of Manassas, Va., the 10-13 age group winner a year ago, to earn a berth opposite Emmett. She earned $1,000 as the runner-up.
Paone, the only 6-9-year-old among the final seven, earned that spot by beating Rebekah Peterson of Martin, Mich., younger sister of inaugural Holiday Jr. Jam champion Samuel Peterson.
Weather once again was an issue, halting competition for three and a half hours on Saturday and therefore postponing the completion of the Pro Tree events until Sunday when Vaughn Dunn of Jackson, N.J.; Braydon Deal of Canfield, Ohio (pictured); Cory Reed of Winder Ga.; and Paone prevailed in the 7.90, 8.90, 11.90 and 13.90 classes, respectively.
Friday’s Gamblers Race winners were Santana McMillian of Virginia Beach, Va.; Dexter Gomez of Amherst, Ohio; and Bryant Crawford of Donalds, S.C., who won the 6-9 class by beating Run for the Money winner Jason Johnson Jr. of McDonough, Ga., in the finale. Elizabeth Finamore of Charlotte Hall, Md., and James Paylor of North East, Md., were the 10-13 and 14-18 Run for the Money winners, respectively.
Will Willard of Crockett, Va., won the $500 top prize in Friday’s golf cart race, then reached the semifinals in Sunday’s Pro Tree competition where he lost to eventual runner-up Jake Harvanek of Cheswick, Pa. – Steve Earwood