Special Motorsports Event - 2012 Lingenfelter Weekend in Ohio
By Steve Purdy
The last time this reporter attended a drag race was probably in the
late 1980s, so when invited to the Lingenfelter Performance Nationals at
Summit Motorsports Park near Norwalk, Ohio, I was intrigued to make the
trip. Not only would I see some serious drag racing but first-rate
autocross and a bring-what-you-like car show as well.
For the past few years Ken Lingenfelter, owner of Lingenfelter
Performance Engineering, has hosted a customer appreciation weekend but
decided now is the time to open it up to all racing fans by hosting a much
larger event. With three days of competition they conspired to bring
together enthusiasts of racing and high performance products, whether their
customers or not, to play, play, play with their race cars, street cars and
Arriving midday on Saturday (day two of the event) I signed in and
just hung out in the grandstands while a series of dragsters drew up to the
starting line, smoked their tires a bit beyond the line to heat them up,
then backed into position for the start. Even though I was probably 50
yards away at the top of the grandstands I could feel the ground vibrate as
they revved those powerful engines holding the revs right where they needed
as the lights sequenced to green. Then the low roar suddenly exploded as
they sped down the quarter mile, reminding me I had forgotten my earplugs.
After lunch I wandered out to the far side of the paddock where a
large, fast and challenging autocross course entertained another kind of
racer – those who eschew straight-line speed preferring to zip in and
out of a zig-zaggy race course defined by orange cones in a big paved lot.
The average time to complete this course was just over 36 seconds and the
competition was tough, mostly between the Corvettes and Camaros, many
sporting Lingenfelter performance enhancements. Even though I’ve
driven many autocross courses with varying levels of success these guys
were a good measure beyond my skill. A ride through the course with
accomplished autocrosser, Todd Ruppke pointed that out vividly as he
charged his Camaro through the course leaning, squealing and sliding with
what felt like reckless abandon but was really a fully controlled run. With
all that torque and sticky tires it’s tough to keep a balance between
roaring acceleration and semi-controlled slide. If it were not for a tight
seat belt I would have been in his lap.
This Lingenfelter event comprises the last event of Optima
Battery’s Ultimate Street Car Invitational Qualifier, wherein
competitors who have won in one of nine events throughout the year get to
compete for the championship near Las Vegas just after the annual SEMA show
in November. The competition involves racing, rallying, braking and
acceleration, style and design.
A variety of vendors fleshed out the paddock, including Corsa
Performance Exhausts. With manufacturing facilities in nearby Cleveland,
Corsa partners regularly with Lingenfelter, including being installed on
all of the latter’s cars. In the paddock they were selling and
installing their performance exhaust systems and they provided a portable
dynamometer on a trailer to measure performance before and after
installation. PR guy, Paul Santiago, speculated that the Dodge Challenger
Hemi they were working on as I watched would realize an increase of 12
horsepower and 15 pound-feet of torque. It was both fun and instructive to
watch the skilled Corsa technicians work under the car.
Also in the paddock Lingenfelter’s wife, Kristin, displayed a
line of clothing for racing enthusiasts that she has designed and manages.
Starting out with a few hats and shirts she has expended into other lines
In the grass just outside the drag strip grandstand show cars
gathered for the third leg of the event. A variety of mostly performance
cars compete there for prizes as well. I missed the big day for the show
– Sunday – and not many had gathered on Saturday as I left,
perhaps because of the seriously threatening skies to the west.
The Lingenfelter Performance Nationals will be an event to keep an
eye on in future years as we expect it will grow. The partnership with
Summit Motorsports Park is a good one giving them plenty of room to grow.
Keep track of this motor head’s event at