Derek Wahl broke so much new ground Wednesday night at Maryland International Raceway that an official almost ran out of space adding records on a sheet posted inside the track headquarters.
The Winchester, Va., drag racer reset the E.T. record twice and the speed record three times en route to winning the Top Street division in the WPGC 95.5 Pro Street Invitational, an all-street car event featuring Professional Pro Street, Super Stang, Top Street and Midnight Madness classes.
Pat Musi, of Carteret, N.J., won the Professional Pro Street Final--the main event--with a time of 6.933 seconds and a top speed of 201.61 mph.
Both of Wahl's best marks came in the semifinal run, when he finished with a time of 8.311 seconds and a top speed of 167.84 mph. He won the final run against Michael Fortney, of St. Thomas, Pa., with marks of 8.317 E.T. and 167.59--just missing two more records.
"It's never enough," said Wahl, who has raced 10 years--often at MIR on Friday night's Midnight Madness--but didn't become increasingly serious and competitive until last year. "You run a good number, then you want to go faster. Then you better the number, and you want to go faster. It's addictive.
"We just do round by round, and if the record comes, it comes. We don't go out and try to set the world on fire or anything. But if a record is going to come, even better."
Wahl's performance at the invitational is even more impressive considering that this year he has raced only five times, including his first national-level race at Cecil County, where he finished second. He is racing in two weeks at Reading, Pa., in another national-level race.
"All this time and effort that the team put in it, all the sacrifices that we made to get where we are, are starting to pay off," said Wahl, who is sponsored by CDE Motorsports of Fairfax, Va., and has a new engine this year. "People are taking notice of not only how well the car runs, but how good the car looks."
He consistently praised his team members.
"You can't have it without a good team," said Wahl, whose sleek black 1994 Camaro adds to his mystique. "We took the time to do the car, to make the car really nice. More and more people are realizing the potential of the car."
Also emerging is the potential of Wahl himself. The track announcer hyped Wahl's exploits all night, with his excitement growing each time.
"The announcer, he took a liking to me," Wahl said. "We met him for the first time today. He said he's going to make me a superstar. I'm all for that. As long as my head doesn't get too big we'll be okay."
CAPTION: Tony Gentile, of Manalapan, N.J., pulls up to the starting line driving his '69 Camaro in the Pro Street Invitational at Maryland International Raceway.