Lulingís Val Harmon cemented himself as one of the top racers in the NHRA circuit after winning his first national competition.
Harmon won the championship in the Super Street drag racing division after beating Stephen Funderburk of New Iberia in the Cajun Sports Nationals. Harmon had a time of 10.918 seconds.
Harmon opened the event with wins against Charlie Owens, Curtis Mezzic, defending event champion Chris LeBlanc and Bart Nelson. In the final, Harmon and Funderburk left the starting line at nearly the same time with Funderburk nabbing a .007-second advantage. At the top end, Harmon was able to outmaneuver Funderburk for a 10.91 to 10.93 victory.
"It really felt great to get a win on a national level," Harmon said. "We have wanted this for a long time. The feeling of getting a win at this level was phenomenal. Every level in your body is at an all time high when you get down to those last few rounds."
Making the win even more special was the fact that Harmon claimed his championship on his home track of No Problem Raceway, which is located in Belle Rose.
"The victory at our home track was even better. A lot of times when we travel and we have gotten wins at a divisional level we only get to enjoy the win by ourselves because most people have left to make the long ride home on a Sunday night," Harmon said. "It was nice to share the win with fellow racers and friends."
Harmonís win came in a 1967 Chevrolet Chevy II that he has had for five years. It has a 540 cubic-inch block Chevy motor backed by a two-speed powerglide transmission. The car gets to 146 miles per hour at an elapsed time of 10.90.
Harmon, 32, first got into drag racing eleven years ago when his father Mark took him to Donaldsonville to watch a race.
"It was something I did as a 20-year-old and Val is a big car buff so I thought he would enjoy it," Mark said. "Within two weeks from watching that race, we had found an old car and rebuilt it."
Harmon started racing as an amateur, and took to it so quickly that it was only a matter of time before he set his sights on the divisional circuit.
"I just felt like we needed to pick up a car that was capable of winning and we had a good shot," Harmon said.
That ended up being the case. In Harmonís first year in the NHRA, he earned enough points for a second-place finish and was nominated for Rookie of the Year honors. Four years later, he got his first national win.
"Competition is what draws me to the sport, that and the fact that I am indeed a motorhead. I love anything with a motor," Harmon said. "I have always loved competition growing up with sports even as a child. It was a natural fit for my family."
And Harmonís family is with him every step of the way, traveling across the country to watch him compete.
"It is a great bonding time for my parents and I," he said. "We spend a lot of time together anyway, whether we are at one of our camps or just working on the farm on the weekend. If it wasnít for them, I wouldnít be able to enjoy this sport."