The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway held its 2022 Las Vegas Bracket Nationals and 20th Annual Thanksgiving Weekend Special November 24-27, and Fallon's Mark Gonzales was right there with racers from the western third of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Track gates opened on November 22 for technical inspections that continued into the next day when the time trials were also held for the Sportsman, Pro, and Super Pro classes that would be competing for purses for each class. Bracket elimination rounds of drag strip racing continued for four days. The bracket racing format allows drivers in many types of vehicles, including dragsters, roadsters, and others to compete on an equal basis against each other. Pairings are random, and winning purses range from $50 to $5,000. Gonzales said he was entered in the Pro class with the possibility of winning $2,000, “which for a little guy is pretty good.” It was his first time in this Las Vegas race. He said, “The winner would go six rounds every day. The first two days I went three rounds, then on the third and fourth days, I lost in the first round. I didn't do well, but for little guy racers like me, these are the A-list racers, the top of the heap. I was not up to their level.”
On Saturday, November 26 the Diecast Shootout competition was held which drew over 200 cars this year, and Gonzales was at the top level this time. He was chosen as one of eight with his 1966 Ford Mustang that he had spent four years of his spare time building. He said the car has a 588 cubic inch Ford engine pushing about 900 horsepower and was built to run fast. This is his third year racing the Mustang. “I did all the design work myself by observing other racers and picking what I liked from many different cars.”
“Track management calls this competition the Diecast Shootout because they think the cars are cool enough that they warrant a Diecast model made of them. It doesn't happen, but they just use the name. So out of all the cars entered, these are the ones that could be 'diecast-able'. Everyone is unique in their own way. Some in the picture are a '37 Chevy Panel, a '71 Opal Cadet, a '70 Monte Carlo, a '70 Barracuda, a '67 Camaro, a 56' Chevrolet Pickup, and me. My first time there, and I got picked for this.”
Gonzales competes regularly at Top Gun Drag Strip on Schurz Highway in Fallon, about 10 weekends per racing season, and plans to be there for the 2023 racing season.
“I have to be honest about it. Even though I did not do well at the racing in Vegas, I got noticed. And I thought it was noteworthy that I got picked for the top 8 out of all those cars for the Diecast Shootout.” This reporter would agree.