CA - March 11, 2019:
61st annual Good Vibrations March Meet was foretold to be
a weather related nightmare. Thankfully those bleak predictions
didn't quite pan out and with the exception of two short rain
delays the event went off without any major glitches and finished
on schedule everyday. That I believe is a first.
dry and there were a lot of cars who took advantage of the open
testing. It also featured one of the more dramatic funny car
accidents in memory. Nitro Nick took flight providing many photo
ops. Matt Bynum OK, car needs a doctor.
Back to Friday.
After some track drying in the AM the race officially kicked
off with all classes qualifying. The Pro cars featured two funny
car sessions and one each for top fuel and fuel altereds. All
other classes got their designated runs as well. After day one
it was Dan Horan's 5.665 @ 265.22 leading the way for the floppers
and Bret Williamson on the long car pole with a 5.736 @ 250.74.
The "WOW" moment of the day was Jim Maroney turning
the Candies & Hughes Barracuda into a dune buggy. There was
an upside, Steve Scott bought the roof for $150.00.
There is no doubt the wet forecasts kept a lot of racers and
fans from making the trip to Famoso and the Friday stands attested
to that with few spectators. However, word got back to LA et
al that Saturday would be dry and the fans came in droves. Despite
the cold temps that never let up all weekend it was SRO for final
nitro qualifying and round one of funny car.
The throngs were treated to some great runs and a round one of
funny car featuring an upset or three. Going into eliminations
Horan's 5.665 held for the #1 spot and he won his first round.
Rick White moved to the pole in top fuel with a 5.723 @ 254.52.
The days "WOW" moment came at the experience of the
Densham family. Steven won his first round race on a hole shot
over Ryan Konno but the cost was hardly worth it. Their 19 year
old "Teachers Pet" '69 Camaro body was reduced to rubble
in the lights. No spare (duh), no round two.
On Sunday the
program ended with Defending NHRA Heritage Series Funny Car champion
Bobby Cottrell picking up where he left off at the 2018 CHRR
winning funny car driving Bucky Austin's floppier.
in the winner's circle of the NHRA Heritage Series season opener
was Adam Sorokin (Nostalgia Top Fuel) and James Day (AA/Fuel
a 5.718-second elapsed time at 249.03 mph to stop the Cinderella-like
effort of first-time Funny Car racer Jerry Espeseth, who reached
the final in Jason Rupert's Camaro.
was really tough (Sunday), Cottrell said. The air
was a lot better than I think people thought and thank God Bucky
made the right calls and I just tried to drive the car to the
best of my ability.
always races in honor of his late father, the legendary Mike
Sorokin, scored his second Nostalgia Top Fuel title when defending
series champion Mendy Fry's dragster broke on the starting line.
Sorokin clocked a 5.844-second elapsed time at 212.16 mph on
the solo pass.
out pretty tough, actually, Sorokin said. We went
through a bunch of adversity and the guys kept putting the car
back together and it kept getting a little better each time.
I kind of knew by the way Bobby (McLennan) was helping in that
he had a tune-up in it. He tends to belt me in a little tighter
every time it is a little bit more hopped-up. Two March Meet
(wins) is unbelievable. One was a dream come true and to win
another is something special. This one is for Jim McLennan and
Mike Sorokin, my dad. Sorokin defeated Rick McGee, Rick
White to reach the final round.
The AA/Fuel altered
final looked like a classic rerun of the 2014 March meet Funny
Car final, or maybe a play out of James Day's classic starting
line caginess when as a major underdog he won the title over
This time Day
unexpectedly rolled in and deep-staged, and by the time multi-time
Bakersfield champion Dan Hix realized what had happened, the
former Funny Car pilot had nearly .08 on him out of the gate.
Cha Ching, holeshot win.
In the semi-professional
divisions, Dan Hix won the 5.90 Classic Funny Car class while
Mike Halstead repeated as event champion in Rear-engine Top Fuel.
With all that said, grab a drink,
put your feet up, and peruse the largest March Meet coverage
anywhere. 16 pages with over 3200 photos.
Photos by: Bob Brown, Dan Kaplan,
Arlene Eliason, Steve Scott and Don Ewald
In Top Fuel it
was underdog Adam Sorokin who took the Top Fuel win over Mendy
Fry in a dramatic final that saw the 2018 TF Champ Mendy Fry
sitting dead in the water when the tree went green. After running
the two quickest passes in FED history, 5.518 and a 5.490 to
reach the finals it was over when a 50 cent throttle linkage
bolt fell out at the hit. High Speeds loss was Champion's gain
with Sorokin motoring on down the track to a 5.83.
It was the second-generation
AA/Fuel Dragster drivers second March Meet win, both in the seat
of the Champion Speed Shop unique SBC powered fueler. With Sorokin
being the best leaver in the class and Bobby McLennan's crafty
ways the team is known for bursting through a door left ajar.
Case in point. Congrats to the entire team on a well deserved
In funny car
it was no surprise that 2018 World Champ Bobby Cottrell took
home the title for Austin & O'Brien, but his opponent in
the final was a total shock. When the smoke cleared (ask Densham)
the 16 car field boiled down to Cottrell and Jerry Espeseth.
While gearing up for his NHRA
Big Show debut, Jason Rupert entrusted his championship Littlefield
& Rupert Vega to Heritage Series Sportsman standout and sponsor
Jerry Espeseth, a stone rookie.
Espeseth was a quick study at
the Good Vibrations March Meet, not only qualifying for the 16-car
field but also in winning his first 3 rounds in a weekend which
has provided personal bests with each trip down the Auto Club
Famoso Raceway quarter-mile.
His Cinderella story came to
an end at the hands of Cottrell who drove Big Green to a 5.718
@ 249.03. Espeseth smoked the tires and shut off. Nonetheless,
what a debut.
But to get to
the finals, we need to take care of the business of qualifying
and eliminations. Hope you enjoy the coverage
The AA/FA class is gaining fans
by leaps and bounds, and funny car driver James Day thought it
would be a fun class to compete in. In his first attempt at driving
the most unpredictable cars in drag racing Day put on a clinic
of how to parlay the underdog role into a trip to the winner's
circle. He used a well-crafted routine of starting line prowess
to chalk up the win at the wheel of the Hertzig Motorsports AA/Fuel
Altered. In the final Dan Hix, a multi-time winner was his victim.
Day has now pulled off an enviable
feat of winning March Meet titles in two different classes.
Those were my two favorite
classes as a kid, Funny Car and Fuel Altered, Day said.
It really hasn't quite sunk in that I did it again. For
Bryan Hall and (Hertzig Motorsports) and all the guys, they believed
in me and gave me a great race car and it is just completely
'N TUNE THURSDAY
Here are a bunch of mostly
random shots from the kicking off the rust day. For many of us
it was the nitro fix we been waiting all winter for. No time.
2018 Heritage Series Top Fuel
Champion Mendy Fry and defending March Meet winner Pete Wittenberg
who was beginning the worst weekend of his short Top Fuel career.
Phil Ruskowski made the
trip down from Victoria BC, Canada.
After a nearly 2 year
sabbatical Rick White was back in the Neal & White entry.
After a dismal 2018 season, Brendan
Murry was back vowing, "problems solved". By all accounts
he was correct. Great to see him in a position to finally get
a baseline for the 426.
Try as they may to promote it,
the Rear Engine Top Fuel class still draws just 3 cars. Brad
Jim Murphy was back for an all
out assault on the 2019 championship. Starting with a new setup,
the learning curve needed a lot of work.
Mendy Fry on her second
Billy McDevitt getting
his hit in.
Sorokin hittin' the mouse.
Now is a good time to get "The
Wheel" out of the way as it appears in countless shots from
the weekend. Thanks to Bobby Bennett for the best explanation.
Wheels we are accustomed to at
a drag strip, but a Ferris wheel, this takes drag racing entertainment
to a whole new level.
"Not sure if we are the
first to have a Ferris Wheel at a drag strip, but we hope so,
we like being the first when it comes to thinking outside of
the box in entertainment features," said Blake Bowser, General
Manager of Auto Club Famoso Raceway.
"It's just one of those
little features we want to be part of the experience when people
leave the track they think, 'Now that was fun, let's go back
next time to see what they will add next."
While a drag race can sometimes
provide a carnival experience, Bowser said he's all for bringing
back the wheel and isn't opposed to adding a roller coaster in
"One thing we never need
to lose sight of in the future is that we are in the entertainment
business, whether it's on the track or in the pits and Midway
area," Bowser said. "We are here to experience more
than just drag racing. The Good Vibrations Motorsports is about
socializing, meeting old friends and having a good time. There's
a lot more out here at the March Meet than just drag racing."
Geno and Harley made
the day complete.
I'll open the funny car tests
with the first and worst. Matt Bynum took a very wild ride in
the championship caliber Matthews Motorsports "Nitro Nick"
Camaro that started with tire shake and ended in a four point
landing 1500' later. We were fortunate enough to get some great
sequence shots of the incident that left Matt with a bruised
ego and the car with multiple bruises, breaks and scratches.
May or may not be repairable. I would wager the team will be
back stronger than ever.
So far, so good.
Until is wasn't.... note
At this point the injectors
should have been closed, for good. They weren't.
Canadian Tim Boychuck who now
calls Scottsdale, AZ home got a baseline for his "Happy
Hour" (cool name) '69 Camaro.
Defending March Meet
champ Ryan Hodgson getting out of the groove, no harm no foul.
Jeff Utterback in the Pisano
Family Vega trying to get down the track for the lightly contested
Classic Funny Car class. Like the RED class, not many players.
Dan Hix in his funny
car debut also contesting the Classic Funny Car class.
Jeff Arend in the "California
The Candies & Hughes
Cuda body on the last day of its life.
STOP! It's a Jail Break!
Cory Lee shaking down
Matt Melendez burnin'
the good stuff in his "Cacklin Critter".
Krabill getting familiar with his new ride.
Dan Kaplan and Kleet
Norris, no he's not on a ladder.
Dan Horan getting all
the data he needed to go low on Friday.
As they always do, the Kazanjian
Lemon & Konno team take advantage of every shot they get
at the track.
I don't think anyone
made more FC passes than Marc Meadors over the four day event.
Defending AA/FA champ
Dan Hix getting a baseline.
After a first out test session
in 2018 resulted in a broken ankle for Troy Glenn, the Over The
Hill Gang AA/FA made a successful debut at the March Meet. With
Mike Halstead in the seat the car made shakedown runs that led
to a #8 qualifying spot.
NAPA DSR Big Show FC pilot Ron
Capps dipped his toes into the Nostalgia AA/FA world with mixed
powered by a hemi. Confusing for us old school dudes.
Chris Bates in the Boudakian
Racing 7.0 car.
Eily Stafford-Day 7.0
Me thinks this car was
built for a much larger driver.
Dave Rosenberg wheelsup
in his 7.0 Pro FED.
No more testing -
on to the real thing. Funny
Next Stop For Top Fuel
HOLLEY NATIONAL HOT ROD REUNION®
Presented by AAA Insurance
June 13th, 14th, and 15th, 2019
At Beech Bend Raceway Park, Bowling Green Kentucky
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