CA - March 10, 2020
by Stephen Justice
annual Good Vibrations March Meet is in the books. It was foretold
there would be weather related delays but thankfully those predictions
didn't pan out and with the exception of a cool Saturday we had
4 days of racing in T-shirts. The fans, including a packed house
on Saturday, were treated to some great runs, close racing and
upsets. As it turns out, it was also the last drag race for what
looks like a long time.
in Nostalgia Top Fuel, Matt Bynum in Nostalgia Funny Car, and
Ron Capps in Fuel Altered led the list of winners at the 62nd
annual Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet, the kick-off of
the 2020 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series season.
dominated the Top Fuel class. The 2018 March Meet winner qualified
No. 1 with a 5.607, 254.81 and never ran slower than 5.865 in
eliminations. With the exception of Bryan Halls 263.72
for Top Speed, it was the Pete Wittenberg Top Fuel Show.
In the final round against an upset-minded Tyler Hilton (No.
7 qualifier), Wittenberg ran down the quicker-leaving Hilton
(.085 to .117) to claim his second March Meet victory with a
run 0f 5.678, 254.49 to Tylers game 5.927, 229.20.
pretty emotional, Wittenberg said. Weve won
this twice and I'm still beside myself that we won it once. It
is unbelievable. It has been a long haul from the first one and
this one. Weve overcome a lot of stuff.
This years 16-car
open Funny Car field attracted 23 entries paced by Dan Horan
Jr.s track record-setting 5.547, 264.49 while qualifying
his 69 Camaro No. 1, but his domination ended right there.
In round one of eliminations Saturday, Horan Jr. saw his chances
of winning a Wally evaporate in the warm Bakersfield sun when
No. 16 qualifier Matt Melendez zapped him with a 5.709, 245.27
to Dans off-pace 6.349, 242.32. Matt made it all the way
to the final round before succumbing to Cecil Matthews
jockey, Matt Bynum. Bynum was the class of the field in eliminations,
posting the quickest winning run in all four rounds of eliminations.
After qualifying No. 3 at 5.575, 261.98, Bynum never ran slower
than a 5.621 and averaged 5.602 for all four rounds of eliminations.
pretty cool, Bynum said. I still cant believe
it. We came here and we just ran really well all week.
Those fabulous fuel altereds
have been a fan favorite since the time of the Standard 1320
record days (as far back as 1959), and their popularity has continued
to grow. Why? It is the wow factor: open-wheel, short wheelbase,
tire blazing, flame-throwing coupes, sedans, and roadsters on
a 6.60 index.
Sixteen entrants fought over
the eight spots paced by James Generalaos 6.037. There
is simply nothing ever predictable about what might occur when
fuel altered line up to duke it out in eliminations. Number one
qualifier Generalao Jr. found himself paired up with NHRA Funny
Car superstar Ron Capps driving Roxie Hertzigs Good
News Fiat 33 coupe in round one of eliminations.
Capps hit James with a much better reaction at the start (.085
to .115) and simply out-drove him to the finish line. The veteran
Capps did not stop there, posting the quickest time of eliminations
(6.123) against the always dangerous Mark Whynaught in round
two, and polished off a red-lighting Robert Winefsky in the final
round to realize a life-long dream of winning a March Meet event.
All class winners are covered
herein. I hope you take the time, while so many have the time,
to enjoy the over 1300 photos captured during the last drag race
held before the "virus". So without further ado, here
is our coverage.
Photos by: Bob Brown, Dan Kaplan,
Ken Hughes and Don Ewald
The first pair out for Q1 was
Bobby Cottrell in the Bardahl sponsored Camaro of Austin &
O'Brien and Dan Horan in his 28 day wonder Mustang that was badly
damaged at the NHRA Winternationals and ready to race today.
It was a Herculean effort by many from coast to coast.
Horan fired a 5.889,
218.97 opening salvo while Cottrell had issues early on and shut
Pair two featured Tony Jurado
in his "Capital Punishment" '69 Camaro and Billy Morris
in the "Problem Child" '69 Camaro.
Although it looks like Morris
is out of the game, the fact is that Jurado left a day early.
Billy carded a nice 5.652 at 249.49.
Next up was Geoff Monise driving
the new "Quarter Pounder" 1970 Camaro. In the other
lane was Matt Bynum, who works for Team Kalitta in the Matthew's
Motorsports "Nitro Nick" '70 Camaro.
Bynum carded a stout 5.575 at
261.98. Monise made a good baseline pass with a 5.838
Then it was Rian Konno in the
Kazanjian Lemon & Konno Mustang and Cory Lee in the "Pedaler"
Before the tree Lee experienced
a major engine malfuctioion and banged the blower.
Konno carded a solid
5.720 at 245.72.
Next pair through the waterbox
was Matt Melendez in the seat of his "Cacklin' Critter"
'70 Challenger and Jeff Gregory in the "Madness" Pontiac
Melendez smoked the tires
early on and shut off.
Gregory clicked it early
as well to a 6.462 at 170.02.
The hits just keep on commin',
it was Tim Boychuk in his "Happy Hour" Camaro and Steve
Easton in Bob Godfrey's "Burnin' Money" Cuda.
Boychuk carded a baseline
5.846 at 246.48.
With things running smoothly,
next up was Brad Thompson from right up Hwy. 99 in Visalia in
his Jail Break 70 Camaro and Ryan Hodgson down
from Edmonton AB in his Dad's Pacemaker '69 Camaro.
Due to tire smoke and
shake both cars were DOA before the 300' mark.
Next up were Justin Taylor in
the Taylor Family "Evil Wicked Mean & Nasty" '73
Mustang along side Mike Peck driving the "Quote Wizard"
Taylor stopped the clocks
with a solid 5.763 at 234.25. Peck coasted through.
With three pairs left, it was
Jeff Arend driving the "California Hustler" '78 Firebird
and rookie Don Knoblauch in his new, first class "Atomic
Arend clocked a solid
5.747 at 250.69. Knoblauch followed far behind with a 7.261 at
Tim Nemeth in his "Iceman"
TramsAM and James Day in the unique, badass and very orange "Speed
Sport" '78 Dodge Omni.
Nemeth got the better
time with a 5.828 at 237.59 as Day was right there with a 5.905
The final pair featured Jerry
Espeseth in his "Atlas" '69 Camaro with its Rupert/Littlefield
support. He was paired with Bill Windham driving his "Shakedown"
Windam carded a 5.959
at 239.95 with Espeseth on his tail with a 5.981 at 255.39.
Terry Jongewaard was
out for some license runs in the Swearingen "Nitro Cowboy"
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