Tom Shelar was loved and respected
by many as this event attests to. We should all be so fortunate
The evening was a celebration of his life cut short. It was not
a fancy affair, wasn't meant to be. But it was the who's who
of drag racing from far and wide gathering in a very large room
that wasn't large enough to remember a key player of our drag
We will make every effort to
ID the over 300 in attendance but if some go unrecognized it
is not by intent, just lack of information.
Here are some very cool random
shots in somewhat chronological order. We only wish the love
and humor could transcend the photos.
First and foremost, this incredible
tribute to a friend of so many was orchestrated by drag racing
power couple Mendy Fry and hubby Cole Coonce. Guests flowed in
and the bench racing and taco feast began. Coonce put together
an awesome video tribute to Tom's life on and off the track that
played in a continuous loop on the stage. Quite a night it was.
DSR was represented by
Joel Gruzen, Mendy and
John Bowser and Eugene
Bob Frey and Dave Wallace
Jr. with Sharon and Bob Muravez
Geno and Jim Adolph
Bruce Dyda and Don Long,
Chassis are us.
Dan Kaplan book ended
by the Floyd's
This one screams for
There was a steady line
for the all you could eat tacos that were served at the host
Spider Razon likes his
Rian Konno and Dave Uyehara
Linda and Larry Ofria
Mike Fuller, Cole, Bob
McLennan and Brendan Murry.
Walter holding the bar
Jamie Shores Fraijo,
Cheryl Glenn and Rich Hicks
Ed McCulloch and Cindy
Cindy with son Steven
Schavrien and Steve Gibbs
NTF Chuck Neal and Rick
Donny Couch and The Ace
Brett Johansen, Don Ewald,
Don Irvin, Mike Lewis and Joe Rode
Angela Reeves, Don Anderson (aka
Donnie Ho) and Geno who seems to be in every other photo.
Blake Bowser and Mike
Ross Howard and Gibbs
Henry Walther , Cindy,
Ed and Gary Beck
Dave Jeffers and AA/FA
driver Randy Bradford
Brian Hope, Heather Roberts,
Ron Hope, Darr Hawthorne and Jim Adolph.
International motorsports photojournalist
Andy Willsheer, Dave Wallace Jr., Mike Collin and Dana Winters.
Ace photog Bob Brown
Muravez, Ron Hope, Gibbs
and Brian Hope.
Jamie Shores Fraijo,
Harry Burkholder and Pam Conrad
Frey, Sutton, Irvin and
Brett Johansen, Sutton
and Rick McGee
Ron Hayes, Rick Shelar,
Gruzen, Brad Thompson and Walt Stevens
From Firebird Raceway,
John New and NFC shoe Rian Konno.
Dave Wallace Jr, Joe
Schubeck and wife Gigi
Ewald and Frey
Tom's niece Amy, Cole
and Amy's Mom Carol, Tom's sister. Got that?
Patrick Shelar's girlfriend
"Gabby", Jennifer Johansen and Mendy
Dave Kommel, Jim McCraw and Buzz
Baylis. Mr. McCraw was the editor of Super Stock and Drag Illustrated
while Kommel was still in high school in the 60s, later editor
of Hot Rod and has done everything there is to do in automotive
journalism and PR.
Mike OBrien and
Bucky Austin, soon to be NFC champs again.
left. Heidi Austin, Bobby Cottrell
Marc Gewertz, Richard
Reel (see below) and Mike Salinas
Harry Burkholder, Richard Reel,
partner Robert Reel's Dad. He and his wife unfortunately lost
their Porter Ranch home to fire just before the CHRR. and Marc
Linda and Don
Troy Glenn and Muravez
Bill Dunlap and Darrell
John New and Cindy
Geno and Jim Murphy
Terry Morrow from AJPE,
Darrell Reid and NTF driver Bret Williamson
Larry and Geno Ofria
Pete Jensen and Heather
Marc and fellow National
Dragster photog Randy Anderson
Adam Sorokin bookended
by the Muravez's
Kenny Logan, Cindy
All the while drag racing icon
Kenny Youngblood was sitting at table in the back of the room
personalizing his High Speed Motorsports dragster rendering for
anyone who asked.
The entire High Speed crew and
the entire Shelar family were on hand. Here Erik & Leslie
McMorrow, Kyle Wakefield and Nick San Angelo put their stake
on a table.
Danielle Berger, Patrick's mom
and Tom's life partner. On the left is her lifelong friend from
Right to Left: Patrick's (Shelar)
girlfriend, Gabby, Scott Kelly - long time family business associate,
Danielle, Monique, then Carolynn and Nestor Martinez, Gabby's
Frankie and Rebekka Hedge,
Mario Campos, Karen Beebe, Justin Grogan and Alanna Kuhn.
Alanna and Carol Shelar-Dobson
Molly Shelar, Dustin Uhl (Amy's
boyfriend), Amy Dobson, Carol Dobson, Rick Shelar, Tami and Darrell
Shelar siblings, Carol
Mary and Bill Dunlap
Amy with Maria Stevens
Gabby, Patrick, Carol
and Patrick's Mom Danielle
Addressing a SRO room, Mendy
made her opening remarks and proceeded to reflect and expound
on her years with Tom and his High Speed Motorsports team. Although
there were noticeable emotions, she kept it how Tom would have
She did a polished and well received
segway into introducing Patrick Shelar, Tom's only child and
now Cad-Cam Consulting torch bearer.
Patrick offered insights
and stories about Tom that only a son could.
Next up was Bellemeur who is
also a polished speaker and a wealth of Tom Tales. Sean not only
drove and crewed for High Speed Motorsports, but he also got
to know Tom the business man working at Cad-Cam. So, you have
a very cool boss who also owned a Top Fuel dragster. A formula
that makes for some great stories.
After holding the room captive,
Sean turned the mic over to one of Tom's oldest friends, Walt
Stevens who actually got Tom into drag racing.
Dave Leighton, who did the Bowling
Green/ Cordova Road trip with Tom this year. He is also the starting
line guy at Famoso.
The last victim was Don Ewald,
with a deer in the hedlights look, who knew Tom on several levels
for over 2 decades.
After a remembrance of Tom, it
was time for some fun. Ewald called up Patrick, Mendy and Rick.
Frankie Hedge assisted.
After trying to explain why you
shouldn't drink and shop online, he relayed the story of how
the award at hand came to be. From its discovery on a drag racing
website, a deal made, the shock of its unexpected size, a trip
from the Midwest to a custom sign painter in Medford, OR. and
a trip to Bakersfield in a Prius. Now that is the Readers Digest
version of how this piece was commissioned. Helping Ewald finance
the project was AAFD Inc., Arlene Eliason, Dennis Taylor and
There were those who didn't get
this but if you have ever been at or seen photos of a HSMS winners
circle, you will. Its too bad that the gold leaf lettring didn't
like the cameras.
Crown Royal aside, it was Bob
McLennan who gave his friendship with Tom and then introduced
stand-up comedian, Ryan Dalton all the way from LA <Ivo grin>
who had never been to a drag race but was armed with jabs/info
supplied by Coonce and McLennan. Funny stuff.
One of Dalton's prime
targets was Adam Sorokin.
Yea, he took it well.
It began with Mendy and ended
with Mendy who offered her sincere appreciation to all that attended.
Larry Shelar, Rick, Mendy,
Carol, Patrick and Don
L to R, Jason Ingold of CLK Engineering
(manufactures Tom,s big show split manifold) and a guy that works
for him (sorry), Rob Dusenbury of CAD/cAM Consulting, and
Sean Bellemeur is living the
American dream personified. At the age of 38 he has a Norman
Rockwell family, beautiful wife Ashley, Baby Audrey, Kiera on
dads shoulders, Peyton, the oldest. Then there's a supportive
Dad, Greg kinda photo bombing. Add to that he is the current
two time NHRA Alcohol Funny World Champion and a torch bearer
for he late boss's Cad-Cam Inc. It's good to be Sean Bellemeur.
According to Sean, its
Kiera who will be driving a nitro car by the age of 12. LOL
THE LIFE AND
TIMES OF TOM SHELAR, A VIDEO TRIBUTE by Cole Coonce