The 2015 March Meet Coverage From Bakersfield

MARCHMEET15

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The Legend TV Tommy Ivo.

The Legend TV Tommy Ivo.

For the past 56 years drag racers from across the country come to this little “patch” in the middle of the orange orchards, to flex their muscles and give proof that he or she is the best of the best. These hallowed grounds have seen legends born, streaks started and ended, records set and broken. The names of the past represent the “Who’s – Who” of the sport. This patch in the orange orchards lay quiet each year until March, when it would come to life with the cackle and thunder of high horse power racing engines, the smell of burning rubber and the unique eye watering smell of “nitro” in the air. There was “Cha Cha”, “the Greek”, “TV Tommy”, “Jungle”, “the Fighting Irish”, “the Ridge Route Terrors”, “the Surfer”, “Hippie” and “too Rolling Stoned”.

You could find “Big Daddy”, “Big John”, “the Hawaiian” and “Kansas John”. There was “the Engine Masters”, “Pink” and “Black”. From these Hallowed grounds was born the “the Mouse”, “Mousie”, “Wild Willie”, “War Horse”, “Trojan Horse”, “the Snake”, “the Mongoose” and “Zoo Keeper”.

Roger Garton's War Horse 1972 Mustang Funny Car.

Roger Garton’s War Horse 1972 Mustang Funny Car.

This track has showcased some of the greatest on-track battles in the sport. Rivalries where born and friendships created that have lasted forever. Where else could you see “Pure Hell” and “Pure Heaven” at the same place, with a “Winged Express” tying them altogether? If you needed it or thought you needed it for your car, you could find it at this track for sale or trade. And over 50 years later, almost nothing has changed. New legends and stars are being developed each year. The “Pedalers”, “Cowboys”, “Cheetah”, “Nitro Nick” and even a “Nitroholic”.

CS z MIKE0013Records are still being set and broken, often at the same event. New streaks are being started and there is now an “undefeated streak” that has yet to be broken. You can walk through the swap meet area and find that hard to find part for your hot rod, boat, motorcycle, collectable stash, antique collection or that long out-of-print magazine. If it existed, you can probably find it at the March Meet swap area. If rod and custom or restored cars is your thing, this event also features a huge display and car show throughout the picnic area, within a short walking distance of the grandstands. Looking for that new high performance part for your race car or street rod. You’ll probably find it in the manufacturer’s midway.

Things to do and sights to see are almost unlimited, and yes, like the days of the past, there are “eye candy” backup girls to assist in backing the race cars up following the ritualistic tire-smoking burnout, to bring back memories of “Jungle Pam” Hardy.

But, most of all, after 50 years, you will still find some of the best on-track drag racing in the country. The cars are quicker, faster and newer, but the theme is still pure nostalgia. The family atmosphere is here, the smell of burning rubber and the mystical properties of Nitro Methane filling the air and bringing tears to the eyes of happy fans. Simply put, the March Meet annually showcases drag racing the way it used to be, with the only changes being better and safer equipment. Like the days of yester-year, fans can still intermingle with the racers. And closing the on-track racing activities each year, are the fan popular flaming jet cars. This year the MavTV and Terminal Velocity Jet dragsters closed each days activities.

Jet Cars closed out the show each night

Jet Cars closed out the show each night

In Nostalgia Top Fuel (AA/FD), Tony Bartone has created an unbelievable winning streak, having not lost a single round of racing since the season-ending event in 2013. There are several drivers and teams out there vying to end his streak, but none have been successful. Bartone has kept the streak alive, thundering through four rounds of eliminations (once again) to take the 2015 March Meet Top Fuel title. His slowest elapsed time during eliminations was a 5.660 (a bye run) win over Dusty Green, who broke, in the semi-final round. He handily dispatched all-comers, like Dan Horan Sr. in the opening stanza with a 5.584.

Then it was a single run of 5.597 at 233.16 mph, showcasing the remarkable consistency and power of his thundering race car. And, if that weren’t enough, he achieved all these amazing performances, even though he shut the car off at the 1000 foot mark. Top Fuel had its share of mishaps, as veteran driver Bill Dunlap had to utilize all of his skills to save his errant race car from serious damage, during a second round match up with Adam Sorokin (son of the late Top Fuel legend, Mike Sorokin).

Adam Sorokin's Champions Speed Shop dragster

Adam Sorokin’s Champions Speed Shop dragster

As the two cars approached the finish line, Dunlap’s “High Speed Motorsports” dragster drifted out of the groove and suddenly got loose, heading towards the center line. He muscled it back, only to have it head towards the outer wall, where it tried to climb the wall and slide back onto its wheels. Dunlap was able to bring the car to a safe stop with only minor damage done and no injuries to himself or others. The final round matchup between the virtually unbeatable Bartone and the Sorokin had the crowd on its feet. Sorokin got off first with an .097 to .143 reaction time advantage and looked to have what it took to take down the mighty New Yorker. But, it wasn’t to be, as his supercharger let go with a huge concussive bang and flash of fire, allowing Bartone to thunder by to an unbelievable 5.531 at 270.81 mph to 5.791 at 192.58 mph win, keeping his streak alive and defending his March Meet title.

Richard Townsend's Nitroholic 1969 Camaro Funny Car

Richard Townsend’s Nitroholic 1969 Camaro Funny Car

Nostalgia Funny car featured 31 cars vying for one of 16 qualifying positions to race into the March meet history books. Dan Horan Jr. led the way with a strong 5.714 at 257.24 mph performance in his 1966 Mustang flopper, honoring “Children’s Charities”. Steven Densham showed that the teacher, his father Gary, taught him well, taking the second spot with a 5.739 at 248.57 mph in the family-owned “Teacher’s Pet” 1969 Camaro. Not far behind was popular Rich Townsend in the “Nitroholic” 1969 Camaro with a 5.798 at 231.44 mph. But, it was Densham who had the consistency to get the distance, as he improved each round on his way to the final.

Densham dispatched Rian Kono with a 5.78 at 248.98 mph in round one, then Jason Rupert with a 5.734 at 247.66 mph to 5.811 at 259.41 mph thrashing, and a 5.716 at 251.20 mph to 5.886 at 248.11 mph dusting of Kris Krabill to get a final round match up with James Day in the “Pedaler”. Day gave it his best shot, nailing the tree with an .016 to .095 reaction time advantage, running a 5.874 at 242.41 mph, but couldn’t hold off Densham’s thundering 5.694 at 249.16 mph.

Jeremy Sullivan at the wheel of his fathers Fuel Altered

Jeremy Sullivan at the wheel of his fathers Fuel Altered

For the second year, the Fuel Altereds thundered down the strip in a qualified eight-car, six-second index field. And for the second straight year, it was Dan Hix in his “Heat Seeker” who outlasted the field to claim his second March Meet title. His utilized a 6.180 and a 6.309 to get past Keith Wilson (who broke out with a 5.86 at an early shutoff 186.25 mph) and Tom Padilla to get into the final round. Jeremy Sullivan (son of Mike Sullivan, a former Fuel Altered driver) used consistency with laps of 6.236 at 197.39 mph and a 6.204 at 202.97 mph to get past Chris Bennett and Shane Harter.

Unfortunately, Sullivan’s motor let go at about 1000-feet and he was unable to complete the repairs, giving Hix a final round 6.446 at 179.47 mph break single into the winners circle. Much like the Fuel Altereds of yesterday, these modern day monsters often were all over their respective lanes, as drivers had to fight to keep them in the groove, making them very popular with the crowd.

Band  z MIKE0957

If you haven’t yet been able to attend a March Meet, you need to mark it on your “things to do list”. The atmosphere and on track racing is unbelievable and the drivers and teams are readily accessible and love to interact with inquisitive fans, both young and old. After the Saturday nights racing activities are completed, the party starts, with “live bands” located at many of the pit areas and in the staging lanes. Race cars can be worked on and started, throughout the night, as there is virtually, no curfew. The event is truly a family friendly extravaganza at a “historic” facility. It is like one big party.

Sunday

Tony Bartone in the near lane, Defeats Adam Sorokin in the final round of Nostalgia Top Fuel.

Tony Bartone in the near lane, Defeats Adam Sorokin in the final round of Nostalgia Top Fuel.

Final eliminations day for the Good Vibrations Motorsports 56th annual March Meet picked up where it left off from the day before. Fantastic weather, highly competitive drag racing and a large crowd of eager drag racing fans, ready to cheer on their favorite drivers and teams.

Top Fuel – Tony Bartone captured the March Meet Top Fuel title with a string of 5.50 elapse times, capping it off with a final round win over Adam Sorokin, 5.531 at 270.81 mph to 5.791 at 192.58 mph.

Steven Densham Far lane Defeats James Day in the final round

Steven Densham Far lane Defeats James Day in the final round

Funny Car – Steven Densham used near dominating performances from his 32 qualifying position, to dispatch with the competition in route to a final round match up against Kris Krabill. Densham then capped it all off with a low elapse time of the event pass to take the Funny Car event title with a 5.694 at 249.16 mph to 5.874 at 242.41 mph pass.

Fuel Altered – Dan Hix made it two March Meet wins in a row, with a final round win over Jeremy Sullivan, who could not answer the bell, after suffering major engine damage in his semi-final win over Shane Harter. Hix put together a 6.446 at 179.97 mph in his single run for the trophy.

Jr Fuel – Scott Parks took captured the event title, 7.081 at 179.81 mph to 7.178 at 185.72 mph, over Don Enriquez.

A/Fuel – Darrell Waters took the win over #1 qualifier, Kin Bates, 6.500 at 209.10 mph to a tire smoking 10.951 at 83.81 mph.

Other category winners were:

 Hot Rod – Joshua Wagner

NE1 – Jason Barta

NE2 – “Dragster” Jeff Crider

NE3 – Ed DeStaute

7.0 Pro – Jesse Adams

A/Gas – Keith Morovich

B/Gas – Tom Tourek

C/Gas – Wayne Hoover

D/Gas – Jake Wood

AA/Supercharged – Howard Anderson

Saturday

FC - Steven Densham z MIKE0286

Saturday at the Good Vibrations Motorsports 56th annual March Meet represents the final day of qualifying for all the categories contested and the early elimination rounds for many. In Nostalgia Top Fuel (AA/FD) and Nostalgia Funny Car, the first rounds of elimination are completed in the late afternoon. The “floppers” also featured shootout of the top eight cars from the 2014 Bakersfield-Boise Blitz, paying out $5000 in cash and contingencies to the winner. The winner was determined during the final qualifying session, as the eight drivers were paired up. The quickest winner (elapse time wise) was crowned as the shootout winner. James Day captured the prize with strong 5.82, but Richard Townsend was not far behind at 5.84 seconds.

Tony Bartone defeated Dan Horan Sr in the opening round with a 5.573 at 241.32 mph

Tony Bartone defeated Dan Horan Sr in the opening round with a 5.573 at 241.32 mph

In Top Fuel, Tony Bartone sat out the final session and easily held on to the top spot with his 5.573 from the second session on Friday. In the opening round of eliminations, it was all Bartone, as he recorded an early shutoff 5.584 at 232.55 mph to dispatch with Dan Horan. Also advancing were Denver Shultz (5.819), Bill Dunlap (5.808), Rick Williamson (5.879), Dusty Green (5.964), Jim Murphy (5.977) and Adam Sorokin (11.454). Round two match ups are Bartone vs Bye, Williamson vs Green, Dunlap vs Sorokin and Schultz vs Murphy.

In Funny Car, John Weaver (5.752), Steve Densham (5.780) and Richard Townsend (5.799) were the quickest of the advancing drivers of the opening round. Dan Horan, Brad Thompson, James Day, Jason Rupert and Kris Krabill also advanced. The second round pairings are Richard Townsend vs Kris Krabill , Steve Densham vs Jason Rupert, James Day vs Brad Thompson and John Weaver vs Dan Horan.

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The Fuel Altereds are qualified against a 6.00 second index. Jeremy Sullivan took the top spot with a 6.136 at 212.13 mph. James Generalao Jr took h top speed honors with a strong 233.34 mph effort.

Friday

The Good Vibrations Motorsports 56th annual Bakersfield March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway featured outstanding weather and large numbers of competitors in every category, which brought out a near capacity crowd of enthusiastic drag racing fans for Friday’s opening day of racing.

Tony Bartone leads Friday Qualifying with a 5.573 et at 241.32 mph

Tony Bartone leads Friday Qualifying with a 5.573 et at 241.32 mph

In Top Fuel, Tony Bartone of Long Island City, New York stunned everyone, as he laid down the gauntlet with an early shut-off 5.573 at 241.32 mph qualifying blast to take the provisional top spot. Bill Dunlap of Capitola, California put the High Speed Motorsports digger into the second spot with a 5.717 at 232.11 mph and Denver Schutz of Fresno, California holds onto the third spot with a 5.824 at 234.53 mph. The third (and final) round of qualifying will take place tomorrow, as will the first round of eliminations. The weather conditions look to be much the same, so positions on the qualifying ladder could change. It should be noted, that coming into this event, Bartone has yet to lose a single round in eliminations since the 2013 Heritage season, so he comes into the event as a heavy “favorite”.

Dan Horan Leads Funny Car field after two sessions of qualifying with a 5.715 et at 257.24 mph

Dan Horan Leads Funny Car field after two sessions of qualifying with a 5.715 et at 257.24 mph

The popular nostalgia Funny Car class showcased 31 cars vying for one of the 16 qualified positions on the eliminations ladder and this was not going to be a “cake walk”. After one day of qualifying, Dan Horan of Sylmar, CA sits atop the field with a strong 5.715 at 257.24 mph in his 1966 Mustang. Steven Densham sits 2nd in his “Teacher’s Pet” 1969 Camaro with a 5.739 at 248.57 mph fist session blast. Rich Townsend of Oakdale, Ca literally “popped” his way into the 3rd spot with a 5.798 at 231.44 mph effort, even though his engine hung a valve, blowing the burst panel at about 1000 foot in his “Nitroholic” Camaro. With a lot of strong cars sitting on the “outside, looking in”, you can expect to see a lot of shuffling happening during the final qualifying session on Saturday.

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