Fans of old school drag racing unite! The world famous, history-rich March Meet returns to the Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California with nitro-burners and spectacular show cars galore.
Monday Final eliminations wrap up
The 59th annual Good Vibrations March wrapped up Monday after rain showers and falling temperatures ended Sunday’s racing prematurely. Free admission was given to anyone who wished to attend the final rounds after the downpour of rain, cold temperatures and winds forced the track officials to post pone racing for the day. Racing on Monday kicked off around 10:00 a.m. and saw some great on-track action and a scary ending in the Nostalgia Funny Car class. Kris Krabill went for a wild ride as his Funny Car burst into flames around the 1,000-foot mark in the final round. Krabill brought the car to a stop and climbed from his burning race car unhurt. The charred race car suffered extensive body damage as well as some chassis component damage. The car appeared to be having trouble following the burnout. Car owner Bucky Austin believes it was a valvetrain failure and driver Krabill believed it might have been something in the drivetrain. While Krabill went for his fiery ride, Ryan Hodgson sailed to the March Meet victory with a 5.609 at 259.91 mph.
In Top Fuel, Mendy Fry in her High Speed Motorsports dragster scored the win over Jim Murphy. Murphy’s dragster broke the fuel pump on the burnout and was unable to make the run. Fry, in her first appearance back behind the wheel of a nostalgia dragster, put a stellar 5.598 at 256.88 mph on the scoreboard to cement the title.
In the AA/Fuel Altered class, Bryan Hall in “The Tramp” muscled his way past James Generalao Jr. for the title with a 6.06 at 214.45 mph to a 6.434 at 189.42 mph.
In the rear engine Top Fuel dragster class, Mike Halstead in the Mikes Transmissions dragster put a 6.046 at 229.43 mph on the boards to Jim Maroney’s 7.293 at 135.61 mph to capture the March Meet title.
In the Nostalgia Eliminator classes (1, 2, & 3) Dan Schrokosch, Todd Fernandez, and Ed Destaute picked up the March Meet trophies, respectively.
Todd Ellingson took home the trophy in 7.0 Pro.
Mike Mossi, Rich Harrison, Chris Rea, and Ed Carey each picked up the wins in A Gas, B Gas, C Gas, and D Gas, respectively. In Hot Rod Justin Crosby grabbed the trophy.
Final eliminations were delayed for about two hours on Sunday at the March Meet due to rain, but once a break in the weather came, the racing was fierce and full of surprises.
In the opening round of Top Fuel, there were several key matchups. Opening the show was the matchup between a rookie and former NHRA Heritage Top Fuel Champion Adam Sorokin in his unique Champion Speed Shops dragster. The car features a small-block Chevy engine and an enclosed driver’s compartment. Sorkin came in as the number four qualifier and would square off against “rookie” Pete Wittenberg in the “Circuit Breaker” dragster, who qualified fifth. Sorokin got away first (0.084 to 0.105), but Wittenberg quickly made up the difference and took the win light, 5.785 at 235.76 mph to 5.815 at 233.08 mph. Then it was Brett Williamson, in the “Forever Young” dragster taking out Dusty Green in the “Nitro Hemi” on a holeshot (0.140 to 0.278; both drivers were late) with a 5.904 at 249.49 mph to 5.886 at 247.29 mph. Jim Murphy made quick work of
Rick McGee with a 5.713 at 241.37 mph to (a tire smoking) 7.222 at 117.23 mph. The major matchup was between the #1 qualifier, Tony Barton (3-time champion, winner of the last two March Meet events) and #8 qualifier Mendy Fry. For Fry, it was going to take some sort of miracle if she was to advance into the next round. And…”Do You Believe in Miracles?” YES! When the tree dropped, T-Bone “double stepped the throttle (0.042 to 0.152 reaction time advantage), getting his car out of sequence on the clutch timer. This caused Bartone’s car to shake and head to the centerline. By this time, Fry was long gone. Bartone then proceeded to cross the center line, just missing the foam timing blocks, for an automatic disqualification. But, Fry and the “High Speed Motorsports” team showed they were ready for the battle, as she stopped the clocks with a 5.597 at 249.26 mph. This stands as low elapsed time of the event, to this point. T-Bone would definitely have needed to “run the car out the back door”, if he were to have any chance, but crossing the center line took away all chances of that happening.
In the semi-finals, Fry moved into the final round, by taking out Wittenberg with a 5.783 at 220.76 mph to 6.256 at 165.58 mph, as Wittenberg lost traction. Murphy then took out Brett Williamson with 5.635 at 244.92 mph to (an early shut-off) 15.194 at 58.72 mph, as he advanced to the final round. Murphy will have lane choice in the final.
In Funny Car, round two featured all three of the swoopy 1969 Camaro-bodied cars, along with the number one qualifier (and elapsed time record holder) Mike McIntire, John Hale, Steven Densham and Tim Nemeth. Ryan Hodgson and
Dan Horan squared were first to square off. It was a good race, with Hodgson advancing (on a 0.091 to 0.136 hole shot) with a 5.678 at 249.53 mph to (a slightly quicker) 5.672 at 260.36 pass (0.035 second margin of victory). Kris Krabill then made quick work of Tim Nemeth, 5.709 at 247.66 mph, to advance in his Camaro. McIntire advanced over an out-of-shape Densham, with a 5.875 at 250.18 mph, and Jason Rupert ended John Hale’s day with 5.786 at 252.10 mph, when Hale lost traction early in the run. In the semi-finals, both of the Pro Mod-styled Camaros advanced to the final round. Ryan Hodgson will have lane choice, as he won with a 5.718 at 251.06 mph while Krabill won with a 5.742 at 244.47 mph effort.
In the Fuel Altered category, the major upset occurred when the #1 qualifier (and defending event champion) Dan Hicks stopped the clocks with a 5.987 at 240. 85 mph effort against Bryan Hall. Hicks broke out of the
6-second category index. Hall motored to an “automatic win” with a 7.593 at 127.10 mph. James Generalao, Keith Wilson and Robert Flourney all advanced to the semi-final round. In the semi-finals, Hall and “The Tramp” advanced over Keith Wilson in the “Witch Doctor”, as both drivers broke out. Hall ran 5.987 at 240.85 mph to Wilson’s 5.726 at 205.01 mph losing effort. Generalao took out Flourney in the “Godzilla”, 6.479 at 217.63 mph to 6.633 at 176.60 mph to set up a final round matchup with “The Tramp”.
Once the rain started to fall again, the race was called until tomorrow (Monday) at 10 a.m.). At that time, all the final rounds will be completed and class event winners crowned.
In Top Fuel, Tony Bartone showed why he is the reigning champion. After struggling (slightly) during the Friday qualifying sessions “T-Bone” hammered the field with an early shut-off (one of his trade mark 1,000-foot shut off runs) 5.635 at 231.16 mph blast to take the top qualifying spot. Simply put, he put the field on notice: the path to the Top Fuel winner’s circle goes through Bartone Racing. With the infamous Steve Boggs calling the tuning shots, the Bartone Racing Top Fuel dragster is the “baddest’ car in the class. Jim Murphy dropped to second with his
5.724, followed by Dusty Green (in the Nitro Hemi dragster) at 5.735 and Adam Sorokin (in the Champion Speed Shops Chevy powered dragster) at 5.738 seconds. The 8-car field bump spot is held by Mendy Fry in the High Speed Motor Sports dragster at 6.027 seconds. Fry may need to “pull the proverbial rabbit out of a hat” in her opening round match up with Bartone. But, don’t expect the High Speed Motorsports team to go down without a fight.
The Funny Car qualifying results saw only minor changes from Friday. Mike McIntire in the McAttack 1970 Camaro held on to the top spot, backing up the NHRA Heritage Series Nitro Funny Car elapsed time record at 5.549-seconds, following his final qualifying effort of 5.57 at 253.61 mph. McIntire is followed by John Hale in his “One Bad Texan” 1969 Camaro (5.572 seconds) and the three controversial 1969 Camaros of Kris Krabill, Dan Horan and Ryan Hodgson (5.605, 5.616 and 5.662 seconds).
Ryan Konno, in his Kazanjian-Lemon and Konno 1973 Mustang holds down the bump spot with a 5.939 at 242.67 mph. Much to surprise of many of the local fans, Richard Townsend and his “Nitroholic” 1969 Camaro team failed to make the cut, as they continued to suffer from mechanical gremlins. Townsend ended up 19th with a late run of 5.987 seconds. A highlight of qualifying was Steven Densham in the “Teacher’s Pet” 1969 Camaro, as he went into a large wheelstand at about the 150 foot mark. He then continued for about 100 feet, with the front wheels in the air, until they finally set down.
The Funny Car class also ran its first round of eliminations on Saturday. Advancing to the second round on Sunday went largely as expected, as nearly all of the quicker-qualified cars moved on. Only John Weaver, who was qualified sixth, gave way to (11th qualified) Tim Nemeth. Nemeth took the win light with 5.767 at 244.03 mph to 6.042 at 182.45 mph margin. In a battle of the eight and nine qualifiers, Densham took out Brad Thompson with a 5.845 at 243.81 mph to 5.962 at 208.59 mph effort. The second round match ups feature McIntire versus Densham and Horan versus Hodgson on one side of the ladder. On the other side of the ladder, it’s Hale and Rupert and Krabill versus Nemeth.
Closing the days’ racing activities was the “Jelly Bellies” Stage Coach Wheelstander of Ed “the Outlaw” Jones. The General Lee Model ‘T’ Truck wheelstander also entertained the large crowd, traveling the entire 1320 with the front wheels high in the air. The Terminal Velocity and Mav TV Jet Dragsters finished the day with a “fast flaming finish”.
The Sunday weather forecast may see some rain, but it looks like the show will be able to go on, as planned.