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NOTE: Click on the thumbnails to display the full-size images

Friday's Photo Gallery

Dean Murdoch at work Budweiser Park pits

Left: Here's an old joke: is the gentleman in the picture "hard at work" or "hardly working?" Of course it's a trick question, as there is no gentleman in the photo, just Dean Murdoch turning brainwaves into money or some other similar feat of alchemy.

Right: This is the first of a series of panoramic shots of the pit area behind the tower at Budweiser Motorsports Park on a beautiful sunny Friday.

Left: The first shot was looking to the north and northeast, while this view is looking directly east.

Right: Now we're looking east and southeast and into the staging lanes and the beginning of the new paved pro pits.

Left: Another view of the new paved pro pit area. It was allegedly capable of fitting 80 cars, but when they finished parking on Thursday evening, a grand total of 27 teams occcupied the area, with not much space left over.

Right: Now we're looking to the west, down track as the early sportsman qualifying sessions begin.

Left: One last view high angle view of the staging lanes as we prepare to head downstairs from the media center and venture through the pits for the first time today.

Right: Used piston for sale in the Sitko Family Racing pit area. Best offer takes it. Only suitable for display purposes, as it's racing days are long past. Actually.... not that long past, as it was a victim of a clogged nozzle at the Mission Raceway Lucas Oil Series event last month.

Left: Here's the same piston and it's brother. Both on display and for sale to good homes.

Right: Just another example of the professionalism of the Rob Atchison Funny Car team is their well displayed merchandise.rack at the back of their trailer.I don't want to sound like a fan, but I can't help but be impressed by this team, as everything they do, they do well.

Left: One of the stalwarts of the IHRA Funny Car class and a many time world champion in the category, Mark Thomas has brought his "Ethanol" car all the way to Edmonton from deepest darkest Kentucky.

Right: This guy (Mark Thomas hisself) is never without a smile; whether he's talking to fans or rebuilding his Lenco.

Left: Canada's premier Top Fuel team, the Todd Paton bunch from Paris, Ontario (or Bristol, Tennessee) are hard at work prepping their car for the evening "Night of Fire" qualifying session. They've arrived at Bud Park on a high note after their first final round appearance in Top Fuel at the last event on the IHRA trail, at Ontario's Grand Bend Raceway.

Two views (right and left, below) of an undientified Pro Stock car. I could go back into the pits and get the name, but frankly, it doesn't matter at Northern Thunder. Two drawbacks to this machine: doors and no blower. But it has a very nice paint scheme that goes so well with their pit area. Very slick. Okay, after watching the cars in the staging lanes last night, I discovered it belongs to Frank Gugliotta and is an '04 Escort.

Right: Getting closer to serious drag racing is this very wild looking Pro Mod that just glistens in the sunlight, but loses a lot in translation when moved into the dark of its pit area.

Left: Surprise entrants from Winnipeg, the Doug Doucette Racing injected fuel dragster, with Scott Murray driving arrived last night. This is their first attempt to run with the big dogs of Top Fuel and it remains to be seen if they can shake off the troubles they've experienced this year and run well in the unlimited atmosphere of IHRA Top Fuel.

Right: Another view of the Doucette dragster. Nice clean look with a new nose piece and a bare carbon fibre front wing in place.

Left: A very unorthodox arrangement for the mag drive, starter drive and fuel pump drives is this billet creation from the minds of Doucette and Ken Murray (crew chief and father of the driver, Scott).

Right: Here's another view of this one-off mag and fuel pump drive arrangement.

Left: A very nice graphic on the top of the body seems almost out of place for these guys.

Right: Next door to the Doucette pit area is Slave Lake, Alberta's Trevor Lebsack and his "Tenacity" funny car, with Sean Brown tuning and twisting wrenches this weekend. This is one very nice car that has shown lots of potential and has made a commitment to run the entire IHRA schedule this season.

Left: Before we move to the next pit, we had to turn back for a moment and snap a shot of old friends and competitors, Ken Murray (left) talking over old and new times with George Sitko (right). An awful lot of brainpower in one place.

Right: In sharp contrast to the hustle and bustle of so many pit areas, it's positively serene in the Bruce Litton pit as Litton himself quietly works on the intake manifold.

Left: A closer look at Litton putting together the plumbing on the intake manifold.

Right: Another long-shot entrant in the Top Fuel wars, is local racer Keith Falconer, coming back to the sport after a very long hiatus in his brand new injected nitro dragster. His chances here this weekend are almost nil as he still has to finish the licensing process before competing. But at least he's here and ready to run.

Left: The nose piece and front wing mounting are rather unique on Falconer's new dragster, built entirely in Alberta. It's definitely not enough wing for a blown fuel car, but should keep the nose down on the injected entry.

Right: Preparation continues on the car prior to the warmup before Falconer's final licensing pass.

Left: The major sponsor at this point, and partner on the car is "Diesel" Dave Szybunka, a former Top Alcohol Dragster racer of some note in the NHRA's Northwest division.

Right: Here's the rear view of the Fontana (formerly Arias) engine that will power this new beast.

Left: If you can't have Hooters girls, at least there's the Hooters-sponsored Funny Car of Winnipeg's Scott McVey to entertain you.

Right: Here's that ultra-stretched '48 Fiat of Tim Stevenson, resting in the grass behind the chassis.

Left: The Stevenson crew continues to thrash on the engine and drivetrain.

Right: Another, closer look at the '48 Fiat body.

Left: Brent Harris takes instructions from his crew as he prepares to stage his very sharp '33 Willys.

Right: Sherrie Bodnarchuk, in her very unique '70 Plymouth Superbird, gets ready to burn the tires once more.

Left: Duane Grosart, from Chilliwack, BC, gets the last second checkover before staging prior to the first run on his brand new Rob Atchison-built 481-X Chevy combination.

Right: Grosart (left lane) and Bodnarchuk (right lane) rumble down the track.

Left: Veteran Thunderbolt racer Cal Tebb, in his venerable Vega (hey, how's that for alliteration?) rolls through the water prior to another.... wait for it..... awesome burnout. Okay, don't get the pun? Check out his website.

Right: Tony Kupris rolls towards the line with his slinky looking '55 Thunderbird. It ran waaay too quick for the 7.50 ThunderBolt index in this qualifying session, carding a 7.31 at 191 mph. Where's the throttle stop ?

Left: You can't have an IHRA event without the ubiqutous and ever-present Hooters girls.

Right: Here's a very neat looking '63 Nova, driven by Shawn Bulechowski that runs almost as good as it looks, carding a 7.96 at 172 mph in the first round of qualifying. The car is definitely a handful to drive, giving Shawn quite a workout with the steering wheel.

Left: Oops, must have jerked the camera in the wrong direction when the shutter snapped on this shot. Right ?

Right: Tim Stevenson starts his burnout.

Left: Darrell Webb (left lane) faces off against Tim Stevenson (right lane) in the first qualifying session.

Right: One of the strongest cars in the class, Eddy Plazier rolls through the water prior to his burnout.

Left: Here's one of the true crowd favourites in the Northwest, the Mageau family "Prospector" '57 Chevy Bel-Air, more than capably handled by Jay Mageau.

Right: Our last shot from the afternoon qualifying session shows the "Prospector" team lifting the body in preparation for their first shot at ThunderBolt qualifying.

Left: Being pushed off to the side, after losing fire before the burnout, is Tim Stevenson in his super-stretched '48 Fiat.

Right: Getting ready to roll into the waterbox is transplanted Australian, by way of East Africa, Tony Kupris, now a proud Edmontonian and having an absolute blast racing his '55 T-Bird in the International Blown Alocohol Association events.

Left: Chilliwack BC's Duane Grosart moves under the tower in his very slick looking '55 Chevy shoebox.

Right: Here's the front view of this wild-looking machine, with the flames showing to their best advantage.

Left: With the body up, Jay Mageau is being towed up to the starting line before making his second qualifying pass.

Right: And here's what's towing it, an immaculately restored '57 Chevy driven by his father, veteran racer, Bob Mageau.

Left: Brent Harris and his '33 Willys moves into the fireup position before making his second attempt at gaining entry to the Thunderbolt field.

Right: Waiting to move into the fireup spot is one of Edmonton's favourite race teams, the Mageau family "Prospector" alcohol funny car, running in the Thunderbolts category this weekend.

Left: One of the coolest pit vehicles, bar none, is Hope, BC's Rob Murphy's mini-pickup. It's positively evil looking.

Right: Here's the '57 Chevy Cameo pickup truck of Rob Murphy heading to the staging lanes prior to his second pass of the season. His first was just a few hours earlier. Glad you guys woke up in time to not miss the whole season, Rob.

Left: Lining up prior to his second qualifying pass is Saskatchewan's Kevin Therres, who unfortunately is sitting in the third alternate spot, nearly two tenths short of the bubble after the first day of qualifying.

Right: Checking out the action in the staging lanes (most likely some Hooters girls) is the Verenka Racing crew, with driver Ed in the centre in his black firesuit. Their first qualifying pass was less than memorable as he blazed the tires at the hit of the throttle.

Left: This is Frank Gugliotta's absolutely beautiful '04 Ford Escort.

Right: The hood scoop plug pretty much says it all, doesn't it? Good motto.

Left: Now it's time to post a bunch of Pro Stock pictures, but please don't ask me to identify these cars. Just enjoy the pics. But just for the record, this is Pete Berner.

Right: Okay, this one's Chuck Demory.

Left: And this one is Jerry Haas.

Right: This beauty is Tony Gillig's '04 Mustang.

Left: According to the qualifying sheets this is Steve Spiess. Also, the eagle eyes in the audience might spot Spiess on the door.

Right: The Edmonton Police force is involved in the sport in a big way, with this import racer, styled to attract the attention of the "tuner" crowd. I'm so old that I'm not sure at all if that's the right term or where the kids' heads are at right now, but at least it's an attempt.

Left: Here's the second Police racer, and it's at least something that I'm familiar with, a 1970 Plymouth Duster.

Right: The Western RV Racing Top Comp/Top Dragster is being towed to the line by a rather unique vehicle.

Left: Tow vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, as typified here with the Urban Legend mini-monster truck.

Right: Surrey, BC veteran racer John Evans is once again competing in Top Dragster at the Rockies. Usually he can be found inhabiting Top Comp in NHRA Division Six races closer to home.

Left: It's not nearly sunset, but the clouds are prematurely darkening the evening sky and giving the track the look of the typical night racing session.

Right: They're here, they're there, they're flat-out everywhere, as almost every time you turn around at Bud Park there's a Hooters girl or girls, coming, going or just getting in the way of the scenery... or something like that.

Left: Early evening and the Pro Stock cars are starting to fill the staging lanes prior to their second qualifying session. Of course there's only 11 cars here this weekend and "filling the lanes" is using poetic license to the legally allowable limits.

Right: The last photo that was even remotely salvagable in photoshop taken partway through the Top Fuel qualifying session just before sunset. Unfortunately, we were restricted to the tower area today and without a major flash unit, there's just no way to light up the scene well enough to produce anything useful.

Left: Here's that almost infamous wardrobe malfuncion that we were talking about earlier. It was a combination of a lack of suitable restraint (obviously not up to SFI specs) for certain appendages and a very enthusiastic backup routine.

Right: Here's another view of the same girl before she started to "lose it".

That's it from the first day of qualifying from the IHRA Rocky Mountain Nationals