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2019 Good Vibrations March Meet -Famoso AutoClub Raceway - Bakersfield, CA

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

Test 'n' Tune (Day One) at the 2019 Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet (Bakersfield, CA)

It's going to be FIVE very long days at Auto Club Famoso Raceway's annual Good Vibrations March Meet, but it kicked off with some low key test 'n tune passes which featured a variety of cars from nearly stock doorslammers to a few blown fuel Nostalgia Nitro Funny Cars.

PRO HR 455 Buick Grand Sport --- PRO #10972 - Buick GSS

Opening the test 'n tune action were a pair of wheelstanding Buick Grand Sport land yachts, and they didn't disappoint the classic muscle car fans with bumper-scraping launches and gyrating passes

NFC - Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour' --- NFC - Brad Thompson - 'Jailbreak'

(LEFT) One of the heavy hitters in nostalgia Funny Car racing, Canada's Tim Boychuk in his '69 Camaro "Happy Hour" entry knocked the rust off, while on the (RIGHT) California's Brad Thompson in the System 1-sponsored "Jailbreak" worked on getting dialled in before qualifying commences on Friday

 Ron Capps 'Good News' --- 7/E #7399 Mrs. Flattop 'Bad Moon'

(LEFT) It's your usual '48 Fiat Toppolino, but the driver isn't your regular nostalgia eliminator guy. Today's session saw Top Alcohol driver James Day behind the wheel, but starting tomorrow, it's Ron - yes, that Ron - Capps trying to control the "Good News" car. (RIGHT) The "Bad Moon" '32 Bantam roadster hails from Lake Havasu City, AZ and is driven by Steven Faller

NFC - Jim Maroney - 'Cajun' 'Cuda' --- The Ferris Wheel

(LEFT) It's part-time big show Top Fuel pilot Jim Maroney in the Candies & Hughes tribute "Cajun 'Cuda", making a test pass before the official nitro testing session on Thursday. (RIGHT) For a little diversion from the on-track action, our photographer snapped a shot of the Ferris Wheel behind the spectator side grandstands

Nitro Testing (Day Two) at the 2019 Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet (Bakersfield, CA)

The second day of the Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet went off under threatening skies that never did break into sun, or go the other way and turn into rain. The cool and cloudy conditions didn't hurt the performances, as some very quick passes were recorded by the Nostalgia Nitro Funny Cars, including a best of the day 5.63 - 242.58 carded by Kris Krabill. There were some rather interesting pairings seen coming out of the staging lanes, as funny cars lined up against dragsters, front-engined versus rear-engined dragsters, fuel altereds against funny cars and dragsters, and every combination of those different classes.

Here's a good selection of photos of the day's action with most of the details on the cars involved. Friday will see the first qualifying sessions for all classes, followed by final qualifying on Saturday, and some early elimination rounds. Then it all wraps up on Sunday with a full day of eliminations. We'll have our Southwest correspondent "Big" Bob Snyder on the starting line for the entire event and post all we can over the course of the weekend. Stay tuned for updates throughout each day.

AA/FC - Dan Horan --- AA/FC - Matt Bynum - 'Nitro Nick'

(LEFT) In a new look, Dan Horan rolls out in a freshly sponsored Camaro SS, while (RIGHT) the "Nitro Nick" tribute car literally rolled on the top end, as Matt Bynum lost the handle after heavy tire shake, bounced off the wall and rolled it in the lights. Lots of damage to the car, but fortunately, none to the driver

(LEFT) AA/FD - Pete Wittenberg - 'Circuit Breaker' (RIGHT) NFC - Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' --- Left - AA/FD - Jim Murphy - 'WW2' - Right - AA/FC - Jim Maroney - 'Candies & Hughes Cajun 'Cuda'

(LEFT) Running countrary to the schedule that said "no pairings of dragsters and funny cars", we've got Pete Wittenberg in the "Circuit Breaker" Top Fueler, lined up against "Rookie of The Year" (2018) Billy Morris in the "Problem Child" Camaro Funny Car. (RIGHT) Another pair of "rule breakers" in this pair, as on the left, it's Jim Murphy in the "WW2" (or is it WW3 by now?) and Jim Maroney in the Candies & Hughes "Cajun 'Cuda" nitro funny car

AA/FC - Jeff Arend - 'California Hustler' --- AA/FC - Rian Konno - 'Kazanjian, Lemon & Konno'

(LEFT) Looking to improve on a great 2018 season, veteran nitro pilot Jeff Arend launches hard in Don Nelson's "California Hustler" Pontiac Trans-Am flopper. (RIGHT) Steadily improving and moving up the performance charts is the Mustang funny of Rian Konno, a tribute car to "Kazanjian & Lemon" as he prepares to launch a serious challenge for the Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet crown

AA/FC - Matt Melendez - 'Cacklin' Critter' --- AA/FC - Dean Oberg - 'Holy Toledo'

(LEFT) Putting the first big number up on the scoreboard was Matt Melendez in the "Cacklin' Critter" Challenger, blasting out a 5.69 at "only" 242.58 mph.

(RIGHT) It's a real tribute to the very early days of Funny Car racing, when the word FUNNY really described many of the entries, and Dean Oberg's "Holy Toledo" Jeep truly fits the bill. He can't run with the "big dogs" in Nostalgia Funny Car, but fits nicely into the 5.90 Funny Car field

AA/FC - Kris Krabill - 'Nitro Pimpin' --- Left - AA/FC - Right - AA/FA

(LEFT) An even crazier set of numbers came up a little later, as "Hollywood" Kris Krabill lit up the boards with an awesome 5.63 pass, coupled with a seriously slowing 224.08 mph. That blast got everyone's attention! And in case the car looks just a little familiar, it's the former Will Martin car.

(RIGHT) It's the first of quite a few wacky duets as a Nitro Nostalgia Funny Car lines up against a AA/Fuel Altered

Left - AA/FC - Rick Rogers - 'Fighting Irish' Right - AA/FA - 'Mighty Mouse' --- Left - AA/FD - Mendy Fry - 'High Speed Motorsports' Right - Rear-Engine TF - Brad Thompson - 'Rain for Rent - Warren & Coburn'

(LEFT) Another odd-ball pairing, as on the left side it's Rick Rogers in the "Fighting Irish Camaro, lined up against what looks like a newcomer to the AA/Fuel Altered ranks: the "Mighty Mouse" entry out of Division Five with small-block Chevy power

(RIGHT) At least it's two dragsters in this match... even though they've got engines in different locations, as on the left it's defending NHRA Heritage Series champion Mendy Fry in the HIgh Speed Motorsports entry, challenged on the right by the "Warren & Coburn - Rain for Rent" tribute car, driven by local jack-of-all-trades Brad Thompson

Left rear-engine TF - Right - AA/FA - James Generalao Jr. - 'Impatient' --- AA/FC - Jerry Espeseth - 'Littlefield & Rupert - Rolling Thunder'

(LEFT) Why not match up a Rear-Engined Top Fuel dragster (the Brad Thompson-driven "Rain for Rent" car against the "Impatient" AA/Fuel Altered of James Generalao Jr.

(RIGHT) It's the very well-known and former Heritage Series Champion "Littlefield & Rupert" - Rolling Thunder car, but with a new driver this year, as former Nostalgia Eliminator racer Jerry Espeseth is wheeling the hard running Camaro flopper

AA/FC - Marc Meadors - 'Fuel Curve' --- Left - AA/FC - Right - AA/FA

(LEFT) It's Marc Meadors in the partially primered and unlettered "Fuel Curve" car. (RIGHT) A Funny Car versus Fuel Altered battle

AA/FA - Ron Capps - --- Left - AA/FA - 'Nitro Rat' - Right - AA/FA - Dan Hix - 'Meanstreak'

(LEFT) After a half-track test pass by James Day on Wednesday, "designated driver" Ron Capps jumped into the "Good News" Fiat AA/FA for what was probably his first pass ever in a fuel altered. (RIGHT) It's the "Nitro Rat" Fuel Altered on the left against the Dan Hix-driven "Meanstreak" Funny Car

AA/FC - Dan Hix - 'Meanstreak'

Graduating from the AA/Fuel Altered ranks, Dan Hix made an early pass in the Hix, Keigley & Mosby "Meanstreak". The car was formerly campaigned by Aussie Paul Shackleton under the banner of "Shack Attack"

Nitro Qualifying (Day Three) at the 2019 Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet (Bakersfield, CA)

It's Top Qualifier time from Friday at the 61st annual Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet. We've snagged some great shots of the leaders after the first day of qualifying at Bakersfield. The weather is getting better but some of the performances have dropped off a little. Note that we said "some" as you'll see below that Dan Horan obliterated the Nitro Nostalgia Funny Car speed record with an unreal 265.22 mph blast on his second qualifying attempt to lead the field in e.t. (with a 5.665) and speed. Read on for more qualifying news.

AA/FD - Bret Williamson - 'Forever Young' --- AA/FD - Rick White

(LEFT) After Friday's first qualifying session, Bret Williamson in the "Forever Young" entry sat atop the leaderboard with a solid 5.736 - 250.74 that led the field by more than a tenth. (RIGHT) The second, and final, session on Saturday saw Rick White in the "Neal & White" car leapfrog past Williamson with a slightly better 5.723 - 254.52 clocking to earn the top spot.

AA/FC - Dan Horan

After his awesome, record-setting (265.22 mph) pass during Friday's first session, Dan Horan stayed at the top of the list right through until the conclusion of qualifying. However, he wasn't far ahead of several of the real hitters in Nostalgia flopper racing, with defending series champion Bobby Cottrell in the (Bucky) Austin & O'Brien Camaro just a hundredth of a second behind (5.677) and Austin's former driver "Hollywood" Kris Krabill sandwiching the #1 & #3 drivers with a 5.676 timeslip.

The gap between the top and bottom in the 16-car field was just a little over two tenths, with bubble holder Jim "Boom BOOM" Maroney holding down the bottom at 5.889. He won't be able to make the first round call on Sunday though, as that qualifying pass was punctuated with a massive blower explosion that disintegrated the body and put the "Candies & Hughes" tribute car on the trailer. None of the three alternates laid down a representative pass so who Horan faces in the opening round of eliminations is pure conjecture. Also of note is that there should have been four non-qualifiers, but Matt Bynum crashed the "Nitro Nick" car on his first test pass earlier in the week.

AA/FA - Tom Padilla - 'Red Dragon'

With 11 cars competing in the AA/Fuel Altered class, there was some real competition for the top spot in the field. The one wild card factor in the equation was the 6.00 index imposed on the cars in an attempt to equalize the competition and keep out big-show style hitters. On top of the ladder after Friday's single qualifier was Washington's Tom Padilla in his '27 Ford Model T "Red Dragon" with an almost too quick 6.009 - 236.67 pass. Showing that he wasn't afraid to drive it out the back door, Padilla kept the pedal down and came within a whisker of breaking out.

Saturday saw three more entries make qualifying attempts, and nearly everyone picked up the pace, with the 8-car qualified field ending up fairly tightly bunched between 6.00 and 6.25, with four 6-second alternates trailing before the last few cars dropped well back. Some of the regular qualifiers, such as Keith Wilson in the "Witch Doctor", Eric Gates and Rodney Flournoy with his "Godzilla" entry were unable to dial their cars in during the three qualifying sessions and have to wait until October to make their next serious runs at Bakersfield.

Classic FC - Rodney Flournoy - 'Crazy Horse'

Taking the early lead in a very short field, as in three cars, long-time nitro veteran Rodney Flournoy whipped his "Crazy Horse" '71 Mustang to a less than scintillating 9.477 pass to easily cover the even sadder efforts of Wes Morris and Dean Oberg. As you can see from his completely out-of-shape launch, there wasn't much chance of him clocking a competitive pass, but it was still good enough to top the charts.

Friday's short field doubled in size by the time qualifying closed on Saturday afternoon, and the performances stepped up considerably. The early leader, Rodney Flournoy, was displaced by Shawn Van Horn in the "Choo-Choo Mama" Pontiac Trans Am, as van Horn carded a decent 6.236 against the 5.90 index. The spread between the top and bottom was still more than ten seconds, but at least there were more cars for the fans to see during eliminations on Sunday.

Final Eliminations (Day Four) at the 2019 Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet (Bakersfield, CA)

Here's the first round of eliminations for the Nostalgia Funny Cars, run in the late afternoon on Saturday. The #16 qualifier, Jim Maroney was unable to make the call with a destroyed body, and the first alternate (Cory Lee) was also "indisposed" so Bill Windham slotted in from the #18 position.

AA/FC - Dan Horan --- AA/FC - Kris Krabill (L) - Marc Meadors (R)

(LEFT) Filling in for the broken Jim Maroney, Bill Windham was so late in his first round match against Dan Horan that he wasn't even in the picture. That's what a .750 light will do. Horan didn't have a trouble-free run as his 6.067 - 243.02 was far off his low qualifying 5.665 effort. Windham wasn't much slower on e.t. at 6.095 but was waaaay behind at the stripe.

(RIGHT) The second pair of the first round saw a closer race as both racers ran into the 5's, with Kris Krabill (left side) taking the win at 5.793 - 252.14 over the late-leaving and slower Marc Meadors (right side) at 5.941 - 243.86.

AA/FC - Tim Boychuk (L) - Bobby Cottrell (R) --- AA/FC - Ryan Hodgson (L) - Jerry Espeseth (R)

(LEFT) Coming into this match with a sizeable performance advantage, Bobby Cottrell (right side) picked up the pace for the Austin & O'Brien car, blasting out a 5.642, coupled with a big speed at 257.24 to take the win over Tim Boychuk (left side), who laid down a solid 5.862 at a slowing 218.41 mph in the loss.

(RIGHT) The lone Canadian competitor in the field this year (as Boychuk is now an Arizona resident), and 2017 Heritage Series Champion, Ryan Hodgson came into the first round with a performance advantage over the rookie driver in the "Littlefield & Rupert" car, but left late and was out e.t.'d by Jerry Espeseth by a 5.747 - 237.17 to 5.774 - 253.66 margin. Hodgson was .078 behind on the leave, and even his big top-end charge failed to close the gap.

AA/FC - Steven Densham (L) - Rian Konno (R) --- AA/FC - Billy Morris

(LEFT) Two closely matched competitors faced off in the next pair, in a mild upset, Steven Densham (left side) left on Rian Konno (right side) by half a tenth, then held off Konno's quicker and faster 5.810 - 247.93 with a just-good-enough 5.813 at a seriously slowing 213.94 speed. Unfortunately, that's where the good news stopped for Densham as a massive explosion just before the finish line blew the body off the car and prevented the team from making the second round call.

(RIGHT) This is another one-car shot, as Billy Morris (pictured) in the "Problem Child" had a troubled and early shutoff run of 17.843 - 46.10 that was more than good enough to take the winlight over a seriously red-lighting Tony Jurado - a -.318 light. The scoreboards showed that he ran a low e.t. of the world 5.532 - 229.51 but the numbers must be bogus, probably caused by the staging lights staying on as he launched.

AA/FC - Geoff Monise (L) - Matt Melendez (R) --- AA/FC - Brad Thompson (L) - Jeff Arend (R)

(LEFT) The second to last pair of the opening round featured something almost unique in Nostalgia flopper racing: a pair of non-Camaros. In the decidedly old-school appearing Monza (left side) was Geoff Monise in the "Van Gundy & Clark" car, against relative newcomer Matt Melendez (right side) who took the win with a very strong 5.691 - 242.32 over Monise's quicker leaving (.114 to .144) but slower arriving 5.983 - 240.21 effort.

(RIGHT) To close out the opening round of eliminations, Jeff Arend (right side) pushed the beautiful "California Hustler" to a 5.808 - 252.61 to cover the "Jailbreak" car of Brad Thompson as he trailed at 5.913. Thompson left with Arend and stayed close until the 1000 ft. mark, then ran out of steam and slowed to 204.51 mph for the loss.

Final Eliminations (continued) at the 2019 Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet (Bakersfield, CA)

Round Two of eliminations for the Nitro Nostalgia Funny Cars

AA/FC - Kris Krabill (far lane) - Matt Melendez (near lane) --- AA/FC - Jeff Arend (far lane) - Jerry Espeseth (near lane)

(LEFT) If you discount the reaction times, this was the closest race of the day, with Kris Krabill (far lane) cranking out a stellar 5.676 - 248.80, to hold off a slightly quicker 5.670 - 246.93 by (near lane) Matt Melendez. The r.t.'s told the tale however, as Krabill's .048 leave easily took the measure of Melendez's slightly tardy .157 time.

(RIGHT) Another pair and another holeshot win, as Jeff Arend (far lane) carded a slightly quicker and faster 5.723 - 255.10 but it wasn't enough to hold off rookie Jerry Espeseth's (near lane) slightly better leaving (.112 to .127) 5.734 - 252.71 timeslip. It's interesting to see former driver Jason Rupert beside the "Littlefield & Rupert" car as Espeseth pulled into the stage beams, and the other half of the team, crew chief Brad Littlefield directing him from in front of the car. Their tutelage obviously worked!

AA/FC - Billy Morris (far lane) - Dan Horan (near lane) --- AA/FC - Bobby Cottrell

(LEFT) After two very close races, the string was snapped when Billy Morris (far lane) left first, by a .099 to .177 margin, but finished second as he ran into problems at half track and clocked in at 6.572 - 158.74. His opponent, low qualifier Dan Horan (near lane) was a little late at the green, but poured on the horses to put a very strong 5.694 on the boards, coupled with an excellent 262.18 mph speed, just a little slower than the 265.52 he recorded during qualifying.

(RIGHT) With just one car in the picture, it's easy to figure who won this race, as Bobby Cottrell had the luxury of a bye run into the semi-finals after scheduled opponent Steven Densham destroyed his Camaro body in a first-round finish line explosion. Cottrell left hard on his single, but cut the power at the 1000 ft mark and coasted across the line at 5.887 - 201.82 for the win.

Round One of eliminations for Nostalgia Top Fuel

AA/FD - Rick White (near lane) - Phil Ruskowski (broken) --- AA/FD - Brendan Murray (far lane) - Bret Williamson (near lane)

(LEFT) It's another one-car show, but Rick White's scheduled opponent, Phil Ruskowski did get to the line, then banged the blower on the burnout and that was the end of his March Meet. Low qualifier White left hard but packed it in early and was off the throttle just past half track, lighting up the scoreboards with a 6.093 at only 175.09 mph.

(RIGHT) The #2 qualifier, Bret Williamson (near lane), slowed slightly from his qualifying numbers, but a 5.803 - 240.04 was more than enough to handle Brendan Murray's early shutoff 6.663 - 145.36 in his underdog big-block Chevy powered machine.

AA/FD - Mendy Fry (far lane) - Jim Murphy (near lane) --- AA/FD - Rick McGee (far lane) - Adam Sorokin (near lane)

(LEFT) Defending Heritage Series champion Mendy Fry (far lane) dropped a bomb on the "WW2" entry of former champion Jim Murphy as her 5.518 - 265.43 obliterated Murphy's decent, but seriously outgunned 5.801 - 231.12 pass.

(RIGHT) The final pairing in the opening round featured Adam Sorokin (near lane) in the unique small-block Chevy powered "Champion Speed Shop Special" against the Rick McGee-driven "Overtime Special" (far lane). It wasn't a close race as Sorokin laid down a decent 5.981 - 201.42 to easily handle McGee's hurting 6.754 - 140.59 losing effort.

Round One of eliminations for AA/Fuel Altered

AA/FA - Jim Holtz (far lane) - Tom Padilla (near lane) --- AA/FA - James Day (far lane) - Mark Whynaught (near lane)



AA/FA - James Generalao Jr (far lane) - Tony Whitfield (near lane) --- AA/FA - Ron Capps (far lane) - Dan Hix (near lane)



Round One of eliminations for Classic (5.90 index) Funny Car

CFC - Jeff Utterback (far lane) - Dean Oberg (near lane) --- CFC - Rodney Flournoy (near lane) - Wes Morris (no show)



CFC - Dan Hix (near lane) - Shawn Van Horn (no show)