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GOOD VIBRATIONS MARCH MEET - Auto Club Raceway at Famoso - Bakersfield, CA - March 5 - 8, 2020

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

AA/FC - Brad Thompson - 'Jailbreak' --- AA/FC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro'



AA/FC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro' --- AA/FC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro' AA/FC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro' --- AA/FC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro'

It's a quartet of photos depicting Chris Davis's ill-fated attempt to conquer the Famoso surface, as you'll notice the throttle blades opening, closing, opening again, closing again.

AA/FC - Bill Windham - 'Shakedown' --- AA/FC - Rian Konno - 'Kazanjian, Lemon & Konno'



AA/FC - Mike Peck - 'Quote Wizard' --- AA/FC - Mike Peck - 'Quote Wizard' AA/FC - Mike Peck - 'Quote Wizard' --- AA/FC - Mike Peck - 'Quote Wizard'

AA/FC - Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports' --- AA/FC - Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports' AA/FC - Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports' --- AA/FC - Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports'

AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!' --- AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!' AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!' --- AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!' AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!' --- AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!' AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!' --- AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - Panic!'

AA/FA - Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin' --- AA/FA - Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin'

AA/FC - Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' --- AA/FC - Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk'

AA/FA - AA/FC - Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin' (near lane) 
vs Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' (far lane) --- AA/FA - AA/FC - Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin' (near lane) 
vs Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' (far lane)

AA/FA - Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin' --- AA/FA - AA/FC - Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin' (near lane) 
vs Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' (far lane)

AA/FC - Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' --- AA/FC - Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk'

AA/FC - Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' --- AA/FC - James Day - 'Speed Sport Special'



AA/FC - James Day - 'Speed Sport Special' --- AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money'



AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money' --- AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money' AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money' --- AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money'

AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money' --- AA/FA - George Gallimore - 'Sundown'



AA/FA - George Gallimore - 'Sundown' --- AA/FA - George Gallimore - 'Sundown' AA/FA - George Gallimore - 'Sundown' --- AA/FA - George Gallimore - 'Sundown'

AA/FA - George Gallimore - 'Sundown' --- AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre'



AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre' --- AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre' AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre' --- AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre' AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre' --- AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre' AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre' --- AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre'

AA/FC - Jeff Utterback - 'One Bad Hombre'

THURSDAY - More Testing

The March Meet started with a "test 'n tune" for the nitro-burning cars and 25 of them took advantage of the session to acclimate themselves to the AutoClub Famoso Raceway surface. There were some great passes, led by nitro newcomer Mike Peck from Washington state, who put down a very good 5.749 - 253.14 that surpassed even the dragsters. We've got a bunch of photos of some of the entrants, including a few new cars and new looks for others.

AA/FD - Jim Murphy - 'WW3' --- AA/FD - Tyler Hester - 'Overtime Special'

(LEFT) Coming out for his umpeenth season of nitro racing (he dates back to the late 1960's) is four-time March Meet champion Jim Murphy in his "WW III" entry. He shut off early to a 6.025 - 188.96

(RIGHT) A car that's been around for quite a while with Rick McGee driving is under new management with Tyler Hester handling the driving duties on the "Overtime Special" and he ran to the 1000' mark before pulling the pin to a 6.182 - 174.62 clocking.

AA?FC - Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports' --- AA/FC - Cory Lee - 'The Pedaler'

(LEFT) Hoping for much better results this year (he crashed in testing at this event last year) is Matt Bynum driving the "Matthews Motorsports" Camaro and he ran straight and strong until shutting off early (recurring theme, eh?) to a 6.181 - 171.23 clocking.

(RIGHT) A true "jack of all trades" in drag racing is veteran Cory Lee who's been driving Gary Turner's "Pedaler" for the past few years, and he ran strong right out of the box with a 6.080 at - you guessed it, another sub-200 speed - 192.47 mph.

AA/FC - Tony Jurado - 'Capitol Punishment' --- AA/FC - Billy Morris - 'Problem Child'

(LEFT) The purple-flamed "Capitol Punishment" Camaro of Tony Jurado didn't have the best numbers of the session with a 6.793 at only 127.86.

(RIGHT) Billy Morris in the "Problem Child" Camaro got off the loud pedal early, posting a 6.325 - 161.46.

AA/FC - Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour' --- AA/FC - Dan Horan - 'Infinity Plumbing'

(LEFT) The long-time fuel racer out of Canada, Tim Boychuk in his "Happy Hour" Camaro carded a 5.955 - 228.58 to show that he's ready to rumble at Bakersfield again.

(RIGHT) Rebounding quickly from his disastrous exhibition appearance at the recent Winternationals, where he put his car into the catchnet when the chutes failed, Dan Horan Jr. pounded out a 5.942 - 218.05 on an easy pass to open his weekend.

AA/FC - #665 - 'Atomic Punk' --- AA/FA - Kevin Von - 'Nasty Benjamin'

(LEFT) Here's a new one to us, a '69 Camaro named "Atomic Punk" that we know nothing about, other than it ran in the test session. We're waiting for more info from our (t)rusty correspondent "Big" Bob Snyder and the "oracle" of results, Drag Race Central. The official word is that it's Don Knoblauch from Sumner, WA.

(RIGHT) This name ("Nasty Benjamin") has been around the nitro ranks for five decades now and Dave Benjamin is still running strong. We haven't got the new driver's name yet, but it did run a solid 6.649 - 150.85 with the chutes out early. UPDATE: The driver is ex-boat racer Kevin Burgess from Lake Havasu City, AZ.

AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money' --- AA/FC - Ryan Hodgson - 'Pacemaker'

(LEFT) The Bob Godfrey "Burnin' Money" '72 'Cuda didn't get very far before running into problems that left a 14.956 at only 46.21 mph on the scoreboards.

(RIGHT) One of the big guns in the class, from Sturgeon, AB is Ryan Hodgson in the "Pacemaker" Camaro and he didn't have a very good opening pass either, with a 9.421 - 88.56 coming up on the clocks.

AA/FC - Dan Hix - 'Meanstreak' --- AA/FC - Dean Oberg - 'Fighting Irish'

(LEFT) Down from Oregon is the Dan Hix driven "Meanstreak" Camaro and it might need some more fine-tuning after posting a test number of 7.545 - 123.13.

(RIGHT) We're not sure who's driving the "Fighting Irish" car this year - it's been around for quite a while with several different owners and drivers - but we do know that it's got Charlie O'Neill's name on the side. A bit of sleuthing just provided the answer as it's Dean Oberg behind the butterfly (wheel) instead of his usual ride, the "Holy Toledo" Jeep. PS: It ran 10.898 - 71.83 on a shakedown pass.

AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - 'Panic' --- AA/FA - Keith Wilson - 'Witch Doctor'

(LEFT) Here's the Panic" fuel altered of Shawn Van Horn burning out in the period-correct example of a true AA/FA.

(RIGHT) An evil-looking car with the BIG wings (front and rear) is the "Witch Doctor" of Keith Wilson. Unfortunately we have no times for these fuel altereds.

AA/FA - Eric Gates -'' --- AA/FA - Mike Halstead - ''

Here's two more AA/Fuel Altereds, both without any numbers to report from the test session, but we know it's (LEFT) Eric Gates and (RIGHT) Mike Halstead.

AA/FA - Ron Capps - 'Good News'

Taking a bit of a "busman's holiday", big show Funny Car driver Ron Capps slid in behind the wheel of the "Good News" Fiat and made his first AA/Fuel Altered pass of the season. This year he's hoping for better results at the March Meet.

FRIDAY - Qualifying

AA/FUEL ALTERED - Qualifying Session 1

As the third PRO class in the Heritage Series pecking order, the AA/Fuel Altereds continue to excite the fans and create interest amongst the racers as this year's March Meet saw 15 entries trying to squeeze into the 8-car field. To keep the class from getting out of hand - and where and how many times have you heard that before? - there is a firm 6.00-second index to give the lesser funded (aka: low buck) teams a chance to compete. The potential of these cars was amply demonstrated during qualifying as Keith Wilson in his nasty-looking "Witch Doctor" entry blew up the index with a 5.833 clocking in the first session, at an "out the back door" 243.19 speed for good measure. Read on to see how the first session went.

AA/FA - Ron Capps - 'Good News' --- AA/FA - Rodney Flournoy - 'Godzilla'

(LEFT) Coming back for a second shot at March Meet glory in the "Good News" Fiat coupe, Ron "Big Show" Capps lights up the tires as he prepares for his qualifier that ended a little early with a 7.537 - 118.83 that put him in the #11 position.

(RIGHT) A real "blast from the past" competitor came out next as Rodney Flournoy in the family run "Godzilla" slotted into the provisional field on the bump spot with a 6.853 - 195.56 that left much room for improvement on Saturday.

AA/FA - Eric Gates - 'Agent Orange' --- AA/FA - Dan Hix - 'Heatseeker'

(LEFT) After a runner-up finish at this event in 2018, to failing to qualify last year, Eric Gates in "Agent Orange" was looking for much better results this year but a 7.320 - 154.10 wasn't was he was looking for. With only one more qualifier on Saturday, it was going to take some work to move up from his #10 slot into the field.

(RIGHT) Doing double duty as he was also entered in Nitro Pro Comp, Oregon's Dan Hix in the "Heatseeker" had an odd pairing of numbers, as his 6.723 (good enough for the #7 spot) had a trap speed of 249.53. It must have been an early pedal, then a banzai run to the finish line.

AA/FA - Robert Winefsky - 'Coyote Express' --- AA/FA - James Generalao Jr. - 'Impatient'

(LEFT) The Arizona-based - and aptly named - "Coyote Express" of Robert Winefski ran the best of the session to this point and stopped the clocks at 6.420 - 214.42, good enough for the #4 spot on the provisional qualifying list.

(RIGHT) Coming back to try again for the March Meet trophy was James Generalao Jr. in his "Impatient" entry and he found the tuneup was lacking the punch from last year (6.180 in the 1st session), as he only slotted in to the #9 spot with a 6.867 - 197.08.

AA/FA - Mike Halstead - 'Black Sunshine' --- AA/FA - Tom Padilla - 'Red Dragon'

(LEFT) We could fill an entire page talking about the "Black Sunshine" 23-T of the "Over The Hill Gang" driven by Mike Halstead. The connection to the famed nitro racing "Gang" is still intact as Bill Schultz is doing the tuning but it didn't work out too well in the first session as Halstead had to pedal the car before the 330' clocks and shut off to a 10.201 - 85.87 to land in the #13 position.

(RIGHT) Launching into a nice wheelie, Washingtonian Tom Padilla in his "Red Dragon" ran strong to the 1000' mark before getting off the loud pedal and still nearly tickling the index at 6.058 - 208.49. Despite coasting across the finish line, Padilla still finished the round at the top of the ladder, nearly a tenth ahead of his nearest competitor.

AA/FA - Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin' --- AA/FA - Shawn Van Horn - 'Panic!'

(LEFT) The unsinkable Dave Benjamin showed up with a new driver this year, as ex-boat racer Kevin Burgess now resides in the HOT seat of the "Nasty Benjamin" 23-T and he had quite a ride in his first appearance in AA/FA. They stopped the clocks at 6.138 - good for #2 in the order - at a much reduced speed of only 182.43 mph.

(RIGHT) Looking as old school as they come, with skinny Halibrand (?) spoke front wheels and a high open Bantam body, the "PANIC!" entry of Shawn Van Horn looked like a contender with his opening shot of 6.177 - 230.25 and landed in the #3 spot to set him up for a good weekend.

AA/FA - Jim Holtz - 'Nitro Jim' --- AA/FA - George Gallimore - 'Sundown'

(LEFT) Making a statement with his first pass of the season, "Nitro" Jim Holtz in his 1924 Dodge (okay, we'll buy that story) moved solidly into the field in the #6 spot with a 6.501 at only 173.08 mph as he shut off well before the stripe.

(RIGHT) Coming all the way from Memphis, Tennessee, George Gallimore in the "Sundown" '37 Fiat Toppolino launched hard but faded early to a #12 qualifying 9.631 - 77.88 clocking.

AA/FA - Keith Wilson - 'Witch Doctor'

What index? We don't need no stinkin' index! seems to be the mantra of the "Witch Doctor" team of Keith Wilson as he blew right past the 6.00 limit with a tremendous 5.833 - 243.19 pass to end up at the bottom of the pack with just one more chance to qualify on Saturday afternoon.

NOSTALGIA FUEL DRAGSTER - Qualifying Session 1

All 12 of the pre-entered cars/racers were in the pits on Friday morning but the diversity that's been evident at previous March Meet's was a little lacking as only one out of state entry was in evidence, that being the Jim & Alison-owned "Great Expectations III" driven by the son of previous pilot Bobby Hilton, now under the control of Tyler Hilton.

And in the biggest shock of the event, defending Heritage Series champion, Mendy Fry, in the dominating "High Speed Motorsports" car is parked, at least temporarily, and possibly permanently. This follows the unexpected and tragic passing of team owner/tuner/guiding light Tom Shelar last summer. Another non-entrant was the lone Canadian car, the indefatigible Phil Ruskowski with his Victoria, BC-based "Xhibitionist" small-block Chevy-powered entry. Phil has been dealing with some health issues over the winter and just wasn't ready to make the trip south this year.

AA/FD - Dan Horan Jr. --- AA/FD - Jim Murphy - 'WWIII'

(LEFT) Hopping out of his Nostalgia Funny Car into his Top Fuel car, Dan Horan Jr. put down a strong opening lap of 5.805 - 250.04 to take the #3 spot on the ladder.

(RIGHT) Many time (4-time and counting...) winner of the March Meet, in the last decade and stretching all the way back to the early 1970's, Jim Murphy in his "WWIII" entry lit up the tires on the launch and slowly rolled down the track to a 12-second clocking that left him 11th in the 8-car field.

AA/FD - Frank McBee Jr. - 'Valley Thunder' --- AA/FD - Bret Williamson - 'Forever Young'

(LEFT) The "Valley Thunder Racing" car of Frank McBee Jr. ran well to half track, then slowed to a 6.586 - 157.03 to slide into the bump spot, but with two more qualifying sessions on tap, the Thunder team knew they had some work ahead of them if they wanted to be running on Sunday.

(RIGHT) The Mike Fuller Motorsports "Forever Young" car under the ultra-capable controls of multi-talented Bret Williamson ran strong almost all the way to the finish line, stopping the clocks at 5.915 - 231.71, good enough for the #5 position after the first day of qualifying.

AA/FD - Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' --- AA/FD - Rick White - 'Autopower'

(LEFT) All the way from Cincinatti, OH in a brand-new J. Ed Horton chassis, Tyler Hilton in the Jim & Alison Lee-owned "Great Expectations III" showed some big-block Chevy power with a very good 5.930 - 224.81 pass, good enough for the #6 spot on the ladder.

(RIGHT) The Neal & White "Autopower" entry, driven by veteran Rick White ran into major problems as he oiled the track and earned a DQ for the effort. Heritage Series rules automatically disqualify a timeslip whenever an oildown occurs. It's drastic, but necessary, and has helped lessen the amount of downtown at these events.

AA/FD - Brendan Murry - 'Running Wild' --- AA/FD - Adam Sorokin - 'Champion Speed Shop'

(LEFT) Another tale of two halves (as in track), as Brendan Murry in his "Running Wild" entry ran hard to the 660' clocks, then slowed to a 6.644 - 144.95 that left him just outside the field as the first session bump spot ended up at Frank McBee Jr.'s 6.586 e.t.

(RIGHT) The most unique-appearing car in the field - or almost any field for that matter - is the "Champion Speed Shop" small-block Chevy-powered car driven by second-generation Top Fuel pilot Adam Sorokin and he stayed on the throttle a little longer than Murry, but his 6.769 - 171.66 ended up one notch lower than the Running Wild's #9 position. Despite the lack of jaw-dropping performances in the first qualifier, as the e.t.'s ranged from #1 qualfier Pete Wittenberg's 5.731 down to #8 Frank McBee Jr.'s aforementioned 6.586 pass.

NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session 2

AA/FC - Dan Horan Jr. - 'Infinity' --- AA/FC - Brad Thompson - 'Jailbreak'



AA/FC - Matt Bynum - Matthews Motorsports --- AA/FC - Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour'



AA/FC - Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' --- AA/FC -



AA/FC - --- AA/FC -



AA/FC - Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money' --- AA/FC - Boby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special'



AA/FC - Mike Peck - 'Quote Wizard' --- AA/FC - Jeff Arend - 'California Hustler'



AA/FC - Jeff Gregory - 'Madness' --- AA/FC - James Day - Speed Sport Special



AA/FC - Rian Konno - Kazanjian, Lemon & Konno --- AA/FC - Bill Windham - 'Shakedown'



AA/FC - Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' --- AA/FC - Jerry Espeseth - 'Rolling Thunder 2.0'



NITRO PRO COMP - Qualifying Session 1

NPC - Billy McDevitt --- NPC - Mike Halstead



NPC - Rick Rogers --- NPC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro'



NPC - Dan Hix - 'Meanstreak' --- NPC - Rodney Flournoy - 'Hot Wheels'



SATURDAY - Qualifying

NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR - Round 1 eliminations

With 24 AA/FC's in the pits on Wednesday, everyone knew that it was going to take a solid effort, and some very good e.t.'s to make the ultra-tough (as always) 16-car field. The bump spot moved steadily downwards as qualifying progressed, from a Friday (1st session) 12-second time, to the second session's 6.176, and finally in the last-ditch Saturday session to a very stout 5.832, leaving the new "Quarter Pounder" of Van Gundy, Clark & Monise on the outside by just six-thousandths (5.838). Right behind them was Bill Windham at a very good 5.851, before the field trailed off into the 6-second zone and beyond. The first round of eliminations went off late Saturday afternoon and featured some very close matchups. Our coverage starts below with a different photograph perspective from the deep end of the track.

AA/FC - Ryan Hodgson - 'Pacemaker' --- AA/FC - Justin Taylor -'Evil, Wicked, 
Mean & Nasty'

The first pairing featured two middle of the pack (#7 vs #10) qualifiers, but it was no contest as Ryan Hodgson in the "Pacemaker" Camaro (LEFT) launched first by a .073 to .150 margin, then ran away from Justin Taylor in the "Evil, Wicked, Mean & Nasty" Mustang (RIGHT). Hodgson's 5.827 - 250.51 train-lengthed Taylor's early shutoff 7.290 - 148.71 effort.

AA/FC - James Day - 'Speed Sport Special' --- AA/FC - Matt Melendez - 'Cacklin' Critter' 
(left) vs Dan Horan - 'Infinity' (right)

(LEFT) Second out of the chute was James Day in the "Speed Sport Special" Omni and while he ran a very respectable 5.845 - 252.71 and left first (.082 to .160), it wasn't nearly enough to stay ahead of Matt Bynum in the "Matthews Motorsports" Camaro (not shown) who pounded out low e.t. and top speed of the round with a crushing 5.587 - 260.97 for the win.

(RIGHT) Side by side through the top end are Matt Melendez in the "Cacklin' Critter" Challenger (left) and Dan Horan Jr. Camaro (right) after Melendez pulled the upset of the day, taking out the #1 qualifier in the first round. Neither driver cut a light (.200 to .205) in Melendez's favour, but the scoreboards told the tale, with a 5.709 - 245.27 for Melendez and 6.349 - 242.32 for Horan. Without the video to see what happened, we can only surmise that Horan had to pedal (smoke or shake) as his mph number indicated that he stayed on the throttle to the finish line.

AA/FC - Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' --- AA/FC - Tim Nemeth - 'Iceman'

On paper this looked to be a somewhat lopsided match, with #15 qualifier Tim Nemeth in his "Iceman" Firebird (LEFT) at a definite disadvantage against #2 qualifier Billy Morris in the "Problem Child" Camaro (RIGHT). But when the lights came on, Nemeth left first (.145 to .219) and gave Morris a battle all the way to the stripe, falling just over a car-length short as both drivers ran into problems early then pedalled their way to the finish line with Morris running 7.298 - 220.26 to overcome Nemeth's close 7.423 - 218.23 losing effort.

AA/FC - Jerry Espeseth - 'Rolling 
Thunder 2.0' --- AA/FC - Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour'

The next pairing saw sometimes Canadian Tim Boychuk in his "Happy Hour" Camaro (RIGHT) leave second and finish second with a solid, but outclassed, 5.753 - 241.28 time as Jerry Espeseth (RIGHT) in the "Rolling Thunder 2.0" Camaro lit up the scoreboards with a much better 5.601 - 257.83 to advance to the second round. Espeseth's six hundredths advantage on the launch just added icing to the cake.

AA/FC - Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' --- AA/FC - Tony Jurado - 'Capitol Punishment

The round continued with an all-Camaro battle which was not surprising as 10 out of the 16 qualifiers were piloting that model. Bobby Cottrell in the Austin & O'Brien "Bardahl Special" (LEFT) started his quest for another Heritage series championship with an unspectacular 5.894 - 249.12 (the numbers suggest a pedal job early in the run) win. Shutting off early and coasting to a first-round runnerup was opponent Tony Jurado in the "Capitol Punishment" Camaro (RIGHT) turning a slowing 6.480 - 150.30 in defeat.

AA/FC - Brad Thompson - 'Jailbreak' (left) vs 
Rian Konno - 'Lemon, Kazanjian & Konno' (right)

(LEFT) The closest Funny Car race of the event came in the second to last pair of the round, as Brad Thompson in the "Jaiblreak" Camaro (left lane) and Rian Konno in the "Lemon, Kazanjian & Konno" Mustang left with identical (.123) lights and crossed the finish line less than a car length apart. The verdict on the scoreboards read: Konno 5.747 - 250.88 for the WIN and Thompson 5.777 - 250.52 for the LOSS.

AA/FC - Jeff Arend - 'California Hustler' --- AA/FC - Mike Peck - 'Quote Wizard'

The round closed with last year's 2nd place finisher in the Heritage Series standings, Jeff Arend in the "California Hustler" Firebird (LEFT) quickly dispatching Mike Peck in the "Quote Wizard" Camaro (RIGHT), by a very decisive margin of 5.644 - 256.06 to 18+ seconds at a leisurely 49 mph.

With the first round of eliminations in the books as Saturday's racing came to a close, the pairings for the quarter-finals on Sunday morning were: Matt Melendez with lane choice over Rian Konno; Matt Bynum choosing over Jerry Espeseth (by only 14-thousandths); Jeff Arend with the choice over Bobby Cottrell; and Ryan Hodgson holding his choice over Billy Morris.

SUNDAY - Eliminations

NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR - Round 2 eliminations

Rian Konno - 'Lemon, Kazanjian & Konno' 
(left) - Matt Melendez - 'Cacklin' Critter' (right) --- Jerry Espeseth - 'Rolling Thunder 2.0' (left) 
- Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports' (right)

(LEFT) Following his first round UPSET over low qualifier Dan Horan Jr., Matt Melendez in the "Cacklin' Critter" Challenger (right lane) took out the #8 qualifer Rian Konno in the "Lemon, Kazanjian & Konno" Mustang (left lane) in a relatively close race: 5.713 - 241.93 over Konno's slightly quicker leaving (.108) to (.129) but later arriving 5.788 - 247.61 pass.

(RIGHT) As can be quite clearly seen in the photo, Jerry Espeseth in the ex-Jason Rupert "Rolling Thunder 2.0" Camaro (left lane)) is in a world of trouble early, recording a (.423) reaction time, then smoking the tires before shutting off and rolling to a NTR - NSR clocking. Taking full advantage of his plight was Matt Bynum in the "Matthews Motorsports" Camaro (right lane) who sped to low e.t. of eliminations at 5.584 - 252.05.

Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' (left) 
- Jeff Arend - 'California Hustler' (right) --- Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' (left) 
- Ryan Hodgson - 'Pacemaker' (right)

(LEFT) Two of the major hitters in the 2019 Heritage season matched up next as Bobby Cottrell in the Austin & O'Brien "Bardahl Special" (left lane) kept up his mastery over Don Nelson's "California Hustler" Firebird driven by Jeff Arend (right lane) by leaving first (.051) to (.110) and outrunning the Hustler for a 5.662 - 246.93 to 5.730 - 252.00 decision over Arend.

(RIGHT) Running into trouble early was the aptly named "Problem Child" Camaro of Billy Morris (left lane) as he quickly faded to a 12.684 - 63.57, while Ryan Hodgson in the Canadian "Pacemaker" Camaro (right lane) ran strong to his best numbers of the event, stopping the clocks at 5.654 - 258.57 for the decisive victory and a place in the semi-finals.

Pairings for that round are Matt Melendez vs Bobby Cottrell, with Cottrell holding lane choice, and Ryan Hodgson against Matt Bynum, with Bynum having his pick of lanes.

NOSTALGIA TOP FUEL - Round 1 eliminations

Brendan Murry - --- Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III'
 (left) - Jim Murphy - 'WWIII' (right)

(LEFT) Opening Top Fuel eliminations were the #1 and #8 qualifiers, and this one ended quickly as Pete Wittenberg in the "KMA Circuit Breaker" (right lane) followed up his low qualifying 5.60 pass, with a very strong 5.685 - 247.52 to easily dispatch Brendan Murry's off-pace 10.740 - 65.78 effort in his "Running Wild" entry (left lane). Murry left first by 12-thousandths, but that's all he had for Wittenberg.

(RIGHT) The first upset of TF eliminations came in the second pairing as lightly regarded Tyler Hilton in the Lee-family "Great Expectations III" (left lane) took a holeshot win over multi-time champion Jim Murphy in his "WWIII" car (right lane). Despite a quicker e.t., 6.027 - 180.77 for Murphy to a 6.084 - 227.04 for Hilton, the difference at the starting line (.088 to .164) in Hilton's favour, added up to a less than two-hundredths margin at the finish line.

Tyler Hester - 'Overtime Special' (left) - 
Bryan Hall - 'H & H Nomad' (right) --- Dan Horan Jr. (left) - Bret Williamson - 
'Forever Young' (right)

(LEFT) Making his March Meet debut was Tyler Hester in the "Overtime Special" (left lane) (formerly driven by his uncle Rick McGee), and he upended the #3 qualifier Bryan Hall in the "H & H Nomad" (right lane) 5.890 - 212.13 to an early shutoff 6.781 - 143.81 for Hall.

(RIGHT) The round closed with the third lower qualified car winning as Dan Horan Jr. (left lane) clocked a 5.794 - 234.78 to eliminate Bret Williamson's - "Forever Young" entry (right lane) at 5.902 - 241.28. The race was essentially over on the starting line though as Williamson's (.234) reaction was well behind Horan's so-so (.142) launch, but Dan won the race at both ends of the track.

Following the round, pairings for the semi-finals were as follows: Pete Wittenberg over Dan Horan Jr., and Hester over Hilton in a battle of the Tylers.

AA/FUEL ALTERED - Round 1 eliminations

Robert Winefski - 'Coyote Express' (left) - 
Tom Padilla - 'Red Dragon' (right) --- Jim Holtz - 'Nitro Jim' (left) - 
Kevin Burgess - 'Nasty Benjamin' (right)

With a total of 15 entries for the 6.00-indexed class, eliminations promised some serious excitement for fans (and who isn't?) of the short-wheelbased, overpowered, ill-handling dinosaurs.

(LEFT) First out of the box was the pairing of Robert Winefski in the "Coyote Express" (left lane) and Washington state's Tom Padilla in his very competitive "Red Dragon" (right lane) and it delivered an upset as #2 qualifier Padilla was ousted by #7 Winefski. Despite a better e.t. 6.301 at an early shutoff 171.49, Padilla's late-launching (.169) reaction time left him nearly a tenth behind the "Express" at the green. The slower (but faster) 6.334 - 223.14 for Winefsky allowed his quicker (.079) light to turn on the winlight.

(RIGHT) Another upset occurred in the next pair as every lower qualified car won in the first round, and this time it was "Nitro" Jim Holtz (left lane) taking the win with a 6.483 - 195.31 over ex-boat racer Kevin Burgess's 6.622 - 152.14 - in Dave Benjamin's "Nasty Benjamin" entry (right lane). Neither driver scorched the reaction timers (.179) for Holtz and (.194) for Burgess but it was decided at the finish line, not on the start.

Ron Capps - 'Good News' (left) - 
James Generalao Jr. (right) --- Shawn Van Horn - 'Panic!' (left) - 
Mark Whynaught - 'Nitro Mamba' (right)

(LEFT) After another difficult time qualifying as they squeaked into the field in the final qualifying session, Ron Capps in the "Good News" Fiat (left lane) left on his opponent (.083) to (.118) and cruised to an easy victory, able to shut off early to a 6.559 - 168.05, as James Generalao Jr. in the "Impatient" entry (right lane) slowed to a 8.117 - 104.23 for the loss.

(RIGHT) Closing out the opening round of eiminations were the most closely matched pair from qualifying, as #4 Shawn Van Horn in the very cool retro "Panic!" Bantam (left lane) put down a very quick 6.137 - 213.91 to lose by just two thousandths of a second to #5 qualifier Mark Whynaught's "Nitro Mamba", who ran only five thousandths slower at 6.142 - 222.00, but left first (.107) to (.114) to take the closest win of the day in any eliminator.

Semi-final pairings were: Mark Whynaught with lane choice over Ron Capps and Robert Winefsky over Jim Holtz.

NITRO PRO COMP - Round 1 eliminations

AA/FC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro' --- AA/FC - Rodney Flournoy - 'Hot Wheels' (left) 
- AA/FC Dan Hix (right)

(LEFT) As low qualifier in the short field (7 out of 8 spots filled) Chris Davis in the "Old School Nitro" Arrow took it easy (the butteflies are closed well before the 330' clocks) with a 15.083 - 61.12 pass to move into the semi-finals.

(RIGHT) In what became the only pairing of the first round, two AA/FC's squared off, with Rodney Flournoy (left lane) in the "Hot Wheels" tribute Mustang took out Dan Hix (right lane) by a decisive (.108) 7.027 - 168.32 to (.242) 7.603 - 125.48 had trouble establishing a solid grip on the Famoso surface. Being really late at the green didn't help either.

AA/FD - Billy McDevitt --- AA/FC - Dean Oberg - 'Fighting Irish'

(LEFT) On a solo pass as scheduled opponent Rick Rogers failed to appear, is Billy McDevitt clocking in at 7.946 - 102.88 on a rather troubled, but winning pass.

(RIGHT) The round closed with another bye run as Mike Halstead was a no-show, so Dean Oberg behind the wheel of the iconic "Fighting Irish" Camaro, put down a fair 6.764 - 175.16 time to advance to the semifinals.

Semi-final pairings were: Chris Davis over Rodney Flournoy and Dean Oberg over Billy McDevitt.

NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR - Round 3 eliminations

AA/FC - Matt Melendez 'Cacklin' Critter' 
(near lane) vs Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' (far lane) --- AA/FC - Ryan Hodgson - 'Pacemaker' (near lane) 
vs Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports' (far lane)

Going into the semi-finals, all four cars had some very strong runs on their ledgers, with the gap between them in the 2nd round ranging from Matt Bynum's 5.584 to Matt Melendez's 5.713, with Hodgson and Cottrell in the mid 5.60's.

(LEFT) The first pair out of the lanes saw Matt Melendez in the "Cacklin' Critter" Challenger (near lane) continue his dream run from the #16 qualifying position, as he ran another solid ".70", carding a 5.756 - 244.74 to dispatch an early shutoff 7.053 - 135.51 from Bobby Cottrell in the "Bardahl Special" Camaro (far lane).

(RIGHT) In the other pairing, Ryan Hodgson in the "Pacemaker" Camaro left first (.094 to .168) for a healthy lead at the green but couldn't hold off the charing "Matthews Motorsports" Camaro of Matt Bynum as he thundered through the lights at 5.621 - 261.83 for Top Speed of eliminations and lane choice in the final round.

NOSTALGIA TOP FUEL - Round 2 eliminations

AA/FD - Pete Wittenberg - 'KMA Circuit Breaker' 
(near lane) vs Dan Horan Jr. (far lane) --- AA?FD - Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' 
(near lane) vs Tyler Hester - 'Overtime Special' (far lane)

(LEFT) Low qualifier Pete Wittenberg in the "KMA Circuit Breaker" (near lane) continued that pace in the 1st round of eliminations with his best of the round (5.685), then improved to a 5.663 - 250.78 to easily outdistance the good try of Dan Horan Jr. (far lane) 5.800 - 259.86. Wittenberg left first by nearly seven hundreths (.040 to .118) and Horan was simply unable to close the gap despite the big top end speed.

(RIGHT) Then it was time for the battle of the young "Tylers" as Tyler Hilton in "Great Expectations III" (near lane) took a close match over Tyler Hester in the "Overtime Special" (far lane) by a 5.958 - 210.90 to 6.003 - 199.08 decision. Adding in the reaction times (.149 for Hilton vs .234 for Hester) made the gap at the finish nearly three car lengths. That win for Hilton wasn't quick enough to garner lane choice over Wittenberg for the final round.

AA/FUEL ALTERED - Round 2 eliminations

Ron Capps - 'Good News' (near lane) - 
Mark Whynaught - 'Nitro Mamba' (far lane) --- Robert Winefski - 'Coyote Express' - 
Jim Holtz - 'Nitro Jim' (not shown - broken)

(LEFT) The second round of AA/FA eliminations kicked off with "Big Show" Ron Capps in the "Good News" Fiat coupe (near lane) leaving first on Mark Whynaught in the "Nitro Mamba" (far lane) and tickling the index with a solid 6.123 - 216.17 to hold off a fast closing 6.310 - 227.34 charge by Whynaught.

(RIGHT) The other semi-final was a bit of a downer as "Nitro" Jim Holtz (far lane - not shown) started leaking oil on the burnout, then took a while to shutoff before Robert Winefski took a 12-second single in the "Coyote Express" and an invite to the final round. Ron Capps obviously held lane choice for the trophy dash.

NITRO PRO COMP - Round 2 eliminations

NPC - Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro' (near 
lane) bye run --- NPC - Billy McDevitt (near lane) vs Dean Oberg 
- 'Fighting Irish' (far lane)

(LEFT) The first round of eliminations saw three bye runs and only one pairing, and the semi-final round started with yet another single as Rodney Flournoy was unable to appear in the "Hot Wheels" Mustang, and Chris Davis in the "Old School Nitro" Arrow took full advantage with his second free pass of the day directly into the final round. He took the slow way down to the finish line at 10.034 - 80.45 to save on the equipment.

(RIGHT) In the other semifinal race, Billy McDevitt (near lane) took an easy win over Dean Oberg in the "Fighting Irish" Camaro (far lane), leaving first and clocking a decent 6.214 - 194.49 as Oberg faded early and shutoff to a 7.336 - 137.00 time. With the nearly full pass, McDevitt earned lane choice for the final round over Davis.


AA/FD - (near lane) Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' 
(far lane) Pete Wittenberg - 'KMA Circuit Breaker' --- AA/FC - (near lane) Matt Melendez 'Cacklin' Critter' 
'70 Challenger (far lane) Matt Bynum - 'Matthews Motorsports'

(LEFT) Taking the big trophy in Top Fuel for the second time was Pete Wittenberg (far lane) in the "KMA Circuit Breaker" with a great 5.678 - 251.49 pass over a tough opponent in Tyler Hilton (near lane) in the Jim & Alison Lee-owned "Great Expectations III" car. Hilton left first on everyone he raced, and despite slower e.t.'s, worked his way to the final where his 5.927 - 229.20 fell short of Wittenberg's winning pass.

(RIGHT) In Nostalgia Funny Car, Matt Bynum in the Matthews Motorsports Camaro, (far lane) continued his string of jaw-dropping runs with a final round 5.617 - 250.13 to defeat the consistent, but not quick enough Matt Melendez in the "Cacklin' Critter" Challenger (near lane), who left first but finished second with a 5.749 at only 224.73 mph.


(LEFT) Coming out of the bottom of the field, after qualifying on the bubble, Ron "Big Show" Capps worked his way to the final round in the "Good News" Fiat (far lane) where his luck held out as a 6.637 - 158.93 was more than enough to dispatch a red-lighting Robert Winefsky in the Arizona-based "Coyote Express" who left waaay (-.194) too early and shut off to a 7.497 - 120.91 loss.

(RIGHT) A new eliminator - Nitro Pro Comp - arose from the ashes of a few tried and discarded classes and it featured a match between Billy McDevitt in his rear-engined Top Fuel Dragster (near lane) against Washingtonian Chris Davis in his "Old School Nitro" '77 Arrow AA/Funny Car (far lane). Running on a 5.90-index, both cars came relatively close to the number, with McDevitt pulling out a 6.089 to 6.097 win. A close race on paper, but Davis's reaction time of .242 left him far behind McDevitt's .114 on the launch, and at the finish line.

--- Jr. Fuel - Don Enriquez (near lane) vs Brad 
Woodard (far lane)

(LEFT) The last of the PRO categories, A/Fuel Dragster, featured the two most dominant racers and cars in the cateogry. Drew Austin (near lane) took out his strongest challenger, Kin Bates (far lane) in a race that ended quickly when Bates went up in smoke on the launch and shut off to a 16-second time. Austin meanwhile, pounded out another 5-second pass for good measure, stopping the clocks at 5.907 - 233.16 for his first March Meet trophy.

(RIGHT) At the top of the Sportsman food chain, the Junior Fuel category still attracts a small but solid field of competitors, with a very real connection to the heyday of the class in the late 60's, the ageless Don Enriquez (far lane), advancing to the final for the umpeenth time at Famoso, before falling to the 2020 March Meet champion, Brad Woodard (near lane) on a 6.998 - 187.89 to an early shutoff 7.913 - 152.59 for Enriquez. To even up the competition in the category there are three classes (A,B,C) with indexes ranging from 6.89 to 7.01 to 7.14. and it seems to work for the participants.