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

We've got pictures and a story to go with them from the recently completed "Thunder On The Mountain" event at Denver's Bandimere Speedway. There were nearly full fields of Top Alcohol Dragsters and Funny Cars despite a severe lack of spectators due to the "you-know-what" restrictions in place. For several competitors it was their first chance to race this year, and for a few others, their first competitive outings since the Winrernationals.


Bill Bernard --- Bill Bernard

Coming out early on Thursday for some testing, Bill Bernard didn't fare too well on his first attempt, having to pedal it early, then standing on it to the finish line, producing a 6.304 - 241.11 timeslip.

Kris Hool --- Kris Hool

Out to test the track, Kris Hool in the sharp-looking C-TECH car had a so-so result, as he was off the pace by a tenth at half track and ultimately stopped the clocks at 5.910 - 248.39 on his first pass of the weekend.

Steve Macklyn

In his first test pass, Steve Macklyn was slow early, and never really picked up the pace, turning a 6.194 - 220.37.

Anita Strasburg --- Anita Strasburg

It looks very much like a Top Alcohol Dragster, unless you look closely at the blower, the Utah-based Top Dragster of Anita Strasburg (yes, THAT Strasburg family, as in B&J Transmissions, and a string of successful blown alky and fuel cars) put down some test passes before qualifying began.

They certainly had the car running well as it qualified second in the 32-car field, with a very strong 6.173 - 233.32 in the rare air up on the mountain. She even picked up the pace during eliminations, with an outstanding 6.153 - 234.94 in the 2nd round, before breaking out with a better still 6.076 - 234.57 in the quarter-final round.

Christine Chambless --- Christine Chambless

Driving a very professional looking and peforming car, Christine Chambless made one test pass that saw the car relatively strong on the launch, but off the loud pedal just past the 330' mark, resulting in a 9.164 - 113.28 timeslip.

Dean Dubbin --- Dean Dubbin

Having a much better result was Minnesota's Dean Dubbin who carded the best 60' time of the event, a .914, then kept the thunder going until well past half track, ultimately ringing up a 5.776 at only 189.76 to show the potential of the hard running car.

James Stevens --- James Stevens

Making one test pass, James Stevens left strong, and kept it hooked up past the 330' mark, but had to back off early and coasted across the line at 7.651 - 94.55 before putting the car away.

Doug Gordon --- Doug Gordon

Looking super sharp in the new "BETA Motorcycles" paint scheme, Doug Gordon ran fairly well for the first few hundred feet before tire shake/smoke took over, slowing him to a decidely unrepresentative 6.962 - 146.62 time in his only attempt on the day.

Annie Whiteley --- Doug Schneider

(LEFT It wasn't the best day of testing for the "J&A Services" team, as Annie Whiteley lost grip almost instantly and quickly slowed to a 14.340 - 76.34 before they put the car in the trailer.

(RIGHT) Doug Schneider brought his unlettered Funny Car out and laid down a 7.546 - 145.97 pass that saw him in trouble before the 330' mark, and he was off the throttle around half track.

Bill Bernard --- Steve Macklyn

(LEFT As the day wore on, Bill Bernard clocked progressively better numbers after his first attempt (6.304 - 241.11), improving to a 5.897 - 247.34 and finally, a very good 5.796 - 247.47 to round out a successful day of testing.

(RIGHT) Our next subject, Steve Macklyn in the B&J-sponsored car, ran twice on Thursday, ringing up a 6.194 - 220.37 on his first try, followed by a much better 5.908 - 246.08 on this second run.


Nick Januik --- Christine Chambless

(LEFT) Switching from his very competitive "Plan B" alky Funny Car to the dragster that his wife Tiffany drove last season, Nick Januik had a slightly lazy launch (.968), but picked up steam through the gears, ending up with a 5.695 - 250.55 reading on the timeslip. Not a bad start to the season for the team.

(RIGHT) After Januik's solo pass, the first pair of the round featured Christine Chambless in the near lane, and (mostly obscured) Dean Dubbin in the far lane. Both cars left hard, with 60' times in the 9-teens, but Chambless took a solid lead by half track and stretched it to the finish line, stopping the clocks with a 5.422 - 255.58 that put her at the top of the class, at least temporarily. After his very strong launch, Dubbin faded a little between the 330' and 1000' marks, but came on strong on the top end, finishing with a 5.506 - 258.07 result.

Joey Severance --- (near lane) James 
Stevens vs (far lane) Joey Severance

(LEFT) Preparing to face James Stevens in a battle of national hitters, Oregon's Joey Severance backs up to the starting line. He's run at Denver quite a few times in recent years, and has obviously got the tuneup perfected for the high altitude facility.

(RIGHT) Seen going down the track under power, James Stevens (near lane), took on Joey Severance (far lane). It was a close race to the finish line, but Severance left first (.070 to .110), and laid down low e.t. of the round, with a 5.395 - 267.85, while Stevens had to settle for the #4 spot with a 5.523 - 259.71 timeslip.

Scoreboards - (left lane) 5.523 - 259.71 
James Stevens - (right lane) 5.395 - 267.85 Joey Severance

Here's the scoreboards shot after that pair ran. James Stevens numbers are on the left, and Joey Severance's are on the right. That was it for the Dragsters, then the Funny Cars took to the stage.

Bill Bernard --- Bill Bernard

After a series of very impressive test runs on Thursday, Bill Bernard lost the plot on his first qualifier. Following a decent launch and 330' time, the tires came unglued shortly thereafter and resulted in an early shutoff that left a less than stellar 7.485 - 121.85 up on the scoreboards and placed him at the bottom of the field.

Annie Whiteley --- Annie Whiteley

Things were decidedly better for the "J&A Services" entry of Annie Whiteley as she matched e.t.'s to the thousandth with Doug Gordon (not shown), at 5.731 and earned the nod for #1 qualifier with her better 258.91 speed to Gordon's 253.90 mph.

Kris Hool

Landing in the #4 spot, the Hool brothers "C-TECH" entry, driven by Kris Hool, put down a solid 5.845 - 248.43 to put themselves in the middle of the field after the first session.


Brandon Greco --- (near lane) Steve 
Griboski vs (far lane) Nick Januik

(LEFT) After skipping the first qualifying session, Pennsylvania's Brandon Greco opened the second set on a solo run, but ran into trouble before half-track and shutoff to a 7.593 at only 119.19 mph that left him at the bottom of the field.

(RIGHT) We've got Steve Griboski in the near lane, and Nick Januik (partially obscured) on the far side. This "race" was over early, as Januik lit the tires on the launch, and idled to a 15.904 - 83.33, while Griboski put down a decent 5.702 - 253.09 to move into the #6 position on his first pass of the event. Januik stayed at #5 with his earlier 5.695 - 250.55 effort.

(near lane) Dean Dubbin vs 
(far lane) James Stevens --- Brian Hough

(LEFT In the near lane, Dean Dubbin matched up with James Stevens (far lane) it what turned into a race that was only close on the scoreboards. Dubbin turned on the winlight with a solid 5.552 - 256.55 time over the close-on-paper 5.605 - 257.63 effort of Stevens. What made the big difference was at the starting line - as shown here - with Dubbin's .055 light train-lengthing Stevens' .333 launch.

(RIGHT) Hopping into the driver's seat again (after letting chassis builder Jonnie Lindberg drive it at the Gainesville regional event), Oregon's Brian Hough in the Cascade car lit the tires on the launch and coasted to a 10.934 - 83.87. Despite the wasted effort, he remained #3 in the 5-car field, courtesy of an earlier 5.795 - 252.35 pass.


Dylan Hough S/C --- Justin Lamb F/SD

(LEFT) With enough room in Brian Hough's trailer to carry his son's car, Dylan Hough was able to compete far from home in Super Comp. He won his first round match, cutting a 9.59 on the 9.50 altitude adjusted index, but fell in the next round in a very close race. He cut an .013 light and ran 9.52, but his opponent was a tick quicker on the tree and a hundredth quicker down the track for a victory margin of 11 thousandths.

(RIGHT) One of the big hitters in Stock Eliminator, Justin Lamb pushed his 2020 Camaro well into the field, going .760 under the index. He dialled in a tenth quicker than his 10.51 in qualifying, and easily took out a red-lighting opponent in the first round, but failed to cut a good light in the next stanza and lost by less than two hundredths.

Matt Harris E/A --- Don Morris A/SA

(LEFT) In the small-ish (11 entries) Comp eliminator field, Matt Harris ran well in his 2010 Cobalt E/A, laying down a 8.126 - 167,53 to slot into the #3 spot. He kept up the pace all the way to the final round, advancing twice on opponent's redlights, and was able to save his index along the way. In the final, despite a stellar .030 light and a big holeshot lead over Don Thomas, he slowed to an 8.545 - 137.36 and lost by a car length.

(RIGHT) Our final sportsman shot shows the A/SA of Don Morris leaving with the wheels up in this shot. He qualified solidly in the middle of the field at more than .800 under the index, but broke out - by eight thousandths - in the first round of eliminations. Tough way to go but that's racing.


Unfortunately we don't have any pictures from eliminations, but here's what happened in Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car. Both fields were one short of being full, but the cars that were in attendance were all top quality runners. Interestingly, all the Dragsters were running blown alcohol combinations. That's become very much a rarity these days in NHRA racing, with the current dominance (at least in competitor numbers) in the injected nitro combination. All 14 Top Alcohol cars qualified in the 5-second zone in the rarified atmosphere at Bandimere and that pace continued throughout eliminations.

Top Alcohol Dragster was led off by low qualifier Joey Severance, who shook early and shut off to an 8-second clocking on his bye run. The first race of the round saw easterner Brandon Greco put a big holeshot on Christine Chambless and run away with an improving 5.592 - 253.33 to easily cover her tractionless 10-second effort. The closest match of the round came next as Dean Dubbin left first by a hundredth and ran 5.503 - 257.63 to leave Steve Griboski three car lengths in arrears at the finish line. The round closed with Nevada's Nick Januik dispatching James Stevens in what should have been the closest race of the first round. Howver, Stevens ran into trouble early and shut off to a 9-second pass, while Januik thundered down track to a solid 5.603 - 255.82. Going into the semi-finals, the pairings were Januik with lane choice over Severance, and Dubbin with lane choice over Greco.

Top Alcohol Funny Car also started with a bye run as low qualifier Annie Whiteley nearly matched her qualifying numbers with a very good 5.737 - 257.53 on the solo. In the first pairing of the round, the two Dougs, Doug Gordon and Doug Schneider met, and as expected, Gordon put the whip to his new BETA Motorcycles mount, besting his qualifying e.t. by a thousandth and ringing up a 5.733 - 255.05 to easily cover the good effort 5.924 - 244.21 by Schneider. As in the dragster round, the next race matched the #4 and #5 qualifiers in what should have been a close one. National contender, Kris Hool saw it all come undone however, as his -.023 redlight wasted a chance and saw Bill Bernard advance with a decent 5.846 - 247.79 clocking. The round closed with last year's #2 car in the nation, Brian Hough, doing the expected and taking out Steve Macklyn by a 5.764 - 252.57 to 5.986 - 241.80 margin. Hough's pass wasn't enough to gain lane choice over Doug Gordon (low e.t. of the round) in the semis, and Annie Whiteley earned the nod over Bill Bernard.

In the Top Alcohol Dragster semi-final round, Brandon Greco continued to improve from his 5.977 best in qualifying, to a 5.592 in the first round and an even better 5.555 - 248.71 in the semis. He was able to overcome a BIG holeshot by Dean Dubbin (.031 to .202 lights), as Dubbin started to fade at half track and slowed to a losing 6.113 - 161.05. The other pairing saw low qualifier Joey Severance run into trouble in 2nd gear, and slowed to a 5.880 - 216.24 that was easily outdistanced by Nick Januik's much better 5.646 - 254.66 clocking. Adding insult to injury, Januik left on the usually very quick reacting Severance. Januik's e.t. wasn't good enough for lane choice in the final though, as Greco held that honour.

Moving over to Top Alcohol Funny Car, the semi-final featured Bill Bernard against Annie Whiteley and her achilles heel struck again, as her .113 light, against Bernard's .053, spelled the difference. Bernard's quicker launch, coupled with a 5.756 - 248.34 edged out the quicker, but later 5.746 - 256.94 of Whiteley. The margin at the finish was a full half a tenth, or more than a car length. The other pairing saw a pair of national contenders (#2 and #6 in the NHRA standings in 2019) meet, and Doug Gordon continued his strong performance, leaving first by a couple of hundreths, and outrunning Brian Hough by a 5.721 - 254.28 to 5.752 - 252.27 verdict. The gap at the stripe was not much more than a car length as the round featured two very close races. Gordon's quicker e.t. gave him lane choice over Bernard for the final round.

Finishing eliminations with the Top Alcohol Dragster final, an unlikely pairing of the #5 and #7 qualifiers met. In what became a bizarre finish, Brandon Greco launched first, .025 to .045, and started pulling away as Nick Januik fought for traction right from the hit. Greco started to lose grip a little later, and by half track fell behind by half a car length, with a fading speed of only 152 mph, versus Januik's 175 mph. At the finish line it wasn't even close, as Januik won his first NHRA regional Wally in T/AD, with winning numbers of 6.738 - 154.30 over Greco's 7.253 - 128.38 timeslip.

The Top Alcohol Funny Car final pitted two evenly matched racers, coming out of the #2 and #4 qualifying positions, and running consistent numbers that favoured Doug Gordon by no more than five hundredths through eliminations. His opponent, Bill Bernard came into the final without lane choice, by only three hundredths, and left on Gordon by an .025 to .048 margin. From there to half track it was a see-saw affair, with Gordon quicker to 60', then Bernard holding the advantage to the 660' mark, with an .032 lead at that point.

Even at the 1000 ft. mark Bernard held onto his advantage by less than hundredth, but Gordon's top end power made up the difference and he was able to take the winlight by just .018 seconds, or less than a car length. The final verdict was 5.701 - 255.87 (low e.t. of the meet) for Gordon, and a very close 5.741 - 249.03 for Bernard. The victory for Gordon was his 27th regional Wally, an impressive statistic for sure, and the points earned boosted him further into the lead in the national standings.