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64th annual Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet - Famoso Dragstrip - Bakersfield, CA

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


Even though the dates on all the schedules indicate that the Good Vibrations March Meet starts on Thursday, it got underway with a test 'n tune session for the Group 2 cars on Wednesday, and we've got a handful of photos of those runs. It's just the start of what will be a veritable plethora of photos from the event. Today's first installment is courtesy of our Colorado correspondent, Dale B. Fackler, who made the trek to Bakersfield for the second time and is shooting from the grandstands on the motorhome and camping side of the track.

J/F - 7911 - John Randell - 'Re-Entry' --- NE-1 - 33 - John Lenko

On the left it's John Randell in his Jr. Fuel car, while on the right it's an old-school blown 392-Hemi in a shorty body front-engine dragster, competing in Nostalgia Eliminator 1 and driven by John Lenko.

NE1 - 786P - Sabrina Pecora - '37 Fiat Topolino --- NE1 - 7586 - Ken Upton (near lane) vs NE1 - 7815 - Chad Camping (far lane)

On the left it's Sabrina Pecora in her '37 Fiat Topolino, running in Nostalgia Eliminator 1, and on the right it's Ken Upton in the near lane, and Chad Camping in the far lane. Both cars are running in NE-1, a class with a 7.60 index.

NE-1 764C - Shannan Cottrell --- NE-1 7332 - Bill Workman - '32 Ford Victoria

(LEFT) More NE-1 cars here, with Shannan Cottrell (possibly related to NFC pilot Bobby Cottrell?) in the injected Small-Block Chevy dragster.

(RIGHT) Showing more of the diversity in the NE-1 class, Bill Workman launches in his beautiful blown early Hemi-powered '32 Ford Victoria.

NE-1 7897 - Garret Crisp - '23-T --- 7.0 PRO - U750 - Eily Stafford

(LEFT) From nearby Visalia, Garret Crisp, running in NE-1, stages his injected 568cid Big-Block Chevy '23-T roadster.

(RIGHT) The "Killer Crower" car of El Cajon, CA's Eily Stafford, is shown here preparing to launch her blown BBC '01 Tuttle-built dragster.

7.0 PRO 772 - Brad Peters --- 7.0 PRO 772 - Brad Peters (near lane) vs 7.0 PRO 1947 - Ken Fullerton - 
'23-T Ford

(LEFT)It's 7.0 PRO's Brad Peters burning out in his long wheelbase '19 Haase-built dragster, sporting a supercharged late-model Hemi engine. It looks very much like an A/Fuel Dragster (a class that allows blown alcohol or injected nitro) in disguise.

(RIGHT) In the near lane, it's Brad Peters and on the far side it's Cedar City, UT's Ken Fullerton in his 23-T Ford powered by a blown early-model Hemi.

7.0 PRO 762N - Dean Nilson (near lane) vs 7.0 PRO - 7560 - Vince Generalao Jr. 
'32 Bantam (far lane) --- NE-1 - 642C - James Cassall

(LEFT) A pair of 7.0 PRO cars with Dean Nilson in his blown late-model Hemi (lots of them running in this class!) '18 Comstock-built dragster paired up with Las Vegas' Vince Generalao Jr. in his '32 Bantam roadster running a blown big-block Chevy.

(RIGHT) A good looking blown big-block Chevy-powered dragster driven by James Cassall.

7.0 PRO 7399 - Steve Faller - 'Bad Moon' -'32 Bantam (near lane) vs 
7.0 PRO 641 - Ralph Fox - 'Fox & Goosela'  (far lane) --- 7.0 PRO 7399 - Steve Faller - '32 Bantam

(LEFT) A pair of cars that show the diversity in the 7.0 PRO class, with Steve Faller in his "Bad Moon" '32 Bantam roadster in the near lane, paired up with Ralph Fox in the "Fox & Goosela" 2016 Dave Tuttle-built supercharged Big-Block Chevy dragster.

(RIGHT) Here's a closer look at Faller launching with the wheels coming way up in the Bad Moon (Rising) altered.

7.0 PRO 121 - Dave Rosenberg --- 7.0 PRO 121 - Dave Rosenberg

Burning out and launching in his 7.0 PRO dragster, it's Long Beach, CA's Dave Rosenberg in his '94 DRE-built dragster.

7.0 PRO 797 - Mike Cross --- 7.0 PRO 797 - Mike Cross

It's Mike Cross from Culver City, CA in his blown small-block Chevy "Flashback" dragster.

D/Gas J743 - Junior Stanley (near lane) vs C/Gas 1015 - Bryson Kleeman 
(far lane)

Here's Junior Stanley in the near lane in his D/Gas Ford and in the far lane, Bryson Kleeman in his C/Gas '69 Camaro.

Crewperson testing the traction --- 7.0 PRO Tony Trimp - 'Rough 'n Ready'

(LEFT) Checking out the traction was one of the crewpersons, and it looks like she found it more than adequate.

(RIGHT) One of the assortment of entries in 7.0 PRO was Tony Trimp in his '65 Mustang "Rough 'n Ready" Funny Car.


The "official" first day of the March Meet was devoted to a Nitro test session and qualifying for Group 1 & 2 cars. The day dawned sunny, but the clouds rolled in during the afternoon, and finally started raining late in the day, putting an early end to the on-track activities. Friday's forecast was looking worse, but the racers were all willing to wait out whatever Mother Nature could throw at them. After all, it is the March Meet, a race that tempts the weather fates every year. We haven't got any times or speeds to report from Thursday's runs for the nitro cars as that data was not available.

Tony Trimp - 'Rough 'n Ready' - 7.0 PRO --- Sean Bellemeur - 'Easy Rider' - A/FD

(LEFT) Running a rather unique car in the 7.0 PRO class, Tony Trimp fielded his "Rough 'n Ready" '65 Mustang. He ran a little too quick in the first qualifier, with a 6.973 - 183.52 coming up on the scoreboards, leaving him near the bottom of the field.

(RIGHT) Having some fun with his father's car (Greg Bellemeur), NHRA Top Alcohol World Champion Sean Bellemeur made a good first qualifying pass in A/Fuel, stopping the timers at 6.373 - 215.51 in the family's '23-T roadster.

Nick Van Horn - 'Panic!' - AA/FA --- Dan Horan Jr. - 'Infinity Plumbing' - NFC

Moving over to the nitro classes, it's Nick Van Horn wheeling the iconic "Panic!" '23 T Bantam (LEFT), with it's skinny front tires and Halibrand-style spoke wheels. On the (RIGHT), it's Dan Horan Jr. in his Nostaliga Funny Car, one of the hardest running and highest speed merchants in the nitro-burning category.

Tyler Hllton - 'Great Expectations III' - NTF (left lane) 
vs Geoff Monise - 'Quarter Pounder' - NFC (right lane) --- Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' - NFC (left lane) vs 
Tyler Hester - 'Overtime Special' - NTF (right lane)

(LEFT) Despite the notice in the schedule indicating "no mixed pairings" allowed, here's our first Funny Car and Dragster matchup, with Tyler Hilton in the East Coast "Great Expectations III" car in the left lane, and in the right lane, Geoff Monise in the Clark & Van Gundy "Quarter Pounder" flopper.

(RIGHT) The next "odd couple" pair saw (in the left lane), Billy Morris wheeling his "Problem Child" Camaro against (right lane) Tyler Hester at the tiller in the "Overtime Special" Top Fuel dragster.

Mark Whynaught - 'Nitro Mamba' - AA/FA (left lane) vs 
Bret Williamson - 'Forever Young' - NTF (right lane) --- Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour - NFC (left lane) vs Don Knoblauch - 
'Atomic Punk' - NFC (right lane)

(LEFT) A true odd couple came out of the lanes next, with Mark Whynaught in the sinister looking "Nitro Mamba" (left lane) against veteran Bret Williamson in the "Forever Young" AA/FD entry.

(RIGHT) Things returned to a more normal pairing as two Nostalgia Funny Cars duelled next, with Alberta's Tim Boychuk in his "Happy Hour" Camaro (left lane) moving out well in front of Washington's Don Knoblauch and his "Atomic Punk" Camaro SS in the right lane.

Derrick Moreira - 'Nitro Junkies'- AA/FA (left lane) vs
Jeff Gregory - 'Madness' - NFC (right lane) --- Cory McClenathan - 'Mac Attack' - NFC

(LEFT) All the way from Hawaii, Derrick Moreira laid down a pass in his "Nitro Junkies" AA/FA in the left lane, while Jeff Gregory started smoking the tires early in his "Madness" Camaro. Moreira apparently suffered some terminal damage on his test pass as he didn't make another appearance for the balance of the weekend.

(RIGHT) Coming out with no advance notice was long-time NHRA Top Fuel racer Cory McClenathan, making his first ever appearance in a Funny Car. He last competed in a "Big Show" event during the Covid-ravaged 2020 season, racing at the four Indy events in a Don Schumacher car. Here at Famoso he was racing with the help of Rick Akers in his '70 Firebird-bodied car with Cory's trademark "Mac Attack"paint scheme, still lacking lettering or sponsor decals. The car last ran in 2019 with Kris Krabill driving and the "Screamer" name on it.

Dan Horan Jr. - NTF (left lane) vs Dean Oberg - 'Fighting 
Irish' - NPC (right lane) --- Brad Thompson - 'Jailbreak' - NFC (left lane) vs Jeff 
Utterback - 'Advanced Surfaces' - NPC (right lane)

(LEFT) Two very different cars with very different performance capabilities paired up next, as Dan Horan Jr. in his Nostalgia Top Fuel car (left lane) came out against Dean Oberg in the "Fighting Irish" Nitro Pro Comp Funny Car. That class is for cars that aren't competitive, or legal for, the other nitro classes. Oberg was one of six racers competing in that category at the March Meet.

(RIGHT) Things got back to "normal" next, as Brad Thompson in his "Jailbreak" entry (left lane) ran against Jeff Utterback in the "Advanced Surfaces" Vegas (right lane). Utterback was competing in Nitro Pro Comp, but unfortunately never managed to put down a competitive pass during the entire event.

John Weaver - 'Nitro Nut' - NFC (left lane) vs Mike Halstead - 
'Mike's Transmissions' - NPC (right lane) --- Dan Hix - 'Heatseeker' - AA/FA

(LEFT) Looking like a match race out of the 1970's, the next pair had John Weaver debuting his "Nitro Nut" Firebird (left lane) against the rear-engine dragster of Mike Halstead in the right lane. Halstead was competing in Nitro Pro Comp in the "Mike's Transmissions" entry.

(RIGHT) Captured at the end of a smokey burnout, was the "Heatseeker" '34 Chev of Washington's Dan Hix, as he prepared to test the car before Fuel Altered qualifying started on Friday.

Ron Capps - 'Burkholder Bros.' - AA/FA --- Rian Konno - 'Kazanjian, Lemon & Konno' - NFC (left lane) vs 
Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' - NFC (right lane)

(LEFT) Leaving the line with a bit of tire haze or clutch dust trailing the '37 Fiat Topolino of the "Burkholder Bros." was NHRA Funny Car pilot Ron Capps. Over the past few years he has made the side-trip to Bakersfield from his Carlsbad, CA home to drive any available Fuel Altered when his schedule allows. Although they have far less power, and run far slower than his usual ride, the excitement level is still almost as high.

(RIGHT) The Mustang-bodied entry of "Lemon, Kazanjian & Konno" (left lane) with Rian Konno at the controls, paired up with - didn't we just see this guy run a few pairs earlier? - Don Knoblauch as he brought the "Atomic Punk" out for its second pass in barely an hour. Apparently, tuning consultant Jeff "The Surfer" Diehl wanted to try more changes to get the car dialled in.

Lyle Greenberg - 'Cone Hunter' - NPC --- James Day - 'Matthews Motorsports' - NFC (left lane) vs 
Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' - NTF (right lane)

(LEFT) Making his March Meet debut was Albuquerque's Lyle Greenberg in his beautiful Corvette-bodied "Cone Hunter" as he burned out before testing his Nitro Pro Comp combination.

(RIGHT) The "Cecil Matthews Motorsports" Camaro (left lane) made a couple of good test passes, with driver-of-almost-anything James Day at the wheel, this time running against the "Great Expectations III" Top Fuel car (right lane) being driven by second-generation nitro pilot Tyler Hilton for owners Jim & Allison Lee.

Pete Peterson - 'The Wanderer' - AA/FA (left lane) vs 
Brian Hope - 'Pure Hell' - AA/FA (right lane) --- Nick Van Horn - 'Panic!' - AA/FA (left lane) vs James 
Generalao Jr. - 'Impatient' - AA/FA (left lane)

(LEFT) While Pete Peterson launched the "Wanderer" strongly in the left lane, Brian Hope went into instant tire smoke on the green in the "Pure Hell" '32 Bantam altered.

(RIGHT) Back for another shot at the timers, Nick Van Horn (left lane) in the "Panic!" left hard, hazing the tires while over in the right lane, James Generalao Jr. got the wheels up in the "Impatient" entry out of Las Vegas.

Matt Melendez - 'Cacklin' Critter' - NFC (left lane) vs 
Terry Jongewaard - NFC (right lane) --- Bill Windham - 'Shakedown' - NFC (left lane) vs 
Kamaka Pocock - 'California Hustler' - NFC (right lane)

(LEFT) Way out in front with the wheels waaay up, Matt Melendez fought to keep the "Cacklin' Critter" Dodge Challenger funny car under control, while Terry Jongewaard in the "So-Cal Machine Tools Special" was seriously lagging behind in his Dodge Omni in the right lane.

(RIGHT) The last pair of Funny Cars running for the day featured Bill Windham in his familiar "Shakedown" entry (left lane) and the colourful "California Hustler", driven by Kamaka Pocock in the right lane. Unfortunately, Windham suffered enough damage during testing that he was unable to appear for qualifying on Friday or Saturday.

Bret Williamson - 'Forever Young' - NTF

We close this section of Thursday's testing with a just-before-dark burnout by Bret Williamson in the full-bodied "Forever Young" Nostaliga Top Fuel dragster.

The next batch of Thursday photos come from a very different perspective as our second photographer at the March Meet, Dale Fackler, occupied a seat high up in the grandstand on the far side of the track. For these racers, Thursday was their first day of qualifying.

Randy Winkle - 'Dirty Sanchez' (near lane) vs Mike Munoz (far lane) - 
B/Gas --- Dave Lawson - 'Maverick' (near lane) vs Dan Martin - 'Reality Check' 
(far lane) - NE-1

(LEFT) We start our look at Group 1 & 2 cars, with a pair of B/Gassers. In the near lane is Randy Winkle in his '66 Mustang GT, named "Dirty Sanchez", recording a troubled 12.209 at just 78.09 mph. Meanwhile, in the far lane, it was Mike Munoz in a classic '65 Oldsmobile 442, cranking out a much better 8.677 - 156.03 (on the 8.60 B/Gas index), good enough for the #16 spot in the field.

(RIGHT) Our second shot shows a pair of NE-1 (Nostalgia Eliminator 1) cars, running on a 7.60 index, with the front-engined dragster of Dave Lawson in the near lane putting down a good 7.633 - 177.46 to grab the #8 spot on the ladder, and Dan Martin, in the '23 T "Reality Check" in the far lane clocking in with a close to the index 7.620 - 178.78 that put him #6 on the qualifying sheet.

John Lenko (near lane) vs Sabrina Pecora - 'Pecora Family Racing' 
(far lane) - NE-1 --- Dan Schrokosch - NE-1

(LEFT) Next up is another pair of NE-1's, with John Lenko's blown 392-Hemi in the near lane, stopping the clocks at 7.695 - 180.60 for #13, and Sabrina Pecora in her '37 Fiat Topolino running just a bit slower at 7.709 - 171.29 in the far lane. That pass put her in the #15 spot in the 23-car field.

(RIGHT) The camera zooms in for a closeup of Dan Shrokosch's front-engine NE-1 dragster as he launched to a #3 qualifying 7.610 - 178.14 time.

Steve Schoenfeld - 'Sonny's Toy Too' - NE-1 --- Ron Conner - 'Humpin' Pumpkin' (near lane) vs Roy Castagnetto (far lane) 
- A/Gas

(LEFT) Another closeup captures "Sonny's Toy Too" leaving with the wheels up for Utah's Steve Schoenfeld as he pushed his NE-1 entry to a 7.676 - 150.10 to land in the #12 spot in the field.

(RIGHT) A pair of full-bodied A/Gas cars came up next, with Ron Conner's '63 blown split-window "Humpin' Pumpkin" Corvette in the near lane as he launched to a 7.637 - 182.16 to land in the #7 spot in the 7.60-indexed class, while on the far side, Roy Castagnetto pushed his '67 Nova to a slightly better 7.614 - 180.02 to nab the #3 spot in the field..

Jeff Brochheiser - '32 Bantam (near lane) vs Gabe Wood - '48 Fiat 
(far lane) NE-2 --- Robert Baker - 'Kin-Hee's Revenge' (near lane) vs Matt Peternel - 
'40 Phantom (far lane) - NE-2

(LEFT) Moving down the performance scale a notch, the next two pairs of cars were in the NE-2 class, running against an 8.60 index. This first pair had Jeff Brochheiser in the near lane in his '32 Bantam, running 8.620 - 147.47 to fit into the #7 spot in the 29-car field. In the far lane, Gabe Wood in his '48 Fiat Topolino was just a little slower at 8.635 - 153.46 and landed in the #10 spot on the list.

(RIGHT) Both cars launched with the wheels up, as Robert Baker in his front-engined "Kin-Hee's Revenge" dragster (near lane) ran reasonably close to the index at 8.669 - 147.63 but was only able to secure the #17 spot. In the far lane, Matt Peternel in a '40 Phantom was too quick with a 8.420 - 152.71 and ended up in the #28 spot, courtesy of his break-out pass.

Ralph Fox (near lane) vs Steve Faller - 'Bad Moon' (far lane) - 7.0 PRO --- Ken Fullerton (near lane) vs George Johns (far lane) - 7.0 PRO

(LEFT) Moving on to 7.0 PRO (a class with - strangely enough - a 7.00 index), we've got Ralph Fox in his full-bodied front-engine dragster (near lane) who clocked a solid 7.043 - 194.35 to nail the #4 spot in the field. In the far lane, Steve Faller in his "Bad Moon" '32 Bantam roadster went just a little too quick at 6.940 - 194.91 and slotted into the #15 position on the sheet.

(RIGHT) The next pair of 7.0 PRO cars were a pair of altereds, with Ken Fullerton in the near lane in his '23-T, but he also broke out with an even quicker 6.922 - 190.59, while in the far lane, George Johns in his Bantam roadster had a troubled pass in the 17-second zone.

Dave Rosenberg (near lane) vs Chris Bates (far lane) - 7.0 PRO --- Blake Reynolds - 'Taboo' (near lane) vs Kevin Ropozo (far lane) - 7.0 PRO

(LEFT) Two more 7.0 cars, with the dragster of Dave Rosenberg in the near lane, and Chris Bates in the '23-T altered in the far lane. Both racers put down good, safe runs, with Rosenberg landing in the #1 spot with his 7.012 - 194.97 pass, while Bates was further back in the #7 spot with his 7.1221 - 194.58 effort.

(RIGHT) Leaving strongly in the near lane, Blake Reynolds wheeled the "Taboo" '48 Fiat Topolino to a somewhat off-pace 7.514 - 164.17 that left him in the #11 qualifying spot, while in the far lane, Kevin Repozo's dragster put down a good 7.098 - 195.93 effort to snag the #5 spot on the ladder.

Tony Trimp - 'Rough 'n Ready' - 7.0 PRO --- Tony Trimp - 'Rough 'n Ready' - 7.0 PRO Tony Trimp - 'Rough 'n Ready' - 7.0 PRO --- Tony Trimp - 'Rough 'n Ready' - 7.0 PRO

Here's a quartet of photos of Tony Trimp in the very cool '65 Mustang Funny Car dubbed "Rough 'n Ready", burning out, then backing up with the assistance of a crewperson before launching to a too-quick by a bit 6.973 - 183.52 pass that placed him in the #16 spot in the 21-car field.

Jason Vanderpool - '32 Bantam - 7.0 PRO --- Jason Vanderpool - '32 Bantam - 7.0 PRO

Burning out hard before making his run, Jason Vanderpool crossed the line at 7.104 - 191.87 to take the #6 spot on the provisional qualifying list. His '32 Banatam roadster is powered by an AJPE (Alan Johnson Performance Engineering) 392-Hemi. It's not an old iron block out of a '57 Chrysler, but a late-model reproduction of the original Chrysler Hemi, complete with billet aluminum cylinder heads.

Wayne Ramay (near lane) vs Shawn Corbari (far lane) - A/Fuel --- Sean Bellemeur - 'Easy Rider' - A/Fuel

(LEFT) The next pair out of the staging lanes pumped up the volume, as the A/Fuel cars were on deck in a that class allows either a blown alky combo or injected nitro. Both racers in this photo picked the blower option as Wayne Ramay (near lane) and Shawn Corbari (far lane) made good runs, with Ramay getting to the finish line first with a 6.070 - 221.20, while Corbari stopping the timers at 6.305 - 212.36. Those runs placed them #2 and #3 respectively in the 6-car field.

(RIGHT) With a free weekend before the NHRA Amalie Oils Gatornationals, Sean Bellemeur took the Funny Car body off his dad Greg's car, and cloaked it in their "Easy Rider" '23 T roadster livery. He lifted the front wheels on the launch enroute to a 6.373 - 215.51 to hold down the #4 spot in the field.

Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' - NFC (near lane) vs Nick Van Horn - 
'Panic!' - AA/FA - (far lane) --- Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' - NTF

(LEFT) Going one step further up the power scale were the blown fuel cars, with Bobby Cottrell (near lane) in the Austin & O'Brien "Northwest Hitter" leaving first and running away from Nick Van Horn (far lane) in the "Panic!" AA/Fuel Altered '23 Bantam roadster.

(RIGHT) Seemingly running by himself, young second generation racer, Tyler Hilton from Cincinnati, OH drove the Jim & Allison Lee "Great Expectations III" Nostalgia Top Fuel car to another good pass with the Chevy powerplant.

Dan Horan Jr. - 'Infinity Plumbing' (near lane) vs James Day - 
'Matthews Motorsports' (far lane) - NFC --- Tyler Hester - 'Overtime Special' (near lane) - NTF vs Billy Morris 
- 'Problem Child' (far lane) - NFC

(LEFT) A pair of Nostaliga Funny Cars staged up next, with Dan Horan in the near lane, and James Day in the Cecil Matthews-owned car in the far lane. Both were running Camaro bodies, with Horan's being a '69 and Day's a '70 model.

(RIGHT) Another mixed pair followed, with Tyler Hester in the flat-black "Overtime Special" in the near lane, while Billy Morris in the "Problem Child" Camaro inhabited the far lane.

Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' (near lane) vs Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour' 
(far lane) - NFC --- Mike Halstead - 'Mike's Transmissions' (near lane) - NPC vs John Weaver - 
'Nitro Nut' (far lane) - NFC

(LEFT) Pulling into the lead on the launch, Tim Boychuk (far lane) cut a light in his "Happy Hour" entry, while in the near lane, Don Knobaluch, making yet another pass, trailed in his "Atomic Punk" car.

(RIGHT) The final pair had Mike Halstead in his rear-engined "Mike's Transmissions" dragster in the near lane, paired up with John Weaver's (far lane) "Nitro Nut" Funny Car. Halstead's car was running in the Nitro Pro Comp class.

Lyle Greenberg - 'Cone Hunter' - NPC

Our final photo of the day is another look at the "Cone Hunter" Corvette of New Mexico's Lyle Greenberg, preparing to compete at his first March Meet.


With only a small weather window available for qualifying on Friday, the Nostalgia Funny Cars led off and tried to tame the cold track. The day started off looking like a writeoff with wind and rain in the morning (as you can see from the photo below), but by noon it had turned sunny and after the track crew got the surface prepped, the qualifying began.

Eyewitness News interviewing Kleet Norris

This was the scene behind the starting line at 7:30 in the morning, with the local Eyewitness News team interviewing the Famoso Dragstrip media relations manager, Kleet Norris. He must have known the weather would turn good, even if the news crew didn't.

NOSTAGLIA FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session #1

Cory Lee - 'Pedaler' - NFC --- James Day - 'Matthews Motorsports' - NFC

(LEFT) A true intinerant drag racer, Cory Lee drives almost anything with four wheels, switching from nostalgia cars to "Big Show" cars with ease. Here he put down a good opening pass of 5.934 - 248.93 in Gary Turner's "Pedaler" '79 Dodge Challenger.

(RIGHT) After a great pass in testing yesterday (5.56 - 248-mph), the Cecil Matthews Motorsports team, with veteran James Day at the wheel, limped down the track to a 19-second clocking when it really counted.

Cory McClenathan - 'Mac Attack' - NFC --- Geoff Monise - 'Quarter Pounder' - NFC

(LEFT) Making his first appearance ever in a Nostalgia car, long-time NHRA Top Fuel competitor Cory McClenathan brought out the "Mac Attack" '70 Firebird. Adorned in his original checkerboard-style paint scheme, the first qualifying run netted an early shutoff 6.254 - 180.04 result.

(RIGHT) Showing that their great 5.681 career best pass at last fall's California Hot Rod Reunion was not a one-off, Geoff Monise blistered the timers with a great 5.688 - 256.75 clocking in the Keith Clark & Dale Van Gundy "Quarter Pounder" Camaro. That pass put them in the #4 spot in the field.

Gary Densham - 'Teacher's Pet' - NFC --- Gary Densham - 'Teacher's Pet' - NFC

With son Steven (the usual driver) away on vacation, Gary Densham was elevated from crew chief to driver of the iconic "Teacher's Pet" Camaro and he carded a decent 6.014 - 231.16 on his first pass, despite barely turning the tires on the burnout (left photo).

Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' - NFC --- Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money' - NFC

(LEFT) Despite the help of NHRA Nitro Funny Car racer Jeff Diehl, the Washington-based "Atomic Punk" of Don Knoblauch is still searching for it's first 5-second timeslip. His first qualifying pass today registered an early shutoff 6.835 - 149.43, as the team's troubles continued.

(RIGHT) Another racer who's having an even worse run of luck, Bob Godfrey in the "Burnin' Money" (literally in this case) '70 'Cuda, had another forgettable pass of 11.219 - 45.64 to start his weekend.

Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' - NFC --- Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour' - NFC

(LEFT) With the always able assistance of Heidi Austin in backing up to the starting line, Bobby Cottrell wheeled the Austin & O'Brien "Bardahl Special" to an excellent opening pass of 5.660 - 254.47 to take the early pole position in the session.

(RIGHT) Making his first appearance at Bakersfield since the 2020 March Meet, sometimes Canadian Tim Boychuk had a wild ride in this session, with the "Happy Hour" Camaro getting way out of shape and caressing the centerline enroute to a 7.584 - 116.68 pass.

Brad Thompson - 'Jailbreak' - NFC --- Kris Krabill - 'Bartone & Lebor' - NFC

(LEFT) An on-and-off first pass for Brad Thompson in the "Jailbreak" car left a 6.589 - 209.39 on the scoreboards and put the veteran competitor in the #13 position at the end of the session.

(RIGHT) This car is an odd mix of people with east coasters Michael Bartone and Tony Lebor, both former Top Alcohol Dragster racers, combining on a nostalgia funny car driven by Washington state's "Hollywood" Kris Krabill. Their first effort landed them in the #6 position on the ladder, courtesy of a very good 5.763 - 252.05 pass.

Jeff Gregory - 'Madness' - NFC --- Terry Jongewaard - 'So-Cal Machine Tools Special' - NFC

(LEFT) With the tires trying to lose traction, the "Madness" '78 Camaro of Jeff Gregory struggled to get down the track and finally stopped the clocks at 9.462 - 78.60, leaving him in #17 and outside the field on the first day.

(RIGHT) Making his third appearance at the March Meet, and hoping to finally qualify, Terry Jongewaard fell back early (you can see the nose of Drew Austin's car leading by a large margin just off the line), and had a troubled on-and-off pass of 6.876 - 147.67 in the So-Cal Machine Tools Special" '79 Dodge Omni.

Kamaka Pocock - 'California Hustler' - NFC --- Jerry Espeseth - 'Rolling Thunder 2.0' - NFC

(LEFT) Hawaiian transplant Kamaka Pocock, now living in Bakersfield, wheeled Don Nelson's "California Hustler" '76 Firebird to a decent 5.970 - 227.11 pass to slot into the #10 spot on the qualifying list.

(RIGHT) Seen here at the end of his burnout, Jerry Espeseth kept the tires hooked up all the way to a #3 qualifying 5.688 - 257.48 time in the "Atlas Testing Laboratories"-backed '69 Camaro. We still love the "Rolling Thunder 2.0" name on the front bumper, a nod to the heritage of the car when it was owned by the Rupert family.

Michael Peck Jr. - 'Instigator' - NFC --- Michael Peck Jr. - 'Instigator' - NFC

It wasn't the best of times for Michael Peck Jr. in the "Quote Wizard"-backed 'Instigator' '71 Camaro. After a smokeless burnout, the chutes popped out and before the crew could stop him, he ran over them backing up. That was it for the first session for the Washington-based team.

John Weaver - 'Nitro Nut' - NFC

Making his debut in Nostalgia Funny Car, longtime Top Alcohol Funny Car competitor John Weaver had an inauspicious inaugural pass of 13.080 - 59.63 in the "Nitro Nut" flopper.

AA/FUEL ALTERED - Qualifying Session #1

Mark Whynaught - 'Nitro Mamba' - AA/FA --- Nick Van Horn - 'Panic!' - AA/FA

(LEFT) The first pair of Fuel Altereds put on a great show, with Mark Whynaught in the "Nitro Mamba" '23 Model T putting down a 6.324 - 194.74 despite an early shutoff.

(RIGHT) Running alongside him was Nick Van Horn in the period correct "Panic!" '23 Bantam roadster and he kept the power down all the way through the lights with a 6.377 e.t. and a big speed of 241.15 mph clocking.

Tom Padilla - 'Red Dragon' - AA/FA --- Dylan Winefsky - 'Nitro Moose' - AA/FA

(LEFT) Another hard runner out of the Northwest, Tom Padilla in his "Red Dragon", had an eventful run as he got out of shape, crossed the centerline, then careened back into his lane and smacked the wall hard before coasting across the line at 8.415 - 97.46.

(RIGHT), Padilla's opponent, Dylan Winefsky, from Arizona in the "Nitro Moose" '32 Bantam avoided all the chaos but lifted early and cruised to a 7.155- 122.87 time.

Ron Capps - 'Burkholder Bros.' - AA/FA --- Johnny West - 'Plan A' - AA/FA

(LEFT) Taking a "busman's holiday", NHRA "Big Show" Funny Car racer (and defending World Champion) Ron Capps jumped into the "Burkholder Bros." '37 Fiat Topolino and had an on-and-off run that ended with a 7.701 - 128.87 displayed on the scoreboards.

(RIGHT) In the other lane, long-time racer, crew chief and fabricator, Johnny West brought out his "hobby" car, the "Plan 'A'" and had even more trouble with a 8.952 - 101.50 timeslip produced by what is usually a very consistent low 6-second car.

Dave Benjamin - 'Nasty Benjamin' - AA/FA --- Eric Gates - 'Agent Orange' - AA/FA

(LEFT) Another "jack of all trades" racer from the Northwest, Dave "Nasty" Benjamin in his unique '23 Ford Model-T stakebed truck had even more issues than most as he ended up at the bottom of the field with a 15-second pass, that left him #11 in the 8-car field.

(RIGHT) A regular competitor in the class, Eric Gates in his familiar "Agent Orange" '23 T fell into the middle of the field in the #6 spot with a decent 6.898 - 178.68 effort.

Dave Benjamin - 'Nasty Benjamin' (near lane) vs Eric Gates - 
'Agent Orange' (far lane) - AA/FA --- Dan Hix - 'Heatseeker' - AA/FA

(LEFT) Here's a good display of just how much trouble Dave Benjamin was having in the near lane, with possibly two cylinders out of action on the right bank, as Eric Gates (far lane) was slow off the line too.

(RIGHT) Making a hard burnout was another Northwesterner (Oregon), Dan Hix in the "Heatseeker" '34 Chevy prior to his opening pass of 6.363, accompanied with a low speed of just 174.03-mph. That put him #4 in the 6.00-indexed field. At this point, no one had come close to breaking out.

Pete Peterson - 'The Wanderer' - AA/FA --- Brian Hope - 'Pure Hell' - AA/FA

(LEFT) Launching hard and keeping the pedal down all the way was Pete Peterson in the '48 Fiat Topolino-bodied "Wanderer", as he posted the top qualifying pass of the first session, a strong 6.221 - 236.92 to lead the field.

(RIGHT) The round finished with a solo pass for Tennessee's Brian Hope in the "Pure Hell" '32 Bantam and he made the second best pass of the day with a solid 6.258 - 227.46 to wrap up the first outing for the AA/Fuel Altereds.

Derrick Moreira - 'Nitro Junkies' - AA/FA

This was the scene in the "Nitro Junkies" pit area of AA/Fuel Altered racer Derrick Moreira as the car sat idle while all the other cars were running. They never did get the car out to the lanes and down the track before time ran out for them.

NOSTALGIA TOP FUEL - Qualifying Session #1

With the Funny Cars done, it was time for the Nostalgia Top Fuel dragsters to take center stage. With only nine cars in the pits, the odds of making the 8-car field were pretty good, but unfortunately, somebody was going to have to be the odd-person out at the end of qualifying on Saturday.

Bret Williamson - 'Forever Young' - NTF --- Bryan Hall - 'Nomad' - NTF

(LEFT) Coming out first and leading the field at the end of the session was veteran Bret Williamson in the "Forever Young" entry, as he was the only Top Fuel racer in the 5-second zone on Friday, with a 5.916 - 249.72 pass. Running alongside him was Tyler Hester (not shown) who got out of the groove at half track and shut off to a 6.877 - 140.77 which rather amazingly put him #4 on the list going into Saturday's second (final) qualifying session.

(RIGHT) Not faring nearly as well as Williamson was Bryan Hall in the "H&H Nomad", who pulled the front wheels up several times before the 330' mark, before shutting down to a 8.964 - 95.63 clocking. In the other lane (not shown) was Jim Murphy who flirted with the centerline before pulling the pin on the "WW II" dragster, and coasting across the finish line at 6.692 - 154.63 for the third spot on the qualifying list.

Dan Horan Jr. - NTF --- Adam Sorokin - 'Champion Speed Shop Special' - NTF

(LEFT) It was a solid launch for Dan Horan Jr. and it ran strong to half track, but then the revs went up and Dan shut off to a 7.743 - 116.32. That left him in the #6 position with just one more chance to improve on Saturday.

(RIGHT) Running alongside Horan was Adam Sorokin in the unique enclosed cockpit small-block Chevy powered "Champion Speed Shop Special", but he had no luck at all, smoking the tires on the launch and idling down track to an 11.306 - 84.04 time to sit in the #9 position and outside the field.

Pete Wittenberg - 'KMA Racing' - NTF --- Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' - NTF

(LEFT) Seen at the end of his burnout, Pete Wittenberg in the "KMA Racing" entry ran strong for a few hundred feet, but faded before half track and eventually crossed the stripe with a 9.937 - 68.97 clocking that left him in the #8 (bubble) position.

(RIGHT) In the lane opposite Wittenberg, the engine in Tyler Hilton's "Great Expectations III" started smoking near the 1000' mark, forcing an early shutoff, but still quick enough to come in at 6.062 - 194.07 and the #2 spot in the field.

Brendan Murry - 'Runnin' Wild - NTF

Finishing the session with a single due to the 9-car field, Brendan Murry launched well and kept the pedal down until it started drifting towards the centerline, forcing him to pedal, then shut off his "Runnin' Wild" to 7.187 - 126.78 pass. It put him in the #5 slot going into Saturday.

NITRO PRO COMP - Qualifying Session #1

Keith Wilson - 'Witch Doctor' - NPC --- Eily Stafford - NPC

(LEFT) With just six cars entered, the Nitro Pro Comp field wasn't looking too strong, but Keith Wilson in the '39 Fiat Topolino "Witch Doctor" Fuel Altered, made a good pass to start his weekend, stopping the timers at 6.306 - 157.52. The early shutoff could have been due to his propensity to break out of the 5.90 index for the class. Based on previous history, the car is capable of running in the 5.80's or quicker, at more than 240 mph.

(RIGHT) After many years of competing in NE-1 and 7.0 PRO in her front-engine dragsters, Eily Stafford made the move up to nitro in a Mark Borjon Racing nostalgia rear-engine dragster and immediately moved to the top of the field with a strong 6.224 - 217.39 on her first competition pass in the car. Before the run, she posed with her happy crew, then made them all really happy when they saw the scoreboards light up with her e.t. and speed.


Dean Gilliam - Famoso Dragstrip crew --- ---

Since our photographer BIG Bob Snyder is a MAJOR dog lover, he's also grabbing snaps of people with their dogs, or sadly in the case of the photo on the left side of this trio, those without their beloved pits.


CHUTE SHOTS and MORE from the "Deep End"

After yesterday's first qualifying session yielded a bump spot of only 7.584 for the 16-car field, the 23 cars entered prepared for their second (final) qualifying session. Obviously, to gain entry to eliminations was going to take a much better than a 7-second run, with it almost a certainty that a 5-second pass would be required, as long as the track and weather held up.

Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' - NFC --- Matt Melendez - 'Cacklin' Critter' - NFC

(LEFT) Coming into this session in the #2 spot, Bobby Cottrell was looking to move up to the top spot. Unfortunately, it didn't work out as they failed to better Friday's 5.660 and finished qualifying down one notch to the #3 position on the final list.

(RIGHT) Following his non-appearance on Friday, the pressue was squarely on Matt Melendez to break into the field in his "Cacklin' Critter" and he came through with a solid 5.791 - 232.56 that put them in the #11 spot in the show.

Drew Austin - 'Pro-Max' - NFC --- Cory McClenathan - 'Mac Attack' - NFC

(LEFT) Another racer who failed to improve on his Friday effort was Drew Austin as he slowed from his top qualifying 5.592 effort, but still hung onto the top spot on the list.

(RIGHT) One step, and five steps bacvk was the story for Cory "Mac Attack" McClenathan as he picked up nearly two tenths from his earlier 6.254 clocking to a 6.076 - 181.35 time on today's run. However, he fell from #12 on the list all the way to #17 - and out of the field - when the session ended.

Cory McClenathan - 'Mac Attack' - NFC --- Michael Peck Jr. - 'Instigator' - NFC

(LEFT) Showing that he's not shy about working on the car, McClenathan got down on one knee and rolled up the chutes while waiting for the crew to come down to the top end.

(RIGHT) A racer who rebounded nicely from Friday's disaster, where the chute came out at the end of the burnout, was Michael Peck Jr., as he showed what the "Instigator" was capable of. The result was a #9 qualifying 5.756 - 255.24 pass.

Jeff Gregory - 'Madness' - NFC --- Don Knoblauch - 'Atomic Punk' - NFC

Shown climbing out of their Funny Cars after a run, unbuckling all the safety equipment and getting ready for the tow back to the pits are (LEFT), Jeff Gregory exiting the "Madness" Camaro, while on the (RIGHT), it's Washington state's Don Knoblauch coming out through the roof hatch on his "Atomic Punk" entry.

Even though he improved his performance by more than one second, from a 9.462 to an 8.331, that still left Jeff Gregory well outside the show in the #21 spot. Things weren't much better for Don Knoblauch as he failed to improve on his Friday time of 6.835, that was good enough for #14 after the first session, and he finished up in the #19 position, more than eight tenths of a second short of the bubble.

Kamaka Pocock - 'California Hustler' - NFC --- Geoff Monise - 'Quarter Pounder' - NFC

Two more racers after their passes, as on the (LEFT), almost hidden behind the car is Kamaka Pocock, driver of Don Hudson's "California Hustler" Firebird, while on the (RIGHT), Geoff Monise is smiling underneath the helmet as he stands beside the hard running "Quarter Pounder" of veterans (and that's putting it midly) Keith Clark and Dale Van Gundy who have been on the So-Cal flopper scene for five decades now... and counting.

Another racer who failed to better his earlier timeslip was Kamaka Pocock, but his Friday 5.970 - 227.11 was good enough to stay in the field, however dropping him from #10 to #15 at the close of qualifying. Geoff Monise was in the same situation, e.t. wise, but his Friday blast of 5.688 was still good enough to keep himself near the top of the ladder as he only dropped one spot to #5 in the final order.

Pete Wittenberg - 'KMA Racing' - NTF --- Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' - NTF

(LEFT) Bringing the "KMA Racing" dragster to a halt after a much improved (over Friday's 9-second time) 5.863 - 240.94 pass was Pete Wittenberg, The run was good enough to grab the #2 spot on the final qualifying sheet.

(RIGHT) Shown climbing out of the Jim ↦ Allison Lee-owned "Great Expectations III" dragster is second generation pilot for this car, Tyler Hilton, following in the footsteps of his father Bobby Hilton who drove the car during the 1970's. Tyler didn't improve from Friday's clocking of 6.062 - 194.07 and the Chevy-powered car dropped to the #4 spot in the final order.

Showing the next generation how it's done, Sean Bellemeur is steering back to the pits with his son in his lap in father Greg's "Easy Rider" A/Fuel car. Sean qualified #4 in the A/Fuel field with a 6.373 - 215.51 pass. BTW, A/Fuel allows either supercharged alky engines or injected nitro, as in NHRA's Lucas Oil Series Top Alcohol Dragster class.

Nitro Mike Kunz - PT Cruiser wheelstander --- Another one bites the dust

(LEFT) There's always got to be a wheelstander and/or jet to entertain the less-than-hardcore drag racing fan, and Canadian "Nitro" Mike Kunz provided a show with his "World's Wildest PT Cruiser" wheelie machine. The car is named "Walking Tall" and has been running all over North American for the last decade.

(RIGHT) The only caption that comes immediately to mind is "another one bites the dust". I'm trying to find out what was burning, but it was close to the track, and near the motorhome camping section, so..... NOTE: Our correspondent has provided us the info: it was a pile of tires that someone set on fire.

Shawn Corbari - A/Fuel --- James Generalao Jr. - 'Impatient' - AA/FA

(LEFT) Slowing after his run in the blown alky (511-cid BAE Hemi) A/Fuel dragster, Shawn Corbari failed to improve on Friday's 6.305 - 212.36 pass, but stayed in the #3 spot in the 6-car field.

(RIGHT) With a name like "Impatient", the AA/Fuel Altered of James Generalao Jr. was certainly in a hurry after failing to record a time on Friday. And hurry he did, all the way into the #4 spot on the final qualifying sheet with a quick, but safe (remember the 6.00 index) 6.151 - 208.26 effort.

Eric Gates - 'Agent Orange' - AA/FA --- Mark Whynaught - 'Nitro Mamba' - AA/FA

(LEFT) More AA/FA's, with Eric Gates looking to improve on his #6 qualifying 6.898 - 179.68 pass from Friday. With the bump spot already down to 7.155 and quite a few cars left in the lanes he tried, but unfortunately failed to better his time and ended up one spot short of qualifying in the #9 position.

(RIGHT) In contrast to Gates' plight, Mark Whynaught had the "Nitro Mamba" safely qualified in the #3 slot with a 6.324 - 194.74 carded in the first session. He picked up a couple of tenths to 6.115 - 213.74 and moved up one spot to #2 on the ladder.

Lyle Greenberg - 'Cone Hunter' - NPC --- Eily Stafford - 'Mark Borjon Racing' - NPC

(LEFT) With the sun setting and light quickly fading, the Nitro Pro Comp cars came out for their final qualifier. Breakage in testing and Friday's first session had thinned the ranks somewhat with just four cars appearing to take their final qualifying shot. Making good use of the session was Lyle Greenberg as he climbed to the #1 spot with a 6.061 elapsed time.

(RIGHT) Making her second attempt, but not improving over Firday's 6.224 - 217.39 clocking, Eily Stafford brought the Mark Borjon Racing rear-engine nostalgia dragster to a halt.

Brad Thompson - 'Jailbreak' - NFC --- Gary Densham - 'Teacher's Pet' - NFC

(LEFT) Due to an earlier oildown, the last few pairs ran under the lights, with Brad Thompson leading the way, but failing to improve on Friday's 6.589 209.39 pass, and falling out of the field, dropping from #13 to #18 on the final qualifying list.

(RIGHT) Next up was Gary Densham and he also wasn't able to better his Friday effort, but his 6.014 - 231.16 was just enough to stay in the field, despite dropping from the #11 slot to the bump spot.

Terry Jongewaard - 'So-Cal Machine Tools Special' - NFC --- Cory McClenathan - 'Mac Attack' - NFC

(LEFT) Another racer who couldn't improve was Terry Jongewaard who carded an early shutoff 6.876 - 147.67 in the first qualifying session, but couldn't better it on Saturday evening. He also dropped out of the show, falling from #15 to #20 in the final order.

(RIGHT) A racer who did improve was Cory McClenathan who picked up two tenths in his earlier Saturday qualifier but still fell short of making the field and ended up #17, in the first alternate position. His best run of the weekend, a 6.076 - 181.35 showed that he could have qualified if the car had been under power all the way to the finish line.

Jerry Espeseth - 'Rolling Thunder 2.0' - NFC

Our final on track photo of qualifying was of Jerry Espeseth being assisted down to the turnout by the track crew.

John Weaver - 'Nitro Nut' - NFC --- Jerry Espeseth - 'Rolling Thunder 2.0' - NFC

With the action on the track stopped for the day, it was time for the pit thrashing to begin in preparation for Sunday's eliminations. Due to the rain delays on Thursday and Friday, the first round of Funny Car eliminations, which usually took place late on Saturday, were put over to Sunday morning. Faced with having to run as many four times on Sunday, the crews had to get ready for one long final day.

On the left, it's the John Weaver "Nitro Nut" car, a newcomer to the Heritage series, while on the right, it's the familiar "Rolling Thunder 2.0" (ex-Jason Rupert) car of Jerry Espeseth, runner-up in the 2019 Nostalgia Funny Car points standings.


Eliminations began under semi-threatening skies, with the Nitro Funny Cars leading the way. Normally they would run their first round on Saturday afternoon, but due to the multitude of weather-related delays, it was a Sunday morning start for them. With four rounds of racing, it was going to be an endurance test for the nostalgia racers. We'll post groups of photos as we get through the next few days, round by round, starting with Sunday's eliminations and working backwards to Thursday's test session. Keep refreshing/reloading this page to see the latest updates and additions.

Tuesday afternoon update: All the PRO eliminations have been posted, mostly with photos. From this point forward, we'll post the balance of the March Meet coverage in our Features section, starting tomorrow.

Nostalgia Funny Car - Round One Eliminations

Geoff Monise - 'Quarter Pounder' (near lane) vs Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour' 
(far lane) - NFC --- Gary Densham - 'Teacher's Pet'

(LEFT) The opening pairing of eliminations set the pace for the balance of the first round. Both cars left hard, with Geoff Monise (left lane) a little slower out of the gate than Tim Boychuk (right lane) but he quickly overcame the deficit to take a two car length victory, posting a 5.706 - 253.09 to Boychuk's piston burning 5.847 - 234.94 numbers.

(RIGHT) In the next pairing, Gary Densham overstaged, triggered an automatic redlight when the tree flashed, then waited until opponent Drew Austin was halfway down the track before launching and running hard to the finish line, albeit with no times recorded. Austin took the automatic win but didn't spare the horses with a great 5.648 - 253.37 effort.

'California Hustler' starting line repairs --- Kamaka Pocock - 'California Hustler' (near lane) vs Billy Morris - 'Problem 
Child' (far lane) - NFC

(LEFT) Some last minute adjustments were required on the California Hustler fuel system after the burnout as it appeared there was a leaky nozzle line.

(RIGHT) Another case of left last, finish first, as Billy Morris's .124 light (far lane) didn't hurt him as he passed Kamaka Pocock's quicker .075 launch, and turned on the winlight with a very quick 5.634 - 249.21 as Pocock trailed with a solid 5.871 - 247.29 clocking. Morris was trailing at half track but pulled away after that.

John Weaver - 'Nitro Nut' (near lane) vs Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardhal Special' 
(far lane) - NFC --- Rian Konno - 'Kazanjian, Lemon & Konno' (near lane) vs Jerry Espeseth - 
'Atlas' (far lane) - NFC

(LEFT) Appearing at a nostalgia race for the first time in a while, California veteran John Weaver (near lane) was very late (.211 reaction) on the lights, then nearly took out the 660' reflectors before over-correcting and bouncing off the guardwall. He finally gathered up his errant mount and coasted through to record 6.310 - 163.14 numbers. In the other lane, Bobby Cottrell had some directional problems too as the car wanted to skate around early in the run, before gathering it up and running low e.t. of the round at 5.632 - 244.16.

(RIGHT) The next race was over early as Jerry Espeseth (far lane) spun the tires hard on the launch and shut off to a 9.550 - 100.76 clocking. He left first on opponent Rian Konno (near lane) by nearly a tenth, but it all evaporated in a cloud of instant tire smoke. Taking advantage of his predicament, Konno moved into the next round from the #13 qualifying spot with a solid 5.754 - 247.11 winning time. Unfortunately, after crossing the finish line, a large fire erupted underneath Konno's car and it blazed all the way through the shutdown area. Fortunately, there were no injuries to the driver, but it looked very unlikely that the car would be back for the second round.

Matt Melendez - 'Cacklin' Critter' (near lane) vs Dan Horan Jr. - 'Infinity 
Plumbing' (far lane) - NFC --- Kris Krabill - 'Bartone & Lebor' (near lane) vs Justin Taylor - 'Evil, Wicked, 
Mean & Nasty' (far lane) - NFC

(LEFT) Things settled down somewhat in the next pairing, as both drivers appeared to take a short nap on the starting line. Leaving first with a .228 (!) light was Matt Melendez (near lane), while Dan Horan Jr. in the far lane was even sleepier with a .261 reaction. Despite the tardy leave, Horan easily disposed of the Cacklin' Critter with a strong 5.677 - 261.12 (Top Speed of the meet), while Melendez trailed with a valiant 5.856 - 227.42 time. Melendez actually led the race until nearly the 1000' mark before he was forced to shut off as the car headed for the centerline.

(RIGHT) The next race was over almost immediately, as Justin Taylor (far lane) struck the tires on the launch, and clicked it off to an 18-second clocking. In the near lane, "Hollywood" Kris Krabill sped away to an almost uncontested 5.811 - 237.55 victory. The win didn't come without a price as it appeared an entire set of pistons vaporized as he crossed the finish line.

Michael Peck Jr. - 'Instigator' - NFC --- Cory Lee - 'Pedaler' - NFC

(LEFT) In the final match of the first round, Michael Peck Jr. burned out but had the safety system activate during it, tossing the chute out. That left him dead in the water and shut off as his opponent was able to take an automatic win.

(RIGHT) That opponent, Cory Lee, made the most of Peck's predicament, cranking out a very good 5.687 - 262.28 (new Top Speed of the meet), to advance to a second round meeting with low qualifier Drew Austin.

Michael Peck Jr. - 'Instigator' - NFC

Here's the aftermath of Peck's chute tossing burnout as the car sat motionless at the 300' mark.

Nostalgia Top Fuel - Round One Eliminations

Bret Williamson - 'Forever Young' (near lane) vs 
Brendan Murry - 'Runnin' Wild' (far lane) - NTF --- Pete Wittenberg - 'KMA Racing' (near lane) vs Tyler Hester - 
'Overtime Special' (far lane) - NTF

(LEFT) Top Fuel got started with the #1 and #8 qualifiers meeting. It wasn't exactly a tree-cutting mission at the starting line as in the near lane, Bret Williamson's .222 light was definitely on the slow side, but Brendan Murry (far lane) was just plain sleeping with a .469 reaction time. Going down track, Murry was well behind at the 300' mark, then appeared to pop the blower just after that point, slowing to an 8.194 - 91.08 clocking. Meanwhile, Williamson ran away to an easy 6.047 - 210.37 win.

(RIGHT) Another slow start spelled defeat for Pete Wittenberg (near lane) as his tardy .234 reaction paved the way for Tyler Hester's (far lane) much quicker .061 reaction to take the win. Wittenberg lost despite a better 5.869 - 243.11 clocking, while Hester stopped the timers first with a 5.918 at only 204.39, as he was enveloped in a cloud of oil and smoke at the 1000' mark and coasted to the win by two car lengths.

Jim Murphy - 'WWII' (near lane) vs Bryan Hall - 'The Nomad' 
(far lane) - NTF --- Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' (near lane) vs Adam 
Sorokon - 'Champion Speed Shop Special' (far lane) - NTF

(LEFT) Next up were veteran Jim Murphy (near lane), who left second and finished first by overcoming a six hundredths deficit in reaction times over Tyler Hilton in the far lane. Hester's mount was sashaying all over his lane in the early going, before getting it straightened out at half track and charging to a 6.622 - 206.45 losing time. Murphy also was off the pedal early, but his 5.970 - 215.44 was still enough to turn on the winlight.

(RIGHT) The round closed with the closest matched pair of qualifying, #4 Tyler Hilton (near lane) against #5 Adam Sorokin in the far lane. Sorokin gave away too much on the starting line, leaving nearly a full tenth behind Hilton and it cost him as his 6.456 - 166.33 was nowhere near catching Hilton's winning 6.071 - 185.64 time. Both cars had problems on the top end, with Hilton losing several pistons before the finish line and Soroking giving up the chase with lots of smoke out of the engine at the 1000' mark.

AA/Fuel Altered - Round One Eliminations

Johnny West - 'Plan A' (near lane) vs Dan Hix - 
'Heatseeker' (far lane) - AA/FA --- Brian Hope - 'Pure Hell' (near lane) vs James Generalao Jr. 
- 'Impatience' (far lane) - AA/FA

(LEFT) Fuel Altereds eliminations got started with a very close race, as Johnny West (near lane) almost hit the 6.00-index, with a great 6.076 - 224.85 pass, but it fell short of the winning time of Dan Hix in the far lane, who ran right on the index - to the thousandth - with a perfect 6.000 - 210.90 for the win. Making the margin a bit larger at the finish line was the .033 reaction time advantage for Hix. But running right on the index at over 200-mph is risky business. To cap the race, West had a very late 'chute and ended his weekend at the "beach" (the sand trap) at the end of the track.

(RIGHT) The second pair didn't see either racer come close to breaking out, but Brian Hope overcame a small (.017) reaction deficit to ring up a 6.237 - 232.63 on the scoreboards. That was enough to cover the 6.470 - 202.09 of Las Vegan James Generalao Jr. in the far lane.

Pete Peterson - 'The Wanderer' (near lane) vs 
Mark Whynaught - 'Nitro Mamba' (far lane) - AA/FA --- Dylan Winefsky - 'Nitro Moose' (near lane) vs 
Nick Van Horn - 'Panic!' (far lane) - AA/FA

(LEFT) Another very close race ensued, with both drivers challenging the index, as Mark Whynaught (far lane) came closest at 6.010 - 207.85 and turned on the winlight. In the near lane, Pete Peterson left a tad late (.137 to .094 reaction), but thundered across the finish line, with a 6.029 - 248.93 as he blew past Whynaught about 60 feet past the stripe, in a great, but losing, effort.

(RIGHT) Closing the round was young Dylan Winefsky (near lane) who ran a good and safe 6.181, coupled with a big top end of 241.50 to take the win over the breaking out effort of Nick Van Horn (far lane), who smashed the index with a 5.965 - 244.07 pass. Why Van Horn kept the pedal down all the way to the 1320' mark is a bit of a mystery, as he had a serious advantage off the line (.117 to .273 r.t.'s) and was far ahead of Winefsky at the finish line. Nonetheless, it was Winefsky advancing and the "Panic!" team going home.

Nitro Pro Comp - Round One Eliminations

Keith Wilson - 'Witch Doctor' - NPC --- Lyle Greenberg - 'Cone Hunter' - NPC

(LEFT) After two qualifying sessions, attrition due to engine damage eliminated two of the six cars, leaving just four racers for the first round of eliminations. Then, due to more breakage, it turned into a single for Keith Wilson in the "Witch Doctor" Fuel Altered, as scheduled opponent Eily Stafford was a no-show. He took an easy cruise into the final round with a 9.158 - 81.24 pass.

(RIGHT) Joining Wilson in that round was New Mexico's Lyle Greenberg in his beautiful Corvette bodied "Cone Hunter" Funny Car, as he was also the beneficiary of a single when Billy McDevitt couldn't make the call. Greenberg tested the 5.90-index with a 6.062 - 194.80 on his bye run.

Tony Trimp - 'Rough 'n Ready' (near lane) vs 
Steve Faller -

One of many oddball pairings in the 7.0 PRO class featured Tony Trimp in his Rough 'n Ready '65 Mustang flopper (near lane) facing Steve "Flat Top" Faller in his '32 Ford Bantam roadster in the far lane, as they met in the second round of eliminations. Unfortunately we don't have any results from that round - yet - but they both ran 7.00 on the 7.00 index in the first round, so it must have been close.

Nitro Mike Kunz - PT Cruiser - wheelstander --- General Jerry Lee - Ford Stakebed truck' - wheelstander

Wheelstander time, with Canada's "Nitro" Mike Kunz in his PT Cruiser (left), and the iconic General Jerry Lee in his Ford C-Cab Truck (right), powered by an early model Chrysler Hemi no less, both standing them up for the crowd.

Nostalgia Funny Car - Round Two Eliminations

Cory Lee - 'Pedaler' (near lane) vs Drew Austin - 'Pro Max' 
(far lane) - NFC --- Kris Krabill - 'Bartone & Lebor' (near lane) vs Billy Morris - 
'Problem Child' (far lane) - NFC

(LEFT) It was a close to half track as the second round opened, but Drew Austin (far lane) headed for the wall and was forced to shut off to a 6.069 - 189.47, allowing Cory Lee to take the upset win with a very good - and frankly, difficult to beat, 5.723 - 257.87 clocking. Despite being low qualifer, at 5.592, Austin's weekend came to a rather premature end.

(RIGHT) Next up were Kris Krabill (near lane) against Billy Morris (far lane). It was a very close race until a puff of smoke came out of the "Problem Child" just before the 1000' mark, causing Morris to slow to a 5.908 - 192.36 time, while Krabill sped into the semifinal with a solid 5.788 - 240.89 timeslip.

Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' (near lane) vs Dan Horan Jr. 
- 'Infinity Plumbing' (far lane) - NFC

The third pair of the round turned into a single for Geoff Monise as scheduled opponent Rian Konno was unable to come back after his first round fire. Monise simply took the green light for the automatic win. Closing out the round were Bobby Cottrell (near lane) against the big horsepower car of Dan Horan Jr. (far lane) and it was a good clean race all the way down with no piston smoke for a change. However, it wasn't all that close as Cottrell held the lead from the 60' lights to the finish line, stopping the clocks with a 5.637 - 245.45 to easily handle Horan's trailing 5.759 - 258.86 effort.

Nostalgia Top Fuel - Round Two Eliminations

Jim Murphy - 'WWII' (near lane) vs Tyler Hester 
(far lane) - NTF --- Bret Williamson - 'Forever Young' (near lane) vs 
Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' (far lane) - NTF

(LEFT) The only driver to advance from the bottom half of the field, Tyler Hester (far lane) took on Jim Murphy (near lane) in the first semifinal pairing. After a big tail wag coming off the starting line, Murphy straightened out the car and blasted out a very strong 5.736 - 260.81 to light up the scoreboards The mph was Top Speed of the meet. The drivers left together, but Hester (far lane) got off the pedal early with lots of smoke out of the blow-by tank as he crossed the line at 5.939 - 205.10 to finish his weekend.

(RIGHT) In the other pairing, Bret Williamson (near lane) left first by a bunch (seems to be a common theme in these reports), taking an instant .151 to .263 lead in reaction times, then ran away to a very good 5.837 - 255.24 winning time. Winning the entertainment battle was Tyler Hilton (far lane), who trailed early, then exploded the blower at the 600' mark, with a small fire. That activated the safety systems, deploying the chutes and slowing him to a 6.771 - 127.35 in the loss as he came to a stop over near the guardwall in the shutdown area.

AA/Fuel Altered - Round Two Eliminations

Mark Whynaught - 'Nitro Mamba' (near lane) vs 
Dylan Winefsky - 'Nitro Moose' (far lane) - AA/FA --- Brian Hope - 'Pure Hell' (near lane) vs Dan Hix - 
'Heatseeker' (far lane) - AA/FA

(LEFT) This is what happens when you match up a Nitro Mamba (near lane), driven by Mark Whynaught against a "Nitro Moose" (far lane), wheeled by second generation fuel altered pilot Dylan Winefsky. Unfortunately in this case, the "Moose" was a little sleepy off the line, giving the "Mamba" an instant of slightly more than a tenth of a second. Winefsky kept it relatively close on paper though, running 6.274 - 234.17 as Whynaught got off the loud pedal early (to avoid breaking out), and stopped the timers with a winning 6.071 - 203.58 time.

(RIGHT) It looks like an even leave in this picture, but Brian Hope (near lane) actually red-lighted (-.184 foul) and shut off to a 19-second cruise down the quarter- mile. In the far lane, Dan Hix left the line after the green flashed and took an easy 7.547 - 117.24 drive into the final round.

Unfortunately, due to exhaustion after four days pounding the pavement at Famoso Dragstrip, our photographer had to leave for home. Through the combination of Jakes Simmons video work, and Bobby Bennett's diligence, we have pieced together the final rounds of nitro competition. Many thanks to the Competition Plus website for their help.

Nostalgia Funny Car - Round Three Eliminations

Going into the semifinals, all four racers were from the top half of the field, with #3, #5, #7 & #8 advancing to the third round. Opening proceedings was Geoff Monise, who was having the best day of his racing career, and it continued as he left first by a few hundredths on opponent Cory Lee, then ran away to a very convincing 5.627 - 251.16 victory over Lee's shutoff 6.593 - 153.21 effort. Lee got off the throttle when the car started dancing near half track, while Monise's pass was the quickest of eliminations. The good news stopped at the finish line though, as the large amount of death smoke coming out from underneath the "Quarter Pounder" indicated some serious pit work was going to be required going into the final round.

The other semifinal featured four-time defending Heritage Series Funny Car champion, Bobby Cottrell in the dominating Austin & O'Brien - "Bardhal Special" Camaro, pitted against the surprising Kris Krabill in the "Bartone & Lebor" entry. Cottrell showed his prowess on the lights, leaving on Krabill by five hundredths, then stretching his lead all the way to the finish line before stopping the clocks at 5.648 - 238.43 to handle Krabill's early shutoff 6.109 - 184.55 pass. However, the winning e.t. for Cottrell wasn't quick enough to earn lane choice for the final against Monise. And the cloud of piston smoke as he cleared the traps meant more work for the crew before the final.

Nitro Pro Comp - Final Round Eliminations

After two so-so qualifying sessions, and a pair of bye runs in the first round, the Nitro Pro Comp show whittled down to the last two racers standing. Both cars ran well, but Keith Wilson's too-quick 5.836 - 223.58 cost him the win as first-time March Meet contestant Lyle Greenberg was safe with a very good 6.006 - 206.10 pass for the event win. Despite being left on slightly, Greenberg kept his cool and didn't try too hard to catch the fleeing Fuel Altered and risk a breakout of his own.

AA/Fuel Altered - Final Round Eliminations

After some great performances in qualifying and the first two round of eliminations, the final round was a bit of an anticlimax in results, but more than made up for it in entertainment value. Both racers, Mark Whynaught in the "Nitro Mamba" and Dan Hix in the "Heatseeker" left the starting line close together, with Hix having a small advantage that soon evaporated in tire smoke. Just when Hix thought he was doomed, the engine in Whyanught's car went sour and opportunity knocked. Seizing it with his foot to the floor, Hix got back on the throttle and took the lead at half track, blasting across the finish line at 7.010 - 208.78 as Whynaught's silent mount limped across at 8.877 - 96.46 for the loss. A wild finish to another classic Fuel Altered race.

Nostalgia Top Fuel - Final Round Eliminations

In the final race of the day for Top Fuel, the #1 qualifier Bret Williamson took on #3 Jim Murphy. It was a great side-by-side battle from start to finish, as Murphy left first by just six thousandths, but Williamson crossed the stripe first for a true win margin of just 34 thousandths, less than a car length, in a race befitting the final round of the March Meet. The numbers read 5.731 - 256.06 for Williamson, and an oh-so-close 5.771 - 256.75 for Murphy. In the shutdown area, Murphy couldn't get his car stopped before running out of room and sliding to a halt in the sand trap. No damage to the car, other than a handful of burnt pistons in the lights. All in all, it was a great finish to a tough weekend for both racers and their crews.

Nostalgia Funny Car - Final Round Eliminations

As you might expect from our semifinal report, there was damage to both finalists, and unfortunately, especially for the fans, the Van Gundy, Clark & Monise team couldn't make the call. Taking the event win by simply staging was Bobby Cottrell as he made it official with a 29-second idle down the strip. Not the way most racers want to win, but it was a major event victory nonetheless.