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The latest update as of April 16, 2019

UNFC Season Opener at Tucson Dragway (Tucson, AZ)

United Nitro Funny Cars - Tucson Dragway

After a brutally cold Friday evening that saw very few cars get down the track with anything approaching a competitive pass, Saturday dawned bright and warm (at least until the sun went down at the desert facility). Two qualifying sessions for the nitro funny cars went off at noon and 3pm, then the first round of eliminations commenced at 6:00pm, just before sunset.

two versions of the 'Speed Sport' roadster as seen in the Tucson pits --- TR-4 - TR-6

A bit of old and new: (LEFT) Two replicas of the (in)famous "Ol Noisy", the rear-engined Speed Sport roadster that featured a nitro-burning early hemi for power, starting in the late 50's. They were renowned for having the loudest car around for quite a while, a by-product of 100% nitro (they would have run more if they could have figured out how to repeal a few basic laws of physics and chemistry), and long "weed-burner" headers.

(RIGHT) Back to the 21st century and we've got some sort of sports car (looks like a Triumph TR-4) running BIG tires and a big cowl-induction scoop. No word on times and speeds, but it looks plenty quick and fast.

United Nitro Funny Car Eliminations - Round One

James Day - 'Speed Sport' - AA/FC --- (left) Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' - AA/FC (right) James Day - 'Speed Sport' - AA/FC

(LEFT) Speaking of "Speed Sport", car-owner Jim Broome needed a replacement for the recently confettied "Candies & Hughes" tribute 'Cuda body that met an untimely end at the March Meet, and he came up with this '79 Omni that looks pretty sharp with the Speed Sport name, and nothing else, adorning its flanks as it burns out prior to its first round matchup.

(RIGHT) The lights are green and both cars are launching, with Billy Morris in the "Problem Child" Camaro on the left side, and James Day, subbing for an otherwise engaged Jim Maroney (racing Top Fuel at Houston), in the "Speed Sport" Omni on the right side. Morris took the first round win with a very good 5.913 - 234.04 over a gallant effort by Day, who stopped the timers at 6.146 - 224.55 for the loss.

Ryan Hodgson - 'Pacemaker' - AA/FC --- Ryan Hodgson - 'Pacemaker' - AA/FC

Two shots of the "Pacemaker" Camaro, owned by Ron Hodgson, driven by Ryan Hodgson, and tuned by a fellow Edmontonian, Bob Papirnick. After qualifying on top of the field with a very strong 5.776 - 248.66, he earned the first round bye in the odd-lot seven car field. Hodgson made the most of it, clocking a very good 5.815 at Top Speed of the Meet 251.67

Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special - AA/FC --- (left) Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' - AA/FC - (right) Danny Gerber - 'Wasn't Easy' - AA/FC

(LEFT) A big burnout in the "Bardahl Special" (aka Northwest Hitter) Camaro for defending UNFC series champion Bobby Cottrell preceded his first round pairing (RIGHT) against series newcomer Danny Gerber (tower lane) in the aptly-named "Wasn't Easy". And Cottrell certainly didn't make it easy on Gerber, pounding out a 5.858 - 244.16 to obliterate the early shutoff 6.610 - 147.83 time of Gerber.

Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour' - AA/FC --- (left) Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour' - AA/FC - Geoff Monise - 'Quarter Pounder' - AA/FC

Closing out the first round was (LEFT) Tim Boychuk in his hard-running "Happy Hour", as he burned out before facing long-time competitors Dale Van Gundy & Keith Clark.

(RIGHT) In that race, Geoff Monise (tower lane) driving the Van Gundy & Clark "Quarter Pounder" Monza (yay - it's not another Camaro!) lost on a holeshot by a razor-thin margin, with Boychuk turning on the winlight with a slower 6.054 - 225.75 to the quicker, but losing 6.052 - 229.51 of first round runner-up Monise.

Western Fuel Altereds Eliminations - Round One

(left) Sheldon Lofgreen - 'Arizona Thunder' - AA/FA - (right) Ed Middlebrook - --- (left) Greg Holman - 'Carbon Copy' - AA/FA - (right) Robert Winefski - 'Coyote Express' - AA/FA

(LEFT) Out of the left side is the very unique twin-turbo Hemi "Arizona Thunder" entry of Sheldon Lofgreen, while on the right side is veteran Ed Middlebrook in his flamin' Fiat called "The Myth"

(RIGHT) Coming off the line on the left side is Greg Holman in the "Carbon Copy" while on the right side is the "Coyote Express" of Robert Winefski

Rich Nasby - 'Full Metal Jacket' - AA/FA --- Mitch Bowen - 'Rust Bucket' - AA/FA

(LEFT) It's the "Full Metal Jacket" of Rich Nasby, while on the (RIGHT) the "Rust Bucket" of MItch Bowen launches into the desert night

United Nitro Funny Car Eliminations - Semi-Final

Ryan Hodgson - 'Pacemaker' - AA/FC --- (near lane) Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' - AA/FC (far lane) Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' - AA/FC

(LEFT) Already beginning to smoke the tires on the launch is the automatic winner in the UNFC semi-final, as Ryan Hodgson ran unopposed in the "Pacemaker" Camaro. His scheduled opponent, Tim Boychuk, certainly wasn't having a "Happy Hour" as his car sat in the pits with it's second wounded motor (blackened crankshaft) in two days (check out the "blowed up real good" photo in Saturday's report below)

The other semi-final featured a side-by-side (at least for a few hundred feet) battle between (near lane) Billy Morris in the "Problem Child" Camaro who faded to a losing 6.616 - 155.10, while (far lane) Bobby Cottrell cruised into another final round in the "Bardahl Special" of Bucky Austin with an early shutoff 5.952 - 223.99 clocking.

Western Fuel Altereds Eliminations - Semi-Final

(near lane) Mitch Bowen - 'Rust Bucket' - AA/FA (far lane) Sheldon Lofgreen - --- (near lane) Greg Holman - 'Carbon Copy' - AA/FA (far lane) 'The Redeemer' - AA/FA

(LEFT) Taking the win with a major holeshot, the "Arizona Thunder" (far lane) of Sheldon Lofgreen with a 6.975 - 177.91, over the much-quicker, but late, 6.862 - 196.92 of the "Rust Bucket" of Mitch Bowen in the near lane.

(RIGHT) In the near lane, it's Greg Holman in the "Carbon Copy" turning a 7.029 - 170.69 to take the winlight over the losing (far lane) 7.099 - 187.70 of "The Redeemer". That put Holman into the final against Lofgreen.

Unfortunately this is where the "film" ran out as our photographers (Bob & Ginger Snyder) decided to hit the long, dark, cold road for home while they still had some feeling in their hands and feet. Thankfully, through the miracle of the internet, we've got the numbers for the two final rounds.

In Funny Car, it was Edmonton's Ryan Hodgson taking the win with a solid 5.952 - 223.99 over an early shutoff effort from Bobby Cottrell who coasted across the line at 6.380 - 172.87. In the Fuel Altered final, they really went for the "full meal deal" as a slip-sliding, tire smoking, get-to-the-finish-line-at-all-costs finale, saw Greg Holman take the winlight at 7.179 - 162.16 over a valiant, but decidedly second-best 8.871 - 144.12 effort of Sheldon Lofgreen.

And that's a wrap for the first (of five) event(s) on the United Nitro Funny Cars association calendar for 2019. Next up is the Nitro Spring Nationals Invitational at Spokane County Raceway on June 21-22. It should be a good one, with much warmer weather, more cars, and a larger crowd. Be there!