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The latest update as of March 4, 2023

March Meet 2023

We've received a large batch of photos from Friday's first qualifying sessions, but we've only got time to post a handful of them today. Personal obligations are going to use up our time for the rest of the day. Look for the balance of the Friday fotos - and Saturday's - on Sunday morning. As always: stay tuned!

NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR Qualifying Session #1

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

(LEFT) Starting the season with a new determination and lots of new parts, Tim Boychuk ran into nothing but trouble on his first pass as the "Happy Hour" Camaro shook the tires, then went into a front wheel shimmy that broke the steering. The net result was a 30-second e.t. at 35 mph and a spot near the bottom of the field.

(RIGHT) Having a much better result than Thursday's explosion and fire, Bobby Cottrell whipped Bucky Austin & Ed O'Brien's "Bardahl Special" to a solid 5.803 - 250.64 to grab a spot in the top half of the field.

Drew Austin - 'Pro-Max' --- Mike Peck Sr. - 'Quote Wizard'

(LEFT) With a new look and new Mustang body, third generation racer Drew Austin fell in right behind "Uncle Bucky's" car as the "Pro-Max" team saw a 5.816 - 252.28 light up the scoreboards. With dad Pat and grandfather Walt calling the tuning shots, the "WAR Racing" team is looking for another good season after falling back a little, performance-wise, in 2022.

(RIGHT) After sitting out most of the 2022 season in favour of son Mike Jr., the "Qoute Wizard" Camaro of Mike Peck Sr. ran the first 5.70 of the event, with a very strong 5.754 - 253.04 showing that he wasn't just filling in for his son.

Tony Jurado - 'Capitol Punishment' --- Derrick Moreira

(LEFT) After spending two years and tons of money running an NHRA "Big Show" Funny Car, Tony Jurado brought out his beautiful "Capitol Punishment" Camaro at the final event of the 2022 Heritage Series season. He runner-uped at the California Hot Rod Reunion, and his opening pass here clocked in at 5.745 - 255.97 to grab at least a temporary hold on the top rung on the ladder.

(RIGHT) Our final photo from this session shows the still unlettered new car of Hawaii's Derrick Moreira didn't get the result he was looking for as the car broke and oiled the track, resulting in a DQ of his first qualifying pass.

NOSTALGIA TOP FUEL Qualifying Session #1

Frank McBee Jr. -'Valley Thunder' --- Bryan Hall - 'H & H Nomad'

(LEFT) After only one unsuccesful appearance at last year's final event, the "Valley Thunder" team, with Frank McBee Jr. at the wheel, came in Famoso ready to rumble. Their first qualifier put them solidly in the field with an early shutoff 5.909 - 225.52 that place them #5 in the 8-car field.

(RIGHT) Slotting in one notch below the Thunder gang, Bryan Hall in the "H & H Nomad" entry grabbed the sixth spot in the field with a 6.022 - 242.45 clocking. Not the quickest e.t. but a fairly big speed on the top end.

Bret Williamson - 'Forever Young' --- Dan Horan - 'The Patriot'

(LEFT) Last year's second place finisher in the AA/FD standings, and defending champion of the March Meet, Bret Williamson in the beautiful full-bodied "Forever Young" digger was on a good pass until the 1000' mark before clicking it to a 6.224 - 193.32 that left him outside the field.

(RIGHT) Concentrating on the dragster as son Ryan has the reins of the Funny Car, Dan Horan pounded out a very good opening lap of 5.840 at only 218.19 to grab the third rung on the ladder with the "Patriot" entry.

Phil Ruskowski - 'Xibitionist - Island Nitro' --- Phil Ruskowski - 'Xhibitionist - Island Nitro'

Back for another season of "dragon-slaying", Victoria BC's Phil Ruskowski and the "Island Nitro" gang have the small-block Chevy powered "Xhibitionist" primed for what they hope will be a season to remember. Their first attempt saw the car launch hard, then at the 300' mark jump to the right and head for the centerline, forcing Phil to shut it down to a disappointing 9.356 - 101.10 clocking.

Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations III' --- Brendan Murry - 'Runnin' Wild'

(LEFT) Last year's Heritage Series Nostalgia Top Fuel champion, Tyler Hilton in the now hemi-powered "Great Expectations III" car made a good pass to half track before pulling the pin and slowing to a 6.314 - 157.26 pass that left them well outside the first day field.

(RIGHT) Vetran SoCal fuel racer Brendan Murry in the full-bodied "Runnin' Wild" was another early shutoff victim, but his 6.100 - 195.70 was enough to grab a spot in Friday's top eight, in the #7 spot.

Adam Sorokin - 'Champion Speed Shop' --- Jim Murphy - 'WW III'

(LEFT) Still running the most unique car in the field, with the only canopied dragster in nostalgia racing, Adam Sorokin in the small-block powered "Champion Speed Shop Special" fell short of making the field on his first pas with a 6.307 - 193.18 that placed him #10 of the 15 cars that ran in the first session.

(RIGHT) Anchoring the provisional 8-car field was long-time runner and 2017 series champion Jim Murphy in his familiar Kelly green "WW II"

Shawn Van Horn - 'Titan Speed Engineering'

It took a bit of sleuthing to unearth the driver's correct name as Shawn Van Horn is now using his brother Nick's competition number. With the confusion cleared up, he drove the "Titan Speed Engineering" fueler through at least a burnout but didn't receive a timeslip for his efforts. We'll try to dig up the details later.

AA/FUEL ALTERED Qualifying Session #1

Running on a 6.00-index and trying to qualify for an 8-car field, the "Awful Awfuls" pits were overflowing with at least 13 cars, which included some new cars and drivers, and lots of the regular faces seen at Bakersfield. With just two qualifying sessions available, the stakes were high right out of the gate.

Jason Pettit - 'Hell Fire II' --- Rodney Flournoy - 'Godzilla'

(LEFT) Leading off the session was Jason Pettit in a rather weird looking '48 Fiat Topolino dubbed "Hell Fire II". Despite a flat black paint scheme and decidedly unfinished look about it, the car ran well with a 6.443 - 222.84 flashing up on the boards to put him solidly in the field in the #5 position.

(RIGHT) After nearly half a century burning nitro, Rodney Flournoy is still at it with his "Godzilla" entry. The family hot rod ran well to half track before shutting off early to a 7.108 - 186.10 that placed him #7 on the provisional qualifying list.

Cory Lee - 'Sheepherder' --- Mike Halstead - 'Over The Hill Gang'

(LEFT) Driver of almost everything that burns nitro, veteran Cory Lee has been at the controls of the "Sheepherder" for the past year, working out the bugs for owner John Aleman. They've been making progress, evidenced by a safe 6.330 - 210.90 clocking that placed Lee in the middle of the pack at #4 for the first session.

(RIGHT) Another veteran of Funny Cars and Fuel Altereds, Mike Halstead is now driving the "Over The Hill Gang" '23 T-roadster, and pushed the Donovan 392 engine to an early shutoff (lots of that going around, eh?) 7.450 - 163.35 to grab the #8 spot, at least temporarily. Interestingly, the car ran without a wing or any downforce inducing attachements.

Mark Whynaught - 'Nitro Mamba' --- Matt Leonard - 'Nitro Rat'

(LEFT) With a wild paint scheme on the "Nitro Mamba", driver Mark Whynaught clicked it off at the 1000' mark to avoid breaking out, with a #3 qualifying 6.249 - 209.26 pass.

(RIGHT) Sporting another eye-catching colour scheme, Matt Leonard laid down a pedaling 6.737 - 204.45 in the hemi-powered "Nitro Rat". Click on the image to see a larger view of the slicks wrapping up on the launch and the #8 cylinder puffing out some raw fuel.

In all, 11 cars made a pass in the session and the times ranged from Dylan Winefsky's low qualifying 6.192 - 223.50 to the bump spot holder, Mike Halstead with a 7.450 - 163.35. Only one more session remained on Saturday and the pressure was definitely on for the drivers on the bottom half of the list.

NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR Qualifying Session #2

Of the 18 cars that got down the track in the first session, only nine of them dropped into the 5-second zone, ranging from Kris Krabill's top qualifying 5.719 - 250.27 pass, down to the #9 sitter, Billy Morris, at 5.873 - 235.02. From there the e.t.'s quickly dropped into the 6's and slower, as evidenced by #10 (Jim Maroney's) 6.205 - 229.16. At the bottom of the 16-car field sat Rian Konno with a 26-second time. Even though there was another qualifying session scheduled for Saturday, the pressure to perform in this round was definitely in the air.

Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' --- Rian Konno - 'Lemon, Kazanjian & Konno'

(LEFT)First out of the lanes was the aforementioned Billy Morris in the Camaro-bodied "Problem Child". He failed to improve on his earlier 5.87 effort and saw his placing drop two spots to #11 by the end of the session.

(RIGHT)Wanting to get off the bump spot, Rian Konno pushed the "Lemon, Kazanjian & Konno" Mustang to much better numbers than in the first session. However, his 6.554 - 136.37 indicated that there was still work to do. Good early numbers went by the wayside at half track as he was off the throttle at that point. The verdict: still on the bubble going into the final qualifier.

Matt Bynum - 'Nitro Nick' --- Geoff Monise - 'Quarter Pounder'

(LEFT) After failing to show for the first session, Matt Bynum got the "Nitro Nick" Firebird across the finish line, but not very quickly as a 7.418 - 134.69 came up on the scoreboards. That left only one more chance for the team to get into the elimination field.

(RIGHT) Making a big improvement and climbing the charts was Geoff Monise in the "Quarter Pounder". Running for the first time without team founder Keith Clark, who passed recently, Dale Van Gundy and Monise got the Firebird into the 5.70's with a very good 5.769 - 251.02 to move up to #9 (from #15) and guarantee a spot in the field for race day.

Ryan Hodgson - 'Bubble Up - Paemaker' (near lane) 
vs Kris Krabill - 'Bartone & Lebor Racing' (far lane) --- Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro'

(LEFT) Despite some earlier misinformation that last year's illness replacement driver Nathan Sitko was behind the wheel, it was in fact Ryan Hodgson in the hot seat again in the iconic Gordie Bonin tribute "Bubble Up - Pacemaker" Firebird in the near lane. There was no improvement on his first session 6.653 - 194.97 as the blower banged on the hit of the throttle. In the far lane was Kris Krabill in the Bartone & Lebor Racing" car that featured the Darrell Gwynn charitable foundation. Krabill wasn't able to improve on his first pass (5.719 - 250.27) and fell two spots to #3 at the end of the session.

(RIGHT) Still going "Old School Nitro" in his '77 Arrow, Washington state's Chris Davis took one step forward with an improved 6.132 - 232.99 pass after clocking in at 6.224 - 231.83 in the first go-round. Despite the improvement, he dropped four spots from #11 to #15, with just one more chance to step up to a higher placing on the ladder, or simply stay in the field.

Bill Windham - 'Shakedown' --- Bardahl Special - Heidi Austin-Cottrell & crew member

(LEFT) Having more trouble was Bill Windham in the very colourful "Shakedown" Firebird, as he wasn't able to better his first session 6.931 - 142.67 effort and dropped from #14 to #18, outside the field and nearly half a second shy of the new 6.554 bump spot.

(RIGHT) Giving each other fist bumps before backing up Bobby Cottrell in the Austin & O'Brien "Bardahl Special" were Heidi Austin-Root and an unidentified crew member. They must have been celebrating after Cottrell's run as the car stepped up to a 5.732 - 253.52 to move up one spot on the ladder to te #4 position going into the final qualifying session.