--- Home Page
--- What's New
--- Features
--- Features
--- E-mail

The latest update as of March 9, 2023

Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals

After a four day NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event, the "Baby Gators", then three days of Pro testing, the 52nd running of the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals started this morning at Gainesville Raceway. By the time the smoke clears on Sunday afternoon, it will be 11 straight days of running at the track. And quite a few racers have been there for all eleven days.

All the PRO fields are full, and Top Alcohol Dragster has 22 entries, but no late surge of last-minute applications arrived for the Alky Funny Cars, leaving them with just nine cars for what was advertised as a 16-car field. I guess everyone is still waiting for all the injected nitro funnies to magically appear and save the class. Or not.

The Top Alcohol cars have one qualifying session today, then things get serious tomorrow with two sessions for the Pro cars and two more qualifier for the alky/nitro burners. Saturday sees the final two qualifying sessions for the Pro racers, and the first two rounds of eliminations for the Top Alcohol gang. As always, final eliminations are on Sunday.

Saturday photos and reports from the March Meet

After a few days of "radio silence", our faithful Colorado correspondent, Dale Fackler recovered enough from his "drive from hell" home from the March Meet to go through his photos and send off a bunch for us to post. Now all we have to do is find time to get it done in a timely manner. We've managed to post almost all of the Saturday photos, but there's still the captions and details to fill in. That will take a day or three.

We've got a raft of photos of our favourite local Top Fuel racer, Phil Ruskowski (Victoria, BC) and we'll be posting most of them separately tomorrow.


Bruce Boardman - 'Bad Obsession' - D/G --- The Roach Coach

(LEFT) We're starting with some sportsman shots, this one featuring Bruce Boardman, running in D/Gas with his '55 Chevy, aptly titled "Bad Obsession".

(RIGHT) Shifting to a completely different animal, we've got what used to be called a "Competition Coupe", but unfortunately we have no idea what eliminator this car competes in or who the driver is. It appears to be loosely based on a Fiat Topolino, but there's several of them competing in different categories so we'll just have to call this one "unidentified".

NOSTALGIA TOP FUEL - Qualifying Session #2

The pressure was squarely on the non-qualified, or at least not safely qualified drivers going into this session. With a not terribly stiff 6.160 bump spot, held down by Jim Murphy, and some very heavy hitters sitting directly below him, all signs pointed to an intense session of Top Fuel competition. With one final session on tap for late in the day, everyone wanted to make this session count.

Tyler Hester - 'Overtime Special' --- Michael Anderson

(LEFT) Already solidly in the field in the #4 spot, Tyler Hester and the gang working on the "Overtime Special" inched up the ladder a few hundredths, from Friday's 5.893 to an even better 5.874 - 221.42 time, despite a rather early shutoff.

(RIGHT) Coming all the way from Texas, Michael Anderson also picked up a bit from his first session 6.466, but it wasn't nearly enough, as his 6.361 - 215.31 effort left him four spots short of making the 8-car field.

Bryan Hall - 'H&H Nomad' --- Bryan Hall - 'H&H Nomad'

Qualified in the #6 spot coming into the session with a 6.022 - 242.45, Bryan Hall in the "H & H Nomad" entry was able to break into the 5-second zone with a stronger 5.906 - 226.96 that moved him up one rung to #5 on the ladder. Despite getting off the throttle a little early, the Nomad showed some solid potential going into eliminations.

Phil Ruskowski - Xibitionist --- Phil Ruskowski - Xibitionist

Phil Ruskowski - Xibitionist --- Phil Ruskowski - Xibitionist

After jumping out of the groove and heading for the centerline, a few hundred feet into Friday's first session, Victoria, BC's Phil Ruskowski hoped for a much better result in his second attempt. However, the "Xibitionist" ran out of power early and coasted to a 7.341 - 144.66 that left him outside the field in the #14 position.

Adam Sorokin - 'Champion Speed Shop' --- Pete Wittenberg - 'Circuit Breaker'

(LEFT) It was another disappointed team, as usual qualifiers, the ""Champion Speed Shop" car with Adam Sorokin at the wheel, failed to make the cut for the first time in several years. After carding a 6.307 - 193.18 in the first session, they only improved to a 6.234 - 210.18 in this second session, leaving them just one more chance to break into the field.

(RIGHT) Sitting at the top of the list after the first day with a solid 5.820 - 227.46 pass, the "Circuit Breaker" car, driven by Pete Wittenberg, managed to hang on to the top rung despite not improving in this session. Fortunately, the next two drivers on the ladder also failed to better their Friday times.

Shayne Stewart

Transplanted Australian, Shayne Stewart, who now lives in Orange, CA, didn't have any better luck this time around, and remained in the #13 spot with his Friday 6.743 - 135.67 performance.

NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session #3 (FINAL)

Drew Austin - 'Pro-Max Racing' --- Drew Austin - 'Pro-Max Racing'

Pulling up to the stage beams under the watchful eye of father Pat, young Drew Austin readied the Boss 429 Ford-powered "Pro Max Racing" entry for another quick pass. They came into this final session in the #8 position with a strong 5.757 - 241.07, but failed to better those numbers and finished qualifying in the middle of the field in the eighth spot. It was interesting to note though that their 252.28 mph speed in Friday's first qualifier, indicated some serious horsepower under the Mustang "Cobra" body.

Billy Morris - 'Problem Child' --- Brad Thompson - 'Jailbreak'

(LEFT) The "Problem Child" didn't quite live up to its nickname after carding a 5.873 - 235.02 in Friday's first session, but Billy Morris and crew chief Eddie Knox weren't able to better that run in the second or third qualifiers. Morris sat #9 after the first session, dropped to #11, and finally landed in the #12 spot as qualifying closed.

(RIGHT) Always contending for the best "BUG" (back-up girl) award, Brad Thompson rebounded from a first session 6.455 pass to a strong 5.889 at a booming 258.22 in Friday's second round. He contiuned his upward trajectory in the finals session, pushing the "Jailbreak - System 1" Camaro to an even better 5.839 to snag the #11 spot in the final order.

Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' --- Matt Bynum - 'Nitro Nick'

(LEFT) Receiving able assistance from Heidi Austin-Root in reversing after the burnout, Bobby Cottrell followed her direction to put the "Bardahl Special" in the right spot for a good launch. It certainly worked well as Cottrell dropped a bomb on the rest of the field, blasting into the 5.60's with a low qualifying 5.661 - 256.50 to snatch the top spot away from Tim Boychuk's 5.692 pass on Friday.

(RIGHT) Still having trouble getting the car up to speed, Tim Bynum and the "Nitro Nick" Firebird did improve from a no time in the first session, to a 7.418 in the second session, and finally a 6.142 - 225.60 in the final qualifier. Unfortunately, that placed him #17 in a 16-car field. However, redemption came later in the day when Geoff Monise announced that the "Quarter Pounder" was broken and wouldn't make the first round of eliminations. That opened the door and Bynum happily accepted his second chance.

Jim Maroney - 'Speed Sport' --- Rian Konno - 'Kazanjian, Lemon & Konno'

(LEFT) With NHRA Top Fuel racer Jim Maroney at the controls, the "Speed Sport" Omni started his weekend in the #10 after Friday's first session, but and was able to improve on his initial 6.205 - 229.16 pass, cranking out a 6.112 - 238.17 in the second session, but falling to #14 in the process. Things didn't get any better for Jim in his final qualifier and he slipped one more notch to #15 in the final order.

(RIGHT) Opening his card with a 26-second pass on Friday, then improving to a 6.554 - 136.37 on his second try to hang on to a very tenuous bump spot, Rian Konno was unable to better that time in the final session and finished qualifying in the #18 position and on the outside looking in as eliminations began. It was a hard landing for the usually hard running "Lemon, Kazanjian & Konno" team.

Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro'

Hoping to move up the charts from his #15 spot in the field, Chris Davis was unable to better the "Old School Nitro" car's Friday best of 6.132, and saw himself drop to the last spot, #16, and a first round pairing with Bobby Cottrell. Both are Washington state cars, but on very different ends of the performance spectrum.

AA/FUEL ALTERED - Qualifying Session #2 (FINAL)

After just eleven cars got down the track in Friday's only qualifying session, there were a full "baker's dozen" (13) cars in the lanes for Saturday's second qualifier. Just eight cars would qualify in the 6.00-indexed field, but the session started with Mike Halstead on the bump spot with a rather weak 7.45 e.t.

James Generalao Jr. - 'Impatient' --- Johnny West - 'Plan A'

(LEFT) Not appearing on the qualifying sheets after Friday's session, the Las Vegas-based "Impatient" '23 T of James Generalao Jr. made a big statement in the final qualifying session with a 6.137 at only 199.61 mph as he shut off early to stay above the 6.00 index. The pass was good enough to land in the top half of the field in the #3 position.

(RIGHT) A veteran of blown fuel cars since the early 1970's, Arizona's Johnny West was sitting #2 on the ladder going into this final session, but dropped all the way to #6 as he was unable to replicate or better his Friday 6.217 - 215.26 performance.

Bob Godfrey - 'Burnin' Money' --- Dylan Winefsky - 'Nitro Moose'

(LEFT) With nowhere to go but up after barely getting to the finish line on Friday and sitting at the very bottom of the field, Bob Godfrey made his second attempt in the aptly named "Burnin' Money" '23 "T" truck, but he didn't have much better luck, finally stopping the clocks at 19.589 - 55.67 to sit at the very bottom of the final qualifying list in the #13 position.

(RIGHT) Hoping to followup his breakout performance at the 2022 March Meet, where he ran in the 6-teens and made it to the semifinals, second generation driver Dylan Winefsky piloted the "Nitro Moose" '32 Bantam to low e.t. of Friday's qualifying round, pounding out a 6.192 - 223.50 to lead the field going into the final session. He ran slightly better in this session, cranking out a 6.176 - 219.51 but saw his placing drop three spots to #4 in the final order. All in all, a great start to the weekend for the Arizona youngster.

Derrick Moreira - 'Nitro Junkies' (near lane) 
vs Matt Leonard- 'Nitro Rat' (far lane) --- Derrick Moreira - 'Nitro Junkies' (near lane) 
vs Matt Leonard- 'Nitro Rat' (far lane)

Doing double duty with his "Nitro Junkies" '48 Fiat and his new Nostalgia Funny Car, Derrick Moreira was hoping to make a big jump up the ladder from outside the field in the #9 spot after running 7.877 - 110.11 in the first qualifier. He did just that with a very much improved 6.187 - 200.95 in Saturday's lone session, good enough to grab the #5 spot in the field going into eliminations. Visible in the far lane in the right photo was Matt Leonard in his "Nitro Rat" as he was bumped out of the show by Moreira's run. Leonard was #6 going into the final session but fell to #9 after failing to better his earlier 6.737 - 204.45 effort.

Jason Pettit - 'Hell Fire II' --- Keith Wilson - 'Witch Doctor' - NPC

(LEFT) With what appears to be a very unfinished car, the stretched nose '48 Fiat Topolino "Hell Fire II", driven by Jason Pettit laid down a 6.443 - 222.84 on Friday to grab the #5 spot in the field. He wasn't able to improve on those numbers Saturday and saw his ranking drop to the #8 spot, but still in the field for eliminations.

(RIGHT) Our last AA/Fuel Altered was actually qualifying for the Nitro Pro Comp show as the "Witch Doctor" has shown a penchant for running quicker, and sometimes much quicker than the 6.00 Fuel Altered index. Driver Keith Wilson showcased that trait again on Friday with a 5.738 e.t. at "only" 218.05 mph. That was enough to break out of the 5.90-index set for the Pro Comp field. On this pass he was able to tame the car down to a 6.352 - 161.23, by shutting off at 1000' mark.

NOSTALGIA FUNNY CAR - Eliminations Round #1

Cory Lee - 'Pedaler' --- Cory Lee - 'Pedaler' (near lane) vs 
Derrick Moreira (far lane)

In the right lane, it's itinerant drag racer extraordinaire Cory Lee in Gary Turner's "Pedaler" Challenger, coming into the opening match of the first round of eliminations from the #3 qualifying position. Facing him in the far lane was the mostly obscured entry of Hawaii's Derrick Moreira who sat #14 on the ladder. The drivers left together, but Lee had to pedal the car right off the line and fell back quite a bit before pounding on the loud pedal to the tune of a 6.367 - 247.84, but it wasn't nearly enough to catch Moreira's first time in the five's 5.955 - 227.34 effort.

Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour' --- Chris Davis - 'Old School Nitro'

(LEFT) With almost all the cards in his favour, Canada's Tim Boychuk was ready to race in his Twig Ziegler-tuned "Happy Hour" Camaro. Opponent Jim Maroney (not shown) qualified 13 spots below Boychuk and finished well back in this race, as his 6.080 - 211.23 couldn't begin to keep up with Boychuk's very strong 5.774 - 247.75 blast. Maroney did get the "Speed Sport" launched first, but his three hundredths advantage was gone before they passed the 60' timers.

(RIGHT) The biggest David vs Goliath match in the field was next, as the #16 qualifier, Spokane's Chris Davis, in his "Old School Nitro" Arrow faced the top dog in the field, the Austin & O'Brien "Bardahl Special" with Bobby Cottrell in the saddle. Davis gave it his best shot with a decent 6.176 - 117.34, but Cottrell trainlengthed him early and ran away to a 5.685 - 254.62 to nearly match his low e.t. of the meet, a 5.661 recorded in the final qualifying session.

Kris Krabill - 'Bartone & Lebor Racing' (near lane) 
vs Ryan Hodgson - 'Bubble Up - Pacemaker' (far lane) --- Tim Boychuk - 'Happy Hour'

(LEFT) With a very colourful Darrell Gwynn banner on the side of the "Bartone & Lebor" car, Washington State's Kris Krabill faced Ryan Hodgson in the (mostly obscured) "Pacemaker - Bubble UP" Firebird. With a nearly three tenths advantage in qualifying e.t.'s, Krabill added to that advantage by leaving on Hodgson by nearly a tenth, then running away to a low e.t. of the round 5.667 - 247.97 as Hodgson slowed to a 6.313 with a lot of death smoke trailing him through the lights.

(RIGHT) On the return road, with Derrick Moreira's car behind him and his own car on the far side, is a happy first round winner, Tim Boychuk, heading back to the pits. Boychuk had jumped out of his tow vehicle to watch the Krabill vs Hodgson race.

Brad Thompson - 'Jailbreak' BUG --- Tony Jurado - 'Capitol Punishment'

(LEFT) We haven't got much of the car in this shot, but all of Brad Thompson's reverse gear assistant, before he blasted to a new career best e.t. - by a bunch - at 5.671 - 254.90 to easily outdistance Kamaka Pocock (not shown), who clocked in at 5.877 - 249.16 in the losing effort.

(RIGHT) Up to the 1000' mark. Tony Jurado in the "Capitol Punishment" Camaro was running neck-and-neck with opponent Billy Morris (not shown) before the "Problem Child"'s engine expired in a large cloud of smoke. Morris had an eight hundredths reaction time advantage and was running well before the blowup. Jurado got the win with a 5.901 - 251.30, while Morris coasted across the stripe at 6.250 - 175.50 for the loss.

There were two more pairs in the first round but unfortunately we don't have photos of those matches. There was a very lengthy cleanup from Morris's engine explosion, and with the light quickly fading, and temperatures falling even faster, our photographer made the wise decision to head for the motel and warm up. The first pair that ran after the Morris vs Jurado race were Ryan Horan and Mike Peck Sr., and they engaged in a very entertaining pedalfest, with both drivers working the throttle hard before Horan stopped the timers at 8.173 - 232.47, while Peck finished second at 8.526 - 175.50. For the record, Peck did leave first, by a .153 to .309 (!!) margin, but the margin at the finish line was still nearly two tenths of a second.

The first round ended with Drew Austin easily advancing over Matt Bynum by a 5.855 - 247.02 to 6.590 - 155.29 verdict. Austin also left first by nearly half a tenth before running away from Bynum's early shutoff effort, as he trailed copious clouds of smoke going into the lights. And that put a wrap on Saturday's action at the Good Vibrations March Meet.


Due to work commitments, our intrepid photographer, Dale Fackler had to hit the road back to Colorado as it appeared that Sunday was going to be a total rainout. The hard working Famoso track crew did get the surface dried long enough to run three of the four pairs in the Nostalgia Funny Car quarterfinals before the rain came back and washed out the balance of the day's racing.

With the heavy air and cool track temps, the conditions on Sunday afternoon weren't great, but the first pair down the track, veteran Brad Thompson and upstart Derrick Moreira put on a good race. Conditions weren't bad at all, as Thompson backed up his first round 5.671 pass with an almost as great 5.676 to hold off Moreira's new career bests of 5.873 - 244.07 in a losing cause.

Next up were Tim Boychuk and young Ryan Horan, and it quickly got interesting as Horan put a major holeshot on Boychuk, with an .025 to .175 light. However, Horan didn't hold the lead for long as he faded near the top end, finally getting across the finish line at 6.097 - 193.10, while Boychuk cranked out a great 5.737 - 248.43 for the win. It wasn't enough to earn lane choice against Thompson in the semifinals though.

Matching wheels for the first 800' were Kris Krabill and Tony Jurado, with Krabill leading off the line by half a tenth. Things got quite in Krabill's lane before the 1000' mark as he coasted across the stripe at 6.346 - 146.07. Taking the winlight was Jurado with a very solid 5.776 - 251.77 effort to earn the right to face either Drew Austin or Bobby Cottrell in the next round.

That final pairing of the round saw close launches, with Bobby Cottrell taking a .021 reaction time advantage, and hanging on to turn on the winlight with a 5.697 - 256.41 over an oh-so-close 5.705 - 256.65 for young Drew Austin. The margin at the finish line was less than a car length in what was the closest race of eliminations. Adding to the drama was the intra-mural battle between the Austin family, with Grandfather Walt and father Pat on Drew's team, all of them facing Uncle Bucky and Cottrell on the other side.

The semifinals saw one very close race and one runaway. First out were Tim Boychuk and Brad Thompson and it was all over by the 60' mark. Thompson reacted first by a few thousandths, but instantly went into heavy tire shake, leading to a blower pop and just enough momentum to coast down to the finish line. Taking full advantage was Boychuk, as he slowed slightly with some burned pistons, but put down a decent 5.849 - 241.67 to advance to the final round. Facing him in that round would be the winner of the Cottrell versus Jurado pairing. Bobby Cottrell did his job on the starting line, leaving first by eight hundredths, then hanging on for the holeshot win, as his 5.821 - 249.76 stopped the clocks first. Tony Jurado gave it all he had with a tremendous 5.782 - 256.80, but he crossed the line abpout 3/4-ths of a car behind.

The final round was dripping with dramatic overtones, as the hard working Austin & O'Brien team had been thrashing between every round to keep the car running. There was hardly a run all weekend that didn't come at a price in parts and labour. On the other side, "Team Canada" was cool and calm with a combination of new parts that was working well. But it all came undone when they lowered the body behind the burnout box and shorted out the mag, killing the motor. With no chance to refire, Tim Boychuk could only watch in horror as Bobby Cottrell took the automatic win. And that one didn't come easy either, as the engine let go again before the 1000' mark, slowing the "Bardhal Special" to a 6.094 - 179.04 clocking.