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

The latest update as of August 7, 2023

52nd annual Nightfire Nationals

52nd annual NIGHTFIRE NATIONALS presented by BI-MART

It was one very long day yesterday, as the PRO eliminations finished just after 8:00 pm. The 90 minute rain and drying delay pushed the program back considerably, then a few oil downs, a major crash involving a Funny Car and a sportsman crash late in the afternoon pushed the finish well into the early evening. When we left the facility at 8:30 pm, there were sportsman eliminations still going but after three long days and nights it was time to take our leave.

Following a frustrating Friday dealing with my Nikon D300S at a race for the first time in five years, things got better throughout the weekend. Without the benefit of a large desktop monitor to get a really good look at the photos, there won't be any posted until tomorrow, and it will take most of the week to fill in all the gaps in that part of our coverage.

With the clock ticking and a deadline to make the last ferry from Port Angeles, WA to Victoria, BC, and get home tonight, we've got to keep this morning's report short. Much more detail and a full event coverage for the "Features" page will follow as time permits. For now, we've only got time for a quick recap of yesterday's action.


Six of the eight qualifiers were locked into the 5.80-zone, from Tyler Hester on top at 5.813 down to Bryan Hall in the #6 spot at 5.877. The last two cars in the field were well below those numbers, but the old adage reads "anything can happen" when eliminations start. It only takes a small error for the quickest car to fall against a much slower opponent.

Surprisingly, there were only two relatively close races in the first round, despite the small gaps between them in qualifying. However, there were some great performances, with defending event champion Bret Williamson in the full bodied "Forever Young" car leading the way with a low e.t. of the meet 5.763 - 253.04 to take a convincing win over the trailing 5.97 - 229.20 effort of Adam Sorokin. The elder statesman 0f the class, 79-year old Jim Murphy, nearly matched Williamson's e.t. with a very good 5.808 - 258.67 pass, to set a new top speed of the meet. The round closed with defending series champion, and current points leader, Tyler Hilton pounding out the best run of the weekend for the "Great Expectations II" team, a 5.779 - 256.16 to advance to the semi-finals.

The semis opened with a bit of an upset, as Jim Murphy slowed slightly to a 5.898 - 248.93 to turn on the winlight, as Williamson started smoking the tires at half track, pedaled, then started heading for the guardwall before shutting off. In the other pairing, Tyler Hilton earned his spot in the final with a convincing and consistent 5.806 - 253.28 run against #1 qualifier Tyler Hester, who smoked the tires, pedaled, then had the motor expire in a cloud of smoke.

The final round was delayed by a few hiccups in the program, but when they finally pulled up behind the starting line at 7:15, both teams were ready for a great race to cap off their weekend. Jim Murphy left first, by a margin of .015, but finished second by a little more than a car length, as his engine started going away on the top end. He stopped the clocks at 5.820 - 232.23, while Tyler Hilton kept all the candles lit to the finish line enroute to a new low e.t. of the meet 5.734 - 257.38. Hilton's win helped pad his lead in the NHRA Heritage Series points standings, with just two races left in the season.

Jim Murphy - 'WWII' (near lane) vs 
Tyler Hilton - 'Great Expectations II' (far lane)

It's Jim Murphy (near lane) in his "WW II" entry against Tyler Hilton in the "Great Expectations II" (far lane)


After two days of hard fought qualifying, the quickest eight cars squared off for a real battle royale to decide the Nightfire champion. With only one very glaring exception, the higher qualified cars won in the opening round. That exception was #1 qualifier - by a bunch - James Day, falling to the #8 qualifier, Ryan Horan. And it wasn't even close as Horan kept improving, nearly bettering his qualifying e.t. by a tenth of a second, with a great 5.737 - 254.47 lighting up the scoreboards. Day struggled to a 6-second early shutoff pass as the engine expired and left a trail of parts and oil on the track which resulted in a rather lengthy cleanup.

The other winners in the round ranged from multi-time defending series champion Bobby Cottrell, with an excellent 5.696 - 255.68, to Kamaka Pocock's almost as quick 5.711 - 255.37 close win over Mike Peck's very good 5.736 - 255.43 effort. And not to be forgotten, the round opened with Geoff Monise putting down a 5.762 - 254.09 in the "Quarter Pounder" to advance to the semifinals.

The competition got even tighter in the second round, as Kamaka Pocock continued his winning ways in Don Nelson's "California Hustler", eking out a barely half car length win over Ryan Horan. Pocock left first by a .022 margin, and stopped the clocks first with a winning 5.788 - 241.80 over Horan's oh-so-close 5.790 - 247.52 effort. The other pairing was decided on the starting line, as Bobby Cottrell got a big jump on Geoff Monise, with .069 to .144 reaction times, that made his slower 5.716 - 255.48 the winning number against Monise's quicker but later 5.682 - 253.85 low e.t of eliminations effort.

The final round was over almost before it started, as Bobby Cottrell's signature throttle whack as he pulled into stage must have disrupted the concentration of opponent Kamaka Pocock. The starter had barely flipped the switch before Pocock launched with a -.368 redlight, giving the automatic win to Cottrell's consistent 5.723 - 252.99. On Pocock's scoreboard a 5.641 - 248.71 appeared, but the time was ruled invalid as it was determined to be created with a rear wheel start. The win for Cottrell in the "Austin & O'Brien" Camaro increased their lead in the Heritage Series standings substantially as closest pursuer, Tim Boychuk, fell in the first round.

Geoff Monise - 'Quarter Pounder' (near lane) vs 
Bobby Cottrell - 'Bardahl Special' (far lane)

It's Geoff Monise in the "Quarter Pounder" in the near lane, versus Bobby Cottrell in the "Bardahl Special" in the far lane


With just two qualifying sessions, instead of three as the other fuel cars received, the altereds had no chance to sneak up on a tuneup and had to be ready to run right out of the trailer. Only one of the serious players failed to get down the track in Friday's opening session, but Keith Wilson took the "Witch Doctor" to the top - actually over the top - of the charts with his awesome 5.900 - 254.04 blast on Saturday evening. With the modified 6.00-index rule in effect, his e.t. became a 6.100, placing him #2 on the ladder going into Sunday's eliminations.

Wilson was in the first pair out on Sunday and tickled the "hard" 6.000-index (in other words: run under that number and you're OUT), with an incredible 6.004 - 249.95 to show everyone that he was ready to run roughshod over the field. The #3 qualifier, Johnny West received a bye in the next match when scheduled opponent, Cory Lee, was unable to make the call after the "Sheepherder" chassis broke in the final qualifying session. That race was followed by a very close duel that saw Mark Whynaught in the "Nitro Mamba" take a holeshot win by just two hundredths of a second over second generation racer Dylan Winefsky in the Arizona-based "Nitro Moose" '32 Bantam roadster.

The round closed with first alternate Shawn Callen in the iconic "High Heaven" taking the spot of low qualifier Vince Karstetter who ventilated both sides of the block in Saturday night's qualifying session (see below). Unfortunately, Callen was unable to get past Jason Pettit's 6.246 - 228.54 pass, as the "Hellfire II" advanced to the semifinals.

The semifinal opened with another bye run for Johnny West in his "Plan A" '23 T when Keith Wilson suffered engine damage in the in the opening round. While servicing the car, the crew found a handful of needle bearings in the pan and decided to not risk running again. West didn't take it easy as he kept the pedal down to the 1200' mark before clicking it to a 6.168 - 229.47 to earn his spot in the final. Remember what we wrote about the 6.00-index? Well, Mark Whynaught gambled with it and lost, breaking out with a great 5.987 - 231.71 clocking, as Jason Pettit took full advantage with a decent 6.301 - 221.74 timeslip.

However, as expected, West closed out the final by taking a convincing 6.156 - 233.03 win over Pettit's slowing 6.424 - 203.74 effort. West's string of runs ranged from a 6.155 and 6.119 in qualifying to a 6.078, 6.168, and 6.156 during eliminations. Amazing consistency for a AA/Fuel Altered and a true testament to a man that's spent half a century fine tuning his performances to remain competitive in an increasingly expensive sport.

Johnny West - Plan A

Here's Johnny West pulling into the staging beams in his "Plan A" 23 'T' roadster in the final round