Tony Bartone: 5.53, 270-mph

March 9, 2015, Auto Club Famoso Raceway—In a fiery, spectacular clash of two distinct, different approaches to front-engined Top Fuel drag racing, New Yorker Tony Bartone chased down Los Angeleno Adam Sorokin in the final round of Good Vibrations March Meet in Bakersfield, while claiming Low ET and Top Speed.

Bartone shoes the Chrysler-powered, Steve Boggs-prepped “Bartone Bros.” rail, while Sorokin stabs and steers a small-block Chevy-powered full-bodied, canopied dragster. What these two nitro warriors have in common is a willingness to blow up their mills in pursuit of a second March Meet Title — and that’s how it shook out in what is the NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel season-opener: In the final round Sorokin launched off the line like a bullet. Bartone, who had more than a 1/10th of a second performance advantage over the rest of the AA/Fuelers throughout the event, gave pursuit. At 330’ Bartone figured to make his move but, instead, found himself a car length behind the hard-charging Chevy. And Sorokin’s “mouse” motor kept pulling: At half-track, Sorokin had six-hundredths of a second on the New Yorker.

This was something different for Bartone, who has had his way with the class all last season, and won every round of competition in 2013. As a further insult to his competition, he rarely keeps the throttle open beyond 1000’, shutting off early while blithely setting 1/4-mile elapsed time records for the Heritage Series Top Fuel class.

All of a sudden, this got serious and things looked pretty dire for the New Yorkers. And then at 800’ … BOOM! The Champion Speed Shop fueler popped the blower. The automatic shut-off systems deployed and as Sorokin’s parachutes came out at 1000’ Bartone finally caught the California car.

At the finish line, Tony went by for the win with his foot mashed horizontal: There, Bartone’s machine blew up in a cloud of oil, smoke and conflagration. After hitting the flame retardant, Bartone was on fire momentarily, but the numbers were absolutely incendiary: An unprecedented 5.53 at 270 mph for the victorious Bartone, to a 5.79 at 192 mph for Sorokin. Once again, just like at every event in 2014, Top Fuel Eliminator, Low ET and Top Speed belonged to Bartone. With the 5.53, Bartone broke his own Heritage Series Top Fuel ET Record.

“I had my worst light of the weekend in the final, which I am not proud of,” Bartone said. “I looked over at 1000’ and Adam was right there. I kept driving it. He blew up. I blew up. I was on fire and just got it stopped safely.”

And then, Bartone became pragmatic. “I just hope we can re-use the block,” he concluded.

Hopefully. But right now the Bartone Bros. are using everybody up.

Adam Sorokin leaves on Tony Bartone

March Meet Ladder

2015 March Meet Top Fuel Results

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Intense Top Fuel Test A Portent of Potent March Meet

If the recent, feral Famoso Raceway test-and-tune is any indicator, Top Fuel Eliminator at this weekend’s Good Vibrations Motorsports’ March Meet promises to be intense, with scores to be settled and agendas to be imposed.

Exclusive recent video of front-engine fueler racers ferociously preparing and testing their mounts for the March Meet can be found here:

At last week’s pre-March Meet test, among those rehearsing their routines and shaking out their machines was a “very young 72″-year-old Jim Murphy, who is seeking a fifth March Meet Top Fuel title in his “WW2 Racing” entry, a feat that will equal that of drag-strip legend Don Garlits. Another cagey senior blistering the Bakersfield concrete was 74-year-old, two-time March Meet champ Bill Dunlap, who is looking for a hat trick in Tom Shelar’s “High Speed Motorsports” AA/Fueler. Also at the test, the streamlined, Chevy-powered “Champion Speed Shop” dragster unveiled a new, diabolical look and what appears to be a longer fuse. All weekend, driver Adam Sorokin manhandled this beastly steed as it savagely sawed across the strip.

Others shaking out gremlins before the big race was the always-fierce Neal & White dragster, as well as Brendan Murry and Rick Williamson in the Team Craig entry, all of whom have set their sites on the rest of the field, in general, and returning champ Tony Bartone, in specific.

Sixteen entries are expected for Top Fuel Eliminator competition. Top Fuel Qualifying begins in Bakersfield on Friday, March 6th at 12:30 pm.

More on front-engine Top Fuel action can be found at

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TFwinner (1)



October 20, 2014, AA/FD HQ—For Long Island City’s Tony “T-Bone” Bartone, 2014 ended as it began: At Famoso Raceway north of Bakersfield, and with a no-quarter, relentless bombardment that annihilated the competition and left no survivors. At Sunday’s California Hot Rod Reunion, Bartone, the 2014 NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel Champion, drove through the field with the subtlety of a drone attack and claimed his fifth consecutive event win, as well as once again earning both Top Speed and Low Elapsed Time honors.

The Reunion’s final round of eliminations featured Bartone and San Diego’s Rick White, the same two drivers who fought it out at the season opening Bakersfield March Meet. On Sunday’s match, an anxious White fouled away any chance of stopping his New York nemesis, and the default win for Bartone meant that he ended the season undefeated. Yes, after five consecutive event wins and ten consecutive superior performance marks the Steve Boggs-tuned “Bartone Bros.” AA/Fueler was perfect for the entire year. This is utterly unprecedented in Heritage Series-style drag racing competition.

Bartone vs. Cox

Racers and race fans who watched the event unfold knew that history was being made. Among those who got the closest view was Sacramento-based driver Terry Cox, whose “Cheetah IV” dragster was Bartone’s second round victim. Cox cut a quick light, but by half-track Bartone began to drive around him. At the finish line, Bartone’s scored a ¼-mile elapsed time of 5.63 seconds and a top-end speed of 237 mph. Cox clocked in second-best at 5.96 seconds. In the semi-finals, Bartone squared off against Midwestern-based Jim Young, an aggressive and tenacious racer who had already secured second place in the 2014 Heritage Series Points Race. Like Cox, Young also left Bartone behind when the start lights flashed green, but his initial advantage was eventually overcome by the fierce half-track and top-end charge of Bartone’s Boggs-powered dragster. Young posted a respectable time of 5.76 at 247 mph, but Bartone turned a better 5.64 at a top-speed setting 256 mph.

This led to the final between Bartone and White. Earlier White had posted numbers of 5.68 at 254 mph, a performance powerful enough to give local supporters hope that, with some minor tweaking, the Neal & White entry would have enough to upend the Bartone juggernaut. These thoughts went for naught as soon as White red-lighted, however. Despite his starting-line foul, White blazed down the dragstrip in vain and never received an official time. Bartone, meanwhile, gingerly posted his slowest times of the weekend, and took the Reunion win with a clocking of 5.86 at 212 mph.

No doubt Bartone and his crew will relish and re-live their latest victory and its historical implications all the way back to New York. Their California-based competition gets to think about it all winter. -30-

CHRR Top Fuel Results 

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Terry CoxOctober 15, 2014, AA/FD HQ—Despite having their buttocks handed to them all year by an East Coast interloper, California-based Top Fuel teams will endeavor to save face and salvage their season. They have one race remaining on the 2014 NHRA Heritage Series schedule that they can use as a means for revenge: this weekend’s California Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway, north of Bakersfield. Their target: Tony Bartone.

By virtue of sweeping all four Heritage Series events so far, New York-based dragster driver Tony Bartone has earned the NHRA Heritage Series Title. That much is settled, as is 2nd place, a position claimed by Wisconsin resident, Jim Young, who has netted runner-up results in three races already. What is up for grabs is the Reunion Event win laurels, and the California crowd maintains it is theirs, almost as birthright.

The East Coast? The Midwest? New York? Wisconsin? Those states could be on another planet as far as the West Coast-centric AA/Fuel Dragster scene is concerned.

Among the California dragster drivers who have the best shot of not only upending Bartone’s undefeated streak are racers like Adam Sorokin in the explosive Chevy-powered “Champion Speed Shop” entry, Jim Murphy in the always stout “WW2” dragster as well as Denver Schutz in the fierce “RE3” machine.

During last year’s action-packed California Hot Rod Reunion Top Fuel Eliminator, Sorokin and Schutz see-sawed for the event win, and after a near-collision at the finish line, the victory was taken by Sorokin. Earlier that afternoon, Murphy claimed the 2013 Heritage Series Points Title. This year Murphy might have to settle for third place, and even that is up for grabs. And Sorokin and Schutz don’t need to drive around each other — they need to get drive around Bartone. -30–

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September 16, 2014, AA/FD HQFor the fourth time in as many events, this weekend an undefeated Tony Bartone helmed the “Bartone Bros.” AA/Fuel Dragster to yet another win in Top Fuel Eliminator, in this instance at the New England Reunion in Epping, New Hampshire. Moreover, for the fourth consecutive race this year the New York-based Bartone also set both Low ET and Top Speed of the Meet. His command of the class has been so thorough that with one race still left on the NHRA Heritage Series schedule, Bartone has already claimed the 2014 Points Title.

“People think we just showed up and dominated,” Bartone explained, when asked about the effort it took his team to reach this level of virtuosity. “In all honestly this is our fifth year of competition. We kept developing the program until we got it right.”

Indeed, the New England Reunion was another exercise in humbling the rest of the class. At Epping, Bartone qualified in the #1 position, with a ¼-mile elapsed time of 5.73, coupled with a Top Speed of 236-mph. In the final round of eliminations, Bartone had improved those numbers while dispatching #2 qualifier Jim Young, with a 5.70 at a blistering top-end trap speed of 271 mph to Young’s second-best 5.89. To his credit, Young and his “Tri-State Racing” Chevy-powered fueler made Bartone earn the victory, after Young left first with a .058 reaction time to Tony’s relatively tardy .108 starting line light. Young still had a wheel out on Tony at 1000’, but Bartone marched around his tenacious competitor.

But tenacity is a word also applicable to the Bartones.

“Somebody coined the phrase that this is a ‘California-centric’ series, and it is a California-based thing, but we went to them all,” Bartone said. “My brother (Michael) and I made a commitment to run all the events.”

That dedication paid off. But even after running the proverbial table four races in a row and clutching the 2014 Heritage Series Points Title trophy, the Steve Boggs-tuned entry of the Bartone Brother isn’t done.

In reference to the upcoming season-closing California Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway, Bartone said he’d be there.

“It’s on the schedule,” he confirmed.

His reason for towing all the way across the country to California one more time?

“We want to sweep the series,” he said. “That would be something in itself.”

The California-based teams have been put on notice. They have one more opportunity to save face, and possibly extract a little revenge. Arguably, the damage has already been done. But none of the West Coast Top Fuel teams want to see Bartone finish the season undefeated.-30– (c/o )


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September 11, 2014, AA/FD HQWith two races left on this year’s NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series schedule, all-conquering AA/Fuel Dragster driver Tony Bartone arrives in New England Dragway this weekend poised to clinch the 2014 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Top Fuel Points Title.

Thus far this year the New York-based Bartone Brothers and their crew have traveled across the USA to Bakersfield, Boise and Bowling Green, laying waste to all comers. They not only swept these races — meaning they have won every single round of competition this year — but have also posted Top Speed and Low Elapsed Time each time. All of that domination must be exhausting. Luckily for the Bartone boys, this weekend the Long Island City residents have a relatively short commute of 250 miles to the NHRA New England Reunion in Epping, New Hampshire.

Upon arrival there, Tony hopes to finish off the field and win the Points Title. The Heritage Series Top Fuel points are tallied by any driver claiming his best four finishes out of five possible events. With his current lead of 127 points, a New England Reunion semi-final finish for Bartone means he will be impossible to catch. 

One drivers who hopes to thwart Bartone’s plans — or at least delay the inevitable — is Wisconsin-based drag racer Jim Young, who is second in points. In New Hampshire, Young will be driving the Chevrolet-powered “Tri-State Racing” entry of Stephen and Ernest McClain.

 To claim the Points Title Young will have to win the next two events and Bartone would have to lose first round, or not qualify at one or both remaining meets. With that in mind, Young is not above resorting to chicanery and disinformation.

“I told Bartone that the race was rescheduled to the week after,” Young said. “So maybe he won’t show.” 

If Bartone fell for Young’s gambit, as soon as he checks his text messages and finds out the truth he will only have to haul his operation a couple of hours to Epping. If this year’s performance on the dragstrip is any indicator, he’d make it there in record time. -30-

 (c/o )


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August 11, 2014, AA/FD HQ—Despite a series of determined efforts by his competitors to staunch this year’s proverbial bleeding, at the Pepsi Nightfire Nationals in Boise, Idaho front-engine Top Fuel Dragster driver Tony Bartone won his third straight NHRA Heritage Series event and continued his merciless assault on anybody standing between himself and the 2014 Points Title.

Before the clutch dust settled in Boise on Sunday night, there was no shortage of optimism and bravado amongst Bartone’s adversaries.

“We want him first round,” driver Jim Young said, before adding: “Go big or go home.” Young, who was a distant second in the 2014 Heritage Series Top Fuel points, qualified in the #1 position at Boise with a ¼-mile elapsed time of 5.80 seconds and saw this race as an opportunity to upend Bartone and salvage his season. Others echoed Young’s sentiments. “Tell anybody that will listen, we are going to win this thing,” declared Frank Ousley, engine consultant on Jim Murphy’s “WW2” entry, who was slotted 3rd in the points race. “We want this next one!!!” the head of the “Champion Speed Shop” team texted, moments before lining up against Bartone in the semi-final round.

All strong words. None of which mattered. Deaf to the dissent and the bluster, Bartone continued his undefeated streak, and has now won ten straight rounds of drag racing in 2014. At Boise, after qualifying second with a 5.83 at 261 mph, Bartone drove around Ron August (5.85 to 6.13), Adam Sorokin (5.90 to 6.12) and finally Young, (5.76 to 6.39). In each of these heats, Bartone lazily spotted his competition the lead at the hit, and then furiously gave chase while relying upon his Steve Boggs-provided horsepower to blast by the other racer and get to the finish line first. The last round against Young was the most demoralizing to the other racers. Bartone’s 5.76-second clocking stood for Low ET of the Nightfire Nationals, and his trap-speed of 267 mph earned him Top Speed of the Meet laurels.

Which is merely following form for the Long Island City, New York-based racer. Bartone has not only not lost in 2014, in each event he also set Low ET and Top Speed. In short, Tony is crushing it.

And now, with two events left this year, and with Young and Murphy’s Points Title hopes not only unlikely but a very distant mathematical possibility, the remaining drama in the Heritage Series comes to this: Will Tony Bartone go perfect for the season? -30—

(The next event in the NHRA Heritage Top Fuel Series is the New England Hot Rod Reunion, September 12-14 at Epping, New Hampshire.)


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