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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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Champion Speed Shop lights up Boise, Idaho.



August 7, 2014, AA/FD HQ—Despite a start-and-stop 2014 season, Adam Sorokin, driver of the Chevy-powered “Champion Speed Shop” AA/Fuel Dragster, is spooling up to spoil the hopes of his competition at this weekend’s Pepsi Nightfire Nationals in Boise, Idaho.

Sorokin welcomes the challenge of taking down the likes of Tony Bartone, a New York-based dragster driver who has dominated the front-engine Top Fuel circuit thus far in 2014 with back-to-back wins at the Bakersfield March Meet and Bowling Green, Kentucky.

“We can run well at Boise,” Sorokin said. “That track doesn’t necessarily reward the big-power cars, but the one that can get down the track at the end of the night. The trick is being there at the end.”

In 2014 Sorokin posted a semi-final finish in Bakersfield, but the team opted to skip Bowling Green.

“After the March Meet, we were only 3 or 4 points from being in 3rd place in the championship,” Sorokin said. “Not going to Bowling Green hurt us points-wise and dropped us to 8th. So not really being in contention for another championship, we just want to win the remaining races.”

Last week the team underwent private tests to raise performance and lower expenses.

“We’ve been working to get the combination to reduce the work the guys have to do between rounds and stop forcing us to pay these piston manufacturers so much of our money!” Sorokin exclaimed.

With three races left on the calendar, Sorokin is poised to upend the hopes of anybody in his way, meaning not only Bartone’s but also those of Jim Young, who is second in points and tenaciously giving chase.

At Boise, Young will be in his third different dragster in as many races. Having towed his own small-block Chevy-powered fueler from his home in Wisconsin to Bakersfield in March, and then commandeering the McClain’s Brothers’ big-block Bowtie rail at Kentucky in June, this weekend Young will be stabbing and steering a Chrysler-derivative Hemi.

“(This is my) first hemi,” Young confirmed, while thanking Utah-based dragster owner Steve Harwood for the opportunity to remain in contention for the Top Fuel Title. “I hope the wick’s longer than a Chevy’s.”

Despite long odds of catching the 2014 AA/FD Heritage Series Points leader, Young remains cagey and optimistic. “I hope to face Bartone in the first round. Go big or go home.”

In the way of Sorokin, Young and Bartone’s aspirations will be a cluster of California-based hitters, including, Jim Murphy, Rick White, Rick Williamson, and Terry Cox.

One factor working for Young: The Harwood-prepped “Nitro-Hemi” entry won Top Fuel at Boise last year. One factor is Sorokin’s favor: He likes upsetting apple carts, only to see which way the apples roll.

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(photo by Chris Graves)

(photo by Chris Graves)



June 15, 2014, AA/FD HQ—In consecutive NHRA Heritage Series events, AA/Fuel Dragster driver Tony Bartone has unleashed blistering back-to-back attacks on his drag-strip adversaries, taking Top Fuel Eliminator Saturday at the 12th Annual Holley Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, KY.

This season Tony and Michael Bartone, who hail from New York, have toted their operation to Bakersfield and then Bowling Green, and, under the tutelage of tuner Steve Boggs, have yet to lose a round of racing. In Kentucky, they set the bar on Friday, qualifying in the #1 position while laying down a stout quarter-mile elapsed time of 5.83 seconds.

In eliminations, the Bartone Bros. entry only got stronger, posting three consecutive 5.7-second clockings. After soloing in the first round with a 5.75, in the semi-finals Bartone dispatched defending Bowling Green winner and 2013 Heritage Series Points Titlist, Jim Murphy, 5.76 to 5.87. For the event win, Bartone outran scrappy crowd favorite Jim Young.

Against Young, who runner-upped with a 6.04 in Ernest and Stephen McClain’s big-block Chevy-powered “Tri-State Racing” machine, Bartone not only won the event, he also set Top Speed of the Meet with a stellar 254.81-mph blast.

Bartone’s speed was just a nano-tick faster than that of Dave Hirata’s, who had posted a 254.71-mph top-end charge while qualifying second in Dale Suhr’s “Orange Crate” railjob out of Iowa.

In fact, Indiana-based front-engine Top Fuel freshmen Hirata posed the most serious challenge to Bartone’s win streak, having turned Low ET of the Meet in the first round of eliminations with a sizzling time of 5.74 seconds. However, Hirata’s threat was snuffed when a reverser malfunctioned in the second round of eliminations, enabling Hirata’s competition, Young, to advance to the final round unopposed.

The next Top Fuel points race in the NHRA Heritage Series is the Pepsi Nightfire Nationals, August 7-10 in Boise, Idaho.

Bartone defeats Tri-State Racing

Bartone defeats Tri-State Racing (photo by Chris Graves)



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