Photos by Chris and Tera Graves/MaxCackle.com and Ted Soqui
Front-engined Top Fuel dragster teams and drivers have ventured to Bakersfield to race the March Meet since the late Fifties. The nitromethane-fueled tradition continues in modern times as the All American Fuel Dragsters coalition is set to unleash a combined 40,000 horsepower assault onto the hallowed Famoso Raceway quarter mile in an epic battle for a slot into 8-car eliminations and 200-plus mile per hour run at victory.
Following up on the establishment of national level Top Fuel dragster competition set in motion by the Smokers and Don Garlits at the first March Meet in 1959, two-time March Meet winner and three-time NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series Top Fuel champion Tony Bartone is on the way out west for from the east coast to do battle with California-based Top Fuel titans who are prepared to serve up supercharged west coast competition.
Four-time March Meet title holder Jim Murphy and crew chief Roland Leong have been busy desert-testing the fearsome WW2 Top Fuel dragster with eyes on a fifth event win and five-feat matched only by Don Garlits. Following a number of years inside a nostalgia funny car, Nitro Kitty Mendy Fry is back driving the hemi-powered High Speed Motorsports front-engine Top Fuel dragster. “I am more than excited to be back with the High Speed team, driving a car that is a serious threat to Bartone’s #1 seat”, said Fry.
South San Francisco’s Champion Speed Shop is set to fuel its small block Chevrolet up against the whale and elephant hemi-powered entries. Driver Adam Sorokin is confident that the Chevy can run the number and welcomes competition from all points. “I’m happy about that, we need different people out here. West coast. East coast. Doesn’t matter to me. I just want to put them on the trailer”, said Sorokin. Tedford & McGee are bringing the formidable Overtime Special into the fight with the hot setup from the Central Valley.
The Nitro-Hemi is traveling over the Rocky Mountains from Colorado to connect with driver Dusty Green who agrees with the more is better approach and feels the March Meet is where the action starts. “I think it’s going to be a shootout and a hell of a show for the fans. There are strong cars coming from all over”, said Green. From all over case-in-point is Phil Ruskowski, who is carrying the international front-engined Top Fuel torch south from Canada to put fire into his small block Chevrolet-powered Nitro Mouse digger in Bakersfield.
San Jose’s own Brendan Murry is hauling his 426 elephant-powered Hemi dragster out of his backyard garage towards Bakersfield while Tyler Hilton is ready to hit the big block Chevrolet loud pedal on the Great Expectations III after productive pre-season preparation. Bret Williamson was seen warming up the Mike Fuller “Forever Young” hemi-powered entry during a Famoso testing session last weekend and Pete Wittenberg is on his way to a license pass and subsequent qualifying in the KMA Circuit Breaker rail dragster.
The 2017 Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway is the Top Fuel opening salvo in the 5-race battle for in the 2017 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series run up. The New England Hot Rod Reunion fell off the schedule last year but the good news is Tulsa Raceway Park has stepped up to host the AAFD slingshot coalition at the annual Nitro Nationals September 22-23 and bring the series back up to a 5-race battle in which all races count.
After rain dampened pre-race testing efforts March Meet AAFD testing will officially commence on Thursday, March 2nd at 3:00. First round qualifying is scheduled for Friday at 12:30 with a second round slated for 3:15. Eliminations commence on Sunday at 11:45 AM in Bakersfield. Be there! As nitromethane is unpredictable at best, the March Meet schedule is subject to change. More information on the March Meet and a full event schedule can be found by clicking through to the Auto Club Famoso Raceway.
As more quarter mile nitromethane-fueled action is, in fact, better, the AAFD front-engined Top Fuel slingshot coalition will join forces at Famoso with unruly fuel altereds, vintage rear-engined Top Fuel dragsters, nostalgia funny cars, nitro-burning injected A/Fuel dragsters and an as yet unknown quantity of nitro-huffing entries dispersed through the Nostalgia Eliminator, 7.0 Pro and index ranks. It all adds up to the hot rod hootenanny of injected and blown nitro-burning drag racing action that can only be the March Meet in Bakersfield.
MARCH MEET NITRO SCHEDULE: SUBJECT TO CHANGE
WEDNESDAY, March 1st
11:00 AM – 5:00 PM: Open Test & Tune
THURSDAY, March 2nd
3:00 PM: Nitro Testing Session
FRIDAY March 3rd
12:30 PM: Top Fuel & Funny Car Qualifying Session 1
3:15 PM: Top Fuel & Funny Car Qualifying Session 2
5:00 PM: Fuel Altered Qualifying Session 1. Rear Motor Top Fuel Session 1
SATURDAY, March 4th
12:30 PM: Top Fuel & Funny Car Qualifying Session 3
3:15 PM: Funny Car Round 1 Eliminations
4:00 PM: Fuel Altered Qualifying Session 2/Rear Motor Top Fuel Session 2
SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY! March 5th
11:00 AM: Opening Ceremony
11:45 AM: Nitro Final Eliminations
2:00 PM: Nitro Semi Finals
4:15 PM: Nitro Finals
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