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


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