June 24th, AAFD HQ—After hauling cross-country to Kentucky in a successful bid to reclaim Top Fuel at the Holley National Hot Rod Reunion, Bill Dunlap and his tenacious “High Speed Motorsports” team have turned right around and are setting their sights on claiming the cash at the Inaugural “Mastercam Top Fuel Shootout,” held in conjunction with the notorious “Saturday Night Nitro” race this weekend at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, north of Bakersfield.
Despite Dunlap’s impressive triumph last weekend, this is no done deal. Standing in the way of his potential back-to-back conquests are a half-dozen of California’s fiercest AA/Fuelers, all of whom are poised to pull the trigger on the gunslinger who just snapped East Coast-terror Tony Bartone’s unprecedented 22-0 win streak in Kentucky. Those drag racers include four-time March Meet winner Jim Murphy and his sleek “WW2” rail, as well as 2011 March Meet champ Rick White in the “Neal & White” fueler. Rounding out the attackers are NorCal’s “Team Craig” manned by second-generation drag racer Rick Williamson and the “Overtime Special” of local hero Rick McGee. Both Williamson and McGee always run tough and have had previous Top Fuel triumphs at Famoso as winners of California Hot Rod Reunions. Additionally, Ron August, Jr. also hopes to upend all comers in Mike Fuller’s “Forever Young” machine.
“Yes we will be there,” perennial hard-charger Rick White said. “We are looking to be the fastest car there again!”
Having stopped the clocks at over 260 mph, White has a knack for setting Top Speed at Bakersfield, but the format for the Mastercam Shootout calls for superior ¼-mile elapsed times as opposed to sheer top-end power. Indeed, all front-engine Top Fuel dragsters will run at the 8:30 session. The two quickest will return at 10.30 for the winner-take-all Shootout title.
“My goal is to win by putting a 5.60 on the board, just to keep Bartone thinking about us,” High Speed’s tuner Tom Shelar said, from a truck stop in Oklahoma. Moreover, this race is training for his hard-working crew as they continue to chase Bartone and a 2015 Heritage Series Points Title.
“In August, we will be in Boise one weekend, then have a weekend off and then race in Epping,” Shelar confirmed. “It’s about being prepared to run back-to-back and perform at both races. The only way that works is to not tear up parts by having a tune up that can win — without blowing up.”
Somewhat similar to Shelar’s strategy is that of Jim Murphy’s, who is seeking a return to the winning form that enabled him to claim the 2013 Heritage Series Top Fuel Points Title.
“Stevie Wonder could see we’ve been struggling for over a year,” Murphy confided. To end cycle on the recent futility, starting at “Saturday Night Nitro” Murphy will be getting an assist from one of the most infamous and celebrated nitro-mongers of all-time, “the Hawaiian” Roland Leong. “Roland has worked on a lot of cars and seen a lot of problems, so my hope is he will be able to find something and help get us back on the right track.”
The plot thickens: Will Dunlap put up a .60? Will Murphy return to form with the aid of some Polynesian Power and march to the Shootout Title? Will White or McGee or Williamson or Ron August, Jr. take out the Man who took out Bartone? For $25 a carload, this Saturday you and your friends can see for yourself.
The Good Vibrations Motorsports Saturday Night Nitro presented by Budweiser is June 27, 2015 at Auto Club Famoso Raceway. Admission is $25 a carload after 3pm.
This event is billed as “All Things Nitro Under The Lights!” and — in addition to the Mastercam Top Fuel Shootout — features full complements of AA/Funny Cars, AA/Fuel Altereds, Top Fuel Harleys and Pro Mods.
8:00 Parade and Prep
8:30 Nitro Qualifying
10:30 Nitro Shootout
More info here: famosoraceway.com