The Bartone Bros. celebrate a second consecutive Heritage Series Points Title.

The Bartone Bros. celebrate a second consecutive Heritage Series Points Title.

New England Hot Rod Reunion, New England Dragway, Epping, New Hampshire, August 30, 2015—For the second consecutive season, Long Island City’s Tony Bartone clinched the Heritage Series Top Fuel Points Championship at the New England Hot Rod Reunion, one race before the season has even finished.

After his nearest contender for points, Bill Dunlap, red-light fouled in the first round of eliminations, Bartone became the NHRA Heritage Series Champion. To prove he deserves the 2015 Title, in the final round “T-Bone” won this decisive event with a swift ¼-mile elapsed time of 5.60 seconds at a speed of 248 mph, numbers which earned his Steve Boggs-tuned entry Low ET and Top Speed of the Meet.

“We didn’t want them to think we didn’t have it tuned up,” Bartone declared, after watching his final round foe, Dusty Green, also red-light foul. “We are running good. We got a good program, a good crew and Steve Boggs is on the money.”

Despite the powerful and convincing performance en route to a back-to-back Title, Bartone expressed both empathy for Dunlap’s folly (“That was a terrible way to go out,” he noted) as well as some humility.

“None of them are easy,” he added. “We won, but nobody in the crew is going ‘Ahhh Ahhh Ahhh’ with their chest out. This is called racing, not winning. Right now we are winning, so enjoy it but don’t be talking and boasting.”

Perhaps his rationale for muting any braggadocio is to prevent any proverbial pasting of newspaper clippings in his adversaries’ locker rooms. Indeed, not only will his opponents get a shot towards boasting rights at the season-closing California Hot Rod Reunion at Bakersfield in October, they can also take aim at the “Bartone Bros.” entry for the duration of 2016.

“We are possibly working on a new car for next year,” Bartone acknowledged when asked about returning to the front-engine Top Fuel wars next year. “We plan on running the same program. I don’t see any major changes except for a new chassis. Other than that, it will be business as usual.”

With that being established, when asked about any challengers‘ desire to thwart a potential “Three-peat,” Bartone poked at his competition.

“The guys have a mark to hit now,” he said. “Maybe we woke them up a little bit. I hope so.”-30-



Dusty Green means to light all cylinders in New Hampshire (photo by Brian Losness)

Dusty Green means to light all cylinders in New Hampshire (photo by Brian Losness)

New England Hot Rod Reunion, New England Dragway, Epping, New Hampshire, August 28, 2015—Long ago, somebody wrote that one turns over an apple cart not to effect change but only because it’s fun to see which way the apples will roll and, similarly, coming into this weekend’s New England Hot Rod Reunion, mischievous Heritage Series Top Fuel Dragster driver Dusty Green will attempt to capsize the current, established order.

“Nothing would be better than going into (Points Leader) Tony Bartone’s backyard and beating them,” Dusty said, in reference to the “Bartone Bros.” team, Green’s New York-based adversaries.

Currently 4th in points, behind Bartone and California racers Bill Dunlap and Adam Sorokin, Green is flying out of Oakland into Epping, New Hampshire today and, after strapping into Steve Harwood’s “Nitro-Hemi” entry, will attempt to ruin the weekend for those ahead of him in the standings.

“Bartone isn’t as dominant as he was last year,” Green opined. “And they were beatable in Boise (two weeks ago), except for the final round.”

At Boise, the Bartone Bros. whiffed as much as they hit, but set Low ET and Top Speed when it counted, in a victorious final-round joust against Dunlap. Still, because of that perceived vulnerability, after Boise Dusty was able to pique “Nitro-Hemi” owner and tuner Steve Harwood’s desire to make the long tow to New England from his base in Denver, Colorado. Despite Harwood’s team being under-funded and understaffed, they are not much of an underdog, particularly after three consecutive positive showings (including two semi-final results) this year.

“Harwood called me last Thursday and told me to get a plane ticket because we are going,” Green reported. “And our goal is to actually go there and win. Dunlap is also tough and has a great team, but it would be really cool to have a good points race going into Bakersfield (for the season-closing California Hot Rod Reunion). And the drama creates interest in the sport. If we can’t win it, I’d love to help play spoiler for Bill Dunlap.”

When it comes to unseating Bartone, Dunlap and his “High Speed Motorsports” team will take the assist. In fact, “High Speed”-tuner Tom Shelar expressed a desire and strategy similar to Green’s.

“We hope to take out ‘T-Bone’ either in the final or before,” Shelar said. “We can catch him in the points at this race and that should set us up for a showdown at the California Reunion.”

In two of the three final rounds this season, Bartone and Dunlap squared off and each driver has seized a victory from the other.

“The Bartone Bros. got their act together in the final in Boise, but I see them struggle when the track conditions are not able to handle the horsepower,” Shelar said. “I’m hoping the track at Epping is more like Bowling Green or Boise than Bakersfield. We have a strong combination that can get down tricky tracks, but we still don’t have a 5.50 race car. Maybe we can get a break in Epping to set us up for an all-out throwdown in Bakersfield.”-30-


Tony Bartone sets up a heist in Boise (photo by Brian Losness)

Tony Bartone sets up a heist in Boise (photo by Brian Losness)

44th Pepsi Nightfire Nationals, Firebird Raceway, Boise, Idaho, August 16, 2015—In a circuitous return to superior form, hot shoe Tony Bartone bagged Top Fuel Eliminator in Boise for the second year in a row, snaking his New York-based, Steve Boggs-tuned “Bartone Bros.” AA/Fuel Dragster to victory with a stunning final-round shot that also earned Bartone both Low ET and Top Speed of the Meet laurels with a blistering quarter-mile clocking of 5.66 seconds at 255 mph.

Despite those dominating last-minute numbers, “T-Bone’s” path to a repeat Nightfire Nationals title was fraught with uncertainty.

“I thought we were in trouble the whole weekend,” Bartone confided. “I tell people all the time ‘Give Steve Boggs one more lap.’ It took him quite a while to figure it out but he got his act together in the final round.”

At Boise, for three days the “Bartone Bros.” sleek rail shook and smoked as often as it grabbed traction, and when it did hook up the numbers paled somewhat to those posted by others, most specifically racers like Bill Dunlap and his “High Speed Motorsports” machine and Rick Williamson and the “Team Craig” digger.

As Bartone struggled, his fate seemed even more cursed as the new alliance between Jim Murphy and Roland Leong caught proverbial fire in the opening round of eliminations, when Murphy’s “WW2” dragster moved to the top of the class with an outstanding elapsed time of 5.77 seconds.

Which led to a semi-final showdown with Bartone, before which Jim Murphy said: “I just shut off at 5.4 seconds, and (still) ran 244 (mph). I am sure we will take it all the way this time, as we are racing Bartone.”

Murphy had been anticipating this match for months and having renowned repeat-winner and notorious nitromaniac Roland Leong in his pit only added positive equity to “WW2’s” odds. But unfortunately for Murphy, possible impatience led to an early foul start. Murphy wasted a fine 5.79 as the “Bartone Bros.” smoked the tires. Yes, the New Yorkers advanced courtesy of Murphy’s startling-line blunder.

“That’s the third time I’ve red-lit in forty years of racing,” Murphy said, struggling to remain philosophical.

Murphy’s gift set the stage for a final round rematch between Bartone and the man who recently snapped his 22-round winning streak in Kentucky, Bill Dunlap. Dunlap qualified in the #1 position with a 5.78 at 251 mph and blithely advanced through his opponents in fine style, including a semi-final round trouncing of the “Champion Speed Shop” dragster, where he recorded a 5.79 to Champion’s losing 6.27.

In the final, however, both Bartone and Boggs hit their normal cock-walking stride. Against Dunlap, Bartone left first and put up punishing numbers at every increment, adding a couple of hundredths of a second to his lead at each timing cone. Dunlap gave fine, if not futile chase, and in defeat posted an otherwise remarkable 5.74 at 245 mph.

“I was so elated to win, because we struggled and it was so unexpected,” Bartone exclaimed.

“If we didn’t do it, Dunlap would’ve had two wins and we would’ve been (holding the bag),” he added, in reference to bolstering his chances to repeat as NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel Champion.

“I never thought we were going to win, until I got the win light at the 1320,” he concluded.

But when asked if he ever saw Dunlap in their final-round race, he cracked wise: “Only when he got in his car.”

Yes, the Bartone Bros. are back. -30-

Pepsi Nightfire Nationals Top Fuel Eliminator Results, Sunday

AA/Fuel Dragster Round 1
Adam Sorokin, .049, 5.87, 218.80 mph def. Dusty Green, .098, 5.96, 208.36. Tony Bartone, .113, 5.84, 240.77 def. Ron August, Jr., .117, 6.56, 169.34. Jim Murphy, .086, 5.77, 243.55 def. Rick Williamson, .135, 5.99, 237.59. Bill Dunlap, .190, 5.80, 245.90 bye.

AA/Fuel Dragster Round 2
Bill Dunlap, .118, 5.79 seconds, 250.97 def. Adam Sorokin, .059, 6.27, 203.86. Tony Bartone, .089, 13.22, 65.76 def. Jim Murphy, -.039 red light, 5.79, 241.20.

AA/Fuel Dragster Final Round
Tony Bartone, Long Island City, NY, .109, 5.66*, 255.34 mph def. Bill Dunlap, Capitola, Calif., .187, 5.74, 245.05.


Jim Murphy and Roland Leong discuss strategy.

Jim Murphy and Roland Leong discuss strategy.

44th Nightfire Nationals, Firebird Raceway, Boise, ID, August 12, 2015—With High Speed Motorsports having recently ended the Bartone Brothers unprecedented 22-round win streak in NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel competition, the rest of the class has smelled blood in the water and have begun sharking. To that end, at this weekend’s Pepsi Nightfire Nationals in Boise veteran nitro racer Jim Murphy and his “WW2” dragster are set to pounce on a full field of front-engined fuelers.

“I think that (High Speed driver) Bill Dunlap winning Bowling Green gave everyone in the Nostalgia Top Fuel class a glimmer of hope,” Murphy explained. “It has been apparent that Tony Bartone has completely dominated our class for the last year and a half. High Speed and the Champion Speed Shop have been getting closer and closer and I believe we can now be part of that group.”

Earlier this summer at Bakersfield’s “Saturday Night Nitro,” an after-hours test with a new crew chief validated Murphy’s claim about rejoining the Top Fuel elite. That event saw the debut of the collaboration between Murphy and an infamous tuner he raced with during the ‘70s Funny Car wars, Roland Leong a/k/a “the Hawaiian.” After midnight, the WW2 fueler laid down the quickest run of the event, a spectacular 5.67-second 1/4-mile elapsed time at a mere 237 mph, with Murphy shutting off at 1000-feet.

That stunning run set the stage for Boise: When asked about if there was anything to prove this week, the “Hawaiian” was as cagey and contrite. “The goal is just to get more runs and data and learn what I think this car wants,” Leong said. “I tell everyone I work for, I only know how to do it one run at a time and it takes a lot of laps to figure things out.”

If Murphy and Leong want to go rounds—whether in pursuit of “data” or the actual Nightfire Top Fuel title, they will have to fight through a full quota of competitors. Besides Bartone and Dunlap, among those entered in the Boise’s 8-car eliminator are sophomore hot-shoe Dusty Green, March Meet runner-up Adam Sorokin in the Champion Speed Shop small-block Chevrolet fueler, fan-favorite Brendan Murry, Rick Williamson in the “Team Craig” rail, and Ron August, Jr. in the “Forever Young” slingshot. All of these teams are hoping to upend the defending series and event champion Bartone, despite any pleas to the contrary.

“Right now we’re not trying to upend anyone,” Roland said, downplaying his notorious take-no-prisoners competitive ethos. “Hopefully the day will come when they will be trying to upend us.”

“We are still in the experimental stage with the tune-up,” Murphy said, echoing Roland’s sentiments. “But we now know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel—and it’s not a train coming back at us.”


44th Annual Pepsi Nightfire Nationals “Idaho’s Premiere Racing Event”

August 13-16

Fri., August 14: Nitro Qualifying: 7:45 pm. Concludes: 10 pm

Sat., August 15: Nitro Qualifying: 2 pm, 7:45 pm. Concludes: 10:30 pm

Sun., August 16: Nitro Eliminations: 2 pm. Concludes: 9 pm

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