25th California Hot Rod Reunion, October 21-23, 2016, Famoso Raceway, Bakersfield, CA—In a season-ending final round between two Top Fuel titans nearly deadlocked in points, Tony Bartone snagged the 2016 Heritage Series Title for the third consecutive year by posting a stellar 1/4-mile recording of 5.60 seconds at 247 mph to upend rival Jim Murphy’s own Points Championship hopes. In that heat, Murphy stayed with Bartone until 300′ when Murphy’s mount developed a fuel leak and the run terminated.

Afterward, when asked when he knew he had his third consecutive title won, Bartone responded: “When the (mother-lovin’) win light came on.

“A few minutes ago, I received a text,” Tony said. “And the text said ‘You’re the man,’ and I instantly responded: ‘No, we have the teamall capital letters.”

Bartone’s laudable praise-distribution aside, for these two drivers to meet in a showdown that would decide the Points Title almost seemed like destiny. Going into Bakersfield, Tony was #1 in points while Murphy was #2, separated by less than one round of racing. Furthermore, during Reunion qualifying, Bartone laid down a 5.57 in his Steve Boggs-tuned “Bartone Bros.” dragster, numbers good enough for the #1 Qualifier position and Low ET of the Meet, while Murphy, driver of the Roland Leong-tuned “WW2” machine, was notched just behind in the second slot with a 5.62 at 264 mph, a clocking that held for Top Speed of the Meet.

During Sunday’s 8-car eliminator, Bartone first dispensed of Bret Williamson with a 5.58 and then faced a stiff challenge from Adam Sorokin and the “Champion Speed Shop” dragster, who were also within one round of claiming the Points Title. In their semi-final joust, Adam Sorokin left first with a startling .036 reaction time, forcing Bartone to give chase. At 1000′, Sorokin was still ahead but his Chevy-powered fueler caught fire and Bartone went by him just before the stripe. Bartone’s 5.68 at 254 mph held off Sorokin’s 5.81 at a parts-munching 234 mph.

Meanwhile, Murphy plotted his route to the final by, firstly, laying down a serious 5.62 at an incendiary 254 mph over Rick McGee, and secondly by posting a holeshot on his semi-final opponent Bill Dunlap who threw down a 5.61 in pursuit of Murphy who, with the help of a superior reaction time, won with a 5.64.

Before the final round, when asked about his confidence level going into the decisive final, Bartone said: “(I am) never confident. Confidence will kill you.”

When asked about the significance of the final that ultimately didn’t come his way, Jim Murphy said: “It’s what we worked for all year.”

For Murphy’s entry and the rest of the AA/Fuel Dragster teams, the quest for a title begins anew next winter. Nostalgia Top Fuel returns to action at the 2017 Good Vibrations March Meet in Bakersfield.




quartet-collage25th California Hot Rod Reunion, October 21-23, 2016, Famoso Raceway, Bakersfield, CAAs NHRA’s Heritage Series wraps up its season this weekend in Bakersfield, AA/Fuel Dragster drivers Tony Bartone, Jim Murphy, Adam Sorokin and Rick Williamson will finish the year at Famoso Raceway in a fierce and frantic four-way fight for  the 2016 Top Fuel Points Title.

Bartone, who is the two-time defending Series Champ in his family’s “Bartone Bros.” fueler, has less than one round of eliminations’ worth of points on both Murphy and Sorokin, and is 30 points ahead of fourth-place Williamson. With each round win worth 20 points, one could make the case that whichever member of this quartet of drag-strip demons lasts the longest in Bakersfield will take the Championship.

To that end, each team has its own tact.

“We’re gonna come out of the box aggressive,” Adam Sorokin, driver of the Chevy-powered “Champion Speed Shop” dragster said. “That track is never bad, so we’re gonna’ go after it from the first qualifier on.”

These are strong words coming from the driver of a fuel dragster that has been rumored to have run nitro percentages of 98% and above (!) this season. Continue reading