Sat062016 National Hot Rod Reunion photos by Chris and Tera Graves –

The All American Fuel Dragster coalition is set for the second NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Top Fuel battle of 2017 at the 15th Annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion June 15-17. Drivers and teams are navigating towards Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky for the always volatile mix of qualifying and 8-car eliminations that propels front engine Top Fuel dragster tradition into the future one 5-second 250 MPH nitro-burning 1/4-mile at a time.

March Meet winner and current points leader Mendy Fry and the High-Speed Motorsports hemi-powered dragster are heading east of the Rockies along with fellow California-based top fuel contenders. Jim Murphy is on deck in the Roland Leong-tuned WW2 dragster and Dusty Green will connect with the Nitro Hemi. Adam Sorokin and the South San Francisco-based Champion Speed Shop team are loaded for a repeat performance of last year’s event win with their small block Chevrolet-powered rail.

“I think we’re going to the National Hot Rod Reunion this year more prepared than we ever have been in the past – but that place is unpredictable, so I think we’ll just have to race smart and be there to capitalize when the opportunities present themselves. We will come out of the box very aggressive”, said Sorokin.

After what could be described as a disappointing March Meet weekend in Bakersfield, three-time NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series Top Fuel champion Tony Bartone and the Bartone Bros. are headed south from Long Island City for battle with front-engine converts from all points. Wisconsin’s own Jason Greenwood and Jim Young are motoring out from the upper Midwest following a Memorial Day weekend run up at Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, Wisconsin where Young set a Nostalgia Top Fuel track record with a 5.76 at 234 MPH blast.

Paul Schultz is carrying the Spirit of Tulsa with him from Oklahoma and Tim Cullinan is on the way from Illinois with his Nitro Nostalgia entry. Julius Hughes is ready to rumble as a top fuel representative of the oldest speed shop in the southeast in his Atlanta Speed Shop AA/FD dragster. Tyler Hilton and his Great Expectations III entry are testing in Memphis prior to the National Hot Rod Reunion where he and his family are event Honorees.

Tyler’s dad and crew chief Bobby Hilton’s dad John campaigned a big block Chevrolet Rodeck-powered top fuel dragster in the 70s, and Tyler runs a big block Chevrolet his Great Expectations III entry. “It should be pretty great time. We are planning on qualifying and trying to take some people down”, said Tyler. The drag racing Hilton Family will join fellow event Honorees Wayne Jesel, Randy Payne, Mark Williams, Della Woods and Grand Marshal Eileen Daniels.

2017 National Hot Rod Reunion Top Fuel action gets underway with session one qualifying on Thursday, June 15th at 3:00. Session two qualifying is scheduled for Friday, June 16th at high noon 12 PM with session three and final qualifying slated for Friday at 3 PM. Eliminations commence on Saturday at 1 PM. Be there! Nitromethane is unpredictable at best. Schedule subject to change.

Because more nitromethane is always better than less the AAFD front engine Top Fuel slingshot dragster coalition will be joined by nitro-huffing Funny Car and Fuel Altered cohorts at Bowling Green. Nitro burning will continue into Saturday night after racing action concludes as the trademark Cacklefest makes its way into the evening with a parade and presentation of nitromethane past.

The 15th Annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion at Beech Bend Raceway Park June 15-17 is the second salvo in the 5-race battle for the 2017 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Top Fuel Championship. See the National Hot Rod Reunion page for spectator tickets, event schedule and more. The next race is Pepsi NightFire Nationals at Firebird Raceway in Boise, Idaho August 10-13. Head on over to for an upcoming series race schedule, news, points, results, rules and more.

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Qualifying Session One 3 PM

Qualifying Session Two 12 PM
Qualifying Final Session 3 PM

Eliminations Round One 1 PM
Eliminations Round Two 3:30 PM


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Career Best Quickest Elapsed Times for Mendy Fry and High-Speed Motorsports in Historic AA/Fuel Dragster Victory. Top Fuel Eliminations Roundup.


2017 March Meet Photos by Chris and Tera Graves –

Mendy Fry emerged as the March Meet Top Fuel Champion after five days of side-by-side drag racing at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California. Fry drove the High-Speed Motorsports AA/Fuel dragster to the win in a final round matchup with Jim Murphy in the Roland Leong-tuned WW2 entry. Fry staged in and ran a full pass on a single with a 5.59-second ET at 252 MPH after Murphy lost fire on the burnout with a broken fuel pump drive shaft.

Victory arrived with Fry driving the same dragster that she earned her Top Fuel license back in 2004 after working up the drag racing ranks from Junior Fuel. Fry is the first woman to win the March Meet since 1982 when Lucille Lee bested Shirley Muldowney in what was the first all-female Top Fuel final ever. Fry was overwhelmed with emotion after her March Meet win.

“It has been so much work to get here. These guys have given me a shot at the best ride I’ve ever had. I can’t express what that means to me. It’s overwhelming”, said Fry.


Fry emerged triumphant after near tragedy in Thursday night Top Fuel testing session when the input shaft broke on the hit and grenaded the clutch. The Trick Titanium bell housing safely contained the havoc, but the disintegrated clutch left the High-Speed team working night into morning. The team recovered in time for a number eight qualifying slot and climb up the eight car eliminations ladder into March Meet history.

March Meet Top Fuel racing action was as frenetic as it was close. Pete Wittenberg took a Round One win in his Hemi-powered Circuit Breaker with a 5.78-second ET in a tight race over Adam Sorokin’s 5.81-second ET in the Champion Speed Shop small block Chevrolet dragster. Sorokin got out on Wittenberg with a hole shot but the Circuit Breaker held onto the power through the lights for the win by a slim margin at the finish line.

The Sunday Round One battle continued with a Hemi vs. Hemi battle as Bret Williamson drove the Mike Fuller Forever Young dragster to a win light over Dusty Green in the Nitro-Hemi entry. Williamson got the hole shot and 5.90-second ET at 249 MPH over Dusty Green who pushed the Nitro-Hemi hard to a 5.88-second ET that just wasn’t enough against the .149 light from Williamson.

Mendy Fry’s historic March Meet winning elapsed time echoed her earlier 5.59-second 249 MPH blast in Round One Eliminations that put 2016 points champion and 2017 March Meet #1 qualifier Tony Bartone back on the trailer to Long Island City, New York. Bartone double stepped then crossed the centerline out of the gate to foul out of eliminations.

Jim Murphy powered his WW2 dragster to a 5.71-second 243 MPH Round One win against Rick McGee in the Overtime Special. McGee had the better reaction time but lost traction after some wheelspin and drifted towards the wall before bouncing the Hemi-powered AA/Fuel dragster through the lights behind Murphy.

The Semi-Finals saw Mendy Fry trip up the Circuit Breaker with a half track pedal and 5.78-second 220 MPH run that sent Pete Wittenberg back to Anaheim, California. Wittenberg had just earned his Top Fuel license on Thursday night in the Pete Kaiser tuned Circuit Breaker. Jim Murphy took a Semi-Final win with a 5.63-second 244 MPH run after Bret Williamson smoked the tires on the hit and set the stage for the Final Round matchup against Mendy Fry.

Ten front-engine Top Fuel dragsters made it to the March Meet for qualifying but in the end, there was only room for eight contenders. Brendan Murry could not get his Hemi-powered Running Wild dragster moving quick enough and Phil Ruskowski from Canada did not get his pedal clutch equipped small block Chevrolet-powered AA/Fuel dragster into the show. Rain delayed Sunday Eliminations in the morning and again in the late afternoon as precipitation and an increasingly cold track surface prompted race officials to push the final round matchup into Monday.

While a broken fuel pump drive and push back out of the race was not the way Murphy would have preferred things to play out, he congratulated Mendy on her historic win and looked forward into the season of NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Top Fuel Racing action and run at the points championship. “It just wasn’t meant to be. It was a good weekend all in all. That could have happened in the first round. The championship is our ultimate goal”, said Murphy.

Next stop for the All American Fuel Dragsters coalition and nostalgia drag racing action is Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky for the Holley National Hot Rod Reunion June 15-17. The full schedule of events is available at the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series.


Full March Meet Results from Auto Club Famoso Raceway
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Photos by Chris and Tera Graves/ 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.


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

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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Paul Schultz in his “Spirit of Tulsa” AA/Fueler

GLENDORA, Calif. (Jan. 26, 2017) – NHRA and Osage Casino Tulsa Raceway Park announced today that the Oklahoma facility will host a round of the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series event in 2017 for both the Top Fuel and A/Fuel classes.

The event will be held Sept. 22-23 in conjunction with Tulsa Raceway Park’s annual Nitro Nationals event and will the fourth of five events in the series for Top Fuel, and the fifth of six events for the A/Fuel competitors. Both classes will earn NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series points at the event.

The Nitro Nationals is a long standing staple event at Osage Casino Tulsa Raceway Park and commemorated the tracks 50thAnniversary event two years ago. The event is run as a Friday night – Saturday show and will also feature Nostalgia Funny Cars, Jr. Fuel and Nostalgia Gasser classes along with a 1972 and older car bracket class.  Event festivities will include a car show and Pin Up contest.

Top Fuel racers will count all five of their Hot Rod Heritage Series events toward the year-end championship where A/Fuel will count their best five of six events toward their championship.  Both classes will end their season at the California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Automobile Club of Southern California, October 20-22, at Auto Club Famoso Raceway. -AAFD– 

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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.


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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

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cc2016 NFNSu- 0229.jpg

(photo by Brian Losness)

45th Pepsi Nightfire Nationals, Firebird Raceway, Boise, IDIn the words of LL Cool J: “Don’t call it a comeback.” Yes, call it a catapult. After a season-long absence from anything resembling a Winner’s Circle, two-time defending champ Tony “T-Bone” Bartone returned to dominating form, blithely stabbing and steering his Steve Boggs-tuned “Bartone Bros.” AA/Fueler to Top Eliminator at Boise, while also setting both Low Elapsed Time and Top Speed of the Meet.

With his win here, Bartone, the defending 2014 and 2015 NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel Titleist, took command of his quest for a “Three-Peat” Championship. While laying down his victorious 5.69 at a spectacular 261 mph to defeat Jim Murphy’s valiant 5.77 at 240 mph, Bartone catapulted from fourth to first in the 2016 NHRA Heritage Series Points Race.

“It was a very important day for the team to get back in the points hunt,” Bartone explained. “We ran well, and we’re on our game. We had no issues — hurt no parts, never took the heads off — and it was a picture perfect weekend.”

Bartone is on a roll. And with less than one round of racing separating his points total from that of 2nd place Murphy and 3rd place Adam Sorokin, he says his team can maintain their rousing resolve at the last event of the season, the California Hot Rod Reunion at Bakersfield in October. When asked what race fans and fueler freaks can expect from the Bartone Bros. at Bakersfield, he was very blunt.

“All out balls-to-the-wall,” he answered. “That race may be our last hurrah in the Nostalgia Top Fuel class.” Continue reading

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