ALL AMERICAN FUEL DRAGSTERS HEADED FOR BOWLING GREEN

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

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 www.nhrahotrodheritage.com for an upcoming series race schedule, news, points, results, rules and more.

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TOP FUEL SCHEDULE (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

THURSDAY, JUNE 15
Qualifying Session One 3 PM

FRIDAY, JUNE 16
Qualifying Session Two 12 PM
Qualifying Final Session 3 PM

SATURDAY, JUNE 17
Eliminations Round One 1 PM
Eliminations Round Two 3:30 PM

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AA/FUELER FEUDS TO BOIL IN BOWLING GREEN

SatTF0514th Annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion, June 16-18, 2016, Beech Bend Raceway, Bowling Green, Ky.With the 2016 Heritage Series Top Fuel points race wide open, over a dozen supercharged and nitro-powered competitors from across the United States are gathering their steeds in Bowling Green in anticipation of claiming this week’s 8-car AA/Fuel Dragster Eliminator at the 14th Annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion.

Among those mounting up will be Stockton, California’s Rick Williamson, driver of the “Team Craig” dragster and current Heritage Series points leader as well as the recent March Meet victor. Following the Craig gang’s entry out of California on I-40 East is a nattering menagerie of their enemies, including Adam Sorokin with the Chevy-powered Champion Speed Shop fueler — March Meet runner-up and #2 in the points — and veteran nitro-man Jim Murphy with his fearsome “WW2railjob.

Murphy, who is making the scene with his Roland Leong-tuned digger, won here in 2013 on a holeshot, but has struggled to find a consistent combination after that decisive weekend. At the Bakersfield March Meet, he appeared to return to form before an unfortunate top-end collision during eliminations rattled his concentration and compromised his effort. Similarly, New York-based Tony Bartone, the 2014 Holley NHRR winner and two-time defending Heritage Series Points Champion, has also seen his once-dominant form contract recently.

Both Bartone and Murphy would love to repeat here, as a means of making the statement that their team has entirely too much knowledge, talent and gumption not to dominate. Moreover, a Top Fuel win by Bartone would serve as an emphatic punctuation mark to the deserved pomp and circumstance awarded to his crew chief, the legendary Steve Boggs who, in concert with his late brother Ron, will be anointed as an Honoree here this weekend.

There are other scores to settle here: Rick White, driver of the hard-charging “Neal & White” machine out of San Diego, wants to undo the damage from a first-round loss at the March Meet, which transpired, ironically, after Rick set Low ET at that prestigious event with a ferocious ¼-mile clocking of 5.54 seconds.

Additionally, Salem, Wisconsin’s Jim Young hopes to advance to the top of the points chart here and will light up the Kentucky concrete with his Chrysler-powered “Young Guns.” Fleshing out the field are Californian Brendan Murry, Paul Schultz’s “Spirit of Tulsa,” Tyler Hilton’s big-block Chevy-powered “Great Expectations III” from Virginia (by way of Ohio), Illinois-based Tim Cullinan, “Diamond” Dave Miller’s dragster from Atoka, Tennessee, Racine Wisconsin’s Jason Greenwood, Troy Ray’s new “Wildside II” digger out of Knoxville, Julius Hughes’ “Atlanta Speed Shop” special and 2011 NHRR Top Fuel winner Lincoln Hassell out of North Carolina.

California. New York. Wisconsin. Virginia. Ohio. Oklahoma. Illinois. Tennessee. Georgia. North Carolina. With such diversity and power, Top Fuel Eliminator at the 14th Holley National Hot Rod Reunion is anybody’s race — and merely qualifying for this fierce field could be a partial victory. Odds are, whoever wins this nitro-powered shootout will drive away as the Heritage Series Top Fuel Points Leader. -30-

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DUNLAP STUNS BARTONE AS “HIGH SPEED” RETURNS TO FORM

Dunlap Versus Bartone

June 20, 2015, Beech Bend Raceway, KY—In a spectacular return to form, 74-year-old Bill Dunlap captured Top Fuel Eliminator in his California-based “High Speed Motorsports” entry at the 13th Holley National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Dunlap defeated defending event champion Tony “T-Bone” Bartone and upended Bartone’s unprecedented domination of the NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel Dragster class.

In the NHRR final, Dunlap laid down an exemplary 5.73-second ¼-mile blast at 251 mph to stun the New York-based Bartone, who encountered tire shake in his Steve Boggs-tuned dragster while falling short with a losing effort of 6.15 seconds. In victory, Dunlap snapped Bartone’s six-event undefeated streak and fired the first volley in a quest for what could be called “regime change.”

“We are going to keep knocking on his door,” Dunlap said post-race, after advancing to 2nd place in current Heritage Series Points, just behind Bartone. “We want him to feel our breath on his neck. We want to give him a bad time the rest of the year.”

Dunlap’s remarks were a follow-up to a gauntlet thrown down prior to the Reunion. “We feel that it’s time to put an end to (Tony) Bartone and (Steve) Boggs’ winning streak,” HSM’s crew chief Tom “Slick” Shelar had said last week, before towing his Top Fuel dragster 2000 miles from Anaheim to Bowling Green in pursuit of his quarry.  That declaration went viral on the Internet and piqued old-school drag racing fans everywhere, whether in Beech Bend’s packed grandstands or among those following the event on the web.

It also caught the attention of Bartone and his team, who began its defense of their undefeated status by going to work and letting their numbers at the dragstrip do the talking. After qualifying in the #1 spot with a clean, effortless 5.77, Bartone picked up the pace in eliminations, first by dispatching NorCal veteran Brendan Murry with a Low ET, track-record clocking of 5.56 seconds, followed by a 5.64 that upended Wisconsin’s Jim Young in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ladder, Dunlap was also making  statements, winning his first-round match against Dave Hirata with a 5.72 ET powered by a thumping top-end speed of 255 mph. In the semi-finals, Dunlap posted another 5.72 to defeat Dusty Green. Dunlap’s winning speed of 248 mph served notice to Bartone that in the run for the NHRR Top Fuel Title, “T-Bone” would have to drive his record-setting machine through the proverbial back door with the throttle down if he wanted to remain undefeated.

All things considered, Bartone was considered the favorite. Even after setting Top Speed of the Meet at 255 mph, Dunlap was unsure about his chances. “I was thinking, ‘We got a tough one here, I don’t know,’” Dunlap recalled. “But the best thing is that Tom (Shelar) kept us cool. He said, ‘We are going to do our thing, they are going to do their thing and he is just going to have to outrun us.’”

Unfortunately for Bartone and the status of his unprecedented record (22 rounds of racing without a loss), he never got the chance to “back door” it. His mount shook the tires 200 feet into his final-round race against Dunlap and, despite some deft back-pedaling, the New York-based champ never caught the hard-charging Dunlap.

“Honestly, I thought he was going to run a .50 and blow our doors off,” Dunlap admitted. “But when you don’t see him and you don’t hear him and the win light comes on, it’s unbelievable.”

This makes for 6 out of 7 event wins for Shelar’s team in Bowling Green. (A 7th NHRR title was claimed by “High Speed” the year it was contested in Columbus, Ohio.) This was their first, however, with Bill Dunlap as the team’s driver.

“I am 74-years old, how much longer am I going to be able to do this?” Dunlap asked rhetorically, responding to a query about the meaning of this win. “When the team got down (to the shut-off area), I was jumping around like I was lost.”

“The team kicked ass,” Shelar stated. Despite the usual daunting heat and humidity in Kentucky, the HMS crew fulfilled “Slick’s” vision of reclaiming Bowling Green and upending Bartone by swapping engines between every round of eliminations. “I’m the lucky one that gets to turn the knobs and Dunlap drove his ass off,” Shelar explained.

Dunlap will continue his pursuit of points-leading Bartone this summer in Boise, Idaho and Epping, New Hampshire and finally this fall in Bakersfield, CA.

Make no mistake: Currently in Heritage Series Top Fuel Competition, statements are being made. Only this year, they are not all by Steve Boggs and Tony Bartone.

MURPHY WINS REUNION, MEANS BUSINESS IN BOWLING GREEN

(photo by Chris Graves)

(photo by Chris Graves)

NHRA Motorsports Museum Holley National Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA, BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (June 15) –  Cagey drag-strip veteran Jim Murphy knows a driver is only as good as his piece of pipe. To that end, the Santa Rosa-based veteran drag racer stepped up and purchased the machine that won last year’s Heritage Series Top Fuel title, as well as this year’s March Meet, Frank Ousley’s “Crop Duster” out of western Illinois. Once the deal was struck, Murphy debuted his pre-owned fueler at NHRA’s prestigious Reunion race in Kentucky and claimed the event win by besting fellow Californian Denver Schutz in a stunning final, while posting a 1/4-mile an elapsed time of 5.80 seconds and a top-end speed of 233 mph to a losing 5.81 at 250 by Schutz.

Schutz, who also runner-upped to this same dragster (at that time driven Jim Young) at the season-opening March Meet, was less than enthused with the result, even though Denver’s successive 2nd place finishes have propelled him past Young in the 2013 Heritage Series Points Race. By virtue of the Bowling Green win, Murphy is now 3rd in points and has his sights set on taking the entire 2013 tournament by season’s end in October, at the California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield.

“This was a huge win, and I can tell you, we now have one bad hot rod,” Murphy said. “We haven’t scratched the surface of its potential. I’m real excited as Frank (Ousley) will be with us again in Boise and the man can tune a race car.”

To the detriment of his hopes of repeating as Heritage Series Top Fuel Champion, Jim Young lost in the first round of eliminations, posting a inferior 6.12 clocking at 242 mph in Steve McClain’s Chevy-powered “Mill Road Boys” entry to eventual semi-finalist Randy Bridges’ better 5.96.

The NHRA Heritage Racing Series 2013 Top Fuel Points battle continues at the circuit’s next race, the NightFire Nationals at Firebird Raceway in Boise, Idaho on August 8-11.-30-