BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA – Jim Young drove his Young Guns dragster to Top Fuel victory at the California Hot Rod Reunion after Jim Murphy damaged his WW2 AA/Fueler in the Semi-Final and did not return for the Final. Young advanced with methodical determination into a number 3 Qualifying spot, a 5.77 ET at 259 MPH Eliminations win over Rick McGee and Semi-Final win in a tight race against Mendy Fry with a 5.65 ET at 261 MPH blast that set event Top Speed.

Young’s run-it-to-the-stripe tuning strategy paid off for the Wisconsin-based team, who ran their AA/Fuel hemi throughout the weekend without extensive damage. Young plans to refine his winning formula over the Wisconsin winter with an eye on the mid-fives at the upcoming 2018 March Meet. “We’re right there. I know I could hit the 5.50s. We ran the same heads all weekend. Up until the Semi-Finals, we didn’t even have to take the motor apart. It can be done on a budget. Trust us!”

Veteran driver Jim Murphy was hoping for a Top Fuel Trifecta at the Hot Rod Reunion but the runner-up was all smiles after winning the rescheduled Boise Nightfire Nationals Final and taking the 2017 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Top Fuel Championship. Murphy took the Nightfire Nationals win over Adam Sorokin and #1 Qualifier spot with a 5.65 ET at 249 MPH blast in the rescheduled race that ran during Session 3 Qualifying on Saturday. Murphy’s subsequent 5.74 ET at 226 MPH Eliminations win over Phil Ruskowski set up a second matchup with Sorokin for the Semi-Final.


Murphy drove out the back door in the Semi-Final with a blazing 5.60 ET at 246 MPH to Sorokin’s 5.72 ET at 241 MPH and clinched the Top Fuel Championship. Unfortunately, the WW2 hemi sacrificed a connecting rod in the process. Chutes out and oiled in, Murphy said he made contact with the wall in the shutdown area. The glancing hit damaged one front wheel, bent the steering, and crumpled a canard. Uncertain of hidden damage Murphy chose not to return for the Final for safety reasons.

Even with a Top Fuel victory at hand, Jim Young and crew worked feverishly in the pits to deliver the Young Guns dragster to its 5.50 ET at 260 MPH tune-up target. What would have been a single for Young turned into a combination Victory Lap and Exhibition Run as Adam Sorokin suited up and climbed into the Champion Speed Shop Special for a side-by-side Top Fuel closer at the 26th NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion. Young ran a 6.31 ET at 137 MPH for an uncontested event win. Sorokin unleashed small block Chevrolet but the tires could not contain full power.




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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Fueler Foes Fight for Surfers March Meet AA/FD Award


The Surfers at the 1966 March Meet.

Good Vibrations March Meet, Auto Club Famoso Raceway, Bakersfield, CA, March 2, 2016—In recognition of the 50th Anniversary of “the Surfers” winning the 1966 Bakersfield March Meetan epic donnybrook of a drag race that many nitromaniacs consider the purest ever“Surfer Nation,” an online appreciation society for the infamous Surfers AA/Fuel Dragster team, will grace the Top Fuel winner of this year’s March Meet with the “Mike Sorokin Award.”

In 1966, Mike Sorokin and his madcap skateboarding teammates, Tom Jobe and Bob Skinnera/k/a “the Surfers,” outlasted over 100 AA/Fuelers to win a three-day motor-riffic marathon. The team’s unorthodox, gonzo approachheavy on the nitro percentage, mind tricks and chicanery and low on cylinder compression and financesinspired generations of drag racers in the decades that followed.

“Two wise guys (Skinner and Jobe) showed up at the track and said ‘Please and thank you’ to their parts, and listened to what the parts were telling them,” is how Bob Higginson, administrator of “The Surfers” Facebook Fan Page and the catalyst behind the Sorokin Award, explained what made the Surfers’ March Meet win so inspirational. “Simultaneously, they produced more power than the world had ever seen, while increasing reliability to levels that flat out embarrassed their peers.”

Sorokin defeated a red-lighting James Warren in the final round of the 8th Annual March Meet, after setting both Low ET with a quarter-mile clocking of 7.31 seconds and Top Speed at 210 miles-per-hour.

And now, fifty years later, a coterie of fierce fuel-burning warriors in front-engine dragsters will meet to outwit and outdrive each other at 260-mph speeds while fighting for both Top Eliminator at Bakersfield, as well as the Sorokin Award.

Among those suiting up are Mike’s son, Adam Sorokin, who manhandles the “Champion Speed Shop” dragster. Adam, whom Mike barely knew before an unfortunate fatal accident at Orange County in 1967 upended their mortal kinship while Adam was still a baby, has already done his Dad proud by winning the 2010 iteration of the March Meet. Another title, specifically this one, would be that much sweeter.

“I fully intend, to the best of my ability, on keeping that award in the family,” Sorokin said.

Another drag racer with his eye on the prize is the 1995 March Meet Top Fuel winner, Pete “Fritz” Kaiser, who has returned to the cockpit after tuning fuelers over the last decade. This weekend he will be both tuning and shoeing the “KMA Racing Circuit Breaker.”

“Winning the March Meet would be cool, but being able to bring home the Mike Sorokin Award with that win would be awesome.” Kaiser said. He then elaborated about his new team’s connection to Skinner, Jobe and Sorokin: “The KMA/Circuit Breaker team is a lot like the Surfers team was in that we don’t have a lot of money, but what we do have is a team of people that love Top Fuel racing.”

Including Sorokin and Kaiser, seven former March Meet winners—Bill Dunlap, Jim Murphy, Rick White, Jim Young and Tony Bartone—are all swinging for another shot at Kern County’s most coveted chalice.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to win the March Meet four times and have been chasing a fifth time for what seems like forever,” Jim Murphy, driver of the “WW2” entry said. “The last 18 months has been very difficult for the WW2 team as we’ve had all kinds of issues. In fact, I would have to say it has probably been the worst 18 months of my racing career. If I were to win my fifth March Meet on the 50th anniversary of the Surfers’ triumph hereWOWthat would rank at the top of the list.”

Murphy has a real shot after pre-season testing yielded very favorable results. “I feel we will be coming to this race as a contender, not a pretender like we’ve been for the last year and a half.”


Jim Murphy and WW2 fueler  (c/o )

Dunlap, driver of the “High Speed Motorsports” machine has won the March Meet twice, both back in the 1990s. His car owner and tuner, Tom Shelar, has no time for sentiment and wants to propel his driver to a third March Meet Title.

When Adam made his thoughts known about keeping the Award named for his old man close to home, Shelar was having none of that sentiment.

“I’ll let you come visit it from time to time, Adam,” Shelar told him.-30-


Thursday, March 3 
3:00 PM - Nitro Testing Session

Friday, March 4
12:30 PM - Funny Car & Top Fuel Qualifying Session 1
3:15 PM - Funny Car & Top Fuel Qualifying Session 2
Saturday, March 5
12:30 PM - Funny Car & Top Fuel Qualifying Session 3
3:15 PM - Funny Car Round 1 Eliminations
4:00 PM - Fuel Altered Qualifying Session 2
Sunday, March 6
11:00 AM - Opening Ceremony
11:45 AM - Nitro Final Eliminations
Run Order: Funny Car, Top Fuel, Fuel Altereds
2:00 PM - Nitro Semi Finals
4:15 PM - Nitro Finals


TFwinner (1)



October 20, 2014, AA/FD HQ—For Long Island City’s Tony “T-Bone” Bartone, 2014 ended as it began: At Famoso Raceway north of Bakersfield, and with a no-quarter, relentless bombardment that annihilated the competition and left no survivors. At Sunday’s California Hot Rod Reunion, Bartone, the 2014 NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel Champion, drove through the field with the subtlety of a drone attack and claimed his fifth consecutive event win, as well as once again earning both Top Speed and Low Elapsed Time honors.

The Reunion’s final round of eliminations featured Bartone and San Diego’s Rick White, the same two drivers who fought it out at the season opening Bakersfield March Meet. On Sunday’s match, an anxious White fouled away any chance of stopping his New York nemesis, and the default win for Bartone meant that he ended the season undefeated. Yes, after five consecutive event wins and ten consecutive superior performance marks the Steve Boggs-tuned “Bartone Bros.” AA/Fueler was perfect for the entire year. This is utterly unprecedented in Heritage Series-style drag racing competition.

Bartone vs. Cox

Racers and race fans who watched the event unfold knew that history was being made. Among those who got the closest view was Sacramento-based driver Terry Cox, whose “Cheetah IV” dragster was Bartone’s second round victim. Cox cut a quick light, but by half-track Bartone began to drive around him. At the finish line, Bartone’s scored a ¼-mile elapsed time of 5.63 seconds and a top-end speed of 237 mph. Cox clocked in second-best at 5.96 seconds. In the semi-finals, Bartone squared off against Midwestern-based Jim Young, an aggressive and tenacious racer who had already secured second place in the 2014 Heritage Series Points Race. Like Cox, Young also left Bartone behind when the start lights flashed green, but his initial advantage was eventually overcome by the fierce half-track and top-end charge of Bartone’s Boggs-powered dragster. Young posted a respectable time of 5.76 at 247 mph, but Bartone turned a better 5.64 at a top-speed setting 256 mph.

This led to the final between Bartone and White. Earlier White had posted numbers of 5.68 at 254 mph, a performance powerful enough to give local supporters hope that, with some minor tweaking, the Neal & White entry would have enough to upend the Bartone juggernaut. These thoughts went for naught as soon as White red-lighted, however. Despite his starting-line foul, White blazed down the dragstrip in vain and never received an official time. Bartone, meanwhile, gingerly posted his slowest times of the weekend, and took the Reunion win with a clocking of 5.86 at 212 mph.

No doubt Bartone and his crew will relish and re-live their latest victory and its historical implications all the way back to New York. Their California-based competition gets to think about it all winter. -30-

CHRR Top Fuel Results 




September 16, 2014, AA/FD HQFor the fourth time in as many events, this weekend an undefeated Tony Bartone helmed the “Bartone Bros.” AA/Fuel Dragster to yet another win in Top Fuel Eliminator, in this instance at the New England Reunion in Epping, New Hampshire. Moreover, for the fourth consecutive race this year the New York-based Bartone also set both Low ET and Top Speed of the Meet. His command of the class has been so thorough that with one race still left on the NHRA Heritage Series schedule, Bartone has already claimed the 2014 Points Title.

“People think we just showed up and dominated,” Bartone explained, when asked about the effort it took his team to reach this level of virtuosity. “In all honestly this is our fifth year of competition. We kept developing the program until we got it right.”

Indeed, the New England Reunion was another exercise in humbling the rest of the class. At Epping, Bartone qualified in the #1 position, with a ¼-mile elapsed time of 5.73, coupled with a Top Speed of 236-mph. In the final round of eliminations, Bartone had improved those numbers while dispatching #2 qualifier Jim Young, with a 5.70 at a blistering top-end trap speed of 271 mph to Young’s second-best 5.89. To his credit, Young and his “Tri-State Racing” Chevy-powered fueler made Bartone earn the victory, after Young left first with a .058 reaction time to Tony’s relatively tardy .108 starting line light. Young still had a wheel out on Tony at 1000’, but Bartone marched around his tenacious competitor.

But tenacity is a word also applicable to the Bartones.

“Somebody coined the phrase that this is a ‘California-centric’ series, and it is a California-based thing, but we went to them all,” Bartone said. “My brother (Michael) and I made a commitment to run all the events.”

That dedication paid off. But even after running the proverbial table four races in a row and clutching the 2014 Heritage Series Points Title trophy, the Steve Boggs-tuned entry of the Bartone Brother isn’t done.

In reference to the upcoming season-closing California Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway, Bartone said he’d be there.

“It’s on the schedule,” he confirmed.

His reason for towing all the way across the country to California one more time?

“We want to sweep the series,” he said. “That would be something in itself.”

The California-based teams have been put on notice. They have one more opportunity to save face, and possibly extract a little revenge. Arguably, the damage has already been done. But none of the West Coast Top Fuel teams want to see Bartone finish the season undefeated.Cole Coonce— (c/o )





August 11, 2014, AA/FD HQ—Despite a series of determined efforts by his competitors to staunch this year’s proverbial bleeding, at the Pepsi Nightfire Nationals in Boise, Idaho front-engine Top Fuel Dragster driver Tony Bartone won his third straight NHRA Heritage Series event and continued his merciless assault on anybody standing between himself and the 2014 Points Title.

Before the clutch dust settled in Boise on Sunday night, there was no shortage of optimism and bravado amongst Bartone’s adversaries.

“We want him first round,” driver Jim Young said, before adding: “Go big or go home.” Young, who was a distant second in the 2014 Heritage Series Top Fuel points, qualified in the #1 position at Boise with a ¼-mile elapsed time of 5.80 seconds and saw this race as an opportunity to upend Bartone and salvage his season. Others echoed Young’s sentiments. “Tell anybody that will listen, we are going to win this thing,” declared Frank Ousley, engine consultant on Jim Murphy’s “WW2” entry, who was slotted 3rd in the points race. “We want this next one!!!” the head of the “Champion Speed Shop” team texted, moments before lining up against Bartone in the semi-final round.

All strong words. None of which mattered. Deaf to the dissent and the bluster, Bartone continued his undefeated streak, and has now won ten straight rounds of drag racing in 2014. At Boise, after qualifying second with a 5.83 at 261 mph, Bartone drove around Ron August (5.85 to 6.13), Adam Sorokin (5.90 to 6.12) and finally Young, (5.76 to 6.39). In each of these heats, Bartone lazily spotted his competition the lead at the hit, and then furiously gave chase while relying upon his Steve Boggs-provided horsepower to blast by the other racer and get to the finish line first. The last round against Young was the most demoralizing to the other racers. Bartone’s 5.76-second clocking stood for Low ET of the Nightfire Nationals, and his trap-speed of 267 mph earned him Top Speed of the Meet laurels.

Which is merely following form for the Long Island City, New York-based racer. Bartone has not only not lost in 2014, in each event he also set Low ET and Top Speed. In short, Tony is crushing it.

And now, with two events left this year, and with Young and Murphy’s Points Title hopes not only unlikely but a very distant mathematical possibility, the remaining drama in the Heritage Series comes to this: Will Tony Bartone go perfect for the season? -30—

(The next event in the NHRA Heritage Top Fuel Series is the New England Hot Rod Reunion, September 12-14 at Epping, New Hampshire.)



(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-