March Meet Top Fuel Results – By the Numbers Edition

champion-chutesThe 60th March Meet is a wrap and race results are in. Here are the Top Fuel results for the sole round of Qualifying (Q1), 8-car Eliminations ladder, and Final Round tabulations for Top Fuel and other classes. For a complete copy of all classes race results from the 60th March Meet hit the link below.

Complete 2018 Good Vibrations March Meet Race Results

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WITTENBERG VICTORIOUS AT MARCH MEET IN KMA CIRCUIT BREAKER

pete-wittenberg-launchPete Wittenberg took the Top Fuel win over Mendy Fry at the 60th March Meet in a dramatic conclusion to a manic March Meet weekend at Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California. The Top Fuel Final ran into a dark and cold Sunday night after incessant rain torpedoed Saturday racing action. Wittenberg struck the tires and pedaled the KMA Circuit Breaker out of the gate as Mendy Fry charged ahead, but Fry clipped a half-track cone driving through tire shake and darkness in the High-Speed dragster for a centerline disqualification.

Front-engine Top Fuel dragster competition ramped up at the 2018 Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet with nitro testing on Thursday and kicked off officially with Friday Qualifying. Rain prevented two scheduled Saturday Top Fuel qualifying sessions from running and left the All-American Fuel Dragster Dirty Dozen with a single qualifying session instead of three. After calling it due to rain on Saturday afternoon, officials made the decision to run 8-car Top Fuel Eliminations on Sunday based on Friday qualifying session order. With last minute hopes of running 12-car Eliminations dashed, four weather-beaten racers towed back home.

fry-chargeRunner-up Mendy Fry was on track to the Top Fuel Final rain or shine at the 60th March Meet. Fry took #1 Qualifier with a 5.73 ET at 219 MPH blast. She then set Top Speed in a Round One Eliminations with a 5.96 ET at 261 MPH win over Adam Sorokin and the Champion Speed Shop, and set low ET in the Semi-Final round with a 5.60 ET at 250 MPH victory against Jim Murphy after he lost traction in the WW2 out of the gate. Murphy grabbed a Round One Eliminations win with a 5.84 ET at 231 against Rick White who ran a 6.22 ET at 242 MPH in the Neal and White AA/Fuel dragster.white-murphyPete Wittenberg held the #3 Qualifying spot going into Sunday Eliminations and advanced to the Semi-Finals with a 5.84 ET at 221 MPH win over Brendan Murry. Bret Williamson drove the Forever Young dragster on fire past the stripe for a dramatic 5.79 ET at 212 MPH win against Dan Horan Jr. that set Williams and Wittenberg up for a Semi-Final battle. Wittenberg moved on to the Final with a 5.83 ET at 219 MPH against Williamson who ran a 5.94 ET at 238 MPH. Pete Wittenberg went from getting his Top Fuel license and going a single round the 59th March Meet to the Top Fuel final at the 60th March Meet.horan-williamson-E1The Final round paired up Mendy Fry in the High-Speed Motorsports dragster and Wittenberg in the Jimi Young-tuned KMA Circuit Breaker. Darkness fell as did the temperature before the finalists hit their burnouts and staged in for the Top Fuel decider at the 60th March Meet. Wittenberg lost traction off the line and pedaled the KMA Circuit Breaker in an attempt get 3000-plus horsepower back down to the ground. Mendy Fry pulled away for the lead unaware of Wittenberg’s situation but encountered tire shake in the dark and clipped the half-track cone for a disqualification.W03Pete Wittenberg ran the gamut of emotions in the cockpit. “I hit the throttle, and the car went up in smoke. I pedaled it. I rolled back into it. I saw her way out there, and I lifted and thought ‘that was fun, we’re out,’ then I saw here come over into my lane a little bit, and there was a role reversal in my head”. Wittenberg took the 60th March Meet Top Fuel trophy home just a short year after first strapping into the KMA Circuit breaker as a licensed Top Fuel racer. Drag racing, as Jungle Jim Lieberman famously said, is far out.

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The 2018 Good Vibrations Motorsports 60th March Meet was the opening salvo in the 5-race NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series Top Fuel Championship battle. Next up for the All-American Fuel Dragsters and legions of vintage drag racing fans is the 16th Annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky June 14-16, 2018.

AAFD NITRO DIRTY DOZEN STAGED IN FOR MARCH MEET

AAFD02The All-American Fuel Dragsters coalition is bringing a dozen original Top Fuel dragsters to the 60th Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California March 1st-4th. The Nitro Dirty Dozen supercharged front-engine AA/Fuel dragsters will fight for 8 qualified slots in a battle for March Meet supremacy at the 2018 season opener of the 5-race NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series.

2017 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series Top Fuel Champion and 4-time March Meet winner Jim Murphy is hoping to drive his WW2 hemi-powered dragster to victory and become the second 5-time winner of the storied drag race. A 5-feat will tie the only other 5-time March Meet winner Don “Big Daddy” Garlits, who set national Top Fuel dragster competition in motion with his Swamp Rat dragster at the first March Meet in 1959.

Reigning March Meet winner Mendy Fry reports strong numbers from pre-race testing at Famoso with the hemi-powered High Speed Motorsports front-engine Top Fuel dragster. “The 2017 March Meet winner is itching to get back in the car and heading into the race with a ton of confidence. We are ready”, said Fry. Adam Sorokin and the Champion Speed Shop will meet again at Famoso after posting stout testing numbers with their small block Chevrolet powered AA/Fuel special.

Steve Harwood’s Nitro-Hemi is heading over the Rocky Mountains from Colorado to meet up with California-based driver Dusty Green at Famoso, and Bret Williamson will suit up and strap into the Mike Fuller Forever Young hemi-powered entry. Pete Wittenberg is back at the March Meet in the KMA Circuit Breaker dragster a year after getting his license at the 59th March Meet. Tedford & McGee are bringing the fearsome Overtime Special into the fight with driver Rick McGee helping his nephew land a Top Fuel license at the event.
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Phil Ruskowski and the Island Nitro Gang are once again carrying the front-engine Top Fuel dragster torch south from Canada to put northern fire into their small block Chevrolet-powered Xhibitionist at Bakersfield. Chicago’s own Turbo Tim Cullinan dressed his late-model hemi powered AA/Fuel dragster with a new paint scheme for the March Meet, and Brendan Murry is hauling his 426 hemi-powered Running Wild dragster out of his home garage in San Jose, California.

Rounding out the Nitro Dirty Dozen in Top Fuel row at Famoso are Rick White and the Neal & White AA/Fuel dragster, hoping to repeat their 2011 March Meet victory and Dan Horan Jr., who will suit up and drive his departed father’s front-engine AA/Fuel dragster with Fritz Kaiser putting the tune-up into the supercharged nitro-burning hemi. Longtime drag racer and front-engine Top Fuel great “Digger” Dan Horan Sr. passed away in 2016.

The 2018 Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway the opening salvo in the 5-race battle for the 2018 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series Top Fuel Championship. As more nitro is better nitro the AAFD Original Top Fuel dragsters will join forces at Famoso with unruly fuel altereds, vintage rear-engine Top Fuel dragsters, Funny Cars, injected and blown A/Fuel dragsters and an as yet unknown quantity of nitro-huffing entries for nitro-burning drag racing action that can only be the March Meet in Bakersfield.

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2018 MARCH MEET TOP FUEL SCHEDULE (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

March Meet AAFD Top Fuel action starts with testing Thursday, March 1st at 3:00. First round qualifying (Q1) is scheduled for Friday the 2nd. Q2 is slated for Saturday the 3rd at 12 PM with Q3 at 3:00 PM. Eliminations commence on Sunday at 11:45 AM. As nitromethane is unpredictable at best, the March Meet schedule is subject to change. More information on the 60th March Meet and an all classes full event schedule can be found by clicking through to the Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

WEDNESDAY, February 28th
11:00 AM – 5:00 PM: Open Test & Tune
THURSDAY, March 1st
3:00 PM: Top Fuel Testing Session
FRIDAY, March 2nd
12:00 PM – Top Fuel Qualifying Session 1 (Q1)
SATURDAY, March 3rd
12:00 PM: Top Fuel Q2
3:00 PM: Top Fuel Q3
SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY, March 4th
11:00 AM: Opening Ceremony
11:45 AM: Top Fuel Eliminations
2:00 PM: Top Fuel Semi-Final
4:15 PM: Top Fuel Final

Fueler Foes Fight for Surfers March Meet AA/FD Award

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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.”

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Jim Murphy and WW2 fueler  (c/o thelastdragstrip.com )

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-

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MARCH MEET EVENT SCHEDULE
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

FAMOSO FUELERS FIT TO FOIL FOUR-PEAT AT CALI REUNION

Saturday Night Nitro event at the Auto Club Raceway Famoso. (photo by Ted Soqui c/o thelastdragstrip.com)

Rick McGee at the Auto Club Raceway Famoso. (photo by Ted Soqui c/o thelastdragstrip.com)

24th Annual California Hot Rod Reunion, Auto Club Famoso Raceway, Bakersfield, CA, October 22, 2015—Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield. It is the vintage Top Fuel competitor’s “Brickyard” — its Super Bowl, World Series, Daytona and Indy 500 all rolled into one. And for the nitro-burning racers in NHRA’s Heritage Series, their annual marquee event happens here twice. The season opens at Famoso Raceway with the exalted March Meet and wraps up here this weekend with the prestigious California Hot Rod Reunion. After 24 years of bookending in Bakersfield, it has become a tradition.

Going back to the 2014 March Meet, New York-based Nostalgia Top Fuel phenom Tony Bartone has swept the last three events in Bakersfield. Can he perform an unprecedented Famoso Four-peat? Bill Dunlap, Denver Schutz, Rick McGee, Jim Murphy, Rick White, Rick Williamson and Adam Sorokin — all California residents — are the dirty half-dozen former California Hot Rod Reunion winners competing this weekend who say: “Forget about it, Tony.”

Dunlap, driver of the High Speed Motorsports entry and winner of the Inaugural CHRR (as well as the 1997 iteration), is the only driver to have defeated Bartone in two years, and is coming off back-to-back Saturday Night Nitro Mastercam Shootout victories here at Famoso. About his driver’s chances to win a 3rd CHRR title, his crew chief, Tom Shelar, put it this way: “With the weather conditions being forecast, we should run consistent 5.60s. That should be enough to win, but it might take a 5.50 with Bartone on the grounds.”

Adam Sorokin, hot shoe for the Champion Speed Shop entry, is the 2013 CHRR winner and the last driver other than Bartone to take Bakersfield. Sorokin also wants to play the spoiler and give the New Yorker a Bronx cheer.

“I’d like to come out of the trailer fairly aggressive,” Adam asserted. “The car is capable of running .60s, and I think that kind of performance can get us to the later rounds.” Then he added: “Bartone will be the guy to watch, but anything can — and does — happen. We wouldn’t show up if we didn’t think we could win the thing.”

According to wdifl.com’s “Top Fuel Tricky Tipster,” Schutz, McGee, Murphy, Williamson and White all have a better than 5-to-1 shot to thwart a four-peat.

It is also worth noting that at recent “Saturday Night Nitro” events, Murphy’s Roland Leong-tuned “WW2” machine has been clocking the kinds of numbers Sorokin and Shelar deem necessary to take the Reunion, and the “Neal & White Racing” dragster runner-upped at both of those events while posting bodacious top-end speeds.

Tony Bartone is here to show all the former winners from California that this scene has come a long way from, say, 1992. Bill Dunlap is here to say it’s not that different at all.

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Nitro Qualifying for the 24th CHRR begins this Friday at 11 AM, with a second session at 3. Top Fuel Qualifying resumes Saturday at noon followed by eliminations at 3 pm. Top Fuel Eliminations continue Sunday at 11.30 AM.

BARTONE BLOWS BY SOROKIN FOR MARCH MEET WIN

Tony Bartone: 5.53, 270-mph

March 9, 2015, Auto Club Famoso Raceway—In a fiery, spectacular clash of two distinct, different approaches to front-engined Top Fuel drag racing, New Yorker Tony Bartone chased down Los Angeleno Adam Sorokin in the final round of Good Vibrations March Meet in Bakersfield, while claiming Low ET and Top Speed.

Bartone shoes the Chrysler-powered, Steve Boggs-prepped “Bartone Bros.” rail, while Sorokin stabs and steers a small-block Chevy-powered full-bodied, canopied dragster. What these two nitro warriors have in common is a willingness to blow up their mills in pursuit of a second March Meet Title — and that’s how it shook out in what is the NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel season-opener: In the final round Sorokin launched off the line like a bullet. Bartone, who had more than a 1/10th of a second performance advantage over the rest of the AA/Fuelers throughout the event, gave pursuit. At 330’ Bartone figured to make his move but, instead, found himself a car length behind the hard-charging Chevy. And Sorokin’s “mouse” motor kept pulling: At half-track, Sorokin had six-hundredths of a second on the New Yorker.

This was something different for Bartone, who has had his way with the class all last season, and won every round of competition in 2013. As a further insult to his competition, he rarely keeps the throttle open beyond 1000’, shutting off early while blithely setting 1/4-mile elapsed time records for the Heritage Series Top Fuel class.

All of a sudden, this got serious and things looked pretty dire for the New Yorkers. And then at 800’ … BOOM! The Champion Speed Shop fueler popped the blower. The automatic shut-off systems deployed and as Sorokin’s parachutes came out at 1000’ Bartone finally caught the California car.

At the finish line, Tony went by for the win with his foot mashed horizontal: There, Bartone’s machine blew up in a cloud of oil, smoke and conflagration. After hitting the flame retardant, Bartone was on fire momentarily, but the numbers were absolutely incendiary: An unprecedented 5.53 at 270 mph for the victorious Bartone, to a 5.79 at 192 mph for Sorokin. Once again, just like at every event in 2014, Top Fuel Eliminator, Low ET and Top Speed belonged to Bartone. With the 5.53, Bartone broke his own Heritage Series Top Fuel ET Record.

“I had my worst light of the weekend in the final, which I am not proud of,” Bartone said. “I looked over at 1000’ and Adam was right there. I kept driving it. He blew up. I blew up. I was on fire and just got it stopped safely.”

And then, Bartone became pragmatic. “I just hope we can re-use the block,” he concluded.

Hopefully. But right now the Bartone Bros. are using everybody up.

Adam Sorokin leaves on Tony Bartone

March Meet Ladder

2015 March Meet Top Fuel Results

BARTONE DETHRONES TOP FUEL PHAROAHS OF FAMOSO

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Tony Bartone sizzles through the Famoso finish line. (photo c/o maxcacklephotos.com)

Auto Club Famoso Raceway, March 9, 2014—Call it regime change. The Bartone Brothers rolled their menacing nitro-powered dragster out from Long Island City, New York all the way west to Auto Club Famoso Raceway north of Bakersfield and, by both sheer power and guile, trounced the California-centric Top Fuel competition at the 2014 March Meet.

Their domination began in time trials, when driver Tony Bartone scored the #1 qualifying spot in his Steve Boggs-tuned rail, with a quarter-mile elapsed time of 5.63 seconds, six-hundredths ahead of the #2 qualifier and 2011 March Meet Top Fuel winner, Rick White, in his San Diego-based entry, “Neal & White.”

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2014 March Meet Top Fuel runner-up Rick White. (photo c/o maxcacklephotos.com)

During eliminations, White weeded through his side of the tournament ladder with a series of strong 5-second runs, handily dispatching Roger Lechtenberg, Dusty Green, and Adam Sorokin. Meanwhile Bartone, after running unopposed in the first round, put the power to the pavement against Pleasanton, CA’s Ron August in the second round, with a sizzling 5.629 clocking. This set up a pivotal semi-final round against local racer Rick McGee. In that heat, “T-Bone” strapped a “holeshot” on McGee, with Bartone’s quicker reaction time enabling his 5.82 at only 213-mph to get to the finish line first, as McGee left late and unsuccessfully gave chase with a superior elapsed time of 5.70 seconds at a boisterous but futile top-end speed of 257-mph.

In the final round against White, once again Bartone drilled his opposition on the start. But it didn’t end there, as T-Bone hit every mark at the expense of White: Yes, Bartone not only left first, he then posted a peerless 5.623 at an insane 262 mph to White’s second-best, 5.71, 252. With that pass and those numbers, Bartone scored the Top Fuel hat trick: Top Eliminator, Top Speed and Low ET. In other words, utter domination and the first March Meet Top Fuel victory from a racer east of Lake Michigan since Indianapolis driver Paul Romine won in 1996. -30–

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 2014 NHRA HERITAGE SERIES TOP FUEL DRAGSTER POINTS

1 Tony Bartone 118
2 Rick White 97
3 Rick McGee 75
4 Adam Sorokin 71
5 Rick Williamson 54
6 Denver Schutz 54
7 Ron August, Jr. 53
8 Dusty Green 52
9 Jim Murphy 36
10 Dave Hirata 33
11 Terry Cox 32
12 Jim Young 32
13 Brendan Murry 32
14 Bill Dunlap 31
15 Roger Lechtenberg 31
16 Jimmy Boyd 31

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