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.




nitro-nationals-tulsa-1Mendy Fry pushed herself and the High Speed Motorsports AA/Fuel dragster to a victory over Adam Sorokin and the Champion Speed Shop small block Chevrolet special at the Nitro Nationals September 22nd-23rd at Tulsa Raceway Park. Sorokin got the holeshot on the hit, but Fry kept her foot in the High Speed Motorsports fueler and fought off a drift toward the center line with every bit of steering for a 5.62 ET at 258 MPH win over Sorokin’s 5.75 ET at 245 MPH runner-up.

“It was all I could to keep it off the centerline, but I didn’t lift,” said Fry. Driver Adam Sorokin said the Champion Speed Shop special pulled strongly almost to the stripe but Fry took the race with a .075-second margin of victory and about 26 feet. Mendy Fry joined driver Tera Graves in the Nitro Nationals Winner’s Circle and marked the first time two women won concurrent Top Fuel and Nostalgia Funny Car wins at a NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Championship drag race.


Top Fuel got off to a destructive start in Friday testing as Adam Sorokin motored through a front-engine fireball. Sorokin emerged unscathed, but the Chevrolet kicked two connecting rods through the block. Friday Qualifying under the lights saw more carnage when Jim Young ran the Young Guns dragster to an oil-soaked and subsequently disqualified conclusion while Tim Cullinan skated around the top end to number 4 with a 6.58 at 152 MPH. Julius Hughes pushed the Atlanta Speed Shop dragster to number 5 with a 7.35 ET at 131 MPH. Tyler Hilton lit the candles full track to a 6.17 ET at 232 MPH, and Mendy Fry clicked early in with a 5.87 at 201 MPH for low ET and number one qualifier. Paul Schultz and Dusty Green lost traction for 6th and 7th spots while Jim Murphy pushed back after the burnout with a fuel leak.

Saturday Qualifying saw more smoke and fire but not from Adam Sorokin, who posted a clean 5.92 ET at 212 MPH for a number 4 slot after sitting out Session 1 Friday Qualifying.  Julius Hughes launched his Atlanta Speed Shop dragster to a smoking but oil free 6.13 ET at 243 MPH and number 5 spot. Tyler Hilton did not improve, but Dusty Green hooked up the Nitro-Hemi with a 6.58 ET and number 7 position. Mendy Fry sat out Saturday qualifying, landing in number 3 after Jim Young and Jim Murphy lit up the boards with a 5.74 ET and 5.87 ET for 1 and 2 qualifiers. Tim Cullinan drove through a top end fireball after a screw plug blowout vented 10000 RPM worth of oily nitro that got the run thrown out. Cullinan made it into the show unharmed with his Friday ET, but Paul “Nobody” Schultz and the Spirit of Tulsa did not.



Round 1 Eliminations opened with Jim Young trailering Tim Cullinan with a 5.81 ET at 239 MPH in a penalty box Top Fuel matchup. Mendy Fry drove her hemi-powered fueler to a 5.73 ET at 232 MPH win over Tyler Hilton and his big block Chevrolet-powered Great Expectations III dragster. Dusty Green had the reaction time advantage in the Nitro-Hemi, but Jim Murphy and the WW2 prevailed with a 5.72 ET at 245 MPH and .031-second margin of victory over Green’s 5.80 ET at 247 MPH. Sorokin charged hard out of the gate ahead of Julius Hughes and clicked it early with a 5.81 ET at 219 MPH win in a small block Chevrolet vs. big block Chevrolet Top Fuel battle.Semi-Final Eliminations saw Adam Sorokin turn an impossibly quick .004 reaction time against Jim Young into a win for the Champion Speed Shop with a mere .023-second margin of victory that had the crowd scratching its head after Sorokin lit up the win light with a 5.70 ET at 234 MPH over Young’s 5.68 ET at 260 MPH. After going out with a red bulb against Murphy at the Nightfire Nationals, Mendy Fry dispatched the veteran hot shoe with a redemptive 5.68 ET at 259 MPH that set the stage for the final round Top Fuel fight as the WW2 dragster sent sparklers up out of the headers in protest with a 5.89 ET at 211 MPH.The Champion Speed Shop team delivered the special back into the lanes in a Herculean effort considering the parts carnage that marked the beginning of their weekend. High-Speed Motorsports got their hemi together for the second Chevrolet vs. hemi Top Fuel final in as many races. Those who stuck around as night worked towards morning were duly rewarded with a close race and dramatic conclusion to the two-day event that witnessed drag racing the way it was moving into the future with next-generation fans and tomorrow’s racers smiling as Mendy Fry lowered them into the cockpit of her Top Fuel dragster in the Winner’s Circle for photos and a lifetime of memories.


The next and last stop in the 5-Race 2017 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series is the California Hot Rod Reunion at Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California. Adam Sorokin and Jim Murphy will run the postponed Nightfire Nationals Top Fuel final round. The assembled AAFD drivers and teams will then battle one last time for the 2017 Top Fuel Championship. Head over the NHRA Museum or Auto Club Famoso Raceway for more information and tickets to the premier vintage drag racing event on the west coast until the March Meet in 2018.


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