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November 3-5, Famoso Raceway-Bakersfield, CA- The Goodguys 7th Fuel and Gas Finals was an extraordinary conclusion to the Goodguys West Coast VRA series.   NE1 competitor Don Taros became  the first and only driver to win five consecutive championships.  An incredible feat in the ultra-competitive class; just ask Dan Schrokosch, who finished second, a few ticks behind Taros.  Other drivers to pull off impressive and consecutive championship titles were Scott Parks-Jr. Fuel A and Craig Wallace-NE3 (four); Ed Carey-D/Gas (three); and John Rasmussen-Jr. Fuel B collecting his second.  Two ladies added their names to the record books, as Traci Sterbens-NE2 and Diane Deidrich-Hot Rod became just the fourth and fifth women, respectively, to win a Goodguys VRA championship.  They join past champions Stacy Paul-Jr. Fuel/1997, Carrie Marlin-Hot Rod 2/1997 and Sandy Mendia-Hot Rod/2003.

The record books took a beating during the event, as three drivers reset e.t. and mph marks in their respective classes.  The most stunning record breaker had to be the 5.70 turned in by Adam Sorokin during his first round win over Bill Dunlap.  Not since Jim Murphy's 5.71 during the final round of this event in 2003 has anyone been so knocked out by the e.t.-unless you're Bill Dunlap, who, coincidently, was on the losing end of Murphy's record-shattering pass then.  There were plenty of exciting stories to come out of this event beyond these.

Enjoy our Goodguys Fuel and Gas Finals highlights coverage; we hope somewhere down the road a West Coast series will be developed that will retain the excitement and variety of nostalgia drag racing that is Hot Rod through Top Fuel.  Dawn & Mark


A/Gas competitor Brad Chafee qualified his sqeaky-clean blown BBC-powered Chevy in the second spot with a 7.629.  Chafee defeated Kevin Mossman and Scott Loomis, respectively, before losing a finish line battle with Rob Patten in the semi-final round, 7.719 to 7.712.
 
Steve Olmsched, near lane, used a huge starting line advantage over his NE2 final round opponent Dick Chesney to easily take the event win, 8.67 to 8.71.
 
John Rasmussen marched through the Jr. Fuel B field to claim the event win and second consecutive championship.  Rasmussen qualified number one with a 7.151, and then rewrote the record books with a stunning 7.11 @ 186.25 in his semi-final round win over Fred Notzka.  Rumor has it that Rasmussen may f-i-n-a-l-l-y paint his digger over the winter.  (We can only hope.)  Rasmussen is accepting paint  suggestions via email at ILuvWinnie@ThePooh.com

 

 
What appears to be a fantastic light for Bakersfield resident and former D/Gas champion Mike Williams, turned out to be a hole shot loss, as Williams was nipped by Darold Sisemore, another Bakersfield resident, in round one, 10.601 to 10.601!  Wow!
 
Brad Thompson went into the Fuel and Gas Finals with a great shot at winning the Top Fuel championship.  Thompson qualified fifth with a great 5.83, but was forced to shut-off following the burnout in his opening round meeting with Brendan Murry, thus ending any bid for a possible title.  
 
 
NE3 competitor Craig Wallace clinched his fourth consecutive championship when he defeated Tim Beeman in the opening round 9.692 to 9.696.  Wow!
 
The final round of Hot Rod featured newly crowned champ Diane Deidrich, near lane, and Rocky "Mr. Ebayer" Phillips.  Phillips won his first ever Goodguys event over a tardy Deidrich.  We wonder if Rocky will keep his Hemi trophy or sell it on Ebay.  Keep your eyes open, folks!
 
Mendy "Please stop calling me MINDY!" Fry was the hot ticket during Friday's Top Fuel qualifying, as she ripped off a career-best 5.80 (trumping her month old 5.85 for the quickest and fastest Chevy pass!) to put the Scheele and Jennings entry in the number one spot.  The highlight reel ended there, as Fry was bumped to the third spot by the end of the second session, and was defeated by first alternate Jack Harris in round one when her entry went up in smoke.  The Scheele and Jennings FED is FOR SALE, and rumor has it Fry has been tapped to drive for at least 15 different teams in 2007!  Holy cow, Cat Woman!
 
Scott Morgan clinched his first C/Gas championship when he defeated Mike Mangano in this second round match, 9.639 to 9.70.
 
It was out with the old and in with the new during the first round of NE2. Traci Sterbens, near lane, came into the event leading the points but had to get around defending class champ Bob Lander Jr.  to clinch the title.   Sterbens lost her first round match, but was able to come out of the event with the season championship by a slim margin when nearest contender Jay Huckleberry was eliminated in round three.
 
 
Ed Carey, near lane, out drove his D/Gas competition to collect his third straight D/Gas championship.   Here, Carey disposes of Speed Scene Racing's Scott "Not-So-Lucky" Hudson in the semi final round, 10.64 to 10.65, before earning the event win over Doug McDermott.
 
Ron Anzalone made the NE3 field as first alternate, replacing number one qualifier Jack Eskelson.  Anzalone drilled first round opponent Bobby Lee on the tree, .063 to .270, but broke out by four-thousandths, 9.596 to Lee's 10.20.
 
Dan Schrokosch (say that 3-times fast) came into the Fuel and Gas Finals second in NE1 points behind 'ol what's his name.  (You know, the guy who makes those Spam Burritos for breakfast.)  Schrokosch met 'ol what's his name in the final round (again, and for the third time this season) and earned the event title with a 7.608 over the other guy's index-busting 7.589.  Too bad there won't be a nostalgia series in 2007 to see these two drivers battle it out again.  By virtue of the other guy advancing to the final, Schrokosch remained second in points.
 
Del Worsham competed in his first VRA event in his beautifully recreated Blue Max Mustang Funny Car.  Worsham qualified number one in the show with a 5.93 @ 247.72, which held for low e.t. and top speed of the event.  The first round of elimination featured Worsham and eventual champ Kris Krabill, and it was Krabill taking the upset win when Worsham had a severe case of tire shake at the hit. 
 
NE3 winner Casey Dow used a perfect reaction time to score a hole shot win against semi-final round opponent and reigning champ Craig Wallace, 9.68 to 9.64.
 
 
Reigning Top Fuel champ Rick White (see that fat #1 near the cowl?) and eventual champ Brett Harris squared off in the second round of eliminations.  White used a 5.891 over an up-in-smoke Harris, and then proceeded to take out Jack Harris and Sean Bellemeur, respectively, for the event win.
 
Gasser legend Bones Balogh earned his first number one qualifying spot in B/Gas with a near-perfect 8.601 during the second qualifying session.  Balogh lasted until round two where he was defeated by eventual winner Pat McDonald.
 
Lee Paul Jennings has been on a tear in his "Code Red" Cuda since the NightFire Nationals in Boise.  Jennings recorded his first "5" during the second round of qualifying with a 5.97, and went on to win the event with a career-best 5.975 @ 239.80 over Dennis LaCharite's (pronounced La-Shartee for the announcers out there) 6.19.  
 
Denver Schutz drove the Jim Cullen-owned "Raisin Express 2" Top Fuel entry to a personal-best 5.83 during the second round of qualifying, placing him fifth in the field.  Schutz defeated Howard Haight in round one, 5.90 to 6.05, before going up in smoke against Jack Harris in round two.
 
It was a long time coming for AA/Gas driver Dale Boomgaarden, as he earned his first championship in the Mallicoat Bros. '68 Cuda.  Boomgaarden qualified third with a solid 6.75, but lost in round two to eventual winner Steve Woods.
 
 
Kin Bates came out of the third spot of the A/Fuel field to win the Fuel and Gas finals over Darrel Waters, en route to clinching his first A/Fuel championship. Bates recorded top speed and low e.t. of the event in his Dean Adams-tuned entry with a 6.233 @ 224.88 during his second round defeat of defending champ and brother-in-law, Claude LaVoie.
 
Don "Papa Toad" Chemello shared (prior to the start of eliminations) that he was retiring from drag racing following the conclusion of the Fuel and Gas Finals.  Knowing that Chemello was third in points and a contender for the A/Gas championship, I told him that he needed to go out on a high note and take it all home.  Only last year's B/Gas championship race comes close to matching the excitement of watching Chemello take on all comers Sunday, win the event (with killer reaction times against stout competition, I might add) and his first A/Gas championship.  A true storybook ending.
 
Tommy John, near lane, and Mike Wortman squared off in the C/Gas final round, and just three-thousandths of a second separated the two drivers at the start. Neither driver was giving up the finish line, as both broke out with identical 9.568 e.t.s.  John got the win by a margin of .0032! 
 
Guess who?  It's 'ol what's his name, that guy that makes Spam burritos for breakfast, the guy that Ed Kanashitsky fails to pick in pre-season champion predictions, or the one guy who has made it damn-near impossible to strip the NE1 title from.  If you have paid any attention to NE1 over the last five years, you would know this is Don Taros.  Don't let this shy and quiet natured cat fool you; he's brutal after he pulls that visor down.  Taros runner-upped to Dan Schrokosch en route to earning an unprecedented fifth title.  What else is there to know?
 
Former AA/Gas champion Ed Moss clocked top speed of the event in his all-Ford Coupe with a 209.59 blast during qualifying. 
 
 
Scott Parks ran the table at the Fuel & Gas Finals, earning his fourth consecutive championship while rewriting the record books in the process.  Parks led the way with a 6.90 @ 192.67 during qualifying, and ripped off a stellar 6.88 @ 193.05 during his semi-final round defeat of former class champion Wayne Ramay.  Parks went on to win the event over John Haire, 6.93 to 6.95.
 
Sean Dale was one of 17 Funny Car entries attempting to make the 8-car field.  Dale drove his "Shakey Situation" Charger to a best of 6.75, which placed him in the 14th spot and far from the 6.22 bump spot.
 
Rob Patten, who was fresh off a win in A/Gas at the CHRR, marched to another final round appearance in his '63 Corvette.  Patten met Don "Papa Toad" Chemello in the final, but it was Chemello all the way over Patten for the Hollywood ending, 7.66 to Patten's out-of-shape 8.16. 
 
It was a clash of former champions and '63 Corvettes in the final round of AA/Gas, as Steve Woods, near lane, and Chris Abbey duked it out for the event trophy.  Abbey had the hole shot advantage but Woods made up the difference in a hurry, taking the win light with a 6.69 over Abbey's game 6.72.  Woods clocked a career-best 6.643 @ 209.39 to qualify number one and earned low e.t. of the weekend.
 
Jack Harris in the "Paso Posse" Top Fuel entry, led by John Rodeck, Gary Beck, Dale Adams (no relation to Gene/Gary/Dean Adams), Henry Walther, Willie Wolter, Rance McDaniel, the "Utah Posse" (moral support), and I'm sure I'm missing a few names, charges to the top end to the tune of 6.00 during this second round meeting with Denver Schutz.
 
 
Brett Harris reset his own Top Fuel mph record with a 5.78/261.24 shot during Saturday's qualifying session, which allowed Harris to earn oh-so-valuable bonus points towards the championship race.  How much did those come in handy following his early exit in round two?  Harris won the championship by a mere 3 points, making he and his father (and his fathah's fathah), Jack, the only father/son team to win a championship in any VRA class.  
 
I don't know anyone who doesn't absolutely dig the shit out of the Renteria Bros. '65 Valiant.  Sean Renteria qualified in the seventh spot of the AA/Gas field with a 6.833, but threw away a better 6.75 with a foul start against Dale Boomgaarden's slower 6.81 in round one.
 
The first round of Top Fuel featured former 4-time champ Jim Murphy, near lane, and outgoing champ Rick White.  White got the better of Murphy using a great 5.864 over Murphy's 5.986.
 
Eric Christianson, former co-champion and "King" of Hot Rod, performing one of his trademark wheel stands. Christianson lasted through a bazillion rounds of eliminations to make it down to the final 20 cars.
 
The shot heard throughout the pit area was Adam Sorokin's booming first round 5.70 win over Bill Dunlap.  Rumor has it that Bobby McLennan revealed it would have run better had Adam not lifted. Doh!
 
 
It was quite a road to the B/Gas championship for Pat McDonald, as he was 10th in points going into the event.  Each of the top contenders exited in rounds one and two, leaving the path wide open for McDonald.  McDonald had no idea he was in contention for the championship prior to his final round meeting against Rafael Quiroga, and discovered he needed to win the event to clinch the title.  McDonald, who had been wicked on the 'tree all day, knocked out a .035 light against Quiroga's .119, and went on to win a double break-out match, 8.598 to 8.565!
 
Mike Benner was one of nine competitors vying for a spot in the Jr. Fuel B field.  Unfortunately for Brenner, his 7.99 best just missed making the field.
 
Hot Rod competitor Dan Barrie attempting his best imitation of fellow Hot Rodder Eric Christianson.  Barrie and his "Mighty Mouse" Nova  (no relation to the Gruzen's "Mighty Mouse" Roadster) made it as far as round two.
 
About to cross the finish line, Top Fuel driver Rick McGee clicked off a 6.03 during Saturday's qualifying session, which placed him just 14th in the ultra-quick field.  McGee stepped up to run a 5.98 in the first round, but that was not enough against the 5.94 turned in by Sean Bellemeur. 
 
Ron Capps thrilled the Saturday crowd with his best imitation of an Eric Christianson wheel stand in Jeff Gaynor's "Hard Times" Challenger Funny Car entry.  Although the car sustained significant damage in the landing and subsequent wall-to-wall shutdown, (style points were deducted), Capps was uninjured.  To the team's credit, they did put together a beautiful 6.00000000000 (per Gaynor) during the first qualifying session on Friday.  Rumor has it that Capps was mingling in Eric Christianson's Cabo Wabo pit area Saturday evening, getting tips on how to successfully ride out a wheelie bar-less wheel stand.
 

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