Combustion Chamber – 2001 California Hot Rod Reunion


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image It’s hard to believe that the 10th Annual California Hot Rod Reunion has come and gone already.  If you weren’t there, let me share with you a *portion* of what you missed.  28 Top Fuel entries…Gerry Steiner running an off-the-trailer 5.97/247 during qualifying…Cacklefest…28 participants…Don Garlits closing out the push-starts in Swamp Rat VI…Pat Foster’s beautiful recreation of the ‘Jade Grenade’…Dwight Salisbury’s up-in-the-air single in the ‘Addict’…Jack Harris LOSING in the first round…The Voo-Doos & The Neptunas…Chris ‘The Greek’ Karamesines…Bill Wayne’s 7.242 in Jr. Fuel…Bob Muravez winning the Top Fuel ‘B’ field, one year after his re-licensing…Dale Emery and Leon Fitzgerald lining up on the starting line in the Pure Hell and Pure Heaven AA/FA entries…
If you were there, you should be getting those goose-bumps all over again…if you weren’t, all I can say is, “BE THERE NEXT YEAR, and experience this and more in person”.  Period.   The following will take you on a photo highlight of the event shot by Mark Hovsepian and myself.  Enjoy! -Dawn
fry1.jpg (69305 bytes) Of the four gals competing in Jr. Fuel, Mendy Fry qualified best with a 7.366, which was good for the fourth spot of the 16 car field.  Fry met Kelly Craig in the second round and ran a great 7.41 over Craig’s close 7.43, but Craig trailered Fry as a result of a .413 light over Fry’s unusually late .555.
Ron Hope launches the ‘Rat Trap’ entry during Saturday’s exhibition session.  In what appears to be a typical launch for the veteran driver, evolves into a  not-so-typical run as displayed below… rtrap2.jpg (67558 bytes)
Despite getting wildly out of shape and bouncing completely off the ground at one point, both car and driver landed right-side up and escaped serious damage.  (Sequence by Mark Hovsepian)
ramay1.jpg (67400 bytes) Wayne Ramay qualified second in the Jr. Fuel field with a 7.336/181.26.  Ramay stepped up big time during eliminations, running a string of 7.20s (7.257 being his quickest) en route to collecting the event title.
Steve Castelli qualified his ‘Hot Rod Willys’ on the pole of the A/Gas field with a 7.624.  Castelli was upset in round one by eventual winner, Ed Cooper.  Cooper ran a great 7.647 in defeating Castelli’s close 7.677. castelli.jpg (62896 bytes)
farndon.jpg (48872 bytes) Fred Farndon returned to the driver’s seat behind the wheel of his latest Top Fuel entry.  Despite running a 6.77 during qualifying, Farndon ended up a few spots shy of the 6.40 B field bump held by Rick McGee.
Mike Leonard, who has been absent most of the season, returned to competition qualifying fifth in Pro Supercharged with a 7.144/192.38.  As quick as his return was, so was his departure, as Leonard met eventual winner, Steve Woods, in the opening round. leonard.jpg (64325 bytes)
pulde1.jpg (72496 bytes) Dale Pulde ran a best of 6.24 during Top Fuel qualifying…a run that would have been good enough to get into the top half of last year’s ‘A’ field.  No such luck this time around, as it took better than a 6.20 to get into the ‘A’ field.  Pulde did compete in the ‘B’ program, but lost to eventual winner, Bob Muravez, in round one.
Jason Richey defended his A/Fuel title, but from a most unlikely position and minus the stellar six second numbers of his fellow classmates.  Richey went into Sunday’s eliminations as first alternate; advanced to round two when first round opponent Kin Bates broke following the burnout; won round two with a 7.022 over Ron Attebury’s out-of-the-groove 7.14; and used a 7.05 to drive around Sean Bellemeur’s uneasy 7.30 in the final. jasonrichey287.jpg (47488 bytes)
bryson1.jpg (85711 bytes) Mel Bryson struggled to get his gorgeous ’34 Willys down the Famoso pavement, as he was only able to run a best of 8.66/162.22…a run that was more than a second off the 7.63 Pro Supercharged bump spot held by Tim Burns.
Jack ‘Sheriff’ Harris qualified third in the Top Fuel ‘A’ field with a 6.128/244.43.  Harris met Bill Dunlap in the opening round, but lost the shoot-out quicker than the Clanton’s and the McLowery’s did at the OK-Coral.  Dunlap was faster on the draw, with a .582 light to Harris’ .621, and surprised the Utah Posse’s 6.171/240.51 with a 6.042/233.03! harris.jpg (74882 bytes)
gibbons.jpg (43278 bytes) Glenn Gibbons, who was the defending C/FX champ, qualified his ‘Pouncin’ Poncho’ Pontiac in the ninth spot of the A/FX program with a 10.87.  Gibbons was bounced out of competition early, as he met eventual runner-up, Phil Featherston, in the opening round.
Dale Boomgaarden qualified the Mallicoat Bros. ’68 Cuda fourth in the Pro Supercharged field with a 7.13/196.76.   Boomgaarden stepped up in the opening round with a winning 6.983/199.64 over Tim Burns’ 7.680, and won a close second round battle over Steve Wood, 7.019 to a 7.128.   Boomgaarden met Steve Woods in the final, but his 7.03/199.91 could not hold off the quicker 6.948/199.11 turned in by Woods. boomgaarden2.jpg (57656 bytes)
hutchison.jpg (68816 bytes) Glen Hutchison, driver of Pete Jensen’s ‘Foothill Flyer, was one of three drivers to run a 6.14 during Top Fuel qualifying.  Hutchison ended up in the sixth spot and paired off with Lee Jennings in the opening round.  This had to be the race of the weekend, as Hutchison cut a .513 light to Jennings’ .577 but was nipped at the top end, when Jennings drove around him with a 6.111/236.09 over Hutchison’s 6.179!
Last year’s Top Fuel ‘B’ winner, Gerry Steiner,  had the ‘best and worst’ of weekends during the 2001 CHRR.  Steiner unloaded a pole stealing 5.972/247.32 in the opening round of  qualifying, which held for low e.t. and top speed of the event, but lost his first round clash against a red-lighting Jason Howell, as a result of this ass-end-swinging and centerline crossing run.  (Sequence by Mark Hovsepian)
mahood.jpg (60076 bytes) Mark Mahood qualified his ’69 Camaro in the fourth spot of the A/Gas field with a 7.78.  Mahood defeated Bob Nevins and Butch Ranson, respectively, but was unable to make the final round meeting with Ed Cooper as he wounded the motor in the semi final.
Woody Duke, Jr. was on of over 30 entries vying for a spot in the Nostalgia Eliminator field.  While Duke ran a 7.926 during qualifying, it wasn’t enough to cut into the 16 car field bump spot of 7.87. woodyduke.jpg (72509 bytes)
dixon2.jpg (71499 bytes) Larry Dixon, Sr. was one of the lucky drivers to make the Nostalgia Eliminator field, as he wrestled his ’23 T into the fourth spot with a 7.66.  Unlucky for Dixon though, as broke following his final qualifying run and was unable to make the first round meeting with Jonny Cofer.
Steve Woods’ 2001 CHRR post race press release reads much like the 2000 version.  Number one qualifier, low e.t. (6.840), top speed (201.11) and event winner.  Enough said. woods3.jpg (68470 bytes)
jennings1.jpg (58546 bytes) Lee Jennings surprised the Top Fuel contingent, by qualifying in the number two spot of the ‘A’ field with a 6.112/228.54.  Jennings went on to run another 6.11 over Glen Hutchison in round one and backed that up with a 6.15 over an up-in-smoke Kirk Kuhns in round two, before claiming his first Reunion title with a 6.63 in the final over a tire smokin’ Jason Howell.
Butch Ranson qualified his ’46 Ford in the sixth spot of A/Gas with an 8.01.  Ranson, who’s quite the fan favorite with his lengthy burnouts, lasted until the second round when his 8.09 was defeated by Mark Mahood’s 7.68. ranson1.jpg (47083 bytes)
muravez.jpg (53134 bytes) Just one year following his re-licensing runs, Bob Muravez has found his way to the winner’s circle for the third time in 2001.  This year’s Top Fuel ‘B’ winner, knocked out Dale Pulde, Rick McGee and Mike McLennan, using consistent 6.20 e.t.s.
Bill Thatcher qualified his ’67 Ford in the second spot of the A/FX field with a 9.97/135.39 effort.  Thatcher went on to win the class title over fellow Ford competitor, Phil Featherston.   Thatcher used a 10.09 to dispose of Featherston’s 10.30 in the heads-up race. BillThatcherAFX168.jpg (49887 bytes)
attebury.jpg (61330 bytes) Ron Attebury led the A/Fuel class by a tenth and a half with a roaring 6.619/214.69, good for low e.t. and top speed of the event.  Attebury ran a 6.62 in his round one defeat of Jim Paul, but lost to Jason Richey in round two as a result of tire-shaking and slowing 7.146.
Mike Boyd casually drives through another one of his famous 300′ burnouts.  The ‘Winged Express’ was one of many ‘period correct’ Fuel Altereds taking advantage of the exhibition sessions alotted during the weekend. mikeboyd205.jpg (50064 bytes)
owen1.jpg (57159 bytes) Don Owen, of Boise, ID, launches his ’41 Willys into his one and only run of the weekend during Friday’s first A/Gas qualifying session.  Owen appeared to be on a good lap up until the 800′ mark, where the car began to move around a bit to the right toward the guardrail…what followed was an appearance of the driver over-correcting to the left and possibly having the throttle stick, as the gorgeous Willys darted off like an errant missile (just ahead of his competitor) head-on into and over the opposite guardrail.
Despite the horrendous nature of the engine exploding, parts of the car and the guardrail being shredded into toothpick-like fragments, Owen, thankfully, walked away from it all.  The accident was so severe, that a guardrail post traveled as high as the scoreboard, puncturing the wiring, and the guardrail bowed into the lane hitting the Camaro that Owen was running against.
Mike McLennan ran a 6.298/228.31 during Top Fuel qualifying, but that was only good enough for the fifth spot of the ‘B’ field.  McLennan defeated John Shoemaker in round one with a 6.15, but lost his second round match against brother Bobby’s Champion Speed Shop entry.   However, McLennan was reinstated to the final, as the CSS team was disqualified at the scales…(not because they were light though)  McLennan broke following his final round burnout, allowing Muravez to solo for the ‘B’ win. mclennan1.jpg (58925 bytes)
nunes3.jpg (42887 bytes) Ronnie Nunes, who has also been absent from the Pro Supercharged scene this season, qualified  his ’63 Vette in the number two spot with a 6.951/200.84.  Nunes won his first round meeting against Gary Reinero with a 7.04, but wounded his entry and was unable to make the second round.
Recent Goodguys winner, Todd Movius, qualified his Jr. Fuel entry in the third spot with a 7.344/181.74.  Movius ran a best of 7.28 in round two, but was defeated in the third round by eventual runner-up, Bill Wayne. movius.jpg (69216 bytes)
overholser1.jpg (51647 bytes) John Overholser qualified his squeaky-clean ’56 Chevy in the second spot of the A/Gas field with a 7.629.   Overholser fell off that pace in the opening round though, as his 8.16 was not enough to hold off Butch Ranson’s 8.02.
Who’da thunk that Jim Murphy’s ‘WW2’ entry would be MIA during Sunday’s eliminations?  No one was more surprised than Murphy’s team, as they were one of 12 cars that didn’t make the cut for either of the Top Fuel fields.  Murphy’s arthritic 7.99/150.93 left him 25th on the 28 car list.  Lets hope things turn around for this team soon!  


neptunas.jpg (64734 bytes)
Pammy Utterback, left, and the Neptunas rocked the house Saturday evening in the Top Fuel pit area hosted by Shep Ginzburg.  Racers and crews gathered around to sing along to classic Hot Rod & Surf tunes…Ed Schwarz, far right, provided bongo back-up throughout the evening.
© M & H Photography -All text, photos, graphics, artwork and other contributed material within the Combustion Chamber  are copyrighted and may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without express written consent. 

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