Combustion Chamber – 2001 Goodguys “Spring Nitro Nationals”


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opener2.jpg (36394 bytes) The third stop along the Goodguys VRA tour landed in Las Vegas, May 5 & 6, and the event proved to be too hot to handle for most.  The inaugural Spring Nitro Classic felt more like a summer event, as the hot temperatures, tricky track conditions and fierce competition, contributed to many upsets and new faces parading around in the winner’s circle.   While first-time event winners like Howard Haight, Sean Bellemeur, and Bob Muravez basked in their glory, the story of the event had to be Jim Boyd.

Boyd, who has competed in a variety of front engine machinery since the 60s, collected his first ‘tri-fecta’ by: landing the number one spot of the Top Fuel “B” field;

sending the always tough Champion Speed Shop team home in the opening round, while using a .426 reaction time and a career best 6.487/222.47 to do so.  It’s been a long time since I’ve witnessed that many jaws hit the ground, or hear a crowd roar like that.   Following that run Boyd said, “No matter how the rest of the day goes, this is   going to be the best ride home of my life.”  Ours too, Jim!  Thank you!  The following will take you on a photo recap of the event, shot by myself and hubby, Mark Hovsepian.  Enjoy!  Dawn

Mark Mahood,  who was fresh off a win in Sonoma, qualified his ultra-clean Camaro in the second spot of the A/GAS field, with a 7.712 against the altitude adjusted index of 7.70.  Mahood was on his way to winning his second event of the season, but tranny problems bit during his final round match against Steve Castelli, forcing him to shut-off to a runner-up finish. MahoodBO443.jpg (51580 bytes)
KinBatesBO303.jpg (50322 bytes) Kin Bates qualified his nitro-injected A/FUEL entry in the fifth spot with a 6.805.  Bates stepped up in the opening round running a 6.742, but opponent Sean Bellemeur’s holeshot aided 6.760 put an end to Bates’ weekend.
Johnny Cofer stunned the odds makers, by qualifying the Batto Trucking Co. ’47 Crosley in the number one spot of the heavily populated Nostalgia Eliminator class.  Cofer lasted until the semi-final round where he was defeated by eventual runner-up, Dave Gruzen. JohnCofferBO614.jpg (50951 bytes)
SteinerBO232.jpg (54652 bytes) In 2001, Gerry Steiner has been making a habit out of getting into the program during his final qualifying session, and his trip to Las Vegas was no different.  While the late afternoon heat and oil-slicked track recked havoc for most of the Top Fuel teams, Steiner was the only entry to improve enough to make the show.  His sideways & out-the-backdoor 6.350/224.36 effort landed him seventh in the “A” field.  Unfortunately for Steiner, he met eventual winner Howard Haight in the opening round.  Steiner improved with a 6.180, but that was not enough to hold off Haight’s winning 6.067.
Can anyone stop this guy???   With nearly two tenths of a second separation between himself and his competitors, Steve Woods continues to defend his Pro Supercharged VRA title in fine fashion.  He qualified on the pole with a 7.023/199.11 blast, which also held as low e.t. and top speed of the event, and went on to win his second event of 2001 over repeat finalist, Rich Roberts. woods.jpg (63812 bytes)
pulde.jpg (75689 bytes) Dale Pulde squeaked John Eirich’s “Ground Zero” entry on the bump of  the Top Fuel “B” field, with an up-in-smoke 11.48.  While trying to sort out mechanical problems, the team did improve to a 6.22 in the semi-final round, before going up in smoke again in the final against Bob Muravez.
Tommy Schiffilea powered his gorgeous Willys down the tricky track surface, as he ran a best of 8.688  during B/GAS qualifying.  Unfortunately for Schiffilea, the adjusted index was an 8.70 during this event and he missed making the show. TommySchiffileaBO147.jpg (61171 bytes)
bobmuravez.jpg (72697 bytes) Bob Muravez qualified the “Western Hoist” entry in the seventh spot of the Top Fuel “B” field program, with a soft 7.036.  Muravez took care of business on Sunday though, as he tree’d all of his opponents, ran a best of 6.374/202.85 in the second round, and defeated Dale Pulde in the final round. This was his first Top Fuel victory since 1963!   Awesome!
Chuck Moore debuted his Steve Woods prepped Anglia by qualifying in the fourth spot of Pro Supercharged.   Under the watchful eye of Woods, Moore charged to a 7.539/177.65.  In this first round match against eventual runner-up Rich Roberts, Moore suffered severe tire shake and was forced to abort the run. mooreroberts.jpg (66693 bytes)
GruzenLaunch184.jpg (51731 bytes) Dave Gruzen and the “Mighty Mouse” team survived through more than just the brutal desert heat in Las Vegas.  Qualifying for the tough Nostalgia 1 class was a feat unto itself, as the team made the field during the last qualifying session.  Gruzen went on to  upset number three qualifier Jim Lange in the opening round, as well as low qualifier Johnny Cofer (with a perfect 7.70) in the semi final round.  Gruzen’s bid for the title came to a halt during the final round though, as Don Taros ran a 7.704 to Gruzen’s 7.733.  Nice job, guys!
Jim Murphy qualified his ‘OSH’ sponsored AA/FD in the sixth spot of the Top Fuel “A” field with a 6.315/221.09 effort.  Murphy improved on that time during the first round of eliminations with a 6.251/215.31, but that proved to be too little, too late against Denver Schutz’s winning 6.119/237.38. murphy.jpg (58484 bytes)
wood.jpg (44833 bytes) Recent March Meet winner, Steve Wood, qualified his ‘Richwood Meat Co.’ backed Studebaker in the third spot of Pro Supercharged with a 7.301/183.67.  Wood improved on that with a  7.26 in the first round, but lost his next round bid to Tim Burns.
Ken Ratzloff  drove his sleek ’38 Chevy into the number one spot of B/GAS with an 8.710.   Ratzloff earned  a semi-final round meeting with Dave Nugent, but despite running an 8.716,   lost his final round bid when Nugent used a holeshot induced 8.751.  Ouch! kenratzloff.jpg (51519 bytes)
enriquez.jpg (48587 bytes) 2000 Jr. Fuel champ, Don Enriquez, qualified his  entry in the fourth spot with a 7.527.  Enriquez marched to a semi-final round meeting against Bill Wayne, but lost a final round birth, when Wayne used his 7.46 to defeat the 7.563 turned in by Enriquez.
Steve Castelli scored a near perfect 7.70 (7.701) to claim the top spot in A/GAS qualifying.  Castelli then proceeded through eliminations defeating the likes of Don ‘Papa Toad’ Chemello, Bob Clayton, and 2000 champ, Mark Mahood, for his first event win of 2001. castelli.jpg (52792 bytes)
jimboyd.jpg (72521 bytes) “Deuces were WILD” for Top Fuel veteran, Jim Boyd.  In what turned out to be the best weekend of his long career, Boyd nabbed the number one spot of the Top Fuel “B” field with a 6.539/196.50.  Boyd paired up against Rance McDaniel in the opening round, and strapped a .426 holeshot to McDaniel’s .526.  As Boyd approached the finish line, he kept looking over and never saw Rance…Boyd kept his foot into it through the lights (something he rarely does) to a winning 6.487/222.47, over McDaniel’s quicker 6.458.   That run turned out to be his career best 200 mph run and his first since 1966; the e.t. was almost two tenths quicker than he’s ever run.
 Boyd came back in the second round and ran a 6.504/222.22, but it just wasn’t enough to hold off Bob Muravez’s winning 6.374/202.85.  A round of applause to the “Red Turkey” team!!!
Bob Clayton barely qualified his ’33 Willys in the A/GAS program with an off-pace 9.177.  Clayton turned his performance around on Sunday though, as he whistled off a winning 7.888 over Jim Pace’s bulbing 8.002 in round one.  Clayton improved again in the second round running a 7.782, but that didn’t stand a chance against the holeshot producing 7.83 of eventual winner, Steve Castelli. clayton.jpg (61781 bytes)
hhaight.jpg (53256 bytes) Howard Haight drove the Bob Richardson tuned “Circuit Breaker” entry to its first Goodguys VRA win.  Haight qualified in the third spot with a 6.196/209.59, defeated Gerry Steiner in the opening set with a 6.067/222.69, as well as Jack ‘Sheriff’ Harris in the semi-final round with a 6.165/229.00.  Haight saved the best for last, as he re-set the low e.t. of the event in the final against Denver Schutz, turning in a 6.048/230.76 over Shutz’s up-in-smoke 6.759.
Ted Hodges launches his ’33 Willys during the first qualifying session of B/GAS.  Hodges never got a solid grip of the unforgiving surface, and failed to break the 8.83 bump spot. TedHodgesLaunch01.jpg (66997 bytes)
© 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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