Combustion Chamber-2003 Goodguys Fuel and Gas Finals


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The 2003 Goodguys season finale wrapped up with the 5th (actually the 4th) Annual Fuel & Gas Finals, held November 1-2 at Famoso Raceway.  It was a weekend filled with upsets, surprising non-qualifiers, class records broken and re-set, and many championships decided during the late rounds of eliminations.  In most cases, it was a fitting conclusion to a most controversial year in the nostalgia ranks and an exciting preview of what’s to come in 2004.  The following photo highlights are just a portion of the excitement that happened during this event.  Enjoy!  Dawn & Mark

Ron Piazza hustled to a great 7.72 in his electric ’67 Chevy during A/Gas qualifying, but an abrupt right-hand turn at the finish line plunged Piazza into the retaining wall bringing his day to a hasty end. image
image Ron Attebury collected his third A/Fuel title of 2003 when he defeated a red-lighting Bill Wayne in the final.  Attebury clinched the season championship as well with a second round victory over Kin Bates.
Larry O’Fria was able to crank out an 8.361 in his ’57 Chevy during A/Gas qualifying, but was unable to make the call in round one. image
image Jeff Diehl streaks to a 5.985 which was good for the fourth spot of the Top Fuel show.  Diehl stepped up to a winning 5.904 over Mark Malde’s 6.29 in round one, but lost to Howard Haight in round two as a result of his center-line crossing 6.43.
Jim Teague, near lane, held off Jess Tyree in round one action of B/Gas 8.71 to 9.17, and lasted through the semi’s losing on a holeshot by Jim Godec 8.66 to 8.67. image
image Dave Rosenberg, driver of Bruce Dyda’s ‘Surfer’s Paradise’ NE1 entry, qualified in the second spot of the field with a 7.64.  Rosenberg defeated Phil Lukens, Steve Romanazzi, Jim Carter, and Bob Murphy, respectively, before using his best e.t./reaction time package in the final while defeating repeat class champ Don Taros , 7.61 to 7.69.
The classic funny cars were given two exhibition sessions during the weekend, and here Bob Godfrey managed a mid eight-second run in the ‘Flamed Fortune’ Corvette on Sunday. image
image Bill Dunlap, near lane, uses a great 5.857/246.77 in defeating Lee Jennings’ 6.106/211.01 during the second round of Top Fuel.
Tom Franks wheeled his ’69 Opel to a best of 8.98 during B/Gas qualifying, which placed him in the 13th spot of the program.  Franks bulbed in his opening round match against eventual winner and season champ Kevin Riley. image
image John Lenko qualified in the 10th spot of the NE1 program with a 7.77, but was upset in the opening round by Steve Romanazzi.  Romanazzi used a 7.62 over Lenko’s index-busting 7.57.
Ivan Jaques qualified his ’55 Chevy in the 21st spot of the C/Gas field with a 10.79, but fell in round one to Steve Matteeson. image
image Dan Horan clocked an incredible 6.17 in his Dale Pulde-tuned Mustang funny car during Saturday’s  exhibition runs.  The team was quite surprised at the stout number and later discovered that a collapsed baffle in the fuel tank created a lean-out situation during this run.  Horan came back on Sunday and ran a 6.21.  Hmmm.
The Famoso Raceway timing cones took a beating all weekend, and Top Fuel competitor Brendan Murry was just one of the many abusers. image
image Gary Reinero, near lane, kept his AA/GS championship hopes alive when he defeated Rich Roberts in round one with a 6.959 over an out-of-shape and early shut-off 14.22.
A/Fuel competitor Bill Genco ran a career-best 202.52 MPH during his second round defeat of defending class champ Sean Bellemeur.  Genco’s day ended in the semi’s though, as the burst panel blew on the burnout. image
image Mark Mahood qualified his ’69 Camaro in the second spot of the A/Gas field with a 7.665.  Mahood repeated that number in his first round meeting with Rich Facciano, but Facciano’s holeshot aided 7.670 sent Mahood home early.  The M.O.V…four-thousandths of a second!  All was not lost for Mahood, as he did squeak out the season title over Sean Renteria by a mere 21 points.
Mike Chrisman earned his first Jr. Fuel win of 2003 when he used a 7.25 best in defeating an out-of-shape Todd Movius in the final. image
image Ed Moss, near lane, and Steve Wood, who were separated by only four points coming into the event, met in round one, and it was Moss taking the win light using a holeshot-induced 6.71 over Wood’s game 6.87.  The jaw-dropping e.t. and mph by Moss eclipsed the three-year old records of  6.798/203.84  set by Steve Woods, who failed to qualify.  While Moss clinched the season title in the second round over Gary Reinero, 6.85 to 6.98, he was unable to back up his first round numbers and reset the record books.
Yowsa!  Jack Harris narrowly missed the finish line cone after the tires spun at 1,000′ forcing him over toward the centerline, before clicking off a 5.937/250.41 during Saturday’s second qualifying session.  Harris’ championship chase ended in round one when opponent Kent Terry used a holeshot-reinforced 5.878 over Harris’ quicker 5.860.  Harris was reinstated on the VRA break rule during the next two rounds, and left the event with a new speed record of 259.29 MPH. WOW! image
image Bob Clayton had a difficult time negotiating the tricky track surface in his ‘Rat Infested II’ Willys during A/Gas qualifying, as his 10.24 best was well off the rest of the field.
Kent Terry broke the backs and hearts of Jack Harris’ ‘Nitro Thunder’ team during the first round of eliminations, as he recorded his first five-second run in his Bob McLennan-tuned entry. image
image Steve Castelli came out of the fourth spot of the A/Gas field and earned his second title of 2003 in his ‘Hot Rod Willys’.  Castelli used a weekend best 7.625 in the final against Joe Della Maggiore’s tight 7.661.
Don Dicero qualified his beautiful ‘Dago Express II” in the fifth spot of the NE1 field with a 7.67, and lasted through the semi’s where he was defeated by defending season champ Don Taros. image
image Doug Araiza launches his ’69 Camaro to a 9.701 during the lone C/Gas qualifying session Saturday evening.  Araiza was stopped in the third round by eventual runner-up Rod McGuiness’ – 9.62 to 9.66.
Andy Clark qualified his spiffy ’58 Vette in the third spot of the D/Gas field with a great 10.633, but was unable to make his round one call against Greg Sadeau. image
image Pete ‘Fritz’ Kaiser qualified John & Lynda Eirich’s ‘Ground Zero’ Fueler in the seventh spot with a great 6.10.  Kaiser stepped up to a 6.06 in his round one defeat of Rick McGee, but bulbed in round two against Kent Terry.
Second round action in D/Gas featured this wildly out-of-shape chase by Tommy John, near lane, in his ’67 Ford against newly crowned class champ Mike Williams.  John sashayed between the timing cones and into Williams’ lane, while Williams took the round win with an 11.23. image
image Scott Parks clinched the Jr. Fuel championship when he qualified number one with a great 7.10.  Parks stepped up to a 7.037 during his round one defeat of Kelly Craig, but lost in round two to Todd Movius when his entry encountered severe tire shake.
Nate Bugg got all warm and fuzzy on the top end during his Sunday afternoon exhibition pass in his Dodge funny car. image
image Don Enriquez scored his third event title of 2003 when he defeated Bud Hammer in the Jr. Fuel “B” final using a 7.305 to 7.675.
Bruce McDowell qualified the gorgeous ‘Bushey and McDowell’ Fiat-bodied dragster in the 25th spot of the NE1 show, but fell in the opening round to recent CHRR winner Mike Smith. image
image Sean Renteria blazed to the top of the A/Gas field in his ’65 Valiant with a 7.65.  Renteria defeated Texas’ Tim Cruce in round one before falling to eventual runner-up Joe Della Maggiore in the semi’s, ending his bid for the season championship.
Troy Green was granted a third attempt at qualifying the MasterCam entry for the Top Fuel field, as a result of the earlier lane infraction by Brendan Murry.  Green took what he could grab out of the cool track and bumped his way into the 16th spot with a 7.72.  Green met Howard Haight in round one, but his .396 red-light negated the 6.72 that would have easily won over Haight’s wheel-standing and shut-off 9.387. image
image Stan Blosk charged to an 8.78 in his ’64 Falcon during B/Gas qualifying which placed him in the 10th spot of the show.  Blosk upset number two qualifier Rick Lawrence in round one before falling to Jim Teague in round two.
Jim Murphy, near lane, began his day with a first round Top Fuel win over Brendan Murry.  While Murry had the slight starting line advantage, Murphy’s 5.878 chewed-up and spit-out Murry’s 6.086.  Blech! image
image Chris Abbey qualified in the fourth spot of the AA/GS field with a solid 7.10, but broke in the first round following this burnout.
A/Fuel driver Darby Neagle launches during his first qualifying pass and came oh-so-close to tagging Kin Bates’ silent entry in the other lane.  Bates, who had already exited the car after the left rear slick came off the rim during the burnout, watched in horror with the safety crew as this scenario played out.   (Sequence by Dawn Mazi- Hovsepian)
image Alan Hull lights ’em up during the first qualifying session of Jr. Fuel.  Hull qualified in the fifth spot of the “B” field with a 7.65, but red-eyed in the first round against low qualifier Kol Johnson.
You know it’s been a long day when the sun begins to set and first round of A/Gas is just getting underway.  Tommy Schiffilea prepares for his first round battle against Charlie Treadwell and it was Schiffilea getting the win with a holeshot-aided 9.04 to 9.01. image
image Jim Woods, who hails from Aztec, New Mexico, hikes his digger during NE2 qualifying but came up one spot short of the 16 car show.
Howard Haight, far lane, rides out the longest wheel-stand of the season by a Top Fueler before lifting (about 150′), as opponent Troy Green red-lights away a 6.72. image
image Frank Merenda, who won the B/Gas title at the season opening March Meet, qualified his ’65 Chevy wagon in the 12th spot with an 8.96.  Merenda stepped up in a big way to an 8.49 during his round one joust with Brad Thompson, but that was well below the class’ 8.60 index which gave Thompson the round win.
Gordie Bonin made a special appearance at the F & G Finals behind the wheel of Jeff Gaynor’s ‘Cuda funny car.  His 15 seconds of fame came at the expense of the car tagging the retaining wall during his maiden burnout on Saturday.  While Bonin claims he had problems with the throttle sticking, we’d sure like to know why he had his left arm in the air at the start of the sequence. (Sequence by Mark Hovsepian)
image After clinching the season championship and racking up consecutive round wins over Jack Harris with a 5.89 and 5.73, Jim Murphy, far lane,  used an unbelievable 5.71/249.30 over final round opponent Bill Dunlap (who was in and out of the throttle smoking the tires).  Equally impressive was the 209 MPH turned in at half-track, coupled with the fact that the ‘WWII’ entry ran out of fuel at 1,050′!  It’s hard to believe that they were able to leave anything to the imagination, huh?
Jim Taylor drove his ’37 Chevy out of the eighth spot of the AA/GS field to claim the event title over low qualifier and newly crowned class champ Ed Moss. image
Denver Schutz launches into a wild ride during the second qualifying session of Top Fuel.  Schutz failed to qualify for the show, and, interestingly enough, has not made a full pass since his 5.85 turned in at last month’s CHRR.   (Sequence by Dawn Mazi-Hovsepian)
© 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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