Combustion Chamber-2003 Goodguys Nitro Nationals


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The second stop of the Goodguys VRA schedule placed us in the sunny wine country of Sonoma, California.  Over 800 race and show-car entries jammed Infineon Raceway for the two-day event, and the on-track action was as hot as the weather. There were several repeat winners for the 2003 season, as well as many first-time event winners.  Gerry Steiner, who is still recovering from his accident at the March Meet,  made a welcome appearance during the weekend to the joy of his friends and competitors alike.  The following photos will take you on a journey of just some of the highlights of the event.  Enjoy!  Dawn & Mark

Butch Ranson treated fans to long smoky burnouts in his all steel ’46 Ford.  Ranson qualified his entry in the eighth spot of the A/Gas field with a 7.83, but his 7.80 in round one action was too little for the 7.71 posted by opponent Sean Renteria. image
image Gary Reinero qualified the Reinero Bros. ’48 Austin in the sixth spot of the AA/GS field with a 7.108.  Reinero defeated recent March Meet champ Ed Moss in round one.
It was an all “Chevy and Mike” final in D/Gas, as the pair featured recent March Meet winner Mike Williams (far lane) and Mike Mangano.  Williams used a .475 r.t. over Mangano’s .485, and stretched the lead at the finish line with a winning 10.658 over Mangano’s 10.673 image
image Kol Johnson collected his first Jr. Fuel “B” win by defeating Bud Hammer and Alan Hull respectively.
Bob Turpin qualified his pretty ’49 Ford in the 10th spot of the C/Gas field with a 9.725.  Turpin’s weekend came to an abrupt end in round one, as he broke against opponent Bill Fox. image
image Butch Blair hopped back into the seat of his popular “Fugowie” Top Fuel entry on a mission to get his first “5” second pass.  After qualifying with a 6.16 and running a 6.016 in round one over Chuck Tanko, Blair secured his spot in theNitronic Research 5 Second Clubby back-dooring his entry to a 5.971 second round win over Bill Dunlap.  Blair consumed his parts inventory on that pass and was unable to return in the semis.
Rob Patten (near lane) and John Anderson met in the C/Gas final, and it was Patten hanging on for the win.  Patten used a .431 induced 9.722 to defeat Anderson’s .461/9.708 package.  M.O.V.-.016! image
image “Wild Bill” Alexander and the “Ground Zero” Top Fuel team struggled all weekend to get the car from point A to point B without smoking the tires somewhere in between.  There’s no doubt that the team will get this problem squared away before the Goodguys Hot Rod Gathering at Pomona  in June.
Maryann Harmon grabbed the sixth spot of the A/Gas “B” field with a 9.578.  Harmon dropped to a better 8.89 in round one, but that number wasn’t even close to the winning 7.67 posted by Rich Facciano. image
image Bill Wayne (near lane) and Jim Lange squared off during round one of A/Fuel eliminations.  While Lange suffered from a tire-hazing start, Wayne streaked to the finish with low e.t. (6.418) and top speed of the event (216.90).
Dave Flagg qualified this gorgeous ’51 Woody in the 16th spot of C/Gas with a 9.873.  Flagg’s weekend came to an during round one at the hands (and reflexes) of eventual winner, Rob Patten.  Flagg’s quicker 9.809 was disposed of by Patten’s holeshot induced 9.831.  Ouch! image
image Jr. Fuel heavyweight Mike Chrisman overcame this holeshot by first round opponent Adam Yashok by blasting to a 7.189/187.26, which held for top speed of the event.  Chrisman lost in the second round to eventual winner Scott Parks by virtue of a red-light.
John Gray qualified his ’72 Demon in the fifth spot of the D/Gas field with a 10.633.  Gray defeated Fritz Wright and Larry Spies, respectively, before falling to Ed Carey in round three. image
image Cecil Mathews (near lane) and defending class champ Howard Anderson vamp for the crowd with these side-by-side burnouts during Saturday’s AA/GS qualifying session.  Anderson failed to make the program, but Mathews came back on Sunday to win the “B” field crown against Chuck Moore.
Top Fuel stalwart Jim Murphy incurred a costly misfortune during his semi final round win over Jeff Diehl, as a valve head broke, ping-ponging through the manifold before hanging an intake valve wide open on the opposite side of the motor.  The WWII crew, along with the help of several other Top Fuel teams, thrashed a new motor together for the final, but had to settle for runner up status when the OSH-backed entry smoked the tires against Jack Harris. image
image Jeff La Salle Jr. was one of 63 entries competing in Hot Rod eliminator with his ultra-cool ’67 Coronet.  La Salle’s nerves weren’t so cool in round one as he bulbed against Nick Billings.
The second round of A/Fuel eliminations featured two-time defending class champ Sean Bellemeur (far lane) against rookie Darby Neagle.  Bellemeur strapped nearly three tenths of a second holeshot on Neagle, but a broken blower belt near half track prevented Bellemeur from advancing on.  Neagle drove around the silenced entry with a winning 6.81. image
image Chris Zynda qualified his ’65 Chevy pickup into the A/Gas “B” program with a 9.36.  Zynda won his opening round match against Ron Nahas, but was unable to return in round two.
Brendan Murry qualified his “Running Wild” Top Fuel entry in the sixth spot of the field with a 6.13.  Murry eliminated a tire smoking “Wild Bill” Alexander in round one with a 6.03, but bulbed against second round opponent Jim Murphy. image
image Gina Nimmo was one of four gals competing in Hot Rod eliminator.  Nimmo drove her ’64 Chevy to the second round, but was defeated by Sandy Mendia.
Alan Hull qualified in the fourth spot of the Jr. Fuel “B” field with a 7.65.  Hull defeated Neil O’Kane and Dan Fenton, respectively, before falling to Kol Johnson in the final. image
image Tim Burns qualified his ’40 Willys solidly in the AA/GS field with a personal best 7.021.  While the six second zone remains a goal for Tim, he did last until the semi final round, where he lost a close battle to eventual winner, Gary Reinero.
Jim Biggers launches to an 8.649 pass during NE2 qualifying, which placed him sixth in the 16 car field.  Biggers broke-out by two thousandths on the 8.60 index in round one trying to catch opponent Jay Huckleberry. image
image Sonoma resident Marty Franklin accumulated a couple of Hot Rod round wins in his ’63 Dodge, before being stopped in round three by eventual event winner, Joe Furiani.
Don Dicero qualified his gorgeous “Dago Express” altered in the number one spot of NE1 with a 7.629.  Dicero knocked out John Lenko in round one with a holeshot aided 7.675 to Lenko’s 7.679.  Dicero recorded another holeshot start in round two against Bob Murphy, but went way under the 7.60 index with a 7.519. image
image Jeff Diehl (near lane) and Bob Hallock met in round one of Top Fuel.  Diehl caught Hallock napping on the line, (.572 to an .861) and advanced to the second round with a 7.15.  Team Mastercam  reports that they may secure sponsorship from Motel 6 for Hallock, ‘cuz “they leave the light on for you”.
Rocky Robinson rocketed to the finals of the A/Gas “B” in his icy-flamed Nova with consistent 8.oos, before falling to eventual winner Steve Castelli. image
image Steve Castelli just missed making the A/Gas “A” field when he qualified number one for the “B” show with an 8.01.  Castelli regrouped during Sunday’s eliminations running a best of 7.64 against Rich Facciano in round two, before claiming the class title against Rocky Robinson with a 7.82.  He would have given “A” field winner, Mark Mahood, a run for his money!
This Top Fuel semi final round featured Jack Harris (near lane) and low qualifier Rick McGee.  Both drivers ran 5.98s in the previous round, but that’s where the similarities ended.  Harris nabbed the advantage off the line and finished McGee off through the traps with a winning 6.02 to McGee’s 6.10.  Harris went on to win the event over Jim Murphy. image
image Bill “Grasshopper” Genco qualified in the ninth spot of the A/Fuel show with a respective 6.93.  Genco stepped up during round one of eliminations, nailing a 6.739 e.t. along with his first 200 mph blast.  The only problem was that his opponent, Sean Bellemeur, was crossing the finish line first with a winning 6.495.
Bob Truluck was one of 34 entries trying to land a spot in the always tough NE1 show with his wildly painted Fiat.  Truluck ran a best of 7.465, but that was too quick against the 7.60 index. image
image Dave Torgrimson qualified his gorgeous candy apple red ‘Vette in the ninth spot of the B/Gas field with a fine 8.72.  Torgrimson just missed making his first final round appearance when he was caught snoozing by eventual winner, Brad Thompson.  Thompson used an 8.734 to take out Torgrimson’s quicker 8.678.  Pheww!
Recent March Meet winner Mike Kirby qualified the “Sixsession” NE1 entry in the 21st spot with a 7.858.  Kirby lost on a double-breakout in round one against eventual runner up, Jerry Kumre. image
image Bill Fox qualified his cool Plymouth in the 23rd slot of the C/Gas field with an 11.011.  Fox lasted until the second round where he was caught snoozing and wasted an index running 9.60 to Rob Patten’s slower but winning 9.73!
F-I-N-A-L-L-Y!  Ron Attebury (near lane) claimed his first A/Fuel title since returning to the driver’s seat two years ago at this event.  Attebury and his opponent, Kin Bates, ran identical 6.58 elapsed times, but it was Attebury’s .478 light that blew out Bates at the hit. image
image Defending event champ Dale Boomgaarden qualified the Mallicoat Bros. ‘Cuda entry in the third spot of the AA/GS field with a fine 6.867.  Boomgaarden stepped up in the opening round with a winning 6.856 over Mike Leonard’s 6.930, but the ‘Cuda shedded its body through the lights preventing the team from returning in the next round.
“Yeah, baby! ” 19 year old Scott Parks (near lane) collected his fourth consecutive Jr. Fuel title, when he defeated reigning class and event champ Wayne Ramay in this very close final.  Parks used a .431/7.156 over Ramay’s game .443/7.175.  Will Parks’ domination of the class continue?  Stay tuned for Goodguys Hot Rod Nationals results next month, as the youngster attempts to make it four in a row for that event and five overall. image
image Sporting the ultra-cool retro gear, John Lenko qualified his digger in the 17th spot of the NE1 field with a 7.776.  Lenko stepped up in round one to the tune of a 7.679, but was turned away by low qualifier Don Dicero’s 7.675.
Jim Data recorded a best of 7.73 in his ’57 Pontiac during A/Gas qualifying, which placed him seventh in the “A” field.  Data defeated Don “Papa Toad” Chemello in round one, before falling to eventual winner, Mark Mahood, in round two. image
image Mike Lockman was one of 17 entries vying for a spot in the tough Top Fuel show.  Lockman landed in the 13th spot with a 6.57, stepped up with a 6.20 in round one but was sent home early by Denver Schutz’s winning 6.10.
With their butterflies wide open past the stripe, AA/GS finalists Gary Reinero (near lane) and Mike Leonard provided fans with the closest pairing on Sunday.  It’s likely that neither driver knew who won this wheel-to-wheel race, as the M.O.V. was just six thousandths.  Reinero defeated Leonard using a 6.971 over Leonard’s 6.981.  WOW!!! image
© 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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