Combustion Chamber-2004 Goodguys 45th March Meet


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The 2004 Goodguys VRA season kicked off with the 45th Annual March Meet to the delight of a record setting crowd at Famoso Raceway.  It was a weekend filled with surprising non-qualifiers and upsets, while a record number of participants surveyed changes made during the off season.  Plenty of new faces surfaced in several classes, while Nostalgia Funny Car eliminator was added to the mix, which made for some great side-by-side racing during the weekend.   The following photo highlights are just a portion of the excitement that happened during this event.  Enjoy!  Dawn & Mark

AA/GS competitor Chuck Moore scored his first six second pass during qualifying but didn’t have an easy time during the remainder of the weekend, as his ’48 Prefect was up on one side or the other more than once.  Main photo shows Moore on a clearly out of shape qualifying pass Saturday, while the inset image shows Moore nearly going over while being towed to the starting line prior to his first round meeting with Jim Taylor.  Moore’s crew won the tow strap tug-of-war, but lost the meeting with Taylor 9.38 to 7.50. image
image A/Fuel competitor Tom Bristow completes his first pass in the Youngblood & Smith A/FD entry.  Bristow qualified in the 13th spot with a 7.73, but lost in round one to Bill Genco 7.898 to 6.864.  To the team’s credit, the beautifully-clad Sterling chassis did earn the Best Engineered Car award.
Randy Walls, near lane, is on his way to earning the first Goodguys’ Funny Car title over finalist Bob Godfrey.  Walls used a 6.751 over Godfrey’s early shut-off 8.614. image
image Rick McGee launches before a SRO crowd during Saturday’s first Top Fuel qualifying program.  McGee, who qualified in the fourth spot with a 6.38, lasted through the final round earning runner-up honors to Lee Jennings in the ‘B” field.
Phil Featherston, a former NHRA Comp Eliminator winner in the Kroona & Sandberg CC/A Opel GT, hasn’t forgotten how to get to the winner’s circle, as he lasted through seven grueling rounds of eliminations to take home the Hot Rod title in his home-built Thunderbolt. image
image Bud Hammer, near lane, and Brett Hordemann finish passes during the second round of Jr. Fuel “B”.  Hammer qualified third with a 7.36, while Hordemann landed in the sixth spot with a 7.62.  Hammer lost in round two to eventual winner Don Enriquez, while Hordemann lost in round one to the other finalist John Rasmussen.
Tim Krupa purchased Tim Burns’ ’41 Willys over the winter and proceeded to qualifying in the seventh spot with a 7.17.  Krupa, with the help of Burns, stepped up to record the car’s first six second run (6.958) in the first round against Howard Anderson, but Anderson’s holeshot aided 6.987 sent Krupa packing. image
image Steve Romanazzi earned his first number one qualifying spot in Nostalgia Eliminator with a perfect 7.60.  Romanazzi ran a nice 7.62 in round one, but his opponent, John Lenko, bagged the win with a holeshot induced 7.69.  Ouch!
What a difference a day made for rookie Top Fuel competitor Rick White.  White, who was already qualified in the ‘B’ field with a 6.377, sashayed wildly over the centerline at about 1,000′ during the class’ final qualifying session (inset).  White opened with a first round win over first alternate Dan Rusk using a personal best 5.932.  Unfortunately for White, that run depleted his parts inventory preventing a shot at eventual class winner Lee Jennings in round two. image
image Of the 23 cars entered in A/Gas, Rich Facciano was able to qualify his ’32 Ford in the seventh spot of the field with a great 7.68.  Facciano lasted until the second round where he lost a close battle to Sean Renteria 7.65 to 7.63.
Bill Genco scored his personal best e.t. during A/Fuel qualifying with a 6.77.  Genco disposed of Tom Briston in round one before falling to eventual winner Bill Wayne in round two. image
image There were over 200 entries in Hot Rod and David Fryer was able to last through the fourth round in his cool flamed ’66 Chevy.
Lee Jenning’s scored a popular Top Fuel “B” field win in his “California Trucker”, when he defeated Rick McGee in the final.  Jennings ran a 6.12 over McGee’s tire-smoking 6.71. image
image Nate Bugg pulls the chutes on a career best 6.24 during funny car qualifying, which held for the number one qualifying spot.  The Chuck Worsham-tuned “Lil’ Nate” ’71 Dodge Charger lost in the opening round though, as a small oil leak promoted a smoke filled cockpit forcing Bugg to abort the run.
Dennis Sheepstra towed all the way up from Tucson, Arizona, to compete in the always tough B/Gas class in his ’37 Chevy.  Sheepstra’s 9.11 best fell short of the 8.80 bump spot. image
image Defending Jr. Fuel champion Scott Parks was in a class all by himself during the March Meet, as he qualified number one with a 7.011, ran a 7.016 in round one, a barrier-sniffing 7.003 in round two, and a 7.019 in the final.  Parks went home with the event title, while setting low e.t. and top speed of the event for the class.
You couldn’t get more color complimentary on the track than this pair of Willys during round one of A/Gas.  Bob Clayton, near lane, stretches out his lead over Tommy Schiffilea to take the win light with a 7.70 over a 7.73. image
image There were 51 entries vying for a spot in the 32 car C/Gas field, and only 16 hundredths separated the field.  Terry Hatcher towed from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to compete in his ’41 Plymouth but was a bit off the pace, as his 10.04 was far from the 9.76 bump spot.
John Lenko, who qualified in the 17th spot of NE1, scored a huge upset victory over Steve Romanazzi in round one before losing to reigning class champ Don Taros in round two. image
image Randy Armstrong qualified his ultra-clean ’57 Chevy in the eighth spot of B/Gas with an 8.65.  Armstrong just missed making his first final round when his 8.66 lost to eventual winner Robert Overholser’s quicker 8.63.
Who let the dogs out???”  Bill Wayne and his crew, that’s who.  Not only did Wayne leave Famoso Raceway with the A/Fuel title, but he dumped the e.t. and mph records to a 6.36/219.94…down from the previous marks of 6.41/217.75.  Outstanding! image
image Dave Torgrimson, who qualified his pretty candy apple red ‘Vette in the sixth spot of B/Gas, was upset in round one by eventual winner Robert Overholser.  Torgrimson cut a candy apple red-light as Overholser ran right on the class’ 8.60 index.
Jack Harris, near lane, streaked away from round one opponent Chuck Tanko with a blistering 5.90, while Tanko cruised in behind with a throttle-feathering 6.173. image
image Jim Taylor, near lane, and Cecil Mathews blast through the shut-down area following the first qualifying session on Friday.  Mathews failed to qualify his Thunderbird having run a best of 7.58, while Taylor went on to collect runner-up honors to Ed Moss.
Jim Murphy opened the 2004 VRA season much like he did in 2003.  Murphy, who won an unprecedented fourth March Meet Top Fuel title, held on to top speed of the event with a 255.31 shot before collecting low e.t. of the event with a 5.88 over Jack Harris’ 5.92 in the final. image
image NHRA Funny Car driver Cory Lee made two exhibition shake-down laps in Greg Sullivan’s  restored “Pandemonium” Barracuda, formerly campaigned by Bob and Shirley Sullivan in the mid-60s.
Les Turilli launches his ‘Caveman’ Bantam to a nice 7.63 during the NE1 qualifying, which placed him ninth in the field.  Turilli’s weekend came to an abrupt end as he bulbed away a 7.70 in round one against eventual winner Don Taros. image
image Bill Dunlap coasts through the shutdown area after a blower-sneezing 5.93 during the first Top Fuel qualifying session.  Dunlap landed in the third spot of the show but was upset in round one by Brendan Murry.  Murry used a 6.148 over Dunlap’s motor expiring 6.37.
Always a crowd pleaser, Butch Ranson pushes his ’46 Ford to one of his 300′ burnouts during the opening round of A/Gas.  Ranson’s entertaining ended there, as opponent Sean Renteria used a 7.75 to take out Ranson’s close 7.76. image
image Of the 51 cars entered in Nostalgia Eliminator, Ronnie Lennon qualified his very cool ’47 Crosley 15th in the 32 car field with a 7.66.  Lennon lasted until the third round where he red-lighted against Jerry Beach.
Larry O’Fria, near lane, caps off a huge upset win over Joe Dellamaggiore during the first round of A/Gas.  The M.O.V. was just two-thousandths as O’Fria’s holeshot pushed his slower 7.82 over the quicker 7.80 turned in by Dellamaggiore.  Lets hear it for those small block powered entries!!!  Yeeehaaa! image
image Mike Ward qualified his ’33 Willys Sedan Delivery in the 14th spot of the A/Gas program with a 7.83.  Ward upset Don “Papa Toad” Chemello in the opening round with a holeshot-induced 7.77 to 7.63, before losing to eventual winner Augustine Herrera in round two.


Kent Specht qualified his ‘Baby Huey’ altered in the 23rd spot of NE1 with a 7.71.  Cooler conditions during this opening round match with Brad Thompson pushed Specht’s entry to a break-out pass of 7.55 to Thompson’s winning 7.70. image
image Pete Kaiser just made the Top Fuel “A” field in John & Lynda Eirich’s “Ground Zero” entry during a piston scorching 6.14 in the final qualifying session (inset image) which held for the seventh spot in the program.  The last ditch effort went for not, as Kaiser met event winner Jim Murphy in round one.  Murphy’s 5.961 used up Kaiser’s holeshot-aided 6.15.
Jim Pace, near lane, and Jim Data met in round one of A/Gas eliminator.  Pace, who was the number one qualifier with a near-perfect 7.608 in his ’48 Anglia, bulbed away this opening round match while Data ran a 7.62 in his ’57 Pontiac. image
image Clay Bentson returned to the C/Gas winner’s circle in his gorgeous ’48 Thames Panel by defeating Scott Morgan in the final.  Bentson’s .005/9.661 package forced Morgan to go under the 9.60 class index with a 9.594.
The number four and five qualifiers of the Top Fuel “A” field, Jeff Diehl, near lane, and Jason Richey, met in round one.  Richey, who qualified fifth with a personal best 6.07/241.22, caught the light at the start, but Diehl was able to drive around him by the 330′ mark.  Diehl tripped the win light with a nice 5.947 over Richey’s respectable 6.26. image
image Ronnie Nunes, near lane, and Chris Abbey share track time in their ’63 Corvettes during Saturday’s first AA/GS qualifying session.  Nunes qualified in the sixth spot with a 7.16 but was a no-show on Sunday.  Abbey, who just missed the eight-car field with an uncharacteristic 7.41, was inserted into Nunes’ slot and lasted through the second round, losing to eventual runner-up Jim Taylor.
The only major incident of the weekend came during the first round of NE2 when Larry Van Osten, near lane, and reigning class champ Bob Lander met.  Van Osten caught the holeshot advantage but by mid track was way out of the groove, and after a series of pedaling attempts was in over his head.  The result was a head-on impact with the retaining wall at about 1,000′.  While the altered ended up being a write-off, Van Osten was treated and released from Kern County Medical Center. image
image Rich Roberts’ one and only pass in his gorgeous ’34 Willys came during Friday’s AA/GS qualifying session.  Roberts launched into immediate handling problems and clicked the run early.  While coasting through the shut-down area, the Willys went into severe wheel wobbling before the left rear wheel liberated itself from the axle housing.  Fortunately, the car didn’t suffer any body damage as the wheelie bars prevented the body from dragging on the ground.
Don Enriquez, near lane, has just defeated first round opponent Nick Norton 7.33 to 8.03.  Enriquez, who had just lost his father/crew chief weeks prior to the event, went on to win the event running a career best 7.26/180.07 in the final with his dad’s ashes along for the ride.  A more fitting conclusion could not have been better scripted. image
image Hot Rod competitor Harold Binsfeld is often an early morning crowd-pleaser in his ’55 Chevy Wagon, launching into runs such as this 11.90 pass.
Tom Taros had a helluva time during the first round of A/Fuel, as he launches into what should have been an easy bye-run into the next round.  As evident by the wicked tire distortion, Taros literally had his brains rattled around, banging into the rollcage more than once before eventually tagging the retaining wall about 80′ out.  Taros was okay, but was DQ’d for the boundary infraction. image
image David Troffer competes in this pretty ’64 Plymouth in the Hot Rod category.  The California Flash singled in round one before losing to Richard Shelman in round two.
Glen Hutchison was sending out more than smoke signals in John Blanchard’s Top Fuel entry during this round one meeting with Sean Bellemeur.  The race ended at the 1/8th mile mark when the head gasket blew, while Bellemeur used a personal best 6.123/245.76 to move on to the next round. image
Hot Rod competitor Willie Nash had no idea what prompted this launch toward the retaining wall following a red-light start in his ’62 Chevy. Quick clean-up and inspection shows that the center of the wheel tore right out.  Wow! (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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