Combustion Chamber-2005 14th Annual California Hot Rod Reunion


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September 3-4, Pacific Raceways, Kent, WA-  Wow!  The 1st Annual Goodguys Northwest Nationals was definitely an event for the record books.   A whopping total of eight records were reset in four different classes, giving way to some exciting racing from start to finish.  John Rasmussen (Jr. Fuel B) and Bob Lander (NE2), were the first to clinch their respective 2005 Championship crowns.  All other classes will go down to the wire at the Fuel & Gas Finals in October, and I’m sure there will be 12 dramatic conclusions to follow.  The following photo highlights will take you on a journey of just some of the excitement that happened during this event. Enjoy! Dawn & Mark

Mike Ward qualified his ’33 Willys in the seventh spot of the A/Gas field with a 7.73, but was unable to make the first round call image
image Edmonton, AB, native Jay Mageau qualified his “Prospector” ’57 Chevy Funny Car in the sixth spot of the NE1 field with a great 7.636.  Mageau lasted until the second round where he lost to eventual runner-up Dave Ward on a double break-out.
Tacoma, WA, native Monte Grubb brought his ’33 Willys Pickup out to tangle with the A/Gas contingent and landed in the sixth spot with a great 7.69.  Grubb made an early exit when he lost to eventual winner Mark Mahood in round one. image


image That six-second time slip continues to elude Scott Parks as he ran a best of 7.007 during Jr. Fuel qualifying.  Parks did manage to stretch his points lead over J.D. Zink with a runner-up finish to Dean Carter.


A/Gas competitor Ken Ratzloff hoped to keep pace with class points leader Steve Castelli and narrow the gap between the first and second.  However, Ratzloff found himself paired up with the former class champ in the opening round and gave Castelli the round win on a red light start. image



Top Fuel competitor Rick White entered the Northwest Nationals with a slim four point lead over Rick McGee.  White, who qualified third with a 5.94, lost in the second round against Jim Murphy.  White slipped to second place, now 33 points behind Rick McGee, setting the stage for an awesome championship battle at the Fuel & Gas Finals in October.


Joey Steckler drove his Edmonton-based ’69 Vette Funny Car to a near-perfect 7.605 during NE1 qualifying which placed him in the top spot.  Steckler lasted until the semi-final round where he was caught snoozing against eventual winner, Ronnie Lennon. image


image Reigning B/Gas champ James Schwartz collected his first win of the 2005 season since switching from his ’71 Vega to this ’67 Camaro.  Schwartz was dialed-in to the 8.60-zone all weekend, and has now moved himself within eight points of leader and past champ,Kevin Riley.  Can’t wait to hear the call for “B/Gas to the lanes” at the Fuel and Gas Finals.


Bill Genco qualified his blown-alky digger to the fifth spot in A/Fuel with a 6.908.  Unfortunately, his opening round 6.989 was no match for Kin Bates’ 6.445.


image Since debuting his new ’63 Sting Ray at Pomona, B/Gas competitor Rob Patten has certainly helped his cause in the points chase.  Patten, a former C/Gas competitor and 2001 VRA Champion, recorded a great semi-final round finish in Seattle which moved him up to fourth place just 20 points out of first.  “B/Gas to the lanes.  B/Gas to the lanes.”



Dennis LaCharite clocked a blazing 241.71 during the second qualifying Funny Car qualifying session to claim top speed of the event, and the fastest MPH of the class. image


image Reigning A/Gas Champ Mark Mahood scored his first win of 2005 by taking out the likes of Monte Grubb, Rich Facciano, and points leader Steve Castelli, respectively.


While Rick McGee has yet to snag a win in Top Fuel this season, he has been consistent and going rounds.  McGee used a great runner-up effort to move to the top of the points chase by 33 points.  Look out for the “Overtime Special” team at the Fuel & Gas Finals! image


image Sean Renteria, alongside AA/Gas competitor Chris Abbey, clocked the first side-by-side 6.60 passes for the class during the first qualifying session.  Renteria tripped the clocks first with a then quickest of the class 6.64, followed by Abbey’s 6.673.  Renteria had backed up the run with a 6.63 on his next pass, only to watch Abbey lower the number to a 6.60 and eventually a 6.56.  Although Renteria was unable to fire in the opening round of eliminations, it was successful performance weekend for the team.


Kin Bates qualified second in the A/Fuel field with a then personal-best 6.303/223.69.  Bates went on to win his first class title over brother-in-law and low qualifier Claude LaVoie, in the quickest and fastest side-by-side race for the class…6.266/224.88 to a 6.278/226.51. image



image What a difference a few events make.  Qualifying in the fifth spot of Funny Car, Ed Schwarz stepped up to a personal-best 6.33/229.51 in the Estrus Racing ’70 Vega.  That time slip would have placed him in the second qualifying spot at this year’s March Meet.


An epic battle erupted during the semi final round of NE1 when then points leader Don Taros met third in the chase Dave Ward.  Taros nailed the starting line advantage but was clipped at the top end when Ward used a 7.601 over Taros’ 7.647.  Taros has now slipped to second place, 11 points behind new leader Ronnie Lennon. image


image Duane Grosart campaigns this radically altered Chevy Bel Air in AA/Gas, and ran a best of 7.12 during qualifying.


Brett Harris put the “Nitro Thunder” entry back into the winner’s circle when he earned his first Goodguys Top Fuel win, making Jack and the whole “Utah Posse” quite proud. image


image Pat McDonald, who qualified in the number one spot of C/Gas with a 9.607, stretched his points lead in C/Gas with a great semi-final round finish in his ’63 Nova.  He now leads Steve Galileo by just 32 points.



Claude LaVoie broke the backs of every A/Fuel competitor on the grounds, having run a spanking 6.228/225.63 during the final qualifying session.  LaVoie, advanced to the final on the break rule (inserted for a wounded Bill Wayne) and was able to back those numbers up handily on his reprieve and re-set the VRA marks to 6.228/226.51 while taking runner-up honors to his brother-in-law, Kin Bates.  Wow! image


image While not a player in the record setting performances turned in by his competitors, reigning AA/Gas champ Ed Moss returned to the winner’s circle for the first time this year.


Former Top Alcohol Dragster driver Fred Notzka made his second Goodguys appearance in Seattle.  Competing in the   Jr. Fuel B field, Notzka qualified in the second spot with a 7.24, ran a personal best 7.20 in the semi’s, and went on to take runner-up honors to John Rasmussen. image


image Mitch Chamberlin’s ’41 Willys landed an alternate spot in the AA/Gas field for a wounded Chuck Moore, but was unable to upset reigning class champ Ed Moss in the opening round.


Current B/Gas points leader, Kevin Riley, did his best to keep those behind him at bay, qualifying third in his ’67 Barracuda with an 8.604 but lost in the opening round to Bret Pichler with an 8.565 breakout. image



image John Rasmussen locked up the 2005 Jr. B Championship with his third consecutive win of the season.


Cecil Mathews had a great outing in AA/Gas in his ’55 T-Bird, qualifying sixth with a 7.04 and posting a semi-final round finish. image


image Reigning NE3 Champ Craig Wallace earned his second win of the season and has all but sewn up his third consecutive crown.


Following a recent nose-job on his ’66 Mustang flopper, Dan Horan reset the VRA Funny Car record to a 6.012 en route to claiming his second Funny Car title of 2005. image


image Local racer Kevin Youngs competed in D/Gas with his street driven ’48 Anglia.  Youngs lost in round two against Roy Sommers when he gave up five-tenths at the start!  Ouch!



Current AA/Gas points leader Chris Abbey pulls away from Mike Leonard for a round one win, before going on to record the class’ first 6.50 pass in round two.  Abbey walked away with a runner-up effort, as well as the class E.T. and MPH records at 6.562/210.90.  Outstanding! image


image NE3 competitor Tom Champley scored a runner-up finish against reigning class champ Craig Wallace in front of his hometown fans.


Kol Johnson qualified third in the Jr. Fuel B field with a 7.44, and lasted until the second round where he lost to eventual runner-up, Fred Notzka. image


image Local Kent native Craig Castagno rock-and-rolled to a great semi-final round finish in his ’72 Chevelle, losing a on a hole shot to current D/Gas champ and eventual winner, Ed Carey.


Making the long haul from Tucson, AZ, Mike Savage qualified the “Speed Sport” ’70 Cuda in the fourth spot with a 6.154 and earned runner-up honors to Dan Horan Jr. image



image C/Gas competitor and Sonoma Nitro Nationals winner Steve Galileo made the trek to Seattle by himself with his ’64 Fairlane in hopes of gaining ground on class points leader, Pat McDonald.  Not only did Galileo gain valuable points towards the championship, but he eliminated McDonald in the semi-final round, 9.61 to a 9.62.  A second win, however, eluded Galileo as he was defeated by Jess Wooton 9.65 to 9.67.


Ronnie Lennon paced himself during NE1 eliminations and earned his second Goodguys “Hemi” of the season, as well as jumping to the top of class’ championship battle by a scant 11 points.  Can’t wait for the Fuel & Gas Finals to see how this plays out. image


image Muscle car enthusiasts had to love J. Grunlund’s wheelstanding ’67 Chevelle.  Dialed-in to mid 10-second e.t.s made this bowtie entry a perfect candidate for the D/Gas class, however, Grunlund chose to compete in Hot Rod Eliminator and broke out in the opening round.


Marking his third final-round appearance of the year, Steve Castelli maintained his points lead in A/Gas by following up his recent Pomona win with a runner-up finish against Mark Mahood. image


image If this car looks vaguely familiar, it should.  Canadian A/Fuel competitor Mike Pawluk now campaigns Jack Harris’ old Top Fuel car with a small block Chevy, and made great strides trying to compete against the record-breaking cast.


Richmond, B.C., resident David Warren owns and drives this icy-cool flamed ’62 Belair and took a shot at the A/Gas field.  Warren ran a 7.87 to qualify in the eighth spot, but lost in round one to Rich Facciano. image


image NE1 competitor Chris Davis slides toward the retaining wall as his left rear slick rolls across the track behind him.  A sheared axle was the culprit.


Larry Pettit led the Funny Car points battle going into the event, but a second round loss to Dan Horan Jr. pushed him back to second, a mere 25 points behind Horan.  Pettit did re-set the class MPH mark with a 238.09 shot in the first round. 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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