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Combustion Chamber-2005 46th Goodguys March Meet


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March 11-13, Famoso Raceway, Bakersfield, CA-The 46th Annual March Meet returned to Famoso Raceway and kicked off the 2005 Goodguys VRA season. It was a weekend filled with surprising non-qualifiers and upsets, while a record number of participants (over 500) surveyed changes made during the off season. Plenty of new faces surfaced in several classes, which made for some great side-by-side racing during the weekend and plenty of first-time event winners. The following photo highlights are just a portion of the excitement that happened during this event. Enjoy! Dawn & Mark

“I wanna take you to Bakersfield…” -Saturday’s packed house was treated to some great Top Fuel qualifying action, as well as the first round of eliminations for several classes.  25 fuelers took a shot at the 16-car field, with the bump spot changing 5 times during the final session.  Rick Rogers, near lane, and Adam Sorokin failed to break the 6.17 cut. image
image “Well they’ve got a new dance, and it goes like this…”-Kin Bates flops the front wheels over during the final qualifying session of A/Fuel.  Bates was unable to better his first qualifying shot of 6.755, and landed in the fifth spot of the field.  Bates lasted until the second round where he was defeated by 2003 class champ, Ron Attebury.
“A wolf….in street clothing”-Chris Ribeau made the 16-car A/Gas field in his blown ’64 Dodge with a 7.981 on the class’ 7.60 index.  Unfortunately, Ribeau met eventual winner Steve Castelli in the opening round of eliminations. image
image “I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train…”-Jerry Buckley, who qualified 29th in the NE1 field, lasted through the semi-final round, losing to eventual runner-up, Dave Ward.
Twenty four cars were entered in the A/Gas field, but only 16 would make the first round call.  Troy Baugh was among the many new faces this year, and he qualified his ’68 Camaro in the 11th spot of the A/Gas field with a 7.93. image
image “Puttin’ on the fritz…”-Pete Kaiser ran a best of 6.216 in John and Lynda Erich’s “Ground Zero”  AA/FD entry.  That time was eventually bumped out of the 16-car field, as the magical number ended up being a 6.17 by Scott Mason.
“Oh, say can you see…”-Dan See qualified his gorgeous ’23 T in the third spot of the NE2 program with a great 8.664.  See, who earned runner-up honors to Dan Schrokosch, ran consistent 8.60s throughout eliminations and claimed the Best Appearing Car award. image
image “OshKosh B’Gosh”-2004 NE2 champ Dan Schrokosch was on a mission to claim his first March Meet title.  He did just that, by nailing every opponent to the ‘tree and running low 8.60 e.t.s.
Defending event winner and Nostalgia Funny Car champ Randy Walls qualified his ’70 Nova in the seventh spot of the field with a 6.92.  Walls lost to Mike Savage in round one, but was reinstated in the second round for a wounded Dan Horan.  Walls met Savage again, but was unable to get by the eventual winner’s holeshot-aided 6.51. image
image Van Macatee, near lane, earned a spot in the NE3 final by defeating Jim Lindsay in the semi-final round.  Macatee ran a 9.63 over Lindsay’s 9.80, and then soloed to victory in the final round when opponent John Cassie was unable to make the call.
After more than a year and half absence, former B/Gas competitor Brad Chafee returned to competition behind the wheel of his new A/Gas ’67 Nova.  Chafee spent his two qualifying shots sorting out his new blown combination, running a best of 9.05, which was not enough to make the 8.09 bump for the 16-car show.  As competitive as Chafee was in B/Gas, I’m sure it won’t be long before he is up to speed with the rest of the A/Gas heavyweights. image
image “Hot Rod Girl”-Mendy Fry put Frank Hedge’s Troy Green-tuned entry in the Top Fuel show with a 6.14.  Fry lasted till round two, where she was defeated by eventual event winner, Howard Haight.
“Grab life by the horns.”-Jim Van Gordon was just one of 35 entries vying for spot in the NE2 field.  Van Gordon qualified his ’27 Plymouth in the 10th spot of the show, but lost a close first round match against Bob Lander, 8.64 to 8.72. image
image “Takin’ care of business..”-You couldn’t have asked for a more fitting finale in D/Gas, which featured the 2003 and 2004 class champions.  2003 champ Mike Williams, near lane, caught a slightly better reaction time over reigning champ Ed Carey and never looked back, to claim his second March Meet title.  Williams used a 10.627 over Carey’s index-busting 10.597!  Wow!  Interestingly, both drivers bagged identical 10.605s (on the class’ 10.60 index) during their respective semi-final round wins.  Awesome!
Mark Malde closed out the final Top Fuel qualifying session with a 6.593 in the “Birky Bunch” entry, which left him in the seventh alternate spot. image
image Pat McDonald was the low qualifier in C/Gas with a stellar 9.603.  McDonald lasted until the third round, where he went red against eventual runner-up, Jack Gottfried.
“After midnight, we’re gonna let it all hang down.”-Eric Christianson qualified Dick Mosely’s “Midnight Madness” Fiat in the third spot of the NE3 field with a great 9.615.  Christianson cut a fantastic .019 light against first round opponent Bobby Rivas’ .084, but broke-out running a 9.589 to Rivas’ 9.615. image
image “Smoke on the Waters…”-Mike Austin scored his first Goodguys win in the Tony Waters-tuned Comstock Fabrication A/Fuel entry.  Austin nabbed the number one qualifying spot with a 6.509, while earning top speed of the event with a 216.91.  The much anticipated final round featured Austin against 2003 class champ Ron Attebury.  The drama ended quickly for both drivers when Attebury tripped the red by just .009.
“Everybody walk the dinosaur…”-Nostalgia Eliminator had 43 entries at the start of the weekend, and Dave Ward made it to the final two.  Ward defeated Dennis Neverve, Bruce McDowell, Chris Malott, and Jerry Buckley, respectively, before falling victim to Dave Rosenberg in the final. image
image “Hey, we’re headin’ for a summer heatwave..”-Mike Savage kicked off the 2005 VRA season with a win in NFC.  Savage qualified with a 6.51, and improved throughout eliminations to a best of 6.333/223.60.
“Take me down to the Surfers Paradise city…”-Dave Rosenberg marched through the NE1 field in Bruce Dyda’s “Surfers Paradise” entry en route to the winner’s circle.  Running consistently near the class’ 7.60 index, Rosenberg defeated Lenny Hain, Ron Bolton, Bob Hensel, Chris Malott (who was reinstated on the break rule for Don Taros), and Dave Ward, respectively. image
image Tim Krupa, near lane, and Gary Reinero were two of 13 drivers shooting for a spot in the 8-car AA/GAS field.  Krupa ran a 7.04 followed by Reinero’s 7.09.  Neither driver made the show.
“See the U.S.A. In Your Chevrolet”-Mike Schauer ran plenty of low 10-second passes in his ultra-cool ’57 Chevy during Hot Rod time trials, but missed his 10.20 dial-in by a bunch in the opening round of eliminations. image
image “Hotel California”-Rick McGee, who had lost in the first round of Top Fuel to Sean Bellemeur, received a 9:00 A.M. wake-up call Sunday morning from his frantic crew at the track.  They were informed that the team would be reinstated on the break rule and to be ready in an hour.  Rick made it to the track in record time, and the team had the car prepped with time to spare.  The “Overtime Special” team made the most of their day, defeating Scott Mason and Sean Bellemeur, respectively, before losing a close battle to Howard Haight  in the final.  Wow!
Steve Wood, near lane, and Steve Woods squared off in round one of AA/GAS.  Wood caught the starting line advantage, but traction problems forced Wood to abort the run against Woods.  Woods ran a 6.851 and went on to win his first event title since 2003. image
image “Shot down in flames”-Bob Godfrey managed only one pass during the weekend in Wes Close’s “Flamed Fortune” NFC, netting a very soft 8.619.  Look for the team to step their program up by Sonoma.
Claude Lavoie ripped off this stout and personal-best 6.46/214.43 during his round one A/Fuel win over Trinon Cirello.  Lavoie’s time would hold as low e.t. for the event. image
image First round action in NE1 featured this match between Bob Truluck, near lane, and Ron O’Haver.  Truluck used a holeshot-induced 7.71 to take out O’Haver’s quicker 7.61.  Wow!
“Wouldn’t It Be Nice…”-Former NTF shoe Sammy Hale made a rare appearance during the March Meet behind the wheel of Jack Schafer’s “Flathead Jack” nitro-injected twin entry.  While Hale was helping the team sort out clutch problems during exhibition runs, one couldn’t help but notice a certain twinkle in his eye when asked if he would return to the driver’s seat of the Champion Speed Shop entry.  Hale did state that he has not been “officially” asked, and is quite busy with an upcoming move to the Grand Canyon State.  Stay tuned. image
image “Yeah, It’s Got a Hemi.”-Chris Abbey scored a personal best 6.785/206.94 in his ’63 Vette during AA/GAS qualifying, which planted him in the number one spot of the field.  Abbey was uprooted in the opening round by first alternate John Peterson, 7.108 to an 8.238.
“The Devil is my friend…”-First round of NFC  eliminations featured Dan Horan, near lane, and Jeff Utterback.  Utterback, driving Jeff Gaynor’s Dale Pulde-assisted entry, nailed a tenth of a second advantage at the start, but it was Horan on the big end winning with a motor-wounding 6.517 over Utterback’s 7.566. image
image Scott Parks began his Jr. Fuel Championship defense in a big way, scoring his third consecutive March Meet win.  While Parks lacked the muscle to nab low e.t. and top speed of the event, he surely made up for that in his starting line prowess.  Parks proved that during his second round match with low qualifier J.D. Zink, as Parks used a holeshot-aided 7.164 to dispose of Zink’s quicker 7.161.
Ed Cooper qualified his ’69 Dart in the 10th spot of the A/Gas show with a 7.82.  Cooper lasted until the second round where he lost to eventual winner Steve Castelli, 7.908 to 7.676 image
image Rick White was among the 25 Top Fuel drivers trying to muscle their way into the 16-car field.  White made a solid effort with a 5.921, placing him fourth in the show, but lost in round one to Terry Cox.
Les Vogt’s hard-charging 1931 Ford looked impressive during NE2 qualifying, but not effective enough to cover the 8.80 bump spot for the 16-car field. image
image Johnny Wood debuted his ultra-slick ’33 Willys in C/Gas.  Wood qualified in the 14th spot of the 32-car field with a 9.685, but fell short of that number in his opening round match against Lon Schultz.  Schultz used a 9.94 to dispose of Wood’s 10.34.
Andrew Berry’s ’72 Challenger was among the many new entries competing in A/Gas.  Berry ripped off a great 7.620 in the opening round of qualifying, which held for the second spot of the 16-car field.  Berry’s weekend came to an abrupt end in round one, as he was forced to abort his run against opponent Ed Cooper. image
image “This Bud’s For You.”-Bud Hammer surprised and dominated the Jr. Fuel B field, by grabbing the pole position with a 7.328/182.44, and then re-setting low e.t. and top speed for the event with a 7.216/182.85 during the second round of eliminations.  Hammer went on to score a very impressive win, defeating Dan Fenton, defending event and class champ Don Enriquez, and John Rasmussen, respectively.
My pappy said, “Son, you’re gonna’ drive me to drinkin’, if you don’t stop drivin’ that Hot Rod Lincoln.”-Steve Castelli returned to his winning ways in his “Hot Rod Willys” A/Gas entry, knocking of a tough field of competitors.  Castelli qualified sixth with a 7.68, and defeated Chris Ribeau, Ed Cooper, Joe Dellamaggiore, and Ken Ratzloff, respectively. image
image “Bound by wild desire, I fell into a ring of fire.”-Brendan Murry gave race crews and fans quite a scare during his first round qualifying shot in Top Fuel.  Murry ran a 6.16 prior to the motor letting go in the lights, resulting in a blinding fireball and turning his “Running Wild” entry into an unguided missile.  Murry narrowly escaped colliding with Rick McGee in the opposite lane, and had the inventory to make the repairs for his first round date with Jim Murphy.  Murry gave it all he had taking nearly .05 from Murphy at the start, but Murphy’s 5.97 handled Murry’s 6.22 with ease.
“Back in Black”-It was great to see John Overholser and his wicked-cool ’56 Chevy back in A/Gas competition.  Overholser, who had been absent from the scene for over two years, returned with some new hardware under the hood but failed to make the tough field.  Hopefully, he’s trouble-shooted that nasty fuel leak in the hat and will be in top form at Sonoma. image
image “Go ahead, make my day.”-Scott Mason, who qualified his “Sudden Impact” entry on the bump spot of the Top Fuel show with a 6.17, collects a winning first round time-slip at the expense of a broken throttle cable on Brad Thompson’s entry.
“Go places in a ’33 Willys.”-Mike Ward charges to a great 7.81 in his ’33 Willys during A/Gas qualifying.  Ward exited in round two against eventual runner-up, Ken Ratzloff, by virtue of his red-light start. image
image “We bring good things to life.”-Dan Horan charged to a 6.299/231.36 during the second NFC qualifying session to reclaim the number one spot.  Horan won his first round match against Jeff Utterback, but a round two return was zapped by engine damage.
“Fastest Sedan in America”-Sean Renteria debuted this bad-ass ’64 Valiant in AA/GAS, and qualified with a 7.008 during the second qualifying session.  Renteria then ran a 7.001 in defeating Howard Anderson’s quicker 6.83 in round one, followed by his first “6” (6.912) in a losing effort against Ed Moss’ 6.789 in the semi-final round. image
image “I shall return.” -Jim Murphy debuted a new paint scheme on his “WWII” entry, and had high hopes of collecting an unprecedented fifth Top Fuel title.  Murphy qualified second with a 5.912, defeated Brendan Murry and Lee Jennings, respectively, with consistent 5.90s, but lost his bid to the final round when his entry spun the tires and got loose at mid-track against Howard Haight in the semis.
David Spaulding had his flamin’ ’62 Chevy dialed-in for low 10-second runs all weekend in Hot Rod, and lasted until the third round. image
image “Thunderstruck”-Brett Harris made his official debut as Deputy in dad’s “Nitro-Thunder” entry.  Harris made the 16-car show with a solid 6.042, which placed him in the ninth spot of the field.  However, a broken steering arm following his burnout in round one forced the rookie to watch opponent Lee Jennings solo for the win light.
Rich Facciano put his ’32 Ford in the fifth spot of the A/Gas field with a 7.642.  Despite having cut a near-perfect light in round one, Facciano was upset by eventual runner-up, Ken Ratzloff.  Ratzloff used a 7.92 to take out Facciano’s 8.10. image
image “We’ll leave the light on for you.”-Tommy Johnson was forced to pedal his “Lights Out!” A/Fuel entry following this wheels-up launch during the second qualifying session.  Johnson qualified 10th with a 7.78 and lasted through the final four, where he lost to eventual event winner, Mike Austin.
“When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”-Winged Express driver Mike Boyd thrilled March Meet fans with killer 300′ burnouts, along with his famous wheels-up-to-the-660′ mark runs. image
image “Have a nice day.”-Stephen Nichols and the Mill Road Boys made the long haul to Bakersfield from Newark, Delaware, to compete in the NFC class.  With guidance from fuel-tuning ace Gene Amaya, Nichols put the ’70 Camaro in the sixth spot of the field with a 6.736, but at the expense of the team’s steel big block.  The team was able to replace the motor, but lost their first round match against Mike Adams.


One of these days Phil Lukens is just bound to catch a break in his classic “Blair’s Speedshop” Fiat.  Lukens did qualify for the very tough NE1 field with a 7.93, but persistent ignition problems forced him to shut-off in his first round match with Bob Hensel. image
image “If You Haven’t Looked at a Ford Lately, Look Again.”- Wow, reigning AA/GAS champ Ed Moss debuted this long awaited and striking paint job on his all-Ford entry.  Moss qualified in the second spot of the show with a 6.838, and earned runner-up honors to Steve Woods.
“Over the river and through the woods…”-Jim Woods hikes the front end up on his ’67 digger to an 8.762, which held for the 11th spot of the NE2 (8.60-indexed) field.  Woods ran an all too quick 8.58 in his first round meeting with eventual runner-up, Dan See. image
image Don Dicero’s gorgeous “Dago Express” entry made the top half of the NE1 field with a great 7.698, but his quicker 7.62 in round one was promptly dumped by the 7.64 turned in by opponent Jerry Buckley.  Ouch!
“We Build Excitement!”-Jim Data launches his popular ’57 Pontiac to a fine 7.687 during A/Gas qualifying.  Data, who qualified seventh in the show, was forced to abort his first round meeting against Terry Moorhead. image
image “Have you driven a Ford lately?”-Larry Pettit’s “Crazy Horse” ’71 Mustang NFC approaches the finish line to the tune of 6.69/217.81, good for the fourth spot of the field.  Pettit, who was shut-off in the semi-final round against Mike Adams, was reinstated into the final when Adams was unable to return.  Pettit gave it all he had against Mike Savage, but his 6.42 wasn’t enough to hold off Savage’s 6.333.
“International Man of Mystery”-Hot Rod competitor John Powers’ ’65 Plymouth oozes nostalgia, with its stacks climbing high through the hood and ready-to-pounce  stance.  Powers was MIA for the first round of eliminations. image
image “Like a Rock.” -Chris Zynda scored his first number one qualifying spot in A/Gas with a 7.615.  Zynda met Mike Ward in round one, but broke following his burnout.
“It’s good to be the king.”-Co-Hot Rod Champion Eric Christianson launches his Ford Ranchero against Co-Class Champ Jeff Crider, in a special race run Saturday morning.  While the two drivers will share the class title in the books, the winner of this race would have bragging rights and be crowned (literally) “2004 VRA Hot Rod Champ”.  Both drivers broke-out and the winner was decided by just .008 of a second, that being Eric Christianson. image
image “Big bang baby…”-Brad Thompson qualified in the number one spot of Top Fuel with this off-the-trailer, blower-sneezing 5.89.  Thompson returned for his first round meeting against Scott Mason Saturday afternoon, but when the ‘tree went green a broken throttle cable forced Thompson to watch Mason streak to a solo win.
“One bourbon, one scotch, one beer…” -Mike Demarest, seated-driver’s side, lights off the “15 oz. Coupe” in the Viper pit area Saturday evening, in a fitting cackle-salute to John Hogan, who had passed suddenly just days earlier.  The chassis was updated last year in this genuine fuel altered,  and rumor has it that there may be some match races against the Winged Express and other older fuel altereds scheduled down the road.  P.S.-Thanks for the chili, Phil. image
“If you cant’ be fast, be spectacular.”-Rick Rogers’ “Hammerhead Racing” Top Fuel entry was a dead-player at the hit and experienced this dramatic explosion during Friday’s qualifying session.  The team was able to make it back for the final session Saturday morning, but their 6.608 best was well off the 6.17 bump spot.  (Sequence by Dawn Mazi-Hovsepian)
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