Combustion Chamber-2009 7th NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion


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June 19-21, Beech Bend Raceway Park, Bowling Green, KY-  Competitors, race officials, and fans of the 7th National Hot Rod Reunion won’t soon forget the sweltering conditions throughout the action packed weekend.  Nearly 300 competitors descended upon historical Beech Bend Raceway, while fans packed the facility for the three-day time warp.  Cacklefest participants filled the Saturday evening air sandwiched between the vintage covered grandstands with nitro belching header flames much to the enjoyment of the capacity crowd.  Darrel Gwynn served as Grand Marshal, and honorees included Jerry Baltes, Amy Faulk, Chuck Nelson, Bob Creitz, and Vance Hunt. The Justice Brothers Reunion Spotlight honored the team of Stone, Woods & Cook, widely considered one of the best drag cars of all time. The following photo highlights are just a portion of the excitement that happened during this event. Enjoy! Dawn & Mark
The most populated class of the 2009 NHRR was Hot Rod boasting nearly 80 entries.  Event winner Bruce Edwards didn’t even make his first pass down the 1320 until the last qualifying session Saturday morning.  The Shelbyville, KY, native made short work of the class from that point on, running nearly on his 11.59 dial-in in each of his seven round wins.
image The crowd went wild for the supercharged ’29 Ford A/Gas entry of David Morris.  Morris, of Mustang, Oklahoma, lasted several rounds running a string of 7.70s throughout the weekend.
Bob Schneider returned to the NHRR representing the elite Orientals Hot Rod Club from his hometown of Reading,
Massachusetts. His gorgeous “Sizzler” dragster, the current version of his Top Fuel car from 3 decades ago, was a tad too quick for the 7.50 limit in A/Comp, but a 7.36 personal best elevated him to this year’s “quickest member in the club.”
The Top Stock finale featured an all-Kentucky pairing and it was Greenville resident Chad Mahlosky driving his ’72 Nova to the winner’s circle over Louisville native Tommy Mattingly.
New England Dragway racer Cliff Pelissier brought his 1937 Chevy B/Gas entry to Bowling Green to compete in the Gas Eliminator category.  Pelissier exited in round one by virtue of a red light. image
image A last minute financial “bail out” forced the cancellation of the much-anticipated Reunion debut of the Mopar Hemi
Challenge. Countless ‘Cudas and Darts were sent to the Unemployment
Office as the Challenge got challenged right around the time that the
Congressional proctologists where examining Chrysler. Danny Gourein’s
’62 Chevy was one of nearly three dozen torque-twisting Nostalgia Super
Stocks whose secondary stimulus package offered relief for fans of
wheels-up action.
Modified Eliminator winner Kenny Pease scored a popular win in his 1962 Chevy Wagon.  Pease, of Dyersburg, TN, qualified third running nearly on his 10.50 index, and was clearly dialed-in throughout the six rounds of eliminations.
Longtime fuel racer “Diamond Dave” Miller, most noted for campaigning his shorty (200″) T/F dragster during the mid-80s, handles driving duties in the Telstar AA/FD entry.  Miller qualified 6th with a 6.36 but lost in the opening round to eventual runner-up Denver Schutz. image
image Don Moyer, of Mentor, Ohio, competed in Modified Eliminator in his ‘Rebel Reaper’ ’40 Willys.  Moyer qualified 23rd with an 11.18 and lasted until the second round.
65-year old Geezer Gasser competitor Steve Cregut, who won the 2007 NHRR staged at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, OH, earned his second  NHRR title in his ‘Rat Now’ ’48 Austin.  Cregut qualified second with a 9.69 and defeated Bill Caughron in the final.
Cam2 greased the Hot Wheels Crazy Horse Mustang flopper a trip to Bowling Green for a few exhibition passes.  Car owner George Doty, who missed the event due to an illness, enlisted driver Jeff Utterback to handle the reigns of his bucking bronco, as well as Danny Pisano’s tuning expertise for the long distance haul.  Pisano and Utterback made the most of what they had to work with, clocking a decent 6.21 in the blistering heat of the day while working the bugs out. image
image Popular Michigan racer Bob Sarkisian ran his chopped ‘Hellacious’ ’48 Anglia in Gas Eliminator.  Sarkisian’s weekend came to an end in the second round.
Longtime Nostalgia Super Stock racer Ron Furgye collected his first NHRR trophy in his ’63 Savoy over finalist Jimmy Ray.  Furgye celebrated in the winner’s circle which featured three generations of Furgyes!
What more could a dad want? Larry Dixon got to spend his Father’s Day weekend drag racing with son, Larry, Jr. Not only was Pops competing, he also Cacklefest-ed the flawless Smirnoff dragster he drove in 1967, and while Larry, Jr. was making his front engine dragster debut in the seat of his Howard Cam’s Rattler, senior was in the push-car.

Sr. was also one of six entries to support the Midwest 7.0 Pro debut at the NHRR.  Dixon qualified fifth with a 7.66 and lost to eventual winner Larry Harlen in round one.

image Canada was well represented by racers and fans alike.  Bob Bourne of Barrie, ONT, wheeled his ’48 Fiat to the 11th spot of the Comp Eliminator field with 9.24, and last through the semi finals losing to eventual runner-up Donald Nave.
Sam Patrick burned up the Beech Bend 1320 en route to capturing the Gas Eliminator title in his ‘Burning Money’ ’37 Chevy.  Running on a 10-flat index, Patrick defeated Roger McConnell in his ’48 Anglia in the final run for the money 10.03 to 9.509.
Robert Bassett qualified his ‘Spartacus’ ’37 Fiat third in the Comp field with an 8.05 on the 8.00 B/C index, but exited the event early by virtue of his first round runner-up effort. image
image Steve Crook of Eastlake, Ohio, made his first NHRR appearance in his ‘Blew By You’ ’56 Chevy Gasser.  Crook clocked a personal-best 10.96 during the heat of the day on Friday, and lasted until the second round of eliminations.
The crowd went crazy for Competition winner Rick Lawson’s and his ’31 Ford Comp Coupe.  Lawson, who has campaigned this car for 10 years at various nostalgia events, bagged his first win over a strong field of 26 cars.  Lawson notched round wins over Russell Snyder, Jim Rodarmel, David Decrest and Donald Nave, respectively, to cap off the Father’s Day winner’s circle celebration.
Bill Caughron thrilled fans with in his wheel-standing ‘Golden Angel II’ ’48 Anglia.  The Louisville native runs a Hilborn injected 396 c.i. Chevy to the tune of high 10-second elapsed times.  Caughron earned runner-up honors to Steve Cregut. image
image The multi-talented Mitch King piloted Henry Gutierrez’s “Texas Jungle” 1972 Jungle Jim Liberman tribute Nitro Funny Car in exhibition action with smoked-in burnouts and reminiscent quarter-mile
passes. Gutierrez also brought the restored version of the mini-Camaro
to Bowling Green with Randy Liberman on hand for the cackle-festivities.
Larry Harlen, of Rockport, IN, passed his 185 MPH (just left of center-steer) ’48 Anglia Gasser thru the 7.0 PRO Eliminator with round wins over Larry Dixon Sr., Chris Strickland, and number one qualifier Bill Norman, respectively.
Jr. Fuel winner Odie Coker dominated the class from start to finish, qualifying number one with a 7.48 as well as claiming low ET and top speed for the weekend.  Coker earned his third straight NHRR title by defeating William Brainard, Chuck Rearick and Mike Millsap, respectively.
Mike Millsap, President of the Southwest Jr. Fuel Association, qualified third with a 7.78 and earned a runner-up finish to fellow SJFA member Odie Coker. image
image Fans were treated to smoky side-by-side burnouts, and full-dose runs in “mixed doubles” action with Funny Cars trading battles against Fuel Altereds in exhibition competition. Ron Hope Rat Trap-ped
Randy Walls in his Rat-motored Super Nova II in this match-up, while Nanook pilot Vince Generalao was declared the overall winner. Walls chose this event as “the comeback” from his horrendous fire at the 2007 CHRR as a tribute to his birth state where he will be inducted into the Kentucky Motorsports Hall of Fame in August.
In other Funny Altercations, the ubiquitous Mike Lewis gave Justin Grant’s Wonder Wagon pilot Joe Haas the loaf and delivered the bread with some direction-challenged hair-raising runs, rivaling the Fuel Altereds in pucker factor but not ET.
Heritage Series A/Fuel competitor Garry Wheeler was victorious in Open Fuel with his injected nitro combo, and had the lone dragster in the light Open Fuel field (3/8).  Wheeler didn’t take the
opportunity lightly however, and sped to the number one spot in qualifying with a 6.56 that could have placed him comfortably in Top Fuel.
While Troy Green (far lane) controlled the ladder during qualifying, grizzled veteran Denver Schutz had the car to beat on Sunday. With the last notes of the National Anthem still reverberating
in the muggy air the “Shooter” posted low ET of eliminations with a 5.98
trouncing of Dave Miller. He overtook Rick Rogers in the last few inches of their brawl, to ultimately face the number one qualifier and current Top Fuel champ.  On any track a blockbuster battle, pitting savvy “west coast” teams, both with, “There is no second place”dedication.  Schutz held lane choice, but Green held
the reigns of the car with more Bowling Green lap-time (i.e. wins) than anyone else. The tension was thick like the “pea soup” air when the two potent cars jumped cleanly at the green. Green was first to leave but was also the first to smoke the tires in a multi-lead-swapping; track-wasn’t-as-sticky-as-your-T-shirt nail biter. The smoke never did clear, but a 6.777 to 6.890 report came over the PA giving team “High Speed” the win, and the “Raisin Express 2” a runner-up finish in its first visit to Bowling Green.
image Competition competitor Dave Cox launches his bitchin’ Hellzapoppin’ ’32 Ford during Friday’s first qualifying session.   Cox, who qualified well into the field on a 10-flat index, lasted through the quarter-finals.
Troy Green collected his second National Hot Rod Reunion Top Fuel title, and fifth for the for the High Speed Motorsports gang with dominating performance throughout qualifying, along with keen driving skills during eliminations. As the only car to run 5s in both lanes, HSM bettered their numbers in every session, ultimately capturing low ET and Top Speed at 5.931/250.13 in front of a packed house during Saturday’s final round of qualifying in a prophetic “win” over Denver Schutz. On Sunday, Green eased out a triumphant 6.08 over an ailing Brendan Murry in the first round, and looked to be on a good one before clicking early against the red-lighting Howard Haight in round two. Lane choice may not have mattered in the final as the weather threw the track, cars, tuners, and drivers more than anyone could handle. Green unloaded his best reaction time of the day (along with the car’s best short time) for the early lead but by 300′ starting hazing the tires. Almost simultaneously, Schutz then experienced his own smoke-em-up and an eerie off-the-throttle silence fell over the track.  Both drivers knew each was in trouble and were back on the loud pedals again, and in one of the most dramatic T/F final rounds witnessed, ownership of the biggest Top Fuel trophy east of the Rockies was back in Green’s control with a winning 6.777 to Schutz’s valiant 6.89.
©  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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