Combustion Chamber-2011 53rd Bakersfield March Meet


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image March 18-19, & 26 2011 – Famoso Raceway-Bakersfield, CA- The 53nd running of the Bakersfield March Meet turned out to be quite the endurance race, and a long, strange event at that.

Despite the cool and damp conditions of the first weekend, all qualifying sessions were completed by Saturday afternoon, and the first round of eliminations in Top Fuel and Funny Car were finished by 6:00 P.M.   By that time, track temperatures had dropped to a a mere 50 degrees when the first pair of C/Gas eliminations were run.

Division 7 Director, Mike Rice, wisely made the call to cancel the remainder of the class until Sunday morning.  But Sunday’s continuation of eliminations were not meant to be as a massive winter storm swept through Famoso Raceway, and most of California for that matter, prompting track officials to postpone the remainder of the event to the the following weekend.  It was an unfortunate turn of events for many participants who had qualified in their respective classes, as many racers were unable to stay or return due to work or prior race commitments. For those who did return and saw their way through the completion of the event, you can bet there were plenty of smiles and tears shared in the winner’s circle. On a side note, we greatly missed the inclusion of AA/GAS, A/Fuel, 7.0 Pro, and the Jr. Fuel classes at the March Meet. Enjoy the following photo highlights.  -Dawn & Mark
Hot Rod – David Howard took the honors after 6 grueling rounds in the “roll your own” category of Hot Rod Eliminator. Howard’s’71 Camaro was “dialed-in” at 12.82 throughout eliminations, and he was able to combine good lights, consistency, and a bit of racing luck to clinch the March Meet title.
D/Gas – Josh Conrad began the defense of his 2010 Heritage Series Championship in D/Gas with a March Meet trophy. Conrad’s razor sharp lights pushed his first 3 competitors out, and then he grabbed the ET when he needed it against Morgan Wiggers in the final with a 10.605, just 5  thousandths off the index.
Nostalgia Eliminator III – The 2010 March Meet NE3 winner, Tim Beeman began week 1 of the 2011 event as the low qualifier in the 9.60 index with a 9.602, then finished week 2 in the Winner’s Circle for the repeat title. Beeman’s final round victory was a dead-on 9.600 over 2009 March Meet champ, Lindsey Lister.
C/Gas – Emerging from the number 7 spot in C/Gas, Andrea Whiteside endured in 5 rounds of competition to lock in her first March Meet championship. Whiteside secured the double breakout battle with Russ Hudson, then singled against a broken Todd Lindgren, gunned down a red-lighting Tom Fowler, out raced Ken “Racer” Brown, and pushed out a “late” Eddie Prenevost with a .062 RT coupled with a 9.602 winning ET.
Nostalgia Eliminator II -Miguel Lomas rose to the top of nearly thirty competitors in the 8.60
index of Nostalgia Eliminator 2 with victories over Jay Huckleberry’s ’23 Ford, Jeff Crider’s ’68 Tuttle dragster, then Bob Johnson in the semi-finals. Lomas treed (.024) the #1 qualifier (8.601) Kim Lee in the final, and ran an 8.604 to Lee’s over-ambitious 8.574.
B/Gas-Three dozen challengers vied for the B/Gas title, and Randy Armstrong rose from the 9th spot with excellent reaction times and consistent E.T.s by wheeling his big-block powered ’57 Chevy past Doug Araiza’s ’69 Camaro, John Sallani’s ’69 Camaro, Keith Morovich’s ’67 Nova, before taking out and Brian Rogers’ ’67 Nova in the final.
Nostalgia Eliminator I – The 1-week postponement of eliminations whittled the 32-car Nostalgia
Eliminator down to 25 returning competitors, creating an oddball ladder, and then Kevin Sarginson handled the rest. Sarginson beat Gabe Wood, Eily Stafford, Mike Fitzello, and then Tony Wimer before facing Bobby Runyon in the final. A well-timed throttle blip during staging provoked Runyon’s red light start, instantly handing the March Meet title to Sarginson.
A/Gas– Terry Newton was the #1 qualifier in A/Gas with his sharp AJPE 540 c.i. powered ’53 Studebaker, and stunned Chris Beanes in the final after wins over Jimmy White, and Brad Chafee, respectively. Newton welded Beanes to the tree with a .033 reaction time, and despite a 7.601 chase-down by Beanes, Newton grabbed the March Meet title with a 7.62.
Use 4-arrow pop out for large HD screen. Funny Car Round One EliminationsRon Capps kicks off funny car eliminations with an blower-sneezing explosion that sends the Blue Max Ford Mustang body off and away in a winning 7.79 over Dennis Swearingen in the Nitro Cowboy ’69 Chevy Camaro; Mike Savage wins in the Candies and Hughes ’70 Barracuda entry with a 5.94 over Peter Gallen’s 6.23 in his Poverty Stricken ’74 Chevy Vega; Tim Boychuck wins easily in his ’77 Pontiac Firebird with a 5.86 over Dwayne Patton’s shut-off 14 second pass;
Jason Rupert drives the Mert Littlefield ’69 Chevrolet Camaro to a first round win on a single when opponent John Hale is shut off after firing in his Mike Burkhart ’69 Camaro; Kris Krabill drove Gary Turner’s Pedaler ’78 Plymouth Arrow to a winning 5.97 over Dennis LaCharite’s 5.99; Mike Halstead drove the Bomb Squad ’73 Plymouth Duster to a winning 6.14 over Mark Hentges’ shut off 16.76 in Bucky Austin’s ’78 Plymouth Arrow; Mark Sanders pedaled his Mr. Explosion ’70 Nova to a coasting 9.28 win light over Tim Nemeth who shut off; Jeff Arend drove Dale Pulde’s War Eagle ’77 Pontiac Firebird to a winning 5.899 over Rian Konno’s 6.62 in the Kanzanjian, Lemmon, Konno ’71 Ford Mustang.
Funny Car Round Two Eliminations Only three teams returned for final eliminations, as remaining finalists had prior obligations. Kris Krabill drove Gary Turner’s Pedaler ’78 Plymouth Arrow to a winning 5.85 on a single when Tim Boychuck did not return; Jason Rupert drove the Mert Littlefield ’69 Chevrolet Camaro to a 5.742 over Mike Halstead’s losing 6.25 effort in the Bomb Squad ’73 Plymouth Duster. Use 4-arrow pop out for large HD screen.
Funny Car – Kris Krabill came from the number 6 spot in the 16-car F/C eliminator
and put Gary Turner’s “Pedaler” into the March Meet winner’s circle (for the first time) against the toughest car on the property driven by Jason Rupert. On paper, the performance edge favored Rupert, the #1 qualifier, who also held low ET and Top Speed of the meet. Krabill’s 5.908 handled Rupert’s 5.824 by virtue of a holeshot, allowing a margin of victory of just 3 thousandths of a second.
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Top Fuel Round One Eliminations-Rick White runs 5.678 254.09 on bye run; Brendan Murry runs 6.14 in defeat to Brett Harris’ 5.693 262.08; Jim Murphy runs 5.813 at 249.03 mile per hour over Terry Cox’s early shut off 6.55; Brad Thompson’s losing 5.91 to Tony Bartone’s 5.801 250.09; Howard Haight uses a team best 5.85 in defeating Roger Lechtenberg’s 5.94;Mike McLennan runs a 5.963 in defeating Bill Dunlap’s quicker 5.958; Use 4-arrow pop out for large HD screen.
Rick McGee singles to a 5.98 when opponent Larry Gotelli bangs the supercharger on the burnout; Denver Schutz singles to an easy 8.47 when opponent Adam Sorokin is unable to make the call.
Use 4-arrow pop out for large HD screen. Top Fuel Round Two Eliminations-Just six teams returned for final eliminations on the second weekend of the Bakersfield March Meet. Rick White soloed to low E.T. of the event with a 5.65 when opponent Mike McLennan did not return; Jim Murphy dispatched Rick McGee with a 5.76 to McGee’s 5.85; Brett Harris drove the Nitro Thunder entry to a round win over Howard Haight and the Mr. Boston team, 5.76 to 5.96; and Denver Schutz took an easy single as opponent Tony Bartone did not return.
Top Fuel Round Three Eliminations-Rick White defeated Denver Schutz 5.70 to a 5.81, and Brett Harris strapped a major hole shot on Jim Murphy to advance to the final against Rick White, 5.77 to 5.71. Use 4-arrow pop out for large HD screen.
Top Fuel – The final round of Nostalgia Top Fuel featured the best of the best. Rick White set the mark in qualifying with a 5.664 at 251.53 MPH, and then Brett Harris (at #2) grabbed Top Speed of the meet at a booming 262.08 during the first round of eliminations. White bettered his numbers with low ET of the meet in round 2 at 5.659/261.37, and also ran the lowest ET of every round. Chuck Neal’s potent combination gave White the performance advantage coming into the final, but team Nitro Thunder could not be counted out. Use 4-arrow pop out for large HD screen.
With a collective five March Meet championships between Brett and father Jack it could be argued that the odds were even. At the green White dashed off the line first, and stayed out in front, running a 5.707/259.21 over Harris’ valiant 5.78 to collect his first March Meet crown.
©  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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