Combustion Chamber-2003 Goodguys Hot Rod Nationals & Hot Rod Happening


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The Goodguys VRA packed a lot of racing in just two short weeks during the month of June.  The first stop began with the Hot Rod Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park, June 13-15, followed by the return of the Hot Rod Happening at the Pomona Fairplex, June 27-29.  In spite of soggy conditions nearly 5,000 street rods and over 300 race entries packed IRP the first two days of the event, while Pomona quaked and baked in anticipation of nostalgia racing under the lights.  Highlights of each event…Scott Parks winning his fourth consecutive Indy title; my dad tuning Nick Jackson’s Willys to the A/Gas win at Indy; watching Mike Boyd wheel the “Winged Express” at both events, and Jack Harris’ love of the 250+ MPH zone!  The following photos will take you on a journey of just some of the highlights from each event.  Enjoy!  Dawn & Mark

Gary Blasey qualified his ’40 Chevy in the sixth spot of the Geezer Gasser program at Indy with an 11.17.  Blasey won the first round over John Klinger, but was unable to return for round two. image
image Mike Boyd and Al “Mousie” Marcellus began a three week thrash/tour with the famed “Winged Express at the Hot Rod Nationals.  Severe engine failure during this run forced the team out of exhibition status.
Dave Campbell launches his 409 powered ’63 Belair during Nostalgia Super Stock time trials to a 10.65. image
image Dave Cox, who hails from Dacula, verdana, drove this sharp “Hellzapopin” ’32 Ford in HR1 but was unable to get past the first round.
Ron Doran competed in his ’40 Willys at Thompson, Indy, and Bowling Green,  nailing the number one qualifying spot at Indy with a 10.902. image
image Hot Rod 1 competitor Rick Lawson looked great coming off the line in his ’70 digger during his round one meeting against Bill Roberts.  Disappointment greeted Lawson at the big end though, as he slowed to a 10.585 which was way off his 10.10 dial-in.
Keith Fulp drove this awesome ’58 Ford in Street Machine 1.  Fulp was able to crank out low 10s throughout the weekend, but bulbed by eight-thousandths in round one. image
image Cecil Mathews’ ’57 T-Bird was one of four west coast-based AA/Supercharged cars brought in for exhibition runs.  Mathews, who had just come off a B-field win in Sonoma, recorded a best of 7.30 at Indy before losing in the second round.
Randy Sacksteder qualified his “Hemi-Fied” ’41 Willys in the third spot of the B/Gas field with an 8.74, but lost in the first round to a major holeshot provided by Kenny Davis. image
image Nick Jackson, who was fresh off a runner-up effort at the Gasser Reunion, ran the table in the A/Gas program at Indy.  While not the quickest car of the 7.60 field, Jackson did score his first seven second run (7.93) during qualifying which placed him seventh in the show.  Jackson combined lightning-quick reaction times and bettered e.t.s (7.80 best) throughout eliminations, sending his gorgeous Frank Mazi-tuned, SBC- powered Willys to the winner’s circle!  Great job, Nicky (& Daddy)!
Defending A/Gas champ Keith Kleiner launches to the number one spot of the show with a 7.609.  Kleiner’s weekend came to an abrupt end in round one, as opponent Scott Quesenberry ran an excellent 7.62 over Kleiner’s off-pace 8.43. image
image Since his Y2K debut, Scott Parks has dominated the Goodguys Jr. Fuel class at IRP and 2003 would be no different.  Parks, who qualified number one with a 7.249, had his competition covered by no less than three tenths, eventually setting low e.t. and top speed of the event with a 7.15, 184.85 during his round one defeat of Carl Mease.  Parks continued his domination of the class defeating Dave Dupps and Pat Malloy, respectively, before claiming his fourth consecutive Indy title and fifth consecutive Goodguys event dating back to last year!  Wow!
Tom Glick qualified his ’32 Bantam in the second slot of the NE1 field with a 7.73, and went on to win his first Goodguys title disposing of Glenn Somers, Rob Jones, and Mike Emch, respectively. image
image Scott Quesenberry qualified his ’55 Chevy in the ninth spot of the A/Gas field with a 7.97.  Quesenberry upset low qualifier and reigning event champ Keith Kleiner in the opening round, before falling to Bill Caughron in round two.
Robert Bassett brought his “Spartacus” Fiat all the from Mustang, Oklahoma, to compete in the Hot Rod 1 class.  Despite cutting a great light in his opening round match against Mark Schneider, Bassett wound up going under his 8.54 dial-in with an 8.51. image
image Linda Riha of Shellsburg, Iowa, competed in Hot Rod 2 with her ’48 Anglia at Indy and lasted until the second round.  Linda, along with her husband Dale, also enjoyed extra track time at Thompson and Bowling Green.
Bob Mermuys qualified his “Bars Xtreme” ’33 Willys in the 13th spot of A/Gas with an 8.31.  Mermuys lost his opening round match against Bill Caughron, but was reinstated in the second round on the break rule when Gary Collins was unable to return.  Mermuys took full advantage of his reprieve, lasting through the final round and taking home runner-up honors to Nick Jackson. image
image Randy Tavoletti, another Geezer Gasser touring participant, qualified his ’41 Willys in the 11th spot of the Indy field with a 10.63 before exiting in round one.
The Street Machine 1 final round provided the closest finish of all classes.  Bob Westoff, far lane, takes the win light over opponent Andy Bohl…M.O.V. was just six-thousandths!  WOW!! image
image Bob Willsher drove his “Hurricane Hemi” Coronet into the sixth spot of the Nostalgia Super Stock show with a 9.89.  Willsher lasted until the second round where he bulbed against eventual winner, Kenny Gresham.
Dave Dupps charges off to a 7.883 during Jr. Fuel qualifying which placed him third in the field.  Dupps improved to a 7.678 in his round one defeat of Chuck Rearick, but lost to eventual winner Scott Parks in round two. image
image Scott Schoonover had his little ’32 Ford wound up tighter than an idiot-clock during his first round clash with Dave Davis…probably a bit too tight, as he broke out by just 14-thousandths!
Another 409 Chevy Nostalgia Super Stock entry on hand was that of Ken Walsh.   Walsh rock and rolled with this twisting beast during time trials, but was nowhere to be found on Sunday. image
image Hot Rod 1 competitor Mike Spence yanked the front end high in his “Wizard-N-Woovy” ’57 Chevy during his first round win over James Reynolds.
Roger Lechtenberg, near lane, and Randy Bridges squared off in the Top Fuel final at Indy.  The heavily favored Lechtenberg, who had scored low e.t. and top speed of the event with a 5.96/242.98 during his second round slaying of Ernie McClain, blew the tires off at the hit and was never able to recover, while Bridges streaked by for his first Goodguys title with a 6.54. image
image Craig Wallace qualified his ’29 Ford in the top spot of the NE3 field with a 9.603.  Wallace went on to win his second event of 2003 by defeating Dean Prochison, Sonny Wells, and Jim Eggleston, respectively.
Dave Gruzen, near lane, qualified Dick Moseley’s “Midnight Madness” Fiat in the eighth spot of the NE3 field with a 10.236.  Gruzen stepped up to a 9.599 during this first round race against Steve Foster, but that was one-thousandth too quick for the 9.60 class.  Oh-man! image
image The NE2 final came down to Jerry Buckley, near lane, and Bob Lander.  Buckley grabbed the win using a holeshot-aided 8.636 over Lander’s 8.610.
Tommy Schiffilea launches his slick ’40 Willys to an 8.17, which placed him fifth in the A/Gas B field.  Schiffilea lasted through the final round, only to be stopped short of a win by Augustine Herrera’s ’67 Camaro. image
image The NR1 final came down to first time finalists John Lenko, near lane, and Jerry Beach.  It turned out to be a holeshot victory for Beach as he used a 7.650 over Lenko’s quicker 7.619.
Gary Reinero qualified his ’48 Austin in the sixth spot of the AA/GS show with a 7.07.  Reinero lost to eventual winner Steve Woods in round one, 7.004 to a 7.085. image
image Yeah, they THUNDERED!  Jack Harris and his Utah Posse collected their second win of 2003, but the multiple 250+ MPH shots that rang out of the “Nitro-Thunder” entry were most deafening.  Harris re-set the VRA mark with a 256.55, which was book-ended by 253.30 and 256.33 runs.  I can only imagine what the showdown between Harris and Murphy will be like in Bakersfield  at the Fuel and Gas Finals!
Dave Gruzen qualified the popular “Mighty Mouse”  in the ninth spot of the NE1 field with a 7.642.  Gruzen defeated Phil Lukens and Dave Rosenberg, respectively, before falling to eventual runner-up John Lenko in round three. image
image Jeff Lirones, of Tujunga, Ca., qualified his cherry “Muscle Machines”-backed Willys in the second spot of the C/Gas field with a 9.602.
Jeff “Surfer” Diehl, driver of Brian Van Dyke’s “RB Entertainment” AA/FD, qualified fourth with a 6.02, 243.70.  Diehl defeated Troy Green in round one with a 6.016, 246.57, but lost in round two to Chuck Tanko.  Diehl advanced to the semis on the break rule for Tanko, and proceeded to upset Jim Murphy in the process with a 6.052, 244.56.  Diehl’s hopes of victory went up-in-smoke in the final against Jack Harris. image
image Len Perry, near lane, and Dean Bliss met in the C/Gas final and it ended up being a double break-out finish on the 9.60 index.   Bliss snagged the win-light by a margin of four-thousandths using a 9.599 over Perry’s 9.595!  WOW!
Rich Roberts, near lane, and Ed Moss paired up during the Saturday evening AA/GS qualifying session, and it was Moss taking the poll position with a 6.899 while Roberts snatched the fifth spot with a 7.045. image
image Jim Godec, near lane, and Kevin Riley dash for the finish line in the B/Gas final.  Godec crossed the stripe first using an 8.687 over Riley’s 8.731
Dave Gruzen had to be the busiest driver of the entire weekend, as he got behind the wheel of yet another altered, that being the family-owned “Merciless Mouse”  AA/FA.  Gruzen participated in exhibition sessions during the weekend and rattled off his first six-second run Saturday evening.  Way to go, Dave, Joel, Dee, Cookie, and Bill!  (must have been the Nitro-Salsa…) image
image Scott Parks, near lane, and Dean Carter met in the Jr. Fuel semifinal round where Parks used a come-from-behind 7.207 to take out Carter’s 7.433 and advance to the final.
Bob Godfrey handled driving duties in Jeff Gaynor’s ’70 Cuda funny car during exhibition sessions, as Gaynor has yet to license for the class. image
image Bill Genco qualified his digger in the ninth spot of the A/Fuel program with a 6.950.  Genco stepped up to a 6.841 during his round one match with reigning champ, Sean Bellemeur, but Bellemeur’s 6.538 got the best of Genco on the big end.
Chris Abbey qualified his gorgeous ’63 Vette in the fourth spot the AA/GS show with a 7.034.  Abbey ran a great 7.06 over Tim Burns’ 7.411 in round one, but was unable to return in round two. image
image Mendy Fry-Harris qualified in the eighth spot of the Jr. Fuel A field with a 7.508, but lost in round one to eventual runner-up Scott Parks.
Bobby Riggle shared exhibition time in his famed “Hemi Under Glass”. image
image Chris Zynda, near lane, and Butch Ranson prepare to do battle during their first round match in the A/Gas B field.  Ranson took the lead at the line and never looked back, advancing to round two with a 7.95 over Zynda’s  8.52.
Jim Murphy shot out to a 5.887, 225.39 pass during Friday evening’s qualifying session, which ultimately placed him in the second spot behind Jack Harris.  Murphy was favored to meet Harris in the final, but was stopped in the semis by eventual runner-up Jeff Diehl.  Diehl used a 6.05 to dispose of Murphy’s tire-hazing 6.794. image
image Ed Elliott, who was one of 30 entries competing in C/Gas, reaches for the sky in his “Shoebox” ’56 Chevy during qualifying.   Elliott lost in the first round at the hit when his axle broke.
“Wild Bill” Alexander put John and Lynda Eirich’s “Ground Zero” entry into the ninth spot of the Top Fuel show with a 6.13, 219.94.  Alexander drew Jack Harris in the opening round but was unable to put up much of a fight, as the car smoked the tires after the hit while Harris screamed down Parker Ave. to a 5.949, 256.33. image
image Mike Boyd, who had just spent the last two weeks thrashing parts together for the “Winged Express” between 3 events, provided closing entertainment during the evening qualifying sessions held Friday and Saturday.
Top Fuel pilot Howard Haight had his hands full during his first round meeting with Brendan Murry.  The “Fugowie” entry went into an immediate wheelstand off the line and as Haight tried to peddle it, the car started hazing the tires in the process.  Haight brought it back down safely, but had to watch Murry take the win light with a 6.49. 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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