HARRIS DOMINATES ELIMINATIONS
Smashes ET Record with a stunning 5.56
Austin Wins Funny Car
CA - March 07-09, 2008: The 50th anniversary of the March Meet can be
summed up with an amalgamation of superlatives that would send
an English major scrambling for their Thesaurus. Under four days
of Chamber of Commerce skies, the largest car count/spectator
attendance in history filled the hallowed Famoso Dragstrip grounds
for the event that lived up to its star billing - and more.
John and Blake
Bowser along with one of the best crews ever assembled put on
a drag race for the ages. From the full pits on Thursday to the
Winners Circle shots on Sunday this was an event brimming with
an accommodating facility, incredible racing surface, friendly
staff, full bore fans, record performances and sadly, tragedy.
Aside from the
unforeseen and grievous loss of Top Fuel veteran John Shoemaker,
the 2008 March Meet was a grand slam home run by anybody's standards.
The 40,000+ fans that packed the facility over the three-day
event were treated to over 500 race cars, a packed manufactures
midway, a Cacklefest, swap meet, hotrods, rat rods and many of
the sports greatest stars. By Sunday everyone was already making
their reservations for the 2009 event.
ado here's the race starting with the first Top Fuel qualifying
session from Friday. Until a long overdue TV deal is struck,
this is the best front engine top fuel coverage in the world.
Photos by: Bob Brown,
Stephen Justice, Warren Merriman, Steve Wallace, Dan Kaplan,
Tim Hanaseth, Pam Schavrien, Darrell Conrad, Jim Phillipson,
John Ewald and Don Ewald
*This page has
300 photos so if you have a dial up modem it probably won't load.
Jack Harris and
company celebrate his 3rd March Meet win and smashing the Top
Fuel ET record with a stunning 5.56.
Top Fuel Qualifying
- Session One
sunny skies and ideal track conditions the first session of Top
Fuel qualifying went off as scheduled at 2:00 p.m. Friday afternoon.
drivers focused backing up.
cars left hard - we had a drag race.
The first pair
to test the water was local hitter Brad Thompson in the Thompson
& Bless entry and Rick White in the AutoPower Neal &
White entry from San Diego. - two drivers on the Tricky Tipster's
top five to go all the way.
Out of the box
Thompson set the stage for what promised to be a performance
riddled weekend with a 5.675 at 250.34 - the first leg of a new
ET record. And, a preview of all the pistons that would be sacrificed
the the aluminum gods.
Lost in Thompson's
time was a very nice 5.860 at 242.45 by Rick White.
Pair two featured
Pete "Fritz" Kaiser in ever improving Ground Zero fueler
and Mark Malde in the Birky Bunch Chevy car.
cars left hard - not a sign of tire spin.
mounts started eating pistons early and he wisely clicked it.
laid down a trouble free 5.863 at 255.89.
In Malde's wake
out came the ace Famoso Safety Safari and clean up crew. They
got a real workout this weekend.
Fire the next
pair - Jason Richey in Dave Smith's "Nitro Fever" and
Rick McGee in the Tedford & McGee "Overtime Special".
didn't hit the tune-up and clicked it to a 6.370 at 190.39.
get the ET they were looking for but the big MPH was there with
a 6.017 at 250.97.
Out next was
Mike McClennan in the Mike Fuller Motorsports car and Denver
Schutz in the Jim Cullen "Raisin Express II" entry.
only car in this session on Hoosier tires, was a bit soft at
the hit but not so for Schutz.
clicked it way early to a 6.233 at 199.55.
notice that he too was here to play carding a 5.853 at 251.74.
The fifth pair
out featured Ernie McClain who travled some 3000 miles from Delaware
(for sure the long distance award for Top Fuel) with his Mill
Road Boys Chevy powered car for the 50th March Meet and Rick
Williamson in the Hot Rod Bill's entry.
was way more aggressive on the leave....
way back in his rear view mirror Williamson clocked a career
best 5.833 at 246.57. Ernie put up a shut off 6.244 at 229.18.
Out next were
old friends Jim Murphy in his WW2 Racing entry and John Shoemaker
in the American Eagle. This match up would prove to be a portent
for the worst racing weekend in Murphy's long career and tragedy
for the entire drag racing family.
went into stage he was shut off with a minor oil leak.
was a bit off track from the hit.
When it was obvious
that the car was not going to behave, John clicked it and did
a masterful job of keeping it off the guardwall and on all fours.
the thoughts of improving in session two were already on John's
left first and harder but would not be around long.
out rolled Rick Rogers in his Hammerhead Racing entry and Adam
Sorokin in the RB Entertainment - Champion Speed Shop flyer.
long dead in the water, Rogers ripped off a respectable 6.085
car had the best 60 foot time but that wasn't saying a lot.
After Mendy Fry's
move to funny car, Terry Cox was recruited to fill the seat of
the Botehlo-Compston-Patterson late model hemi powered car. He
was paired with Shannon Stewart in Bob Richardson's "Circuit
By the 300 foot
mark Stewart had gotten out of the groove and drifted way too
close to the wall and wisely shut it off.
Down track Cox
experienced some aluminum problems and shut off as well. His
6.295 at 204.49 would make the show at #11 but certainly not
hold for two more sessions.
The next pair
out was Jack Harris back in the seat of his Nitro Thunder car
after a 2 year absence and Howard Haight in Butch Blair's "Fugowie!"
All was good
until Harris was ready to move up to stage. A small oil leak
developed and the crew frantically tried to stop it. Finally
Starter, Bill Condit tells crew chief Rayce Muchmore to signal
Jack to shut it off and gave Haight the single.
Haight left good
and was on a good lap when he clicked it a bit early with a 6.018
at 227.90. Could have been a 1000' check out pass.
Prior to Bill
Dunlap's burnout, car owner Brendan Murry shared some thoughts
on the track condition with big show funny car shoe Jack Beckman
who was driving a Nostalgia Funny Car on his weekend off.
his burnout in Murry's "Running Wild" Chevy power fueler.
In the High Speed
Motorsports car for his second full season, Troy Green heated
the tire in the right lane.
clicked it a bit early to a 6.148 at 215.10.
Green left hard
in the HSMS car (aka Great White) while Dunlap's ride was a bit
Green also shut
off early (as planned) and stopped the clocks with a nice and
clean 5.886 at 223.60 which was a great baseline pass for the
team to work from.
left hard and at this point all was well.
fine until the 1000' mark when all hell broke loose ...
the session, Randy Beck was out in John Rodeck's "Paso Posse"
fueler for his last pass to upgrade his license to Top Fuel.
Beck, with virtually
no experience under his belt, had the one thing happen that rattles
the most seasoned vets - a severe oil bath right in the lights.
The Rodeck hemi ate up several pistons covering Randy with oil.
he had everything go wrong that could go wrong. The chutes were
very late, plying the brakes the car hopped causing the throttle
to be slapped and all this resulted in a hard hit to the guardwall
near the last turnout.
Beck was stabilized
by Sean Bellemeur (driver/EMT) until the cage could be cut off.
He was transported to the hospital for CAT scans and other treatment.
He was released later that night and was back at the track on
Saturday. Beck later lamented that he could/should have done
things differently but we all know that hind sight is always
20/20 and there is no doubt that the next time he will know what
to expect and how to handle it.
The car was a
total loss. Pipe can be replaced, people can't. A testament to
the high safety standards applied to this cars.
Bob Brown Photos
Stephen Justice Photos
Dan Kaplan Photos
Warren Merriman Photos
Tim Hanaseth Photos
John Ewald Photos
Don Ewald Photos
Pam Schavrien Photos
Darrell Conrad Photos
Jim Phillipson Photos
Thompson & Bless Racing
Jack Harris Racing - Nitro Thunder
High Speed Motorsports
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1st of 3 qualifying sessions:
1 - Brad Thompson
5.675 @ 250.34
2 - Rick Williamson 5.833 @ 246.57
3 - Denver Schutz 5.853 @ 251.74
4 - Rick White 5.860 @ 242.45
5 - Pete Kaiser 5.863 @ 255.89
6 - Troy Green 5.886 @ 223.60
7 - Jason Richey 6.017 @ 250.97
8 - Howard Haight 6.018 @ 227.90
9 - Rick Rogers 6.085 @ 250.97
10 - Bill Dunlap 6.148 @ 215.10
11 - Mike McLennan 6.233 @ 199.55
12 - Mark Malde 6.242 @ 208.52
13 - Ernie McClain 6.244 @ 229.18
14 - Terry Cox 6.295 @ 204.49
15 - Rick McGee 6.370 @ 190.39
16 - Adam Sorokin 7.383 @ 203.20 203.20
------------ Not Qualified ------------
17 - Shannon Stuart 8.634 @ 103.32
18 - John Shoemaker 8.978 @ 102.08
Shut off due to oil leaks:
Jim Murphy and Jack Harris
Session Two - Saturday
Session Three - Saturday
Round One - Sunday
R2 - Final -Sunday
All the Winners plus Pits N' People
Funny & Other Race Cars
2008 March Meet Cacklefest
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