The weekend of Sept. 16-17-18 at Famoso Auto Club Raceway was quite a busy one. Multiple events were packed into those three days, starting off on Friday afternoon with Test & Tune sessions for anyone who chose to run. Included were two Nitro sessions featuring TF Dragsters, Funny Cars and Fuel Altereds.

Saturday had two main events. In the NHRA Heritage Series, there was a rain-makeup race to be completed for the Group 2 classes (NE1, 2 & 3 along with all Gas Classes and Hot Rod) since weather interrupted the scheduled competition at Rocky Mountain Raceway in Utah earlier in the year.

Interspersed with that day long competition were 3 Nitro test sessions at roughly Noon, 3 PM and 5 PM. One couldn't be disappointed in all of that! And if that wasn't enough, the Main Event lay ahead for Saturday evening- Saturday Night Nitro!

In past years, there were two of these SNN events each Summer, but it was reduced to one this year. It serves as a Final test and Tune opportunity for the upcoming California Hot Rod Reunion next month (Oct. 21-23). The format was somewhat different this year in two ways. First, there was a mixing of the three categories of Nitro cars- Top Fuel, Funny Car and Fuel Altereds. Yep, thats right- it was quite common to see a Top Fueler go mano a mano against a Funny Car, or a Funny Car square off against a Fuel Altered.

But wait... there's more! The second change was to introduce a 6.0 index for the three Nitro classes, meaning if you went quicker than 6.00 you were disqualified. The idea was to have some good racing while not tearing up the cars just before the CHRR. These two changes in format seemed a bit odd at first, but the racing turned out to be great!

Saturday evening commenced with a Nitro Parade in front of the fans in the grandstands, consisting of some of the 23 contenders about to do battle. Darkness fell, and about 7:40 PM the first Nitro flames pierced the air in an "All Run" qualifying competition against the 6.00 ET clock.

The spread went like this: 3 Top Fuel entries (several more were on the grounds), 7 Fuel Altereds and 13 Funny Cars. The eight drivers making the cut by being closest to the 6.00 mark were:
1. Rick Rogers FC Fighting Irish 6.041
2. Geoff Monise FC Quarter Pounder 6.055
3. Keith Wilson AA/FA Witch Doctor 6.066
4. Bret Williamson TF Forever Young 6.110
5. Jeremy Sullivan AA/FA Fiat 6.140
6. Mendy Fry FC Smokey's Darkside 6.209
7. Alex Miladinovich FC Hot 4 Teacher 6.245
8. Jim Holtz AA/FA Trouble Maker 6.500

These eight quickest cars then met as 4 pairs just before 11 PM, with the exception of Williamson who couldn't make the call, so James Day in the Pedaler came in on the Break Rule with the next best time of 6.502. To be the Champ, you had to win your pairing and come the closest to 6.00 in doing so.

Pairings went as follows:
1. Rick Rogers vs. Jim Holtz. Rogers took it with a 6.268 to Holtz's 7.085
2. Geoff Monise vs. Alex Miladinovich. Monise won with a 6.051 to Alex's too-exuberant 5.88
3. Jeremy Sullivan vs. James Day. Sullivan won with a nice 6.071 to Day's shut-off 10.488
4. Mendy Fry vs. Keith Wilson. Fry clocked a 6.295 over Wilson's clicked 6.480

So the Saturday Night Nitro Champion was Geoff Monise in Dale Van Gundy's "Quarter Pounder" with his 6.051. Jeremy Sullivan was runner up at 6.071.

The night finished off with a run by "The Beast", a popular jet dragster.

Photos & Commentary by Bob Brown

The three afternoon sessions on Saturday were T&T only.

The All Run session that started around 7:40 PM Sat night served as qualifying.

The quickest 8 ET qualifiers from the All Run session (at 6.00 ET or higher, go under, you’re out) were then paired off to run in the second round as the “Fast 8”, starting at 10:50 PM.

In that session, you had to win your heat, and the best ET of the 4 winners took the whole enchilada.



photos in the order they were shot


One of the four NTF cars testing on Friday was Jim Murphy. Jim and his WW2 Racing team along with Crew Chief Roland Leong were, like most of the other cars, preparing for the upcoming CHRR. Several made more than one test. Photos below with no names as they will be ID'd on the Saturday coverage.































It was great to see Geno and Harley back where they belong. The fact that NHRA in their infinite wisdom decided to "discontinue Geno's service starting immediately? Thus another CHRR staple has been stomped on by those who have no clue.





Leading up to the one shot all run qualifying in the evening, there were 3 sessions of test opportunities for all the nitro cars throughout the day. Several were prepping for the upcoming CHRR and did not run in the qualifying session.


Pete Wittenberg, the car owner was out doing license runs. Pete Kaiser & Mendy Fry did backup and tuning.. Mendy also drove the Smokey’s Darkside FC- she was a busy gal that weekend.





Dean Oberg was in the seat of the Holy Toledo Jeep


Jim Murphy in his WW2 Racing entry was out more for testing than to try to run over 6 seconds.



Broke out! <grin>


Mendy Fry in the Darkside Challenger


Cory Lee in the California Hustler TransAm



Shawn Van Horn in the Choo Choo Mama AA/FA


Bob Godfrey in his Burnin' Money Cuda




Rick Rogers in the Fighting Irish '74 Camaro


Bill Windham in the “Shakedown” Camaro



Wes Morris in Jack Wright's Challenger




Todd Maller was in the seat of the Pisano & Matsubara car getting a CHRR tune-up.



Adam Sorokin in the Champion Speed Shop NTF car.


Brad Thompson in his Jailbreak Camaro






Bret Williamson was back in the seat of Mike Fuller's Forever Young NTF car.




Tony Ruggiero on his nitro Harley



Bob shot session two on the topend leading off with Bobby Cottrell.


Dean Oberg and Brendan Murry



Mendy Fry and Bob Godfrey



Wes Morris


Dan Horan Jr. in his ProMod looking Funny Car.


James Day in the Pedaler Challenger


Don Hudson in the Sizemore Construction TransAm and Geoff Monise in the Van Gundy and Clark Quarter Pounder Monza.




Jim Murphy




Pete Wittenberg




The third and last practice session was led off by Jeff Arend in the '48 Fiat AA/FA.



Jeff Bennett in the Pure Heaven AA/FA




Rick Rogers



Adam Sorokin




Cory Lee



Dennis Swearingen in his Nitro Cowboy entry which didn't make the qualifying session.



Todd Maller



Wes Morris



Rodney Flournoy in his Godzill AA/FA




Don Hudson





Greg Justice Nitro Harley







Leading off was Mendy Fry and Keith Wilson in the Witch Doctor AA/FA



Wilson ran a 6.066 which would end up #3 while Fry was right there with a 6.209 which would hold for #6.




Next up, Rick Rogers and Marcus Lawson



Rogers went to the top with a 6.041 while Lawson had problems and ran a 10.417.



Next pair was Geoff Monise and Jim Holtz in the Trouble Maker AA/FA.



Geoff Monise nailed it with a 6.055 while Holtz's 6.500 would ultimately hang on for the #8 spot.



Alex Miladinovich who carded a 6.245 and Jeremy Sullivan who ran a nice 6.140. Both qualified.




Dan Hix in the Heatseaker AA/FA came oh so close to a perfect number but his 5.998 was two thousandths to quick.




Shawn Van Horn ran a 6.624 while Dan Horan carded a 12.744. Neither were close to the qualifying times.



Next pair pitted Bret Williamson and Rodney Flournoy. Willamson was one of two NTF cars that made the 8 car field. His 6.110 would be good for the #4 spot. Flournoy's 7.286 sent him to the trailer.




Next out were two cars that very familiar with the fives. Adam Sorokin and James Day.





As he has done so many times before, Sorokin had the front wheel up almost from the hit. By the time he landed and hit it again the run was shot. His 7.041 didn't get it. As for Day, his 6.502 missed the cut by just two hundredths.





Next pair was Brad Thompson and Dean Oberg



Both cars had problems and didn't come close to the qualifying number.



Next to shoot for a 6.0 was Cory Lee and Scott Cousimano



Cousimano was done early while Lee broke out with a 5.991. I'm still trying to wrap my head around a nitro funny car running too quick to qualify.




NFC vs NTF Don Hudson and Jim Murphy


Hudson was shut off. Murphy launched hard but started smoking the tires at the 60' mark.





Out next was the Valencia Bros. AA/FA and Danny Gerber


The altered broke and Gerber smoked the tires at the tree.




Next out, Jeff Arend and Rian Konno


Konno went low for the session, unfortunately in this case was the biggest break out. His 5.909 was way too quick. Don't what to make of Arend's time, a -99.999?




The last pair was Todd Maller and Wes Morris


The Pisano car broke on the burnout, Morris failed to make the show. The 8 car field was basically filled by the first 8 pairs.




 Qualifying- Quick 8

Rick Rogers 6.041 6.00 0.041
Geoff Monise 6.055 6.00 0.055
Keith Wilson 6.066 6.00 0.066
Bret Williamson 6.110 6.00 0.110
Jeremy Sullivan 6.140 6.00 0.140
Mendy Fry 6.209 6.00 0.209
Alex Miladinovich 6.245 6.00 0.245
Jim Holtz 6.500 6.00 0.500



Five of the final 8 make the pre race parade.








The rules are simple - beat the car in the other lane and run as close to 6.000 seconds as you can. One round, closest winner to 6.0 gets the trophy.


First pair to run for the money was Rick Rogers and Jim Holtz.



Rogers left first by a bunch and took the win with a 6.268 at 172.12. Holtz carded a 7.085 at 138.06.




The next pair featured two funny cars, Alex Miladinovich and Geoff Monise.




Monise took the win with a 6.051 at 232.87 while Miladinovich went way too quick with a 5.887 at 244.56. Ask me I'd say he was getting ready for the CHRR.




Pair three pitted a AA/FA and NFC. Jeremy Sullivan and James Day who was in as an alternate for Bret Williamson.



Day was up in smoke early, but Sullivan's 6.071 at 228.73 did not better Monise's 6.051 time.




The final pair was another AA/FA vs NFC deal. Keith Wilson and Mendy Fry.





Fry carded a 6.295 at 190.43 while Wilson clicked it to a 6.480 at 155.47. And just like that Geoff Monise won the trophy and money with his 6.051. Jeremy Sullivan was the runner-up with a 6.071.

I guess the jury is still out on how this format worked, but the large crowd seemed to enjoy the show.









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