by Cole Coonce, NR AA/Fuel Dragster Mojo Wire 9/03/00, Los Angeles, CA--After a rock 'em, sock 'em couple of weekends on either side of the Continental Divide, the NItronic Research AA/Fuel Dragster List experienced more upheaval in the last...
by Cole Coonce, NR AA/Fuel Dragster Mojo Wire
9/03/00, Los Angeles, CA--After a rock 'em, sock 'em couple of weekends on either side of the Continental Divide, the NItronic Research AA/Fuel Dragster List experienced more upheaval in the last month than an ant farm filled with kerosene.
This torrid pace was set during the 29th Annua l NIGHTFIRE NATIONALS at Boise, Idaho, August 10-12, whereupon Jack "the Sheriff" Harris and the Utah-based "Nitro Thunder" posse stormed to Top Eliminator via a 6.22 blast that relegated Jim Murphy and the WW2 entry to runner-up status. Harris credited part of his success at both Boise and the Pomona Goodguys race earlier in the month (where he also took Top Eliminator) with his refusal to shod his "Nitro Thunder" entry with the new M&Hs, a spec that has been prone to tire shake and other anomalies. At the Boise Winner's Circle photo-op Harris confided that his tires has 20 runs (!) on them while his faithful posse nodded in agreement whilst trying to conceal their merriment...
Murphy, meanwhile, had scored Top Speed at Boise, with a 222 mph clocking, a stat that helped cushion his #2 position on the List.
The arbiters of the List held off on reporting any movement on the List--and Harris was sure to leapfrog above Fuller & Dunlap and Lee Jennings' California Trucker entry (neither of whom helped their cause at Boise)--because the next weekend's Heartland Hot Rod Reunion in Noble, Oklahoma promised more juggling of positions.
At Oklahoma, perhaps the most dramatic moment was during the second round of qualifying, whereupon the "Orange Crate" entry of Suhr & Lechtenberg (at that point #6 on the List) challenged the #5 entry of the Champion Speed Shop, out of San Francisco, CA for the #5 spot.
This was also a duel between the two quickest AA/Fuel Dragsters on the planet, as Champion unleashed a 5.87 clocking at the '99 March Meet and "Radar" Lechtenberg shoed the Dale Suhr-prepped Chrysler railjob to a 5.91 in July at Cordova, IL. Yes, the implications were manifold: the "Children of the Corn" have descended from Iowa to upend the "World's Quickest & Fastest" Mouse-motored nitro-powered digger, a claim to fame that Champion has coveted since 1961... if Champion wins, the Orange Crate can't advance beyond the Chevy-car until another challenge is enacted (and vice-versa...)
And wotta' drag race it was: The Children of the Corn, somewhat gun shy from the idiosyncrasies of the new M&Hs (which they boiled in the first session of qualifying), backed down the nitro percentage and the spark lead a tad to avoid smokin' the hoops...Champion were in rare form as evinced by a 6.22 run earlier in the evening... "Handsome Rance" McDaniel went in deep in the Champion entry and then cut a .401 light...they both moved around in the middle and at the big end you could've thrown a burlap sack over 'em if you could've caught 'em... Lechtenberg made a right hand turn at 1000' and punched out the finish line cones... Champion took the win with a 6.36, 181 to the Orange Crate's 6.25, 173(!)... margin of victory was 13/1000ths of a second !
The defense for Champion was most strategic, as team majordomo Bobby "Nitro" McLennan has expressed a genuine desire to go after both WW2 and the Gotelli Speed Shop, the #2 and #1 spots respectively.
(It is also worth noting that in defeat, Suhr & Lechtenberg ponied up 250 sheckels to the Make A Wish Foundation (the recipient of all proceeds from the Heartland Hot Rod Reunion) as part of an agreement between the two teams...Nitronic Research matched those funds and applied them to the Winner-Take-All Heartland Shootout Purse, also claimed by the Champion Speed Shop.)
But wait! Through all this drama, the LA-based Mastercam entry was also shakin' some action and lighting up the scoreboards... the team recently put the car on a diet when they hired Mike "the Nitro Warrior" Boyd (current pedal-swapper of the notorious Marcellus, Borsch & Boyd AA/Fuel Altered replication) for the summer dates; with the build of a professional wrestler, Boyd tips the scales in a most pronounced manner... it was the team's thinking that if they switched to a wet sump oil system with half the volume of their old dry sump they could patially compensate for Boyd's mass...unfortunately, this switch resulted in some pressure differential in the heads and at both Pomona and Boise Boyd was getting an oil bath at 900', right as rain... for the Oklahoma race, Mastercam reverted back to a dry sump and with conditions as situation normal, Boyd could actually see and he drove 'er out the back door to record Low ET @ 6.21 as well as Top Speed @ 222 mph (numbers which are also the quickest and fastest of his driving career)... this tremendous performance catapulted the Mastercam car into the #10 spot, bumping out the Fugowie entry of Butch Blair. (Look for Butch to avenge this slight soon... the Fugowie team has been very protective of their position on the List...)