Goodguys: Titles on the line at Ol' Famoso

2002 Goodguys VRA Championship titles on the line at Ol' Famoso. Bakersfield, CA - The ol' country dragstrip known as "Famoso Raceway," located in the heart of the Southern San Joaquin Valley farming community, will get mighty busy the weekend...

2002 Goodguys VRA Championship titles on the line at Ol' Famoso.

Bakersfield, CA - The ol' country dragstrip known as "Famoso Raceway," located in the heart of the Southern San Joaquin Valley farming community, will get mighty busy the weekend of November 1, 2 & 3. The occasion? The Goodguys 4th Fuel & Gas Finals which brings over 300 1972 and earlier vintage dragsters as well as 500 1972 & earlier hot rods & customs and an army of exhibits and midway displays to the homey, historic facility. The Goodguys Vintage Drag Racing Association's 2002 season finale event will indeed feature plenty of drama with six of eight class titles yet to be decided.

Famoso Raceway and the city of Bakersfield have become the Vintage Drag Racing Capitol of the world. The track's drag racing heritage runs deep, the track surface is known for yielding record performances, the pit area is roomy and the town is racer-friendly and affordable. This will mark the 3rd vintage drag racing event of 2002 held at Famoso and next year will be just as busy. Goodguys released their 2003 schedule this week, which again sees Goodguys visiting the track twice. The 44th edition of the March Meet will be held March 7, 8 & 9 while the Fuel & Gas Finals returns the weekend of Oct. 31st-Nov. 1 & 2.

This year's Top Fuel points battle has come down to Gerry Steiner of San Jose and Denver Schutz of Fresno who pilots Jim Cullen's Fort Worth, Texas based entry. Steiner is nearly 4 rounds ahead Schutz in series points (a round is worth 20 points); meaning if Steiner simply qualifies and is able to stage his dragster in Sunday's eliminations, he's almost guaranteed his first Goodguys Top Fuel title. Both Steiner and Schutz are quite familiar with the Famoso strip as Steiner was the number one qualifier at the season opening Goodguys March Meet this year, running a great 5.93 to grab the top spot. For Schutz, a Fresno raisin farmer, he came oh-so-close to winning here at Famoso at the recently completed NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion, taking runner-up honors to Utah's Jack Harris. Both are seasoned veterans of front engined top fuel dragster wars, Steiner having raced them since the early 60's. "I've been trying to win a Goodguys Championship since they started a points championship back in 1994," said Steiner. "This year, we rolled out a new car and a new engine combination and so far we've run the most five second times of any team competing in the Goodguys/VRA series. We're ready for the Finals," he said.

Two of the tightest championship points contests are in AA/GAS and A/Fuel. Danville, Ca's Ronnie Nunes finds himself a mere two series points ahead of four-time class champion Steve Wood is AA/GAS. Nune's blown 426-hemi-powered, hugger orange '63 Corvette is as handsome as it is fast. Nunes owns the quickest elapsed time of the year at 6.76 seconds and although he hasn't cracked the winner's circle, he's amassed enough round wins to be the leader. In A/Fuel, 58 year old Goodguys veteran Jim Paul of Auburn, CA sits 12 points ahead of defending class champion Sean Bellemeur of La Canada. Bellemeur, a 22 year old fireman in training, has youth and cat like reactions on his side but the "old man" has the horsepower. Adding even more drama to the battle is the fact that Paul completely destroyed his dragster last month at the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion in a freak accident. Paul left the line hard wheels in the air, and the dragster kept climbing and climbing until it ultimately "blew over" backwards before tumbling to earth. He emerged unscathed, but the car had to be completely rebuilt. "The car is just about back together," Paul said from his Auburn based race shop.

You get the idea. The season ending Goodguys Fuel & Gas Finals is going to be a thrilling event with dramatic action. The racing and tight points battles are just part of the excitement. The area known as "Famoso Grove," a lush landscape of trees located directly behind the main grandstand will be full of candy colored and chrome plated hot rods & custom cars, while the midway's will be full of manufacturer & supplier exhibits. For the thrill-seekers, the "Street Bike Freaks" - a San Francisco based motorcycle stunt team will perform death-defying hi-speed stunts in front of the capacity crowd. The group was a huge hit at the season-opening March Meet earlier this year and are back by popular demand.

The Goodguys Fuel & Gas Finals gates will be open 8:00am to 5:00pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday. General admission is $20 Friday and $25 both Saturday and Sunday. An adult weekend pass is $60. Kids 7-12 are $5 per day. Admission includes free pit pass and free event parking. Professional qualifying will be held Friday at 1:00pm, Saturday at 10:30am and 2:00pm with final eliminations starting at 10:00am Sunday. For additional information, call (925) 838-9876 or visit www.good-guys.com

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