"Back on Track"
- Goodguys 19th Hot Rod Nationals Gives Vintage Drag Racing Fans a Thrill
Sunday, June 10th, 2007 - O'Reilly Raceway Park, Clermont, IN - After four consecutive rained out editions, the Goodguys Hot Rod Nationals, celebrating its 19th season, was run under "Chamber of Commerce" low 80-degree weather conditions this weekend at O'Reilly Raceway Park just outside Indianapolis. Also getting back on track was Goodguys/VRA itself, staging its first vintage drag race since last November's curtain closing Fuel & Gas Finals.
The event, which combines a massive hot rod car show with the vintage racing action, offered fans a diverse menu of racing classes ranging from 250mph front engined nostalgia top fuelers and funny cars, to "Geezer Gassers" and the always popular gear-banging Nostalgia Super Stocks. Throughout the weekend over 250 cars did battle in 12 classes. Goodguys/VRA teamed with the Indianapolis based Nostalgia Pro Comp Association to pull off the event and judging from the smiles on the competitors faces -- the 20th anniversary event next year will be back stronger and louder.
In Nostalgia top fuel, Cedar Falls, Iowa racer Roger Lechtenberg won the
battle but lost the war. Driving Dale Suhr's brand new
"Orange Crate" dragster, the man they call
"radar" reeled off a 5.862 @ 254.38 for low ET and top speed
of the race but the taxing effort wiped out the team's only engine.
Lechtenberg's semi final victim, Howard Haight in Butch
Blair's colorful "Fugowie" entry, got back into the
final via the break rule to face off against West Coast fan favorite
Brendan Murry of San Jose, CA. Murry found the consistency he's
lacked of late here at ORP and had his best outing in nearly 12 months
qualifying in the third slot. In the final, Murry was caught napping at
the tree. He outran Haight with a 6.012 @ 239.61 but Haight's 6.049
248.57 was good for the event win. Haight, who was beside himself with the win for car owner's Butch and Terry Blair, relocated to Brownsburg from Southern California last year and lives about 1500 yards from the racetrack. In true showmanship fashion...he walked home with the top fuel eliminator trophy!
The highly touted Nostalgia Funny Car exhibition delivered in a big way with nine nitro burning retro funny cars lining up to shake the ground and certainly brought the fans to their feet. After great qualifying show and opening eliminations Saturday, the floppers got down to serious business Sunday with Western States stars Mike Savage (driving the Arizona based "Speed Sport" 1970 Barracuda) and Bob Godfrey squaring off late in the day for the cash and mantle piece. At the flash of green in the money round, Godfrey left a little late but his career best 6.105 @ 234.98 was good enough to cover the 6.406 @ 225.07 posted by Savage.
Joining the nitro burners was no less than six eliminator classes from the NPCA. Pro Comp I (7.00 index) and Pro Comp II (7.50 index) featured a dazzling lineup of altereds, alcohol funny cars, and front engine dragsters of all shapes, sizes and colors. Pro Comp I winner Sean DeWitt drove his altered to the winner's circle from the number six qualifying spot, taking out the number one qualifier Richard Edwards on a hole shot in the final 7.051 to the loser's quicker 7.027. Pro Comp II belonged to St Louis Missouri's Jon Rhodes who drove his injected front engined dragtster to the title from Saturday's top qualifying spot.
The A/GAS and B/GAS action was a mix of jubilation and heart break. A/GAS racer A.J. Schwitchenberg towed his '63 Corvette 6,400 miles from his home in Wasilla, Alaska to grab the top qualifying spot but broke his motor in the process and had to watch Sunday's elimination rounds. Indianapolis based Don Rayburn took home the A/GAS spoils in his bright red '72 Gremlin running a 7.779 in the final to beat number one qualifier Mike Cooper. B/GAS had some serious drama in the semi finals when Rob Fox ('53 Chevy) and Dave Royer ('68 Camaro) collided with each other past the finish line. Both cars were totaled in the wreck leaving Ryan Sacksteder with a solo in the final for the B/GAS trophy.
Other winners at the 19th Hot Rod Nationals included Dan Pichla (Nostalgia Gas), John Rousset (Nostalgia Super Stock), Steve Cregut (Geezer Gasser), Tim Skertich Jr. (Street Machine Eliminator), and Alan Stellmacher (Hot Rod Eliminator).