Goodguys: Bakersfield: Famoso Raceway race report

K & N Filters/Goodguys 43rd Anniversary March Meet - "The Amazing Race" Bakersfield, CA - Amazing is about the only way to sum up the 43rd Anniversary edition of the K & N Filters/Goodguys March Meet. The event attracted 412 '72 and earlier ...

K & N Filters/Goodguys 43rd Anniversary March Meet - "The Amazing Race"

Bakersfield, CA - Amazing is about the only way to sum up the 43rd Anniversary edition of the K & N Filters/Goodguys March Meet. The event attracted 412 '72 and earlier racecars, over 800 '72 and earlier rods, customs & classics and a spectator crowd of tens of thousands prompting March Meet regulars to remark "we've never seen this place so crowded." One could argue that the record turnout of fans and cars wasn't the main story. On-track performances left even the most grizzled drag racing veterans shaking their heads. In all, three Goodguys/VRA national records were set including new marks in Top Fuel, A/Fuel and Junior Fuel.

Top Fuel action was fierce beginning with Friday's opening qualifying session when defending Goodguys Top Fuel Champion Rance McDaniel set the pace with a 5.94. Saturday however, Gerry Steiner, who debuted a brand new car at the March Meet, eclipsed everyone with a 5.93 which was sufficient enough to grab the Red Line Oil Low Qualifier bonus. The run of the event and possibly one of the most shocking runs in drag racing history occurred in Sunday's opening round when Jim Murphy logged a 5.819 @ 255.24 is his OSH, Metrinch sponsored top fuel dragster to defeat Marc Malde. Prior to the apocalyptic blast, the fastest run in the history of front-engined top fuel was Roger Lechtenberg's 5.870. "It's been there all along, but new crew chief Tim Beebe (of Beebe & Mulligan top fuel fame) is so good, he brought out the full potential of our combination," said a jubilant Murphy following the run.

While the entire facility was buzzing following Murphy's run, it was low qualifier Gerry Steiner who was consistently carving up the competition with career-best performances. Steiner advanced to the final round with a 5.88-best during eliminations (the 5.88 was logged in the 2nd round against the "amazing" Jim Murphy - who fell off his 5.81 pace with a 6.08 in defeat) to face off with defending March Meet top fuel champion Jack "The Sheriff" Harris. In a bizarre turn of events, Harris was reinstated into eliminations twice during the day via the Goodguys break rule. Adding to the final round drama was the furious thrash taking place in Steiner's pit following his 5.93 semi-final victory over Rick McGee. With only minutes remaining, Steiner pulled to the line to face off with Harris. Steiner's record setting day ended short of victory as he watched Harris take the win 6.10 to 9.12.

It was clear to all that after a full day of career-best performances, Steiner's engine wasn't up to the task. "What a strange day" said Harris in the winner's circle. "I've never won a race where I've been beaten twice, but the break rule saved us!" The day wasn't a complete loss for Steiner as he set both ends of the Goodguys/VRA top fuel record with a 5.93 @ 248.55. Goodguys 2001 A/Fuel champion Sean Bellemeur didn't miss a beat all weekend and again proved to be the best "leaver" in the class. His brilliant reaction times (he recorded successive reaction times of .448, .449, .421 and .430 in eliminations) earned him the March Meet victory. Bellemeur's best elapsed time during eliminations was 6.62 and his key race of the day came in the semis against number one qualifier Ron Attebury, who in qualifying set a new Goodguys VRA National speed record running 217.75. "The Kid" as he's known by his competitors cut a .421 light and his 6.70 beat Attebury's quicker 6.68 which proved to be the closest race of the day in all classes. He then used a .430 light in the final to defeat Jim Paul running a 6.68 to Paul's better 6.58.

The old cliche "What a Difference a Day Makes" perfectly fitted March Meet AA/GAS Champion Gary Reinero, although in his case it was "What a Difference a Year Makes." In 2001, Reinero won one round of competition in five events. On Sunday at the K & N Filters/Goodguys March Meet he defeated number one qualifier Ronnie Nunes 6.94 to 9.08, Howard Anderson in the semis 7.18 to 8.85 and took out longshot Mike Leonard in the final 6.98 to 7.10. "Last year was horrible," said Reinero - a Merced, California based farmer. "We had chassis gremlins all year but over the winter we took everything apart and re-evaluated and it worked out good today!"

Goodguys Junior Fuel racing has a new dominant figure and his name is Wayne Ramay. In February, Ramay reset the NHRA Comp Eliminator class index at the Kragen/Checker/Shucks Nationals at Firebird Raceway in Chandler, Arizona by logging a 7.138. At the K & N Filters/Goodguys March Meet, his record setting performances continued in qualifying when he grabbed the pole with a 7.211. Sunday, he improved to a 7.148 @ 185.91 with those times setting both ends of the new Goodguys/VRA National record. He basically mowed through the field to meet Stacy Paul in the final. Ramay "eased" off his torrid pace by defeating Paul in the trophy dash 7.212 to 7.414.

The most serious incident at the event occurred in round two A/Fuel qualifying when Mark Woods Jr. rolled Brian Van Dyke's brand new unpainted "Flying Dutchman" dragster near the finish line. Woods was knocked out for a brief moment but regained consciousness before he got out of the car under his own power. He was in fine shape later that afternoon.

Other winners at the K & N Filters/Goodguys 43rd March Meet were Don Taros (Nostalgia Eliminator), Alan Hull (Nostalgia II), John Cassie (Nostalgia III), Mark Mahood (A/GAS), Kevin Riley (B/GAS), Mario Braga (C/GAS), Jeff Crider (Hot Rod) and Dale Thomas (Street Machine).

Next up on the K & N Filters Goodguys Drag Racing Series is the 14th Nitro Nationals, April 20 & 21 at the newly modernized Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, CA. For additional information call (925) 838-9876 or visit www.good-guys.com

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Series Drag
Drivers Kevin Riley