Steiner Stays Red Hot - Parks "Three-Peats" at Goodguys Indy June 7-9, 2002 Clermont, Indiana - San Jose's Gerry Steiner packed his 89 year old mother, daughter Gerilyn, and the family's two wiener dogs and a poodle in his signature white 1989...
Steiner Stays Red Hot - Parks "Three-Peats" at Goodguys Indy
June 7-9, 2002 Clermont, Indiana - San Jose's Gerry Steiner packed his 89 year old mother, daughter Gerilyn, and the family's two wiener dogs and a poodle in his signature white 1989 Chevy dually and drove 2,319 miles to compete at the 14th K & N Filters Goodguys Hot Rod Nationals presented by Advance Auto Parts at Historic Indianapolis Raceway Park. Once he arrived at IRP, his long journey was only just beginning.
16 Top Fuel entries made the tow to Indy and while all of them wanted the win, several had the lone remaining spot in the Goodguys 5-second club on their minds. Denver Schutz came closest to nabbing the last spot as his 6.006 in Friday's opening qualifying session. As far as Steiner, his Indy odyssey started with a broken rear end during Friday's lone shot. Saturday morning saw the Steiner & Burger car, which some had referred to as a "monster" this season, leave the starting line before the tree was activated resulting in a "no time." So this left one qualifying shot for the "World's Fastest Austrian." Displaying the awesome form this car has exhibited all season, Steiner easily made it down the track Saturday afternoon, in the heat of the day with an eye-opening 5.924 which placed him #2 in the lineup for Sunday's show. Who was on the pole? How about the new Goodguys Top Fuel ET record holder Rance McDaniel who guided Jim and Bob McLennan's Champion Speed Shop Special to a 5.854.
Steiner's Sunday Sojourn started out with a first round holeshot loss to defending Hot Rod Nationals Top Fuel Champion Bob Muravez. Muravez's 6.121 @ 240.89 bat Gerry's 6.047 @ 239.42. Meanwhile, new record holder McDaniel posted low ET of the first round zipping to a 5.883 to defeat a red-lighting Kent Terry. However, during the run, the Champion Speed Shop entry broke the crank hub, resulting in a massive thrash. Catching wind of their trouble and being Low ET loser of the first round, Steiner and crew ceased the opportunity to run the semis via the Goodguys/VRA break rule. As Steiner did his burnout in the semis, replacing McDaniel, here came the Champion car, racing through the lanes attempting to get to the starting line. Time had run out and Steiner advanced to the final by defeating San Jose neighbor Brendan Murry running 5.971 @ 244.92 to Murry's 6.344.
The final round race was "calm" compared to Steiner's hectic weekend, as he blasted out a straight and true 6.117 @ 244.56 to defeat an up-in-smoke "Radar" Roger Lechtenberg to grab his 2nd straight Goodguys event win and his first win outside California. "I think my mom brought us some good luck," said an exhausted Steiner following the final. "If feels like we ran two complete races this weekend. I wish my guys could stay and party tonight, but they all have to catch a plane and go back home," he said.
The storyline in Junior Fuel was evident right from Friday's opening qualifying session as two-time defending Hot Rod Nationals Jr. Fuel champion Scott Parks of Burlingame, Kansas grabbed the #1 position running a 7.308 followed by his main competition Brian Olson of nearby Peru, Indiana who checked in 2nd with a 7.393. The next closest qualifier was Jamestown, Indiana's Troy Wilson who grabbed the 3rd position with a 7.81 - some five 10th's of a second behind the top two.
As eliminations got underway, the ladder showed Parks and Olson meeting in the semis if both advanced. Indeed they both did advance with Park's easily defeating Olson 7.333 to the loser's 7.419. The other semi-finalist, Tom Frye, of Clayton, Ohio had a bye run to advance to the finals when the unthinkable happened. Following his burnout, Frye's car stalled resulting in a failure to take a staging light, which disqualified him and put Olson back into the program via that familiar Goodguys/VRA break rule! In their final round rematch, Olson spun the tires early in the run, giving Park's his 3rd Goodguys Hot Rod Nationals win in as many years.
Skokie, Illinois' Ken Kleiner showed everyone in A/GAS (7.60 index) that they had to pick up three 10th's if they wanted to defeat his blown alcohol '63 Corvette. Kleiner grabbed the #1 qualifying position with a near perfect 7.618, then put the beautiful split window 'Vette on cruise control for Sunday's race. In all three elimination rounds, Kleiner logged Low ET, before defeating David Morris' '29 Ford in the final 7.885 to the loser's 8.112. As a side note, Kokomo, Indiana's Tex Cooper got the "Best Burnout" award in A/GAS by doing not one, but two 700-foot smoky burnouts behind the wheel of his blown 327 small block powered '55 Chevy.
Nostalgia Eliminator was run for the first time as a complete 7.60 index class at the Hot Rod Nationals attracting 15 entries from around the country including Rich "Rio" Raymond who towed from Northern California because, as he said "I've never been to drag racing's holy land and I better do it now as I'm not getting any younger!" The Nostalgia racers put on the best show of the weekend with a qualifying sheet that had all eight cars within two 10th's of each other. Prior Lake, Minnesota's Greg Benson and his 540 Mopar powered '32 Bantam roadster prevailed Sunday afternoon, defeating Pat Ellerholz in a very close final with Benson's 7.639 covering Ellerholz' 7.670.
Other winner's at the 14th K & N Filters/Goodguys Hot Rod Nationals presented by advance Auto Parts included Fred Bach (Top Fuel B), Darrell Wathen (B/GAS), Paul Hembree (C/GAS), Buddy Whay (Nostalgia 2), Ron Finney (Nostalgia 3), Max Lang (Hot Rod Eliminator), Norman Coupil (Street Machine Eliminator), Michael Kaiser (Flathead Inline), Brent Elmore (Nostalgia Super Stock), Randy Sacksteder (Nostalgia Gas), Duane Booden (Street Rod Shootout) and Keith Palcisko (Hot Rod Shootout).