Las Vegas Motor Speedway - Howard Haight, Bob Richardson and Leonard McLaughlin, the top fuel trio that make up the "Circuit Breaker" team based in Placentia, CA made it two for two in Top Fuel at LVMS this season, defeating defending Goodguys Top...
Las Vegas Motor Speedway - Howard Haight, Bob Richardson and Leonard McLaughlin, the top fuel trio that make up the "Circuit Breaker" team based in Placentia, CA made it two for two in Top Fuel at LVMS this season, defeating defending Goodguys Top Fuel Champion Rance McDaniel in the final round of the Goodguys Fall Classic today - yet another 103 degree scorcher. Nothing in particular stood out for the team on their way to the top spot (meaning a rather consistent, surgical victory), except for the fact that they bagged a cool $5,000.00 for their feat, make that re-peat feat. "Are you kiddin' me," quipped a sweaty Howard Haight when he learned of the cash purse in the winner's circle. He either forgot or didn't get the word during pre-race ceremonies that Goodguys officials randomly drew the T/F ticket from the MBNA Bonus Bucks bucket - a promotion which doubles the winner's share of the purse. Series Points leader Jack Harris went out in the first round of competition, losing to Bill Dunlap, giving 2nd place points holder McDaniel a golden opportunity to gain series points. By virtue of McDaniel's runner-up and Low qualifier effort, the stage is set for a winner-take all championship confrontation at the season-ending Goodguys Fuel & Gas Finals, November 3 & 4 at Bakersfield's Famoso Raceway.
20 year old Sean Bellemeur, a fire-fighter in training from La Canada, California lifted the spirits of all who witnessed his A/Fuel victory, by announcing he was donating his event winning purse to the American Red Cross disaster relief fund in memory of the Fireman, policemen and civilians who lost their lives on September 11th. Bellemeur was to face off against Dr. Kin Bates in the final (his first in A/Fuel) but as he backed up following his burnout, his injected nitro burning Chrysler suddenly went silent. Kaput. Tuner and crew chief Gene Adams had no idea what went wrong; "it just quit," said the drag racing legend.
Todd Movius, who's been logging laps on his small block Chevy powered Junior Fuel Dragster this summer at NHRA National events in the Comp Eliminator category (he finished runner-up at the Seattle race), beat points leader and Low qualifier Bill Wayne in the Junior Fuel final. He didn't just beat Wayne, he knocked him out, cutting a .411 light and running a 7.49 to Wayne's quicker 7.45. Movius, was so pumped up, he returned to the winner's circle with arms held high in the air - a fitting salute to his first-ever Goodguys event title. "I've been working my but off," he said, sweat beads running down his face. It showed today.
In the blown alcohol coupe and sedan class of Pro-Supercharged, Merced's Steve Wood grabbed his second 2001 event win (he earlier won the season-opening March Meet) taking his Richwood Meats backed '53 Studebaker to the win over fellow Merced, CA resident and good friend Rich Roberts. Class kingpin Steve Woods, who held a scant points leading heading into this event, won his first round race against Tim Burns, but broke some connecting rods and couldn't return to eliminations. With the win, Wood went ahead of Woods in Series points (he also qualified number one here) setting up yet another winner-take-all class championship battle at the season-ending event with Woods.
The racers here at the Fall Classic, the fans and everybody at LVMS and the Goodguys worked through brutal conditions to pull off a great event. It wasn't easy, but as Mom used to say, nothing that's good in life is. Two hundred and twelve competitors made the tow to Vegas to race and hundreds of hot rods & customs filled the show & shine area giving the sun-soaked fans a fun weekend overall.
Perhaps the single most bizarre incident to ever take place at a Goodguys drag racing event (or any drag race for that matter) occurred in round #1 of Top Fuel B competition. Long Beach racer Rich Howell (a veteran of NHRA competition) was preparing to race Lee Jennings's Chino-based California Trucker entry when the incident occurred. Following Howell's burnout and just as Jennings's car was about to fire, the red-bulbs began blinking on the Christmas Tree and the track's timing system froze. Howell was shut off, and both cars were pushed aside to cool off. A frantic LVMS crew worked rapidly to correct the problem. After 10 minutes of searching for an answer, all was deemed in order with the tree and the mystery remained. It was at that point a tower worker noticed one of the spare "Emergency Stopping" devices for the Christmas Tree was tucked under a bench in the tower where a dog-named "Donovan" (boxer) was quietly napping. It seems when the dog rolled over in his sleep; he tripped the toggle switch (which is mounted on top of a small switch box) and froze the tree and the entire timing system causing the Malay. Dawn Bates, Goodguys Points and Licensing Director, who also happens to be Donovan the dog's "Mother" nearly fainted when learning of the situation and needless to say turned as red as the bulbs themselves when she realized what had happened.
Other winner's at the Goodguys Fall Classic were: Rick McGee (Top Fuel B), Ronnie Lennon (Nostalgia Eliminator), Bob Lander (N/E II), Dean Prochison (N/E III), Ed Cooper (A/GAS), Kevin Riley (B/GAS and MBNA Sportsman Bonus Bucks recipient), Paul Giocalone (C/GAS), Caryl Lankford (Hot Rod) and Danny Reed (Street Machine). The next and final stop on the Goodguys West Coast Championship Series is the Fuel & Gas Finals, November 3 & 4 at Bakersfield's Famoso Raceway. Set up and pit parking is scheduled for Friday, November 2nd.