Goodguys: Sonoma: Event preview

Goodguys vintage drag racers eagerly await shot at "new" Sears Point Raceway Sonoma, CA - Goodguys Vintage Drag Racing has officially arrived as the Western United States' official alternative form of Championship Drag Racing. Last month in ...

Goodguys vintage drag racers eagerly await shot at "new" Sears Point Raceway

Sonoma, CA - Goodguys Vintage Drag Racing has officially arrived as the Western United States' official alternative form of Championship Drag Racing. Last month in Bakersfield, The 43rd K & N Filters/Goodguys March Meet attracted close to 500 racecars, 50,000 fans and the on-track performances saw three national records fall. It was the largest non-NHRA drag racing event held since the late 60's out West.

This weekend, April 20 & 21 over 350 competitors will gear up for an all out assault on Sears Point Raceway's brand new drag strip, which was officially unveiled Wednesday, March 27th. The K & N Filters/Goodguys 14th Nitro Nationals promises a full weekend of nitro fumes, tire smoke and potential record runs. The event is stop number two of the 2002 Goodguys West Coast Championship Vintage Drag Racing Series.

The new racing surface at Sears Point features 660 feet of all concrete "launching pad" and with the close proximity to sea level, conditions should be ripe for more record shattering runs in the professional Goodguys classes. Santa Rosa's Jim Murphy, owner and driver of the Orchard Supply Hardward/Metrinch Top Fuel dragster looks to improve on his class-best run of 5.81 seconds at over 255mph - a time he recorded last month in Bakersfield. "With the new track surface at Sears Point, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a 5.7 second ET and maybe a speed somewhere near 260mph." Murphy wasn't the only one logging otherworldly numbers in Bakersfield. San Jose's Gerry Steiner, winner of the first-ever Goodguys Nitro Nationals at Sears Point back in 1989, set both ends of the official Goodguys Top Fuel class record with a time of 5.88 @ 248mph. Several other teams also logged sub-six second runs in Bakersfield and are chomping at the bit to get a crack at Sears Point. Even last year, those kinds of numbers were inconceivable for a front engined top fuel dragster. Many attribute the newfound performance to a new tire produced by Massachusetts based M & H Tires. For 2002, M & H designed a brand new 12-inch wide tire that had everybody running strong in last month.

Santa Rosa native Mendy Fry, one of vintage drag racing's earliest stars will debut a brand new Junior Fuel dragster this weekend. Along with her husband Pete Harris, they built the car themselves, built the motor and will also serve as their own crew. "It's a brand new deal - everything," said the 30 year-old drag racing queen. "Sears Point has always been 'Jr. Fuel' friendly but in year's past, the left lane was superior. Hopefully the new surface will play evenly." Simi Valley's Wayne Ramay holds the hot hand in Junior Fuel heading into Sonoma off his record setting performances at the March Meet. Ramay won the Bakersfield event in landslide fashion setting a new class record ET and Speed of 7.14 @ 185mph. The best run ever in Junior Fuel was logged by Ramay at an NHRA event earlier this year when he recorded a 7.12. Those numbers are in serious jeopardy of being eclipsed.

Racing at this weekend's Nitro Nationals will be conducted in 12 classes including Top Fuel, A/Fuel, Jr. Fuel, AA/GAS, A/GAS, B/GAS, C/GAS, Nostalgia Eliminator, Nostalgia II, Nostalgia III, Street Machine Eliminator and Hot Rod Eliminator.

Fans attending the 14th K & N Filters/Goodguys Nitro Nationals will have the luxury of being the first to enjoy the mega-million dollar Sears Point Modernization project. For starters, all spectators will now enter Gate #7 off Highway 121 - a completely new entrance. The all-new 10,000-seat permanent grandstand will offer sweeping 180-degree views looking East towards the drag strip. In year's past, events like the Nitro Nationals offered limited seating on the West Side of the drag strip and had to look through chain link fences and telephone poles to watch the action. "The racing fans will now be able to enjoy some of the best views in motor racing," said Sears Point Community Relations Director John Cardinale.

The 14th K & N Filters/Goodguys Nitro Nationals spectator gates will swing open Saturday, April 20th at 8:00am. Event hours are 8:00am to 5:00pm Saturday and Sunday. General admission is $25 per day, $45 for a weekend pass and kids 7-12 are $5 per day. Spectators must use Gate #7 off Highways 121 (approx 3/4 of a mile North of Gate #1).

In addition to the racing action, the event will feature a rod & custom "show & shine" for 1972 and earlier vehicles as well as isle after isle of manufacturer exhibits.

For additional information, contact Goodguys (925) 838-9876 or Sears Point Raceway (707) 938-8448. Related websites are www.good-guys.com and www.searspoint.com.

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