Goodguys: Sonoma Nitro Nationals preview

Goodguys 17th Nitro Nationals Boasts Drag Racing Icons Sonoma, CA -- Over 400 vintage drag racers competing in 14 classes have set their sights on Infineon Raceway for the 17th running of the Goodguys Nitro Nationals -- a full scale drag...

Goodguys 17th Nitro Nationals Boasts Drag Racing Icons

Sonoma, CA -- Over 400 vintage drag racers competing in 14 classes have set their sights on Infineon Raceway for the 17th running of the Goodguys Nitro Nationals -- a full scale drag racing event and rod & custom car show April 23rd & 24th at the sprawling wine country motorsports facility. The event returns to Infineon after a one year hiatus and will serve as the second stop of the 2005 Goodguys Championship Drag Racing Series -- the only competitive point's series for vintage drag racing competitors in the United States. In addition to the racing competition, Goodguys will honor Northern California racing and rodding legends Frank "The Beard" Bradley of Napa and Dick Bertolucci of Sacramento. Bradley retired from driving in 1991 with two American Hot Rod Association Top Fuel Championships, as well as four NHRA National event titles in Top Fuel racing and Bertolucci was and still is a custom car icon in the Sacramento area.

While the racing may be called "vintage" and the cars patterned after 1970s-era drag racing machinery, the performance of the racecars is anything but old fashioned. The Top Fuel dragster class as well as the Nitro Funny Car division feature machines which run 5-second quarter-mile elapsed times with speeds approaching 260mph. Fueled by highly explosive nitromethane, these racing relics are newly constructed sleek dragsters adhering to strict modern day safety guidelines. By and large, vintage auto racing is staged as mere "exhibitions" with promoters encouraging safe, throttled-down Sunday drives. Not so with Goodguys Vintage Drag Racing. It's all about pedal to the medal, guardrail to guardrail action -- with championship series points on the line as well as cold hard cash, national magazine coverage and of course bragging rights!

Leading Bay Area drivers Jim Murphy of Santa Rosa in Top Fuel and Steve Woods of San Leandro in AA/GAS lead their respective divisions. Murphy finds himself second in series points after a semi-final finish at last month's Goodguys 46th March Meet in Bakersfield, but Woods leads the pack in series points after a big win at the March Meet. Woods' final round opponent Ed Moss of Ontario, California is expected to give him his stiffest challenge, while Murphy looks to defeat an expected field of over 20 top fuel dragsters.

35 year old female racer Mendy Fry of San Diego, a graduate of Santa Rosa High School and Santa Rosa native will return to her home track driving the "Mastercam" sponsored front-engined top fuel dragster. Last October, Fry became the first female nostalgia top fuel racer to exceed 250mph when she ran 251.32 mph at the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion. Fry first started racing when her late father Ron put her behind the wheel of the family's 1927 Ford track roadster. She went on to compete in the NHRA Division 7 driving 230mph alcohol dragsters before leaving drag racing to focus on her professional career as a corporate head-hunter for Robert Half International Inc. Mendy left Robert Half in 2002 to return to her fist love -- drag racing - and today races in vintage drag racing's premier class. After a quarter-final finish at the season opener in Bakersfield, she finds herself 7th in series points.

Another fast female competing in the 17th Nitro Nationals will be 25 year old Kelly Craig of Campbell, CA. Craig -- a champion snowboarder, has been racing on the Goodguys vintage circuit for the last five years in the Junior Fuel Division. However, her agenda includes more than drag racing at the Nitro Nationals. Along with her 180mph flame hued blue dragster, she'll be bringing a film crew to gather footage for a documentary she's producing. The film will focus primarily on the women involved in drag racing, namely Mendy Fry -- her longtime hero.

Joining the drag racers at the 17th Nitro Nationals will be several hundred hot rods and custom cars taking part in the "show & shine" portion of the event. Staged on the NASCAR pit lane in front of the main grandstands, the show & shine features chopped '32 Fords, custom 1950 Mercury coupes, Hemi Barracuda's and of course classic 1955 Chevy's and countless other favorites. A Manufacturer's Midway featuring speed equipment suppliers will be featured as well.

Event hours are Saturday, April 23rd 8:00am to 5:00pm and Sunday April 24th 8:00am to 5:00pm. Qualifying takes place Saturday from 8:30am to 3:00pm with opening eliminations starting Saturday afternoon at 3:30pm. Final eliminations and opening ceremonies take place Sunday morning at 9:45am.

General admission is $25 per day, kids 7-12 $6 per day. Spectator parking is FREE

For additional event information, log on to or call (925) 838-9876


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