"The Wizard" to Challenge "Ground Zero" at Goodguys March Meet



by Cole Coonce, NR Mojo Wire

3/10/00, Bakersfield, CA--Only a "Wizard" would stir the cauldron on what had been a perfectly acceptable thermodynamic soup. Such is the case with Lance Osborn Racing, as Lance hisself (aka "the Wizard") ordered drastic changes to the fuel system of his Chevy-powered front-motored fueler after a most successful coda to his 1999 season in which he catapulted from the back of the pack to win the "B" Main at last year's California Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway. Even more remarkable was how he closed the season: By posting numbers (a couple of 6.15s, for instance) that were worthy of the "A" Main itself.

No, winning the "B" Main and leaving well enough alone wasn't good enough for Osborn... And after a silly season consultation with fuel system brainiac Pete Jackson (who generously proffered some pronounced changes to the fuel system), Osborn has thrown down the gauntlet and is attempting to crank up his profile by challenging his way onto the NITRONIC RESEARCH AA/FUEL DRAGSTER LIST via a match race with the potent Hemi-milled machine of John Eirich, aka "Ground Zero," who is currently ranked #10 on the list.

Eirich has made some changes to the fuel system on his entry as well, including fiddling with the lines and enlarging the capacity, but the biggest change at "Ground Zero" is carbon-based as opposed to actual hardware. The March Meet will see the competitive unveiling of a different driver in Eirich's machine, the esteemed "Wild Bill" Alexander, a man who has been punching it out in front motored fuelers since 1961. Alexander replaces Denver Schutz, a feared veteran in his own regard, and who is now shoeing for the Texas-based entry of Jim Cullen.

(Alexander needs no introduction to informed nitromaniacs, but if you wanna learn more click here: http://www.nitronic.com/wildbill/ )

The Osborn/Alexander match race will transpire at noon Saturday, 3/11, during qualifying for the Goodguys 41st March Meet at Famoso Raceway. If Alexander loses, Ground Zero is off the list and Osborn claims Ground Zero's position. If Osborn loses, the list remains unchanged.

Just prior to the challenge, the Inaugural NR AA/FD List Award will be presented to Jim Murphy and WW2 Racing, based on its performance during last year's front-engine fueler wars. Among the spoils is a $1000 contingency check from Titan Speed Engineering, a personalized plaque from Pete Millar of DRAG CARTOONS fame and plenty of swag from Mysterion Screenprint.


Estimates in the number of entries for Top Fuel Eliminator at the Goodguys 41st March Meet this weekend range from 22 to 29. Qualifying is for two 8 car eliminators, an "A" Main and "B" (Hooligan) Eliminator. There are 3 sessions of qualifying for Top Fuel: Friday, March 10 at 4 PM; Saurday at noon and 4 PM; Eliminations commence at noon on Sunday. Famoso Raceway is located 20 miles norhteast of Bakersfield.

Here's the March Meet skinny on teams that are currently dwelling on the NR AA/FD List:

1. WW 2 Driver: Jim "HOLY SMOKES" Murphy, Santa Rosa, CA

Comments: There is a real duality to Murphy: a quiet demeanor, but under the surface a fierce competitive spirit bubbles in both his heart and in his mind. With the help of some of Sacramento's finest, he has carved a real niche for himself in the front-motored fueler circuit: 3 consecutive Goodguys VRA titles anchored by back-to-back March Meet conquests. Quick, fast and consistent.

2. GOTELLI SPEED SHOP Driver: Larry Gotelli, Jr. South San Francisco, CA

Comments: Tremendous strides in only two seasons as a fuel burner. The grandson of "Terrible Ted" Gotelli, a man with nitro in his veins. Apparently, it's hereditary. 3. FULLER MOTORSPORTS "MIDNIGHT"; Driver: Bill "the Heartbreaker" Dunlap, Capitola, CA

Comments: The last guys other than WW2 to claim Top Eliminator at the March Meet, a feat accomplished in 1997.

Aeronautical modifications by Dave Uyehara last year give the car the appearance of a front-motored, nitro-burning spaceship. 4. CALIFORNIA TRUCKING Driver: Lee Jennings, Chino, CA

Comments: Aero mods over the winter have yet to prove beneficial. Prior performances have been stout, clean and consistent. if anybody knows how to make a Chevy thunder on pop, it's Jennings' braintrust, Zeller & Amaya.

5. CHAMPION SPEED SHOP Driver: Rance McDaniel, Fresno, CA

Notes: Bodacious incrementals at a secret test and tune on a cold, unprepared track last week in Sacramento. Rance is hankering for a properly prepped track and an opportunity to show off his stuff at the big end of the drag strip. Perhaps the most notorious machine on the circuit, and the only small block Bowtie on the scene.

6. ORANGE CRATE Driver: Roger Lechtenberg, Waterloo, Iowa

Notes: Those who watched Dale Suhr and his "Hair Bear Bunch" flourish last summer at the Heartland Hot Rod Reunion against cars from California, Illinois, Oklahoma and Texas know this team has the skill to get down a drag strip and post some potent numbers.

Their message to the California teams: "Waterloo is where you find it...just ask Napoleon."

7. STEINER & BERGER Driver: Gerry "Panzer Man" Steiner, San Jose, CA

Comments: Steiner is in a rare groove, particularly off the pad. Perhaps the most efficient team on the circuit, when you calculate cubic dollars to performance.

8. FUGOWIE Driver: Butch Blair, Martinez, CA

Comments: Crushing performance at the Pro Nitro Desert Thunder Nat'ls last month... #8 on the list with a bullet!

9. SMITH, ALLRED & MAHER Driver: Mike McLennan, San Francisco, CA

Sporadic attendance in '99. If they are on the premises (likely), rest assured they'll come out with guns a blazin'.

10. GROUND ZERO Driver: "Wild Bill" Alexander, Tujunga, CA

New driver for a new team...errrm, I mean they are new to each other but not new to the sport...you know what I mean... both Eirich and Alexander have been called many things, but "new" they ain't... look for a statement this weekend.

THE NITRONIC RESEARCH AA/FD LIST http://www.nitronic.com/thelist/

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