Second death at U.S. Nationals

Clermont, IN -- Miscellaneous news and rumors from the 42nd running of the NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park.... The cloud of tragedy that hung over the 42nd running of the NHRA U.S. Nationals from the death Blaine Johnson had...

Clermont, IN -- Miscellaneous news and rumors from the 42nd running of the NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park....

The cloud of tragedy that hung over the 42nd running of the NHRA U.S. Nationals from the death Blaine Johnson had not cleared when tragedy struck a second time in as many days. Elmer Trett, 53 year old driver of a Top Fuel Motorcycle, had just completed an exhibition run at over 232 mph when the bike began to wobble. He lost control and was thrown from the bike. He tumbled across the track and hit the Armco barrier hard. He was transferred to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis where he was reported to have suffered severe head injuries which would prove to be fatal when he died later this day.

John Force, to the suprise of few, won the Big Bud Funny Car Shootout which is run in conjunction with the U.S. Nationals. Force defeated Cruz Pedregon in the final.

The U.S. Nationals have the quickest Top Fuel Funny Car field in NHRA history. This record comes follows the quickest alcohol fields that were set yesterday. It took better than a 5.18 second run to make this year's Funny Car field. John Force holds the No. 1 qualifying position with a run of 4.096. Richard Hartman sits in the 16th and last qualifying postion with a run of 5.0183.

Tony Bartone, this year's odds on favorite to win the Top Alcohol Funny Car championship, announced yesterday that he would be moving up to Top Fuel Funny Car next year. Bartone set an NHRA record at the beginning of the season with consecutive rounds of winning runs in elminations. These wins gave him a commanding lead in the TAFC points chase.

The first round of alcohol eliminations were run today. Most runs went according to script with a couple notable execptions. Kim Fritts, a low budget Division 3 competitor, defeated Bernie Harrington who had held the No. 1 qualifying position until the last round when Bob Newberry charged to the pole.

Shawn Bowen, the first alternate in Top Alcohol Dragster, made the show when No. 16 qualifier, Greg Parks, could not. Bowen faced No. 1 qualifier, Keith Stark who had made a pass of 5.51 seconds to grab the pole. In first round eliminations, Starks injected nitro engine would not fire on all eight cylinders and he slowed to a run of 6.37 seconds. Bowen, who made four qualifying passes of 5.83 and 5.84 seconds, made a run of 5.71 to defeat Stark.

In other qualifying action today, Dale Armstrong stepped up Kenny Bernstein's dragster to a 4.62 second pass, just shy of Blaine Johnson's track record 4.61 pass. Shelly Anderson will be absent from tomorrow's elimination as her team could not figure out the track well enough to make a competitive qualifying run.

-- Phil _____________________________________________________________ Philip Gravel Lisle, Illinois pgravel@mcs.net

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Newberry , Tony Bartone , John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Richard Hartman , Shelly Anderson