AA/GAS: Gary Reinero, Merced CA, ’48 Austin, 6.735, 205,01 def. Mike Molea, Grants Pass OR, ’33 Willys, 6.972, 193.43. 

A/FX: Bob Moreland, Escondido CA, ’67 Chevelle, 10.837, 123.79 def. Brandon Clark, Saugus CA, ’68 Roadrunner, 10.458, 121.83. (Tim Marshall photo)


NOSTALGIA SUPER STOCK: Bob Tingler, Aptos CA, ’71 Chevelle, (.016 RT) 11.189, 112.55 def. Donnie Graham, Kennedale TX, ’69 AMX, (.119 RT) 10.264, 132.24



Each photographer has his or her own view of the event. We’ve put together a collection of other photos. 


A/FUEL: Kin Bates (near lane), Anderson CA, 5.868, 233.68 def. Drew Austin, Tacoma WA, 5.936, 231.64. Bates set Low ET at 5.854 and Top Speed of 236.56 mph.

JR. FUEL: John Marottek (near lane), Brighton CO, 7.625, 116.92 def. Don Enriquez, Mission Viejo CA, (red light) 7.477, 142.66.

7.0 PRO: Pete Peterson, Trabuco Canyon CA, ’48 Toplino, 7.054, 186.74 def. Elly Stafford, El Cajon CA, ’01 Hansen, 6.964, 190.43 (break out).

NE1: Lloyd Harder (far lane), Saskatoon SK, 7.612, 173.36 def. Pete Krona, Columbia Falls MT, 11.251, 125.82.


A/GAS: Terry Newton, Camarillo CA, ‘53 Studebaker, 7.647, 176.86 def. Roy Castagnetto, Comcord CA, ‘57 Chevrolet, 7.859, 173.03

PRO MOD: Jeremy Hanger, Yorba Linda CA, ’59 Corvette, 5.851, 243.06 def. Tony Jurado, Pleasanton CA, ’57 Chevrolet, 6.772, 227.96.

It was a wonderful gesture by a class group of people. Young still streaked away to the win running a shut off 6.31/137.68 to take the Wally, the huge Bakersfield Trophy, and the money.


Therefore, Young won the battle of Bakersfield, but Murphy prevailed as the Front Engine Top Fuel World Champion for 2017.




In Funny car about thirty cars made the trip to the patch for the running of the Reunion. As in top fuel, there would be a final round from the Boise race to run. Those finalists would also be the contenders for the championship.


That would be Ryan Hodgson and Jason Rupert. Rupert is a six-time champion in both NHRA and IHRA. Hodgson, who comes from a long line of drag racers out of Canada, had an ace up his sleeve with veteran crew chief Bob Papernick turning the knobs and dials.


For those who don’t know, if he lived in the USA, Papernick’s star would be on par with Roland Leong, Ron Swearingen, and the other great crew chiefs.  Nevertheless, he is a quiet guy who lives in Edmonton, and doesn’t get the notoriety he deserves. He is bad to the bone. I hope I look as good as he does at 70.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the first round of qualifying it was one of those that sessions not many people would fondly remember. It took over two hours to run as there were four oil downs and a fire bottle cleanup which prolonged the session.


However, those oil downs affected the qualifying order.


Mark Sanders and Bobby Cottrell pulled to the starting line about half way through the session. Sanders would record a solid 5.77/238.17 but Cottrell at the wheel of Bucky’s gen one aero Camaro would go 5.62/241.89 -- however that run slung the rods out of the motor and oiled the track, that disallowed the run that would have put him No. one.


Two pair later Jeff Utterback and Jason Rupert would pull to the starting line. Utterback broke on the burnout, and Rupert would streak to a 5.69/251.49 mile per hour charge. Which would have made him third, but he blew her up and the oil down cost him the run.

Dan Horan 


The top three would be Horan at 5.66/257.53, then Hodgson at 5.68/249.90 and third was another Canadian Tim Nemeth 5.71/247.25. On the bump was Bazz Young at 6.12/235.76.


In session two which was run under the lights due to the oil downs and other incidents kinda threw a curve at some of the players. Not Bucky Austin, who rebounded from his Q1 effort and he and Cottrell threw down the gauntlet with a 5.56/256.06 mile per hour charge. Horan’s Q1 effort was a tenth back but still good for No. 2, and Hodgson Q1 effort kept him No. 3, putting the pressure on Rupert.


Rupert and Brad Littlefield responded with a 5.57/249.58, however once again smoke and large amounts of fire were seen exiting the back of the red white and blue Camaro and Rupert would get another oil-down penalty, and the run not counting. The bump now was 6.05 that was held by Rob Markworth driving the “Warhorse” Roger Garten tribute car.


The pressure was now squarely on the shoulders of Rupert. His Q3 match up with Hodgson would also be the final for the Boise rain out race. So, if any of the seven of you who read my column this month, my crystal ball was very clear to me, and you will see why.


In the final it would be Rupert running 5.65/248.68 to cover Hodgson 5.70/255.25, giving Rupert the points win for Boise. Oh, but wait! There is oil on the track and the NHRA disallows the run. Rupert will get the win, but will not qualify for the Reunion. This is NHRA’s version of a NASCAR encumbered win. Which begs the question…Is this a final round or is it a qualifying attempt?


Nevertheless, Rupert gets twenty points for the Boise win, does not make the show for the reunion and therefore, the title goes to a very deserving Ryan Hodgson.

Now it was time to see what would happen in eliminations.


There were plenty of upsets on the bottom half of the ladder in round one. Cottrell, Hodgson and Thompson all won, and in a minor upset No. 9 Tim Nemeth took out No. 8 John Hale. However, in the bottom half it was much different:’


No. 15 Rian Konno picked No. 2 Dan Horan’s pocket 5.85/246.44 to 9.11/116.69.


No. 10 Steven Densham hijacked No. 7 Mark Sanders 5.81/209.62 over Sanders 7.43/122.71

No. 11, Shawn Bowen (shown) ambushed No. 6 Michael Peck, 5.74/247.15 to 6.08/180.94. 


Only Kalitta car chief Matt Bynum held serve as his 5.66/261.78 took out Marc Meadors 5.90/227.19 charge.


In round two it was Cottrell, Hodgson, Densham and Bynum making it to the semifinals, but Cottrell’s 5.52/261.02 was the body blow to the rest of the group, and, coupled with his 5.58 in round one, served notice Uncle Bucky wasn’t going to play nice.


On top of that, Cottrell also won the season champion of 7.0 Pro in his dragster. (Over achiever)

The first pair in the semifinals would pit 2017 Funny Car Champion Ryan Hodgson and 7.0 Pro series champion Cottrell both driving gen one aero Camaro’s. It would be Hodgson out first but Papernick’s tune up just wasn’t enough to hold off Austin and Cottrell’s ride, 5.65/237.00 to 5.88/243.37.

In the other semi, it pair Steven Densham and Matt Bynum. These two guys grew up together at race tracks around the country. No secrets here. Densham moved first .131 to .136 but there was just enough difference in the “Nitro Nick” tune up to cover the “Teacher’s Pet” 5.74/258.81 to 5.75/250.18.


As the afternoon started to wane, the two teams pulled into the water box for the final round.


It was two young men living the dream. Would it by Bynum playing the part of Cinderella or would it be Cottrell who was in the seat of the baddest flopper on the grounds this weekend.


race reports

California Hot Rod Reunion at Bakersfield, CA

The HRH Season Comes Down to the Final Event

Words by Brian Losness and Kay Burk

Photos by Tim Marshall and Jamie Shores-Fraijo

Jason Rupert won the rain-delayed Boise Nightfire Nationals final against Ryan Hodgson, but oiled the track and DNQ for the CHRR.


Back in March when the odyssey known as NHRA Heritage Series kicked off its 2017 campaign it had a feeling it was going to be a year of performance, suspense and some intrigue.


Throughout the year those who were chasing points ventured from Bakersfield to Bowling Green to Boise (this should be call the B2B tour), Tulsa, Mission, BC, Salt Lake, and then back to Bakersfield.


So when the tour made the turn at the quarter pole and headed for home the titles in Front Engine Top Fuel and Funny Car were still in doubt.


NHRA Hot Rod Heritage champions crowned at the event were Jim Murphy in Nostalgia Top Fuel, Ryan Hodgson in Nostalgia Funny Car, Kin Bates in A/Fuel, Don Enriquez in Jr. Fuel, and Bobby Cottrell in 7.0 Pro.




In Top Fuel, there was a cut-throat battle between Jim Murphy, Mendy Fry and Adam Sorokin for the title. In the catbird seat was Murphy. He had a lead on Fry and Sorokin and had a final round make-up of the Boise event, which had rained out. (Rain in August in Boise -- maybe there is something to this climate change.)


Therefore, it was going to be a two-fer. The final from Boise would be Q3, which would also count as the final qualifying session, plus the event wins for Boise.


For Fry to win it was imperative that she out qualify Murphy and hope that her friend Adam Sorokin could take out the Santa Rosa runner in the final of Boise.


Adding to Murphy’s fun plate was the fact that the fires that ravaged the Santa Rosa area threatened Murphy’s house and business, and at one time he and his family were forced to evacuate. There is nothing like having real life getting in the way of drag racing to get one’s attention.


As it turned out God was looking out for the Murphys and their residences were spared.


With ten cars on the ground for the eight-car show, qualifying and qualifying points could be a factor in the outcome.

Mendy Fry (near lane) and Adam Sorokin. 


After Q1 it was Mendy Fry No. one at 5.69/215.68, at No. two it would be Adam Sorokin in the ketchup bottle red dragster 5.74/243.06 in third it was Brett Williamson in Mike Fuller’s “Forever Young” dragster at 6.19/187.02. Not in the show was Murphy holding a 13.68-second time slip.


After round two of qualifying it still Mendy Fry on top with now Wisconsin’s Jimmy Young in the No. two spot with his dragster at 5.68/244.43 now Murphy had filtered into the top three at 5.70-220.64.


This then put the pressure back on Fry to keep up with Murphy.


Once again in Q3 Fry, under the guidance of Tom Shelar and Sean Bellemuer, held serve until it was time for the Boise final round. Murphy then jumped up and snatched the No. 1 position from Fry with a 5.65/249.30 mile per hour charge, which also took the Boise win over Adam Sorokin’s 5.74/243.06.


This would give Murphy another twenty points, plus one additional for the one position improvement over Fry. Since Top Fuel only had an eight-car field their eliminations would begin in earnest on Sunday.


As Sunday dawned Murphy still wasn’t out of the woods yet he would have pace Fry round for round to claim the title.


In round one the winners were Jimmy Young, Adam Sorokin, Mendy Fry, and Jim Murphy.


Fry had one last chance she would have to take out Jimmy Young who was running very well and held top speed of the meet at over 255 miles per hour.

As the semifinal pairings rolled into the staging lanes one could sense the tension.


The first pair out would be the replay of the Boise final as Murphy and Sorokin pulled into the water box. The biggest Adam Sorokin fan on the planet was sitting in the High Speed Motorsports dragster.

At the green, it was Sorokin with one of his patented reaction time .056 to Murphy’s .111 and it stayed that way till half-track, and then Roland Leong’s tune up took over and Murphy drove around the red rocket and took the win 5.60/246.08 over Sorokin’s 5.72/241.37.


This is where things got interesting. The engine in Murphy’s car spit the connecting rods out of it, and Murphy was “oiled in”, unable to see, he then in an effort to say out of Sorokin’s way bounced the WWII dragster off the K-rail in the shutdown area and encountered some damage to the wings and a rear wheel.


But the damage was done as the win by Murphy put the title out of reach for Fry, who then turned her attention to winning the event and maybe bookending the year with victories at the Patch.


However, the “cheese head” from Wisconsin, Jimmy Young, had other plans. He too was looking for a win. He had Frank Ousley turning the wrenches and setting up the car. They came to party.

At the green it was Young out of the gate first, .064 to .103, however, the Nitro Kitty scratch and clawed to get around the Wisconsin-based driver and Fry almost made it, however she was thirty-four thousands of a second short, and the win went to Young. 


With the championship in hand Murphy and Leong decided to call it a day and let discretion the better part of valor prevail, and give Young a single in the final. However, because the top fuel guys wanted to put on a show for the crowd, Bobby McLennon and his group serviced the Champion Speed Shop car and pulled to the starting line just to make sure the crowd got a show in the finals.

Cottrell (near lane) moved first with Bynum right behind him. Nevertheless, Bynum just could not run down the kid from Whittier, as Cottrell would take the Wally, the Bakersfield Trophy and the check with a final round 5.67/253.61 over Bynum’s 5.74/258.62.


Bynum would take home a nice consolation prize has his 263.05 speed was good enough for top speed of the meet and membership into the 260 mile per hour club.

Hodgson (far lane) too the second-round win 5.710/256.41 over Brad Thompson’s 5.837/235.31.  (Jamie Shores-Fraijo photo)




The King, Loaring & Davies “Havoc” altered team with Nick Davies driving came all the way from England and it was well worth the trip.

In the final round Davies’ ’32 Bantam turned in a 6.117 at 231.36 mph to get the win over Vince Generalao in the “Nanook” ’23 Ford, who got off the line second and ran 6.136 at 232.51 mph to trying to catch Davies. 

There was quite a contingent celebrating for the “Havoc” car.

It would be remiss if we did not mention that it was not all fun this weekend. On Saturday during Brett Henry driving the “Iron Mistress” fuel altered suffered a devastating crash in fuel altered qualifying. Henry succumbed to his injuries late Sunday night. 



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