Funny Car Nationals at Keystone Raceway Park

Still ‘Funny’ After All These Years

Words and photos by Pat Donahue

Once again it was time for funny cars to echo through the hills of Pennsylvania as Keystone Raceway Park hosted the 12th Annual Good Vibrations Motorsports Funny Car Nationals on Saturday, July 13.


It was a trip back in time featuring nostalgia funny cars and a look back into the old days when many of us fell in love with floppers that resembled our favorite cars on steroids and were separated by the sharpest of paint jobs and the coolest of names. You could appreciate that the budget may not be in millions ... and the dream door was still open.


There were 18 Funny Cars on hand this year, divided into Injected and Blown classes. Though a few tuned up a bit on Friday night, the rest gave it their best in two rounds of qualifying to see who the cream of the crop was at the end of the night for the final round. It seemed like a strange phenomenon to be dealing with only sun (no rain!) but that was just one of the nice conditions of this year’s event. The track was good and slow-downs were few and a bunch of quality funny cars put on a good show. It is the third year at Keystone for the event that seems to have found a home.

Like a general going into battle, Dennis Salzwimmer of the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Cars group has got the funny cars lined up and ready to take to the track for the first round.

Chris and Krista Massarella get Chris's chute packed and ready to go for the second round. The husband and wife duo work together on and off the track as they both piloted their own nostalgia funny cars at this year’s Nationals and were able to guide each other back to the starting line and send each other off on a good start. The system must be working because both Chris and Krista claimed the Best Reaction Times Plaques for their classes. Krista went to the final round and claimed the runner up finish, in her "Temporary Insanity" injected funny car, while Chris just missed the finals by 2 thou in his "Total Insanity". Chris also claimed bragging rights to the longest smoky burnouts in the blown class. The Massarellas and their pair of Monza Funny Cars tend to be a force to be reckoned with.


Drew Sweetman and the crew of his "Frantic Ford" Mustang II await their chance to take to the track for the 2nd round of qualifying.

Bill Walls needed a little help from his crew to get his car in gear for his second-round pass but once he did the "Nitro Flier II” Omni was flyin' fine with a nice 7.10 pass to go the 7.07 earlier in the day.

Bob Toth had his "Time Bomb" Vega running good for this year’s Funny Car Nationals -- maybe too good with the 6.84 in the first round on the 6.90 index. But in the second round he ran a 7.037 that would earn him a trip to final, edging out Chris Massarella’s 7.039. for a chance to face Jami Russell for the Blown Funny Car title.

Like a kid with a new toy Daryl Arnold was starting to feel comfortable and enjoying his 3rd pass ever in a funny car. When their regular driver couldn't make it, Greg and Donna King gave Daryl the nod to pilot their "Deuce On The Loose" Chevy II Nostalgia Funny Car. With a Friday night test under his belt Daryl became more comfortable, with both his passes on Saturday in front of the Funny Car Nationals crowd running in the 7.70s in all three of his passes on the weekend. He had never gone faster than 8.60 in his altered but thinks there is more power left on the table for another time perhaps. After the event Daryl wasn't sure just what the future held but he had one heck of a weekend that he would cherish the rest of his life, and felt that the 12th Annual Good Vibrations Funny Car Nationals would be hard to top.

Jami Russell has been on a steady climb since last season with bit of a stumbling block getting below the 7.00 mark. He kicked that block out of his way in the second round of qualifying, running a 6.95 @ 193 mph to go into the Blown Funny Car final with his "Iron Outlaw" Mustang II as low qualifier. Russell’s was the only car in the 6’s. In the final round against Bob Toth in the “Time Bomb” Vega Russell flexed a little more muscle he took it with a holeshot.

Jami Russell and wife, Samantha, celebrate the Blown win.


Russell said he felt like he has been on a steady climb since last season, and this year’s Good Vibrations Motorsports Funny Car Nationals Victory Lane turned out to be a good stop on the way.

When it came down to the finals of Injected Funny Car the last two standing were Krista Massarella in the "Temporary Insanity" Monza taking on Bob Daly in the "War Horse". This would be Krista’s last Nationals in the Injected class and going out on a win would be nice but Bob wasn't going to lose. Getting better all night, Bob saved the best for last, running a 7.82 @ 171 mph to Krista’s 8.38 @ 137.

Shown here next to Dennis Salzwimmer are Mike Howel, Bob Daly Jr., Joe Handlin and Bitchin' Bob Sr. The team also got the Longest Smoky Burnout award.


It was a long journey to get here explained Bob Daly after claiming the Peak Trophy from Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car's Dennis Salzwimmer. It’s taken 10 years to get here, was the sentiment shared by the crew of the "War Horse" Injected Funny Car. They chuckled as they reflected on a number of years that they struggled with usual hurdles but also limited track time and limited tracks in the New York area. Explaining that it took 11 hours just to get to the race, 2-1/2 hours of which was one bridge. It would have been a measurable accomplishment to keep it running in the past. On this day they enjoyed setting new ET and speed records each round and took home the win. They have spent a lot Saturdays testing and turning while they compete and its finally paying off. They started out with a 7.88 @ 169, then 7.84 @ 171 then 7.82 to take the win in the finals over Krista Massarella. 




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