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Top Fuel was one of those deals where your faith in racers and people in general was restored. The first words out of Adam Sorokin’s mouth, the driver of the Champion Speed Shop streamliner, after the winner’s circle celebration was that he wanted to thank the Crop Duster bunch, and the guys from Bucky Austin’s who came over to help out between rounds, for their help.
He also gave a big shout out to his team’s opponent in the final round, Rick Williamson, and Team Craig. “Those guys down there (Craig) are a class act,” Sorokin said. “They waited for us to finish getting ready. Rhey could have went down there and took a single, but did not. Just a very classy move and a great bunch down there.”
Team Craig Crew Chief John Russell stated, “We came here to race. The fans want to see a race and so do we, so we we’re gonna wait.”
Going into the final round of top fuel Rick Williamson and Team Craig would face off against the Champion Speed Shop. In the semi-finals, Team Craig experimented with a new combination, which did not lead to promising results. Russell stated, “We had the opportunity to test, having a bye run to the finals, so we took it, and the results did not pan out, so we will put it back on the combination in round one that showed a great deal of performance.” (I’d say, 257 miles per hour worth.)
On the other hand, Sorokin and the Champion boys had what can be simply called a mess on their hands. In their semi-final bout against the WWII and Jim Murphy, the little Chevy was pushed past it limits in the win, sending engine parts and pieces sailing into the Idaho evening sky. There was a complete engine, clutch and other parts change needed. With less than an hour before the finals the car only had a new bare block sitting in it, with Bob McLennan carrying out a new complete clutch pack from the trailer and crew guys looking like ants swarming over the rest of the car.
“We warmed the car up for about ten seconds, didn’t even turn the tires or check reverse, just wanted to make sure there was no leaks,” stated Sorokin.
Maybe it was luck or fate or divine intervention, and Adam’s father, the late Mike Sorokin, smiling down upon his son. Whatever it was, the black dragster moved first by four-hundredths of a second, and made it to the stripe first before expiring again. Sorokin and the entire Champion team were elated with the win. “I have always wanted to win this one, it ranks up there with winning the title in 2010,” said a very happy winner, Adam Sorokin.
Car owner, Mike Craig and John Russell both poignantly stated after the finals that “We would rather race and lose with honor, than win with dishonor.” Sorokin’s statement is very true, a very first-class group of people.
The Governor’s Cup in Sacramento is the next stop for the fuelers, which should be a barnburner, followed by the grand finale, the California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield. Young and Sorokin are locked in a battle for that title. Both fuel car classes are going to be exciting for the rest of the year, as if they already were not.
On a personal note, even with the hot temperatures, and the smoky skies (from nearby forest fires) this year the Nightfires certainly did not disappoint. Sure, the professional fields were a bit light on car count. Some car owners spoke of the event being too long a tow, making it difficult to be away from work that long. However, those teams who did make the trip understand the tradition and heritage the Nightfires has built over the last 41 years. I hope that somehow the economy will turn around and next year we will see more teams come back to embrace this fine event.
It really is like stepping back in time when you pull through the gates at Firebird. Drag racing goes back to the way it was, and how many feel it still should be. Good people enjoying each other’s company, the competition and camaraderie that the sport of drag racing is known for still exist today, as it did back in the day, at the Nightfires.
I would also like to take a second to thank the New Crew for their hospitality and professionalism. To Darr Hawthorne, thanks for his hard work getting the coverage up on DRO at all hours of the night. To David Fudge, Belinda Paddock, Steven Bunker and my daughter, Amanda Losness, for putting up with me and getting some great shots to help tell the story of this great event. To Phenix Industries, thanks for their support in making this weekend’s coverage possible. Most of all, to you fans who were here and to those who could not make it to Boise and followed along on DRO. Thanks!