getting nostalgic w/Brian Losness

46th Annual Nightfire Nationals Prelude

Good evening from a very hot (yet a dry heat) back patio of my humble home in Idaho to bring to you this month’s edition of Getting Nostalgic. As we know, well, I should say for all seven of you who read my column, August means the Nightfire Nationals in Idaho. Moreover, it is home game for yours truly.


This will be the 46th edition of this event, a race that never gets old. (Best value in motorsports: a half-pound of ice cream for $2.00)


In having the privilege of writing this column, I have from time to time actually been able to write something salient and thought provoking. (I’ll come back and explain those two words, Chachi, in a moment) However, I digress.


This year’s addition of the Nightfire Nationals will have some new twists to it.


First off, unlike years past there will be two professional qualifying sessions on Friday, one at approximately 2:00 pm and the second at approximately 7:00 pm.


Saturday’s professional day will start with Q3 at 2:00 pm and first round of eliminations at again 7:00 pm.


Sunday will see round two of eliminations at 2:00 pm and finals for professionals at approximately 4:00 pm.  These times are all local mountain daylight times.


This year will also see an addition to the professional show as it is rumored that about twenty Pro Mod teams will be headed to Idaho. This along with eight to nine front engine Top Fuel dragsters, twelve to thirteen nitro nostalgia Funny Cars, and eight AA Fuel Altereds will round out the professional show. I would assume that Ed “The Outlaw” Jones will be making an appearance along with at least two jet cars.


DRO will be onsite for the event, and will be live streaming interviews along with updates after qualifying sessions on the DRO Facebook page.


Front Engine Top Fuel


This year FETF could be a legitimate war in Idaho. Jim Murphy is coming off a win at Bowling Green, and a runner up at the March Meet, has won here before, and crew chief Roland Leong has this car running on mean.


However, Mendy Fry in Tom Shelar’s High Speed Motorsports digger won the March Meet and is second in points behind Murphy, and this team is loaded with talent.


Having a year that many would love to have but is not up to par for them is Team Bartone, with Tony Bartone at the wheel and crafty Steve Boggs turning the knobs. They have struggled a bit and currently sit in third place in points, but this is the first time the dragsters will be running on the new surface redone over the winter and this should play right into TB’s hands.


Sitting fourth (and this is my pick to upset) is the Nitro Hemi driven by Dusty Green. The car loves this track and has won here so many times, and I just have a feeling, they catch a break it could be game on for Steve Harwood and the bunch from Colorado.


But lurking in the shadows -- which in itself is an absolutely frightening thought -- is the “Boy in the Bubble” as Donny Couch calls him, Adam Sorokin, and the Champion Speed Shop Special. The “Heinz Ketchup” red dragster, has had some glitches as of late, but the car and team have won here before and are way overdue and could surprise.


To me the sentimental favorites in this deal are the Good Ol Boys from Virginia. Bobby and Tyler Hilton in the beautiful Great Expectations dragster are also making the tow to Idaho. Just thought I would mention that for those who live much closer and think it’s too far to come. (No, Dave, that does not include you.) These guys are out here having fun, and the car keeps getting quicker and faster every time out. I will predict a five out of this car in Idaho.


Brett Williamson at the wheel of Mike Fuller’s Forever Young car will also be in the mix for the Nightfires. A team that can surprise with a very, very capable driver.


United Nitro Funny Cars


It has been confirmed that eighteen nitro funny will be attending the Nightfires. Many are shooting not only for the win, but also for the final spot in the 260 Mile per Hour Club.


Back in April, in my Getting Nostalgic column I was kinda being a prognosticator (No, Yonemura, that is not a doctor who examines people’s bottoms) when I wrote this:


It appears from the outside that Bobby Cottrell has the backing of the entire Austin family, and time will tell just how successful he will be in the nostalgia fuel funny car. However, if precedence is any indication, Bobby Cottrell will be a factor in the nostalgia funny car class right away, and with nobody saying, “Bobby Who???”


After a slight hickup in Boise at the Ignitor, Cottrell got right with the program and started to lay an ass whippin’ on the UNFC fields during their Northwest Tour. Cottrell is perfect, taking wins at all three events by the UNFC, in addition to taking the win at the Heritage Series event held in Mission, British Columbia, Canada. In the process Cottrell and crew chief/co-owner Bucky Austin ran the quickest time ever recorded by a nostalgia Funny Car at 5.53 in the finals at Mission.


When it comes to the Nightfires, it is safe to say that due to the past month or so Bobby Cottrell has to be the favorite.


However, the other car in that Mission final was none other than the John Force of the nostalgia funny car scene, multi-time World Champion, Jason Rupert.


At Mission Rupert was in the other lane when Cottrell went 5.53. Rupert’s ride was no dog in that race and his Brad Littlefield-tuned Camaro was going 5.56. It is not too often that Rupert is on the back side of one of those runs. To go 5.56 and not get the light, is kinda mind blowing for sure.


Rupert will be back to attempt the double up as he took the win at the Ignitor taking down Dan Horan Jr. in the process.


Speaking of Horan, he suffered an off-track incident which has left him with some lingering injuries and issues with his equilibrium, which will preclude him from attending the Nightfires. DRO extends our best wishes to Dan on a full and speedy recovery.


The other team that has taken a win this year is the Hodgson team based out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Ryan drove a very nice race in Bakersfield to take the win over Kris Krabill, who was at the time driving for Bucky Austin.


Krabill recently announced via social media that he would be at the wheel of Smokey’s Darkside nostalgia Funny Car. Mendy Fry recently drove this car and the team plans to debut later this year. This will be the first time that “Hollywood” Kris Krabill will not be at the Nightfires in nearly a decade.


The California Hustler team could be a real contender for the win at the Nightfires. The team still seems to be trying to find the right footing.  Michael Peck seems to be getting more comfortable in the car, and it is no secret what world champion crew chief Ronny Swearingen can do with a car. It seems that the team just hasn’t found the right chemistry. However, when that happens it might be bad news for the rest of the flopper teams.


With eighteen cars listed to attend the Nightfires this will be undoubtedly a very deep field. With the likes of Tim Boychuk, Spokane UNFC winner Danny Gerber, Shawn Bowen (at the wheel of Michael Bartone’s Camaro), Team Kalitta crew member Matt Bynam (driving the Nitro Nick Camaro) this has every opportunity to be all time show stopper.


Pro Mods


The Pro Mods are slated to make their return to the Nightfires. Headlining this group of a reported over twenty entries would have to be Oregon’s own Dennis Radford and his partner in crime hailing from the great state of Kentucky, Billy Harper. Both are champions and it is well known that Radford does all the tuning on Harper’s Viper. Both drivers have won the Nightfires individually.


Radford will be bringing back his Orange Barracuda at the Nightfires and is looking to make a stand at his home track.


Mike Maggio from California is reported to be making his way to Idaho.  Coming from Arizona are Dave Armstrong and Joe Landavazo, that recently competed at the NHRA event in Sonoma in Top Sportsman, using it as a testing session. Along with a host of others to try and take the Wally and the check.


AA/Fuel Altereds


For a third, year fuel altereds will be at the Nightfires. Perennial favorite Dan Hix is on the docket, as is family member Dave Hix in his beautiful fuel altered. Former Nightfire 2015 winner, Jeremy Sullivan, is booked into the show, along with a host of others making the trip.


Weather could play a factor, as it is forecast to be in the upper nineties for the weekend. However, this is how it is in Idaho this time of year, and it should be no surprise to anyone.




With the enhancements made to the track over the off season (new concrete from water box to 330) to go along with the new concrete that was put down last year from 330 to 600 feet, and the track being laser leveled, it could and should make for some excellent racing.


One of the UNFC drivers said to me that the track was national event quality.


With the change in schedule, the session to watch, in this reporter’s humble opinion will be the 7:00 session on Friday evening.  Some forecasts predict it to be slightly cooler on Friday (OK, like one or two degrees) but cooler is cooler, and by the time the nitro cars get on the track it should make for some excellent runs.


If the car counts come to fruition, this event will rival the March Meet in professional participation. Moreover, there would be more professional class cars on the grounds than some “Big Show” events in recent history. This is another reason to make the trip to Idaho.


To accompany the professional sessions there also will be a Top Sportsman/Top Dragster class the track calls Top Fire on the schedule for the 16 quickest open wheel and full body cars. Along with Bracketeer (Super Pro) and Pro.


If you cannot attend, DRO will be doing streaming interviews with drivers and crew chief, and giving up to the minute results on qualifying and eliminations, and then final round results.


If you can attend, make a trip out of it: hang out in Idaho for a few days then take in the eclipse (on Aug. 21). This part of Idaho is in the path of totality so it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity.  



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