The semifinals started at 9:30 p.m. with the first pairing being between rivals Indiana's Paul Romine and Iowa’s Anthony Bronge. That Bronge made it to the semifinals at all was remarkable. He had match races the two previous weekends and damaged so many pistons that he ran the entire qualifying and race without a spare.
Romine had a .139 RT to Bronge’s respectable .188 RT and never trailed. Bronge was making a race of it for 330 feet, trailing by less than a tenth of a second, when his car made a hard right turn and he was forced to lift while in the other lane Romine had the throttle wide open and went through the lights with a 5.964/242.67 winning pass.
The other semifinal featured a pair of Texas-based hitters in two-time DRO National Champ John Hale and former track speed record holder Ronny Young driving his “Blue Max” Mopar.
Ronny Young put a .027 holeshot on Hale but the pair were virtually side by side at the eighth, both making half-track in just 4.00 seconds. However, not far past the half-track marker Hale, like Bronge before him, had his car make a hard right move forcing him to lift. In the other lane Ronny Young drove the car theough the lights for the win at 6.092/223.54 to Hale’s shut off 6.62/160.67.
That set up a classic final match-up between a couple of “lifer” nitro racers. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be. Young had been having minor engine problems every lap and that included the semifinals. The damage after that lap was just too severe to repair and be ready to race in 90 minutes and he reluctantly called it a race, allowing Paul Romine to single for his second straight DRO win of the 2017 season.
Because of the late hour and concern for the track conditions at almost
midnight track operator Justin Kruze told Romine he did not have to make the single to win. But Romine and the “Man O’ War” crew would have none of that. They thrashed to turn the Mustang around, Romine telling the track that he wanted to give the fans their money’s worth.
The Mustang pulled into the lanes just about midnight but when car chief John “Bull” Bullard spun the starter over the engine backfired. Despite that Romine did his burnout, staged and launched the car with number 2 and 4 cylinders dead and labored down the track to a high 6-second lap.
Ronny Young, watching from the lanes, could only wonder what might have been if he had been able to answer the call for the final.
Drag racing, Nitro Funny Car racing specifically, doesn’t get any more old school than racing at Cedar Falls Raceway Park. The pits and parking area are beautifully maintained with mature trees in the pits offering shade, but there is zero paved parking and everyone, nitro teams included, pit on grass. It is the perfect track for real Nostalgia racing. The track surface itself is bumpy and old but has plenty of bite, and that means the drivers and tuners have to tune and drive the cars to compensate and raw horsepower isn’t always the key to winning.
One last thing: the last time Paul Romine was at the track he was a DNQ. Nice recovery.
Qualifying and Results box
1) P. Romine, Indiana, Mustang 5.902/247.07* Win
2) J. Hale, Texas, Camaro 6.049/220.84 Semi
3) A. Bronge, Iowa, Vette 6.151/225.33 Semi
4) B. Young, Aus., Camaro 6.395/213.40 1 RD
5) R. Young, Texas, Mopar 8.482/98.68 RU
6) F. Farndon, Oklahoma, Pontiac 9.019/87.71 1 RD
7) K. Lennon, Indiana, Mopar ---------- 1 RD
* New Track record for speed
Newcomer Jon Reich in the “Blitz Kreig” Monza was making licensing runs, but did not make a complete run down the track. He would be allowed to continue making solo runs on Saturday.
Eliminations began promptly at 6 p.m. Saturday night with Romine and the “Man O’ War” making a solo. He eased down the track with a 6.051/237.63 to advance to the semifinals.
The next pairing saw a resurgent Anthony Bronge lined up against veteran DRO series racer Kevin Lennon. Lennon recently acquired a John Force triple frame rail car and is still getting it sorted could only manage a 13-second ET. Meanwhile while Bronge eased the Vette down track for the win with a 6.420/206 that gave him the dubious honor of meeting Romine in the semifinals.
All cars had to weigh after their runs. Here is Farndon’s car on the scales.
On the other side of the ladder John Hale and his Camaro was matched up against Fred Farndon driving the ex-Shawn Bowen “Violator” Pontiac Trans-Am now known as “Play It Loud Again”. Farndon is struggling with the new car and spun the tires against Hale who cruised down the track with a 6.092/237.25 to Farndon’s 9.54/83mph coasting effort.
The last pair featured the first ever Young vs Young in the DRO series as number 4 and 5 qualifiers were Ronny Young in the “Blue Max” and Bazz Young and his Camaro. Ronny Young who has a new tuner, Dennis Piranio, in an effort to stop a recent history of engine failures. Bazz Young and his crew chief Jerry Newman do more match racing than actual racing but does drop in on the DRO series when he can. Ronny left on Bazz and got an easy win with a shut-off 6.185/215.50 to Bazz Young’s out the back door 6.322/227.27 to advance to the semifinals against two-time DRO National Champion, John Hale.
Man O’ War team dominates Cedar Falls
Words by Jeff Burk
Photos by Jeff Burk and Scott Bessee
Fred Farndon (left) and John Hale launch in front of the large and enthusiastic Cedar Falls crowd.
The DragRacingOnline.com AA/FC Challenge presented by Hemi Parts King at Iowa’s Cedar Fall Motorsports Park was the second of seven races that make up the 2017 series. At the end of the Night of Fire race, after the last of the clutch dust and nitro fumes cleared away, the “Man O’ War” team led by owner/driver Paul Romine and tuner Mike Cavalieri got their second win of the 2017 season with a dominating effort and left the event solidly leading the national championship points race.
Usually July in Iowa means very hot and muggy weather but this year the fans and racers were treated to the best weather for this annual event in recent memory with temperatures in the 70’s and lower for qualifying and eliminations.
There were a few teams at Cedar Falls that were making their DRO debut for the 2017 season. Some familiar names such as Anthony Bronge in the “Iowa Punisher” ‘Vette, Bazz Young in the “Down-Under Thunder” Camaro, and Kevin Lennon’s “Shake and Bake” Mopar joined regulars John Hale, Paul Romine, Ronny Young and Fred Farndon.
Also on hand was Jon Reich driving his “Blitz Krieg” N/FC to finish the NHRA licensing program.
Hale and tuner Guy Tipton put the “One Bad Texan” Camaro at the top of the qualifying list after one round of qualifying with a 6.049 at 220.84.
Hale was followed on the ladder by Anthony Bronge in the Jerry Newman-tuned “Iowa Punisher” Vette who turned in a 6.151/225.33 followed by the 6.395/213.4 effort by Bazz Young’s “Down-Under Thunder” Camaro also tuned by Newman. No one else in the first round of qualifying could get down the track in under 7 seconds.
The second qualifying session didn’t happen until 10:30 p.m. The air temp was 61 and the dew point was 59. Normally that would mean a slick, cold track but not at Cedar Falls that night. But that wasn't the case as track operator Justin Kruze sprays the entire quarter-mile with traction compound and the track and temps were right for either great performances or tire-shaking shutoffs.
Any doubt about the quality of the track was shattered when the “Man O’ War” Mustang rolled into the beams, Romine stepped on the pedal and ran an astounding 5.902/247.07. That ET was just off the track ET record of 5.890 that Shawn Bowen set in 2014 but the 247.07 was fast enough to break Ronny Young’s previous track record of 246.57 mph. Romine’s Mustang went 3.906/194.30 to the eighth mile on that pass.
After Romine’s record setting lap moved him to the top of the qualifying list, no one else was able to figure out the track as no other team improved on their first-round efforts and the field was set with seven cars which meant Romine got a competition bye run in the first round of eliminations.
VOLUME XIX, NUMBER 7 - JULY 2017
DRAGRACINGOnline will be published on or around the 8th of each month and will be updated throughout the month.
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