getting nostalgic w/Brian Lossness


As the summer months drag on (no…well, maybe pun intended) it is the first few weeks of summer and the temperature is going up it seems like every day here in the beautiful Treasure Valley of Idaho, and in just about one month it will be time for the next two-for in nostalgia drag racing.


The annual pilgrimage to the high desert of Idaho and the running of Nightfire Nationals, two-for because it is the second stop where both Top Fuel and Funny Cars run at the same event.


This is a fact based editorial column so I’m going to once again throw my two cents in here. Why does the Heritage Series insist on running some events that run just funny cars or just front engine top fuel dragsters? I have never understood this -- but who am I?


To me it is more of a value to the fans to run both at these events and that  is what racing is all about. As Dale Earnhardt Jr. most eloquently said at Daytona, “Everything we do is for the fans.”


So teams will be headed towards the State of Idaho, and there will be an abundance of traffic on the interstates headed towards the Gem State as Idaho is one of the states where there is going to be total darkness when the total solar eclipse happens just a week after the Nightfires. Thus, that might be a factor in some of the teams’ travel plans. Give yourselves plenty of time.


There has also been some talk by a few competitors about the lengths of some of the events. Some feel that three days is too long. One of the reasons is that it costs the team owners more to transport, feed and lodge team members for those additional days. A very valid point.


Conversely, to the track operator, who is putting on the event, they must have days of operation (cars racing and spectators in the bleachers) for them to make a profit. The track must make a profit, to keep the doors open giving the racers a place to race. Also a valid point. I’m just mentioning these two points and then I’m going to let that lay right there and move on.


Reports also indicate that there will be Outlaw Pro Mods at the Nightfires, which should prove exciting. Teams from California, Washington, Oregon and Kentucky (yes, Kentucky) are scheduled to show up for the event.


What will make this bit of racing interesting is the fact that two of the teams, one from Oregon and the one from Kentucky, most likely will be the favorites, even though they don’t use screw blowers or turbos, as power adders. What these two team have is experience. A train load of it. Moreover, each has had success at the track in Idaho. This is exactly the proper place for the cliché “Old age and treachery will overcome youth and exuberance.” So keep an eye on Billy Harper and Dennis Radford at the Nightfires; my money is on these guys.


That cliché might also apply to the front-engine top fuel teams that have indicated their intentions to make the trip to Idaho for the Nightfires.


At the NHRA Heritage Series Holley Hot Rod Reunion held in Bowling Green, KY, the latest stop on the series for the long skinny cars, it was that band of renegades known as Team WWII led by Jim Murphy and crew chief Roland Leong that took the win. Murphy defeated Jimmy Young in the final round at Bowling Green.


It appears that Leong has found the sweet spot of consistency in the WWII as Murphy had a bracket car that weekend running 5.72, 5.73 and a 5.71 in the finals.

Murphy has had a great deal of success in Idaho, and look for the team to be just as strong when they show up in August.


On the other hand, it was a mild surprise who was low qualifier in front-engine top fuel. Jimmy Young was the number one qualifier with a very solid 5.61 at 260.36. It is unknown if Young will make the trip from Wisconsin to Idaho, but if he does he should be a contender.


(On a personal note, if you do make the trip, Jimmy, please pack a suitcase of Old Style, and I’ll pay you when you get here.)


Another surprise was Tony Bartone’s outing at Bowling Green. Not really the performance we have become accustomed to seeing from the Long Island City, NY, team headed by Steve Boggs. A 5.72/238.34 qualifying effort and a second-round loss to Jimmy Young was the result for “T-Bone” and the boys. Bartone and Boggs are scheduled to head for Idaho, and if they do, they have had a great deal of success and look for them to do the same thing in August.


The real eyebrow raiser at Bowling Green was Champion Speed Shop. In speaking with driver Adam Sorokin prior to Bowling Green, he stated that the team’s major focus was to reduce the engine damage that the team has been incurring recently. Unfortunately, it appears there still seems to be some more work to do on that front. Adam faced two fires in Bowling Green, and a bunch of bubbled paint. However, the team will rebound and make their way back to Idaho in an attempt to win another Nightfire title.


The real question will be how many cars will make the trip to Boise for the eight-car field. If twelve cars can make it to Bowling Green, there is no reason why that same number can’t make it to Boise. With the new track surface and average temperatures forecast it should be a good event.


While the dragster contingent have been racing the Heritage Series, the flopper guys have been competing in other events such as the DRO AA/FC Challenge and the UNFC Series events.


One of the biggest and best surprises of the UNFC race held in Spokane was the win by Danny Gerber and his crew chief Jon Wurtz. Wurtz also found a string of consistency that took Gerber to the win. While other car were much quicker and faster than Gerber who qualified sixth; it was Wurtz’s consistent tune up and Gerber’s consistent driving, along with some luck that took the underfunded, but very likeable team to a very popular win.


The UNFC continued their Northwest tour in Seattle on July 7-8 in Seattle. From early indications, eleven cars made the trip to the Pacific Northwest.


The DRO Series had their opening event in San Antonio, where Paul Romine took the win. Now Jeff Burk and his bunch are making their way to Cedar Falls, IA, on July 14-15. Former DRO Champion John Hale, Ronny Young, Bazz Young, along with Romine and a cast of others are schedule for the event in Cedar Falls.


This is one event that is on this reporter’s to-do list. The Midwest culture and green countryside and abundant crops in the fields should make for an oxygen rich environment for the racers. As long as the humidity stays under forty percent, otherwise like Warren Johnson was fond of saying, “We are racing in a car wash.”


As of this moment, the world of nostalgia racing is seemingly healthy, if not somewhat disjointed with various groups in existence around the western and central parts of the country putting on events. However, maybe that is the way to keep this portion of drag racing healthy. If this is the recipe for the health of nitro drag racing, well then maybe something like this could be done for the big show; God knows it has seen better days. 


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