getting nostalgic w/Brian Lossness


Looking ahead to the dragsters

at the Holley Hot Rod Reunion

Bowling Green is the next stop on the NHRA Heritage Series for the Front Engine Top Fuel Dragsters, so I thought I would do some prognostication on how it might play out next weekend - which also happens to be Father’s Day weekend, so make sure you wish your father a Happy Father’s Day. Just so not to confuse people the event does not run on Sunday (Father’s Day).


This is, however, a three-day event, which is a subject for another column. The show runs Thursday through Saturday. This is an interesting schedule composition considering most of the headliner competition cars will be coming in from the West Coast. Nevertheless, we will move forward with our preview.


The show at Bowling Green is an eight-car show, with Q1 on Thursday, and Q2 and Q3 on Friday.


All of the usual suspects are pre-entered.


Reigning Champion Tony Bartone, who in a recent interview with DRO, stated that his back is good, not bad, just good, but is looking forward to getting back into the car and making up his misadventure at Bakersfield. “We need to lick our wounds after the March Meet, and get back to it.”


The multi-time World Champion has proven that if backed into a corner it will not be good for the competition.


Bartone and crew chief Steve Boggs are always formidable and vow not to let the hiccup at Bakersfield be an omen of things to come.


Jim Murphy, who in the past four NHRA Heritage Series events has scored runner up finishes, is looking to break that streak and notch a win. Since Murphy has teamed up with his Geritol twin Roland Leong, the legendary crew chief has found a great deal of consistency in their tune up. What has kept Murphy and the WWII team from the winner’s circle? Simply put, a series of bizarre incidents. All of which have occurred in the final round.


If these two can break that spell, it might be trouble for the rest of the competitors in Front Engine Top Fuel.


Another team that has fought the battle of the bizarre is the team from Champion Speed Shop. Wheelstands at both the starting line and the finish line have made it necessary to make some changes to weight placement on the car. According to driver Adam Sorokin, “Now we have to work on keeping the part attrition to a minimum. We can’t be shooting blowers off of manifolds, ’cause when we replace the expired blower it changes the air flow, and thus changes the tune up.”


During recent testing in Bakersfield the Red Rocket ran a nice 5.72 clicking off at 1,000 feet.


If Champion can keep the engine alive to 1,100 feet, it could spell big trouble for the rest of the field.


March Meet winner Mendy Fry and the High Speed Motorsports digger did the ultimate “from outhouse to penthouse” deal at Bakersfield in March. Eviscerating a complete clutch mechanism in testing on Thursday, the team improvised, adapted and overcame. Qualifying in the number-eight position, taking out reigning champ Bartone in round one, and making it to the final round, with a mic drop 5.59 in the finals to take the win.


Tom Shelar and Fry have proven a very formidable duo.


Ever have a kid in school who was quiet and unassuming, and then someone decided it would be fun to pick on that kid, and the aggressor found themselves getting their behinds kicked? That is how I look at the team that will come out of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains to run at Bowling Green -- the “Nitro Hemi” team with the understated Dusty Green at the controls. They are very unassuming, but can pack a punch. The car is a former Jack Harris Neil & Parks dragster.


I have seen this car run since it was new, and there is a spirit in that piece of pipe. That car runs hard, and has never done anything stupid. If Steve Harwood can get just a touch more consistent with the tuneup, Green is a very capable driver, and these guys can jump up and surprise the hell out of everybody. This is “that” car you cannot take lightly or it will put you away.


According to Green, “We ran a match race in Denver and the car ran really well, except for one minor thing. The throttle was hanging up a bit. So, we changed the cable and how we flow fuel through the barrel valve, just to make sure that wasn’t the cause.”


Another car that might fall into the class of “that” car is the dragster driven by Jimmy Young. This is a race closer to home for Young, but this car is another one you do not take lightly. Young is a very experienced driver and tuner. In testing at Great Lakes Dragaway in Wisconsin he set the track record and is very capable of going rounds.


This next team is one that has so much history and good feelings behind them that one cannot help but root for them. The Great Expectations team of Bobby and Tyler Hilton are scheduled to make it to Bowling Green. This beautiful full-bodied car is arguably the most nostalgic Front Motor Top Fuel dragster in the class. The team has been taking it one step at a time and have showed great promise with this car. One other element of fun and history to this car, for those who plan to go, don’t be a bit surprised if you see a very spry and very beautiful grandmother (Allison Lee) wielding a wrench, getting dirty, all with a giant smile on her face.


Tim Cullinan is scheduled to make the trek to Bowling Green from Illinois. He has experience in both big show and Front Engine Top Fuel dragsters. Has been an infrequent runner at the Heritage Series events as of late, however, he reports he has a new engine combo that should make things interesting.


Paul Schultz in his beautiful full-bodied “Spirit of Tulsa” is also on the docket for the NHRR. It’s another team that doesn’t get a lot of track time at the Heritage Series events. And if car beauty had anything to do with it, this baby would be going rounds. It is a stunner.


Finally, yet importantly, is Jason Greenwood. The runner out of the land of cheese, Old Style Beer, and God’s favorite football team, the Green Bay Packers, is a fixture at the NHRR. Last year at Bowling Green after day one of qualifying Greenwood held down the number-four spot. Not bad for a small team, and this team should make the show. 


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