Jim Murphy from Santa Rosa, a veteran drag racer with decades in the field, closed out the season in the AA/FD category at the 26th annual NHRA Heritage Series California Hot Rod Reunion on a high note. The reunion, held at the famed AAA of Southern California strip in Famoso, is the final event of the NHRA Heritage Racing season. Finishing up the rain delay event from Boise, Idaho, Murphy defeated Adam Sorokin in the champion speed shop dragster, to inch closer to the Heritage Season Championship. Then he took the number one qualifier and the bonus points to edge even closer. Then he runner-upped against the class winner, Jim Young, sealing in his fifth season championship In the final round, neither driver had a great performance, as Young collected the win with a 6.310 at 137.86 mph to 14.893 at 74.85 mph. Young had earlier collected top speed of the event honors at 261.78 mph, while Murphy had gone as quick as 5.651 during qualifying.
In Nostalgia Funny Car, Bobby Cottrell, driving Bucky Austin’s “not so nostalgic” 1969 Bardahl Camaro, collected the event title. Ryan Hodgson, driving a similar car to Cottrell, captured the season championship, with help from the rulebook.
Jason Rupert, a six-time series season champion failed to qualify for the event. During his Boise, Idaho make up final round victory over Hodgson, his engine let go and deposited oil on the race track. He would keep the Boise event win, but would lose the run for qualifying purposes as a penalty for oiling the race track. This run was also his third and final qualifying attempt that netted him a 5.65 second elapse time. This would have qualified him second in the field but, with the penalty taking away the run, he would fail to qualify. This literally handed the season championship to Hodgson. Having suffered three engine damaging runs at the event, it might not have made much of a difference, as Rupert had no parts left to repair his engine for further competition at the event.
Nick Davies captured the AA/Fuel Altered event title, taking out Vince Generaleo in the final round with a 6.117 at 231.36 mph to 6.136 at 232.51 mph effort. These wild race cars feature a wheelbase of around 90-inches (about the same as a VW Beetle) making them very difficult to drive. The most popular car in the class is the famous Marcellus and Borsch “Winged Express” driven by Mike Boyd. This car thrills the fans with half-track smoky burnouts and wild wheels up six-second, 190-plus mph runs.
Richard Townsend of Oakdale was at the track, but was not racing. He and his team are building a brand new Nostalgia Funny Car for next season. But, the big news is his soon to be completed NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car. Their plans are to compete at three to four National events next season against the likes of John Force, Ron Capps, Robert Hight and the rest of the ‘Big Show’ stars in the very popular 300-plus mile per hour Funny Car category.
The NHRA Mello Yello series will resume at the Strip in Las Vegas, Oct. 26-29. The season series will close out in Pomona, California Nov. 9-12 and the season champions will be crowned. Steve Torrence and Brittany Force are the front runners in Top Fuel, while Ron Capps and Robert Hight are leading the way in Funny Car. The final event in Pomona, at AAA of Southern California Raceway, is a 150 percent points event, where each round of racing is worth 50 percent more points than normal.