The 2013 March Meet represents the opening of the National Hot Rod Association Heritage Racing Series season and is held at the famous AAA of Southern California Raceway in Famoso (just North of Bakersfield).
Each year hundreds of drag racers from across the county and often form overseas, arrive to do battle on the famous quarter-mile dragstrip. The event is rich in drag racing history, having held some of the most historic races in the history of drag racing. It was the hallow ground where the best drivers in the sport met to determine who was the top dog during the 60s and 70s.
The historic event has seen the likes of such famous drag racers as ‘Big Daddy’ Don Garlits, Warren-Coburn and Miller (the ‘Ridge Route Terrors’), Don ‘The Snake’ Prudhomme, Tom ‘The Mongoose’ McEwen, ‘Jungle Jim’ Liberman, John “The Zoo Keeper’ Mulligan and the Beebe and Mulligan TF dragster, Shirley Muldowney, ‘TV’ Tommy Ivo and a host of other legends.
This year’s event attracted over 300 racers competing in over 10 different categories headed by the Nostalgia (front motored) Top Fuel dragster and Funny Cars. Cars running at this event often have a very close resemblance to those run during the hey days of drag racing in the 1969 though 1979 eras, with the latest safety equipment installed for driver safety.
In Top Fuel, Jim Young of Salem, WI had the car to beat, qualifying number one and running the table in dominating fashion. He took out the 2012 series champion, Adam Sorokin in the first round, Jim Murphy of Santa Rosa (the driver with the 2nd most March Meet TF victories in history behind Garlits and capped it off by beating Denver Schutz of Fresno in the final round to win the title for the second year in a row. He used a consistent string of 5.654-5.68 second elapse times to accomplish the feat.
In Funny Car, it was Canadian Tim Boychuk, who qualified 8th, that navigated through a tough 16-car field that included several NHRA stars like, Ron Capps and Del Worschem, to the winner’s circle. Boychuck used consistency through eliminations to beat some of the best. He capped off the win by defeating the popular Mark Sanders and his Mustang in the final round with a strong 5.814 elapsed time at 249.21 miles per hour winning effort. It was also Tim’s 2nd consecutive March Meet funny car title, having won in 2012.
A/Fuel was an emotional round for Darrel Waters of Bonsall and his crew. Waters had been to the finals before, but couldn’t close the deal. That would not be the case this time. After qualifying first, he paired up Bill Wayne of Bullhead City, Arizona in the finals on Monday. After trailing at the start by one-one hundredth of a second in reaction time, Bonsall was able to run down and pass Wayne at the finish line with a quicker 6.352 at 220.58 mph to 6.432 at 211.69 mph effort.
In Junior Fuel, Wayne Ramey of Simi Valley defeated Richard Brady of Fort Worth, Texas, when the latter left the start too soon, fouling out. Ramey went 7.0465 at 187.68 mph for the win.
Michael Peck of Woodinville, Washington fought his way through a strong 23 car field to take the 7.0 Pro class win over Bobby Cottell Whittier. In the final round, Peck won with a 7.027 at 166.91mph on a 7.0 index.
Other Class winners were as follows.
Danny Schrokosch San Marcos, CA 7.627 at 167.93mph in NE1 (Nostalgia Eliminator)
Rick Nordness of Springville, CA 8.611 at 145.69 mph in NE2
Roger Turley of Wales, UT 9.539 at 135.67 in NE3
Dean Hall Guernerville, CA 7.551 at 183.49 mph in A/Gas
John Saliani of Saugus, Ca 8.612 at 157.37 mph in B/Gas
Ken Brown Ventura, CA 9.576 at 130.48 mph in C/Gas
Ed Carey of La Jolla, CA 10.681 at 120.83 mph in D/Gas
Alan Ross of Atascadero, CA 10.355 at 129.38 mph on a 10.37 dial in in Hot Rod (HR)
Several local (Oakdale, Sonora, Manteca, Modesto and Stockton) area racers also competed at the March Meet. Josh Crawford and Richard Townsend of Oakdale in funny car (both missed the 6.021 second qualifying cut), Wesley Eisenger of Ripon in D/Gas, John Power (driving Le Jennings Sr “California Trucking” funny car) of Sonora (missed the 6.021 second qualifying cut), Rick Willaimson of Stockton (qualified 5th in Top Fuel and was a semi-finalist),and Rick Van Unen of Ripon, CA in B/Gas.
Oakdale Leader correspondents Mike and Jeff Burghardt contributed to this report.