Tag Archives: Hot Rod Heritage Series

2014 National Hot Rod Reunion

The professional drag racing world was paying close attention to Bristol Dragway and the Thunder Valley Nationals in Eastern Tennessee this past weekend. There, the defending Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon won for the first time this year, the Funny Car victor Tommy Johnson Jr. won for the first time in 11 years and in Pro Stock, Erica Enders-Stevens was the first women to ever win at Bristol while continuing her historic romp in 2014. However, 300 miles to the west in Western Kentucky, drag racing the way it used to be – sort of  – was playing out at the National Hot Rod Reunion, which was performing for the 12th time in its successful history.

Other than a brief shower or two, which made for typical late spring muggy conditions at times, the weather was great at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green. Bonneville legend George Poteet was the grand Marshal. Poteet owns the land speed record for the fastest piston-driven car – go to the bottom of the page for a little video of his record breaking runs.

The main storyline among the ground-thumping Top Fuelers heading into the race was longtime NHRA Sportsman driver Dave Hirata out of Indiana driving the Orange Crate Top Fueler from Iowa – Hirata is fairly new to Nostalgia Top Fuel. Of course, big names like Tony Bartone out of New York and Jim Murphy from California truly made this big race, a national event through-and-through.

Tony Bartone - Bowling Green 2014

Tony Bartone won Top Fuel at the National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green

In the end, Bartone was the winner over Jim Young, while Hirata and Murphy were knocked out in the semis. This was Bartone’s second Nostalgia win of the year after taking the famed March Meet victory to start the season. That puts Bartone securely on top of the Top Fuel standings, with Young, Murphy and Hirata over 100 points back, in second through fourth respectively.

The other class winners were Ken Hawkins in Jr. Fuel, Michael Sexton in 7.0 Pro, Ross Laird in 7.5 Pro, Don Nave in Competition Eliminator, Buddy Wray in Gas Eliminator, Kerry Williams in Modified Eliminator, Mike Moss in Super Stock, Chad Mahlosky in Stock, Terry Lindsey in Hot Rod and John Gray in the Geezer Gasser category.  Saturday night ended with the always impressive music-to-the-ears-splitting Cacklefest.

Next up for the Top Fuelers is the Nightfire National in Boise, Idaho, August 7-10.

Additional sources: NHRA, AA/Fuel Dragsters

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Daryle W. Hier

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NHRA Pro And Sportsman Split?

I probably have mentioned this in the past but a very knowledgeable man in the world of marketing once said to me some years ago that essentially there were two areas needed from drag racing if it was to become a major league sport: live television and a reduction in classes.  The subject has been broached on and off through the years but it’s a sore subject for most, ending up as just a comment or two here and there but never talked out loud about.  And what exactly is that subject?  The professional and sportsman ranks splitting up.

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Hughes Performance

The latest mention was by Jim Hughes of Hughes Performance – who can see multiple sides of the argument – mentioned a few weeks ago in Competition Plus that there was a disconnect between the NHRA and the Sportsman classes.  Track schedules, track prep and a lack of a healthy environment for sportsman racing were some of the many reasons that he saw as more than problematic for continuing.

Two distinct groups

Even before these egregious conditions evolved though, it was obvious that the NHRA had seen the two divisions in clearly different manners.  The biggest distinction may have come five years ago when the NHRA proposed to sell the series to local investors.  The sale to HD Partners never materialized (source: L.A. Times) due in part to the Recession but essentially what they were selling was the Pro part of the series because that’s where the money was.  Basically the NHRA would have kept the Sportsman ranks for themselves.  It was more convoluted than that but you see where the value was.  And that is what’s key here.

The Sportsman ranks aren’t in the big picture for the NHRA and big-time sports.  And from what I hear, the sportsman might be fine with that.  Their treatment by the NHRA is awful.  When an event is on television, to make it work for ESPN, who covers all of the NHRA action, the Sportsman’s division runs very early in the day, subsequently waits while the Pros run during the day then are back on the track at night.  I hear from racers all the time through discussion boards, blogs and emails or comments to me after a story I write – to put it simply, sportsman racers are not happy at all.

Dollar split

Drag racing is more popular than the mainstream would have you believe and I’ve documented that over and over through the years.  However, the big money is with the Pros and you can almost not blame the NHRA for spending their time and effort on the Pros.  The same marketing guru I mentioned earlier said the NHRA had to get rid of or split their Sportsman ranks from the Pros.  Fundamentally and almost through osmosis, that may be happening.  And I believe everyone benefits and would be happier.

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Nostalgia drag racing

As a Nostalgia drag racing fan, we know all too well how the NHRA treats those who aren’t million dollar teams in the Pros.  Our Hot Rod Heritage Series often gets second fiddle treatment – at best.  Yet, we bring in giant crowds that rival any major race series.  The fans love it and maybe a merger of Nostalgia and national Sportsman ranks – which essentially we already have – would make for a nice fusion.

Regardless, the NHRA needs to cut the ties between Pros and Sportsman and give both sides a renewed and better outcome than what is presently occurring.  A split would be most beneficial for all concerned.  And it should happen sooner rather than later.

Daryle W. Hier

PS: Thanks to Bobby Bennett from Competition Plus for his dialogue on this matter.

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NAPA Auto Parts Ignitor in Boise coming later this month

Tim Boychuck — NHRA Media

Sometimes we forget because of the long layoffs between races but the next Nostalgia drag race with the Hot Rod Heritage Series is the last weekend of April.  The NAPA Auto Parts Ignitor will be run at Firebird Raceway in Eagle, Idaho, near Boise on April 26-28.

There won’t be any Top Fuelers or for that matter any other class from the Heritage series — except there will be plenty of Nostalgia Funny Cars on tap.  Canadian Tim Boychuck, this years March Meet winner, is said to be one of the many Funny Car teams planning on being in attendance.  It should be noted that this will also be a Lucas Oil Division 6 meet; the first of the year for the region.

Eagle

Eagle is essentially a suburb of Boise with the track only a half hour from downtown Boise.  The weather is Idaho isn’t always easy to determine but it’s normally on the cooler side in spring.  Expect high temperatures to be in the 60s and 70s with always a chance of a shower, but otherwise it should be pleasant even if cloudy at times.

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Rocky Mountain Oysters

Hey, if you’re lucky enough to be at the drags this year in Idaho, don’t forget to try the Rocky Mountain Oysters.  You’ve never had an oyster like this before — it will put horns on your head.

The next Nostalgia meet after this one on the Heritage series calendar is the National Hot Rod Reunion at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  It’s one of the most successful Nostalgia meet east of the Mississippi.  Be there!

Daryle W. Hier

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FOR SOME MORE INFO ON ROCKY MOUNTAIN OYSTERS, GO HERE

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Hot Rod Heritage Series 2013 Calendar

For those of you who may have missed it or get your news by Pony Express, the Hot Rod Heritage Series announced the 2013 schedule.  In short, arguably the Nostalgia drag racing calendar is expanding and going international.  But, like last year, it’s still breaking up the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes.

Cascade Falls near Mission, British Columbia

Cascade Falls near Mission, British Columbia

Among the additions to the series are races in British Columbia, Utah,  New Hampshire and Oklahoma.  The Tulsa, Oklahoma, event will be the same weekend as the New England Reunion in New Hampshire but will not be a points meet.  The season starts and ends – with the March Meet and California Hot Rod Reunion – at the venerable Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California (aka the Patch).

The event in Canada will mark the first time the series has operated outside the continental United States.  It will be run at Mission Raceway and is essentially a suburb of Vancouver.  Canadian fans have been very loyal to the Nostalgia scene and it’s great to see this race will offer fans in the Great Northwest another fantastic event.  And don’t worry, the ever-popular Boise races are obviously still on the calendar.

Below is a list of all 12 Hot Rod Heritage Series events. Go here for more details: Hot Rod Heritage Series

March Meet Auto Club Famoso Raceway March 7-10 TF, FC, Groups 1 & 2
Arizona Fuel & Gas Championships Speedworld Dragstrip April 13-14 Groups 1 & 2
NAPA Auto Parts Ignitor Firebird Raceway April 26-28 FC
Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion Beech Bend Raceway Park June 13-15 TF
Nostalgia Reunion Sacramento Raceway July 12-13 Groups 1 & 2
NHRA National Open Mission Raceway July 19-21 FC
Pepsi Nightfire Nationals Firebird Raceway Aug. 8-11 TF, FC
Summer Send-Off Rocky Mtn. Raceways Aug. 23-24 FC, Group 1
New England Hot Rod Reunion New England Dragway Sept. 12-14 TF
Nostalgia Fall Championships Auto Club Famoso Raceway Oct. 5-6 Group 2
California Hot Rod Reunion Auto Club Famoso Raceway Oct. 18-20 TF, FC
*Nostalgia Top Fuel will count their best four of five events for points
*Nostalgia Funny Car will count their best five of six events for points
Affiliate Event
Nostalgia Nitro Nationals Reunion Tulsa Raceway Park Sept. 13-14 FC, A/Fuel, SW Jr. Fuel, Gassers

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Former Nostalgia Funny Car Champ Moves To NHRA Top Fuel

This is just a quick note on the fact that Leah Pruett, who was the Nostalgia Funny Car champion back in 2010, will be moving up the ranks to the fastest cars in the world, the ground-thumping NHRA Top Fuel class.  Pruett will be  piloting the Dote Racing Top Fueler for the 2013 season (source: Examiner).  The Dote family is planning for a full season but will at the very least, be competing part-time this year as in seasons past.

Leah Pruett from Redlands, Ca.

Leah Pruett from Redlands, Ca.

Leah made history a few short years ago driving the “Plueger & Gyger” Mustang, where she became the first woman to ever win the famous March Meet.  She beat a 32-car field, the first of its size in decades.  Very competitive all year, she would eventually end that season with a Hot Rod Heritage Series championship – again, another first for a woman.  She then left to drive a Pro-Mod monster for Roger Burgess.

We wish the 24 year old Californian all the best during the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.  Nostalgia drag racing is the best platform for becoming a drag racing star and here’s hoping more Nostalgia talent moves their way up the ladder of success.

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And The 2012 March Meet Funny Car Winner Is … Chad Head?

We always like to think of our sport as apart from any others including the NHRA, but the truth is, the NHRA operates the Hot Rod Heritage Series through the Museum so in the end, Nostalgia drag racing bosses are the same as all the other regular NHRA race series’.

Upon further inspection after the March Meet was over, it was found that Rick White in Top Fuel and Tim Boychuk in Funny Car were disqualified for illegal fuel pumps (too much fuel flow).  White had a faster speed but was beaten in the final by Jim Young for top eliminator.  But Boychuk won the Funny Car final over Chad Head (Jim Head’s son) but is disqualified which makes Chad Head the winner of the March Meet – notified nearly two weeks after the giant meet had ended.

Chad, who’s normal job is as operations manager for Al Anabi, had never run at the famed March Meet before (in Famoso, California).  In fact his first stab at Nostalgia Funny Car was last year’s California Hot Rod Reunion which he qualified in. Rumors are that Chad is getting into form to eventually replace his father in the drivers seat of Jim’s  NHRA Fuel Funny Car.  It should be noted that Chad received his Super Comp license about ten years ago.

For the record, Chad was #2 qualifier heading into eliminations at the March Meet so he certainly didn’t back into this win.  He beat Dennis LaCharite in the first round with a 5.77 ET which was low for the entire day.  He then defeated Rick Rogers in the second round and Kris Krabill in the semi-final.

The history of the March Meet is legendary so winning the biggest race in Nostalgia drag racing is quite an accomplishment for someone who’s use to working at the exceutive or managerial level such as Chad – before being the operations executive at Al Anabi, Chad was an operations director with the Indy Racing League.  Although he was once involved with the NHRA in track prep, this still offers hope for white-collar guys yet.

Congratulations to Chad Head, winner of the March Meet for Funny Car.

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What is the most entertaining class in Nostalgia Drag Racing?

Nostalgia fans are as fervent as they get.  So let us know: What class is your favorite?

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