"THE WIZARD" TO CHALLENGE "GROUND ZERO" FOR #10 POSITION AT GOODGUYS MARCH MEET
by Cole Coonce, NR Mojo Wire
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
3/10/00, Bakersfield, CA--Only a "Wizard" would stir the cauldron on what had been a perfectly acceptable thermodynamic soup. Such is the case with Lance Osborn Racing, as Lance hisself (aka "the Wizard") ordered drastic changes to the fuel system of his Chevy-powered front-motored fueler after a most successful coda to his 1999 season in which he catapulted from the back of the pack to win the "B" Main at last year's California Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway. Even more remarkable was how he closed the season: By posting numbers (a couple of 6.15s, for instance) that were worthy of the "A" Main itself.
No, winning the "B" Main and leaving well enough alone wasn't good enough for Osborn... And after a silly season consultation with fuel system brainiac Pete Jackson (who generously proffered some pronounced changes to the fuel system), Osborn has thrown down the gauntlet and is attempting to crank up his profile by challenging his way onto the NITRONIC RESEARCH AA/FUEL DRAGSTER LIST via a match race with the potent Hemi-milled machine of John Eirich, aka "Ground Zero," who is currently ranked #10 on the list.
Eirich has made some changes to the fuel system on his entry as well, including fiddling with the lines and enlarging the capacity, but the biggest change at "Ground Zero" is carbon-based as opposed to actual hardware. The March Meet will see the competitive unveiling of a different driver in Eirich's machine, the esteemed "Wild Bill" Alexander, a man who has been punching it out in front motored fuelers since 1961. Alexander replaces Denver Schutz, a feared veteran in his own regard, and who is now shoeing for the Texas-based entry of Jim Cullen.
(Alexander needs no introduction to informed nitromaniacs, but if you wanna learn more click here: http://www.nitronic.com/wildbill/ )
The Osborn/Alexander match race will transpire at noon Saturday, 3/11, during qualifying for the Goodguys 41st March Meet at Famoso Raceway. If Alexander loses, Ground Zero is off the list and Osborn claims Ground Zero's position. If Osborn loses, the list remains unchanged.
Just prior to the challenge, the Inaugural NR AA/FD List Award will be presented to Jim Murphy and WW2 Racing, based on its performance during last year's front-engine fueler wars. Among the spoils is a $1000 contingency check from Titan Speed Engineering, a personalized plaque from Pete Millar of DRAG CARTOONS fame and plenty of swag from Mysterion Screenprint.
NR AA/FUEL DRAGSTER LIST MARCH MEET NOTES
Estimates in the number of entries for Top Fuel Eliminator at the Goodguys 41st March Meet this weekend range from 22 to 29. Qualifying is for two 8 car eliminators, an "A" Main and "B" (Hooligan) Eliminator. There are 3 sessions of qualifying for Top Fuel: Friday, March 10 at 4 PM; Saurday at noon and 4 PM; Eliminations commence at noon on Sunday. Famoso Raceway is located 20 miles norhteast of Bakersfield.
Here's the March Meet skinny on teams that are currently dwelling on the NR AA/FD List:
1. WW 2 Driver: Jim "HOLY SMOKES" Murphy, Santa Rosa, CA
Comments: There is a real duality to Murphy: a quiet demeanor, but under the surface a fierce competitive spirit bubbles in both his heart and in his mind. With the help of some of Sacramento's finest, he has carved a real niche for himself in the front-motored fueler circuit: 3 consecutive Goodguys VRA titles anchored by back-to-back March Meet conquests. Quick, fast and consistent.
2. GOTELLI SPEED SHOP Driver: Larry Gotelli, Jr. South San Francisco, CA
Comments: Tremendous strides in only two seasons as a fuel burner. The grandson of "Terrible Ted" Gotelli, a man with nitro in his veins. Apparently, it's hereditary.
3. FULLER MOTORSPORTS "MIDNIGHT"; Driver: Bill "the Heartbreaker" Dunlap, Capitola, CA
Comments: The last guys other than WW2 to claim Top Eliminator at the March Meet, a feat accomplished in 1997.
Aeronautical modifications by Dave Uyehara last year give the car the appearance of a front-motored, nitro-burning spaceship.
4. CALIFORNIA TRUCKING Driver: Lee Jennings, Chino, CA
Comments: Aero mods over the winter have yet to prove beneficial. Prior performances have been stout, clean and consistent. if anybody knows how to make a Chevy thunder on pop, it's Jennings' braintrust, Zeller & Amaya.
5. CHAMPION SPEED SHOP Driver: Rance McDaniel, Fresno, CA
Notes: Bodacious incrementals at a secret test and tune on a cold, unprepared track last week in Sacramento. Rance is hankering for a properly prepped track and an opportunity to show off his stuff at the big end of the drag strip. Perhaps the most notorious machine on the circuit, and the only small block Bowtie on the scene.
6. ORANGE CRATE Driver: Roger Lechtenberg, Waterloo, Iowa
Notes: Those who watched Dale Suhr and his "Hair Bear Bunch" flourish last summer at the Heartland Hot Rod Reunion against cars from California, Illinois, Oklahoma and Texas know this team has the skill to get down a drag strip and post some potent numbers.
Their message to the California teams: "Waterloo is where you find it...just ask Napoleon."
7. STEINER & BERGER Driver: Gerry "Panzer Man" Steiner, San Jose, CA
Comments: Steiner is in a rare groove, particularly off the pad. Perhaps the most efficient team on the circuit, when you calculate cubic dollars to performance.
8. FUGOWIE Driver: Butch Blair, Martinez, CA
Comments: Crushing performance at the Pro Nitro Desert Thunder Nat'ls last month... #8 on the list with a bullet!
9. SMITH, ALLRED & MAHER Driver: Mike McLennan, San Francisco, CA
Sporadic attendance in '99. If they are on the premises (likely), rest assured they'll come out with guns a blazin'.
10. GROUND ZERO Driver: "Wild Bill" Alexander, Tujunga, CA
New driver for a new team...errrm, I mean they are new to each other but not new to the sport...you know what I mean... both Eirich and Alexander have been called many things, but "new" they ain't... look for a statement this weekend.
| WW2 PREPARES FOR MARCH MEET "THREE-PEAT" |
by Cole Coonce, NR Mojo Wire
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
3/08/00, Bakersfield, CA--It's a pretty basic principle of physics: Lessen the mass to move. Such is the gameplan for Jim "Holy Smokes" Murphy as he and his team once again prepare the venerable, fearsome WW2 slingshot dragster for defense of its Top Fuel Title at the Goodguys VRA March Meet this weekend at Famoso Raceway, 20 miles Northeast of Bakersfield.
Murphy has guided this gorgeous, sleek machine to Top Eliminator at the March Meet twice consecutively: in '98 by way of the tutelage of team leader, Jim "the Lizard" Herbert; and again, in '99, one week after the tragic and unexpected passing of Herbert. More than one drag strip historian has posited that, due to the dire and emotionally draining circumstances surrounding the team at this race last year, WW2's '99 victory was the most poignant and dramatic drag race in the March Meet's 41 year history, eclipsing a plethora of unforgettable moments such as Mike Sorokin and the Surfers victory in 1966; or Shirley Muldowney on the losing end against Lucille Lee in the first all-female Top Fuel final at a major event; or James Warren's domination of the field for three years in a row in the mid 70s; or Don Garlits return to form in 1986--pick your defining moment and a case be made that last year's final round trumps it on both emotional and threatrical levels.
(More on WW2's heart-tugging conquest of the '99 race can be accessed via the internet here: http://www.nitronic.com/rootbeer/marchmeet.html )
Alright, sorry for the digression and history lesson, folks... Where were we? Oh yeah: Physics and the concept of less being more. In preparation for the Y2K season, Murphy says that both the car and the driver have gone on diets and are down to their respective fighting weights.
"We are going to the March Meet with the motor just the way it was at the Reunion," Murphy notes, in reference to his runner-up finish here at the California Hot Rod Reunion last October. "It ran 6.05 and then we had trouble with magneto. From there, we'll see how much 115 lbs. less weight will help us," he said, champing at the bit before adding, "We want to see if the old adage about a 100 lbs. being worth a tenth (of a second) is accurate."
Murphy's strategy is based upon the Year 2000 Goodguys VRA Rulebook addendum, wot sez the AA/Fuel Dragsters must adhere to a new weight ratio of 4.25 lbs per cubic inch; "(The rules have been established) and now you play by them," he says, noting the dragster is still a little heavier than its legal weight, but it is much lighter than it was in previous years.
And how did WW2 realize their weight loss goal? By resorting to carbon fiber brakes, a titanium clutch can, different nozzles and oil lines, lessening the volume of oil, converting to more aluminum and titanium pieces in their 398 cubic inch mill, and even by changing the length of studs in the rear wheels (!); furthermore, they took the reverser out of the drivetrain (!!)...
"(The lack of a reverser) will definitely change our burnout procedure, " Murphy acknowledges. Uhh, after the burnout, who is going to huff and puff and push this cackling, fire-breathing beast back to the starting line, Murphy? "We'll just pick up some kid hitchhiking and he'll push the car back," Murphy quietly smirks.--FINI
WW2 MARCH MEET NOTES:
Predictions for qualifying for the 8 car "A Main" at Bakersfield this weekend: According to Murphy, "if the weather is halfway decent and track is good, it is going to take a teen to qualify." Last years bump spot was a 6.23, anchored by WW2.
The only Top Fuel team to claim 3 consecutive March Meet Titles is the Warren Coburn & Miller entry in the years 1975 through 1977.
WW2 holds the Famoso track speed record--as well as an unofficial class record--for AA/Fuel Dragsters at 250.00 mph, which was set in 1998.
Based on the the WW2 team's torrid yet consistent performance during the 1999 season, Murphy will accept the inaugural NITRONIC RESEARCH LIST Award on behalf of WW2 at a starting line ceremony Saturday morning at the March Meet. (For more on the NITRONIC RESEARCH AA/FD LIST, point your browser to http://www.nitronic.com/thelist/ )
For more on WW2 Racing, go to http://www.ww2racing.com
GUESS WHO'S SUITING UP FOR ROOT BEER?
by Cole Coonce, NR Mojo Wire
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
3/08/00, Los Angeles, CA--Guess who's suiting up in "Root Beer" Hedge's Mastercam AA/Fuel Dragster this weekend at the Goodguys 41st March Meet in Bakersfield?
If you've been in a Buddhist Monastery for the last six months, you may not have heard that Hedge and his former shoe, "Wild Bill" Alexander are splitsville, with Alexander now driving for John Eirich in his "Ground Zero" fueler (replacing Denver Schutz, who is now with the Jim Cullen entry out of Texas and who is replacing Jeff "Surfer" Diehl who is....sheesh, charting the breakups in this scene is more work than annotating the matrimonial paths of Zza Gabor and Elizabeth Taylor....).
With "Wild Bill" having moved on, Hedge was faced with a dilemma. How do you replace a legendary first wave AA/FD driver, a guy who has been slugging it out in slingshot fuelers since 1961? Hedge's response was blunt: You don't. This is typical Root Beer-logic and emblematic of how Hedge's mind works like a baseball pitcher: Show 'em your fastball, show 'em your fastball and then throw 'em a curve.
And his choice for a new driver was an "outside" decision, indeed: Hedge scouted the Big Leagues and offered the ride to "Techno Tim" Gibson, who is driver of the BME Top Fuel car in NHRA competition, as well as aerodynamicist for John Force Racing, in addition to being an all-around nitromaniac who has made no secret about his fascination with front engined fuel cars.
Hedge's decison was based on the following: after grabbing a seat in the grandstands at last month's NHRA Winternationals, he observed Gibson--who was unqualified and was on a last ditch attempt to "get in the show"--smoothly and successfully "pedal" the 6000+ hp BME digger's throttle and thereby subvert performance-killing tire spin en route to recording an elapsed time of 4.83 seconds at a speed of 291.13 MPH, numbers good enough to get the car qualified for Sunday's eliminations.
That display was all the empirical confirmation Hedge needed to know that Gibson was his guy...
Initial reports from a test session at Bakersfield last weekend proffer that Gibson was pleasantly taken aback out how l-o-u-d and "in your face" the cackle is out of the 2000+ hp front engine dragster as compared to Gibson's other mount, which makes three times the horsepower and has more fuel volume, spark and air compression, but which has all of those thermodynamic elements aft of the driver's pretty parts.
(For the record and to preclude any possible confusion, Gibson is still under the employ of both Bill Miller Engineering as its driver, as well as John Force Racing as an aeronautical engineer.)
Although Hedge made clear his appreciation of Gibson's cockpit acumen, another aspect to the hiring may or may not involve Gibson's background in Aeronautic Engineering. But let the record reflect that this writer has seen Gibson and Hedge collaborate on drawings on coffee shop napkins of what a front engine fueler should look like in this day and age. You do the math...
For more on the Mastercam AA/FD, point your browser to http://www.nitronic.com/rootbeer/
MASTERCAM MARCH MEET NOTES:
The Mastercam AA/FD is the event runner-up at the March Meet. To look back at last year's event, go to http://www.nitronic.com/rootbeer/marchmeet.html
Top Fuel Qualifying Schedule for the 41st March Meet: Friday, March 10: 4pm; Saturday, March 11: Noon & 4pm; Eliminations, Sunday, March 12: NOON
|NITRONIC RESEARCH UNVEILS INTERNET FIRST:|
IN-CAR AUDIO FROM A TOP FUEL DRAGSTER!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2/23/00, Los Angeles, CA--As a tease for an upcoming CD release, "The Big Sounds of the Drags 2001," Nitronic Research has unveiled an internet first: In-car audio from the cockpit of a grunting, cackling, fire-breathing Top Fuel Dragster.
If you sport a Real Player and a 56k modem, you can dial in this verite snapshot of what it is like to blast down the 1/4 mile in a modern fueler. Simply point your browser to: http://www.nitronic.com/topfueldiary/tossedbelt.html and ride along with "Techno Tim" Gibson as he guides the Bill Miller Engineering fueler down Parker Avenue at the recent 2000 Winternationals, out California way.
This unique recording is a sort of multi-media sidebar to the ongoing "Top Fuel Diary" serial that Gibson submits to NR, the latest installment of which has just been uploaded to http://www.nitronic.com/topfueldiary/....(Uhhh, you *HAVE* been following "Top Fuel Diary," haven't you? I mean, where else on the planet are you going to find a professional nitromaniac explaining the nuances of running a Top Fuel Car? Eh?)
(Also: Please be advised that since the recent winter solstice, NITRONIC RESEARCH has uploaded fresh, mono-propellant-centric content onto its homepage as often as twice a week...if you have been bypassing the NR homepage (www.nitronic.com), your fellow drag strip cybernauts are cutting a holeshot past you towards nitro nirvana...Remember: "Snoozers Lose...")
As per "The Big Sounds of the Drags 2001," the production drones at the NITRONIC RESEARCH WIND TUNNELS have been slaving feverishly to finish meet their May 1, 2000 release date for this audio document, which is kinda' the sound track record for a movie whose working title is/was "Fuel Dreams" and that may or may not ever be released (which is another story, altogether...).
"The Big Sounds of the Drags 2001," features both the cars and the stars of that slice of teutonic overkill we like to call drag racing: thundering, over-the-top recordings of everything from Top Fuelers to Funny Cars to Weiner Roasters to Wheelstanders; as well as sound bites and interviews from "Big Daddy," Shirley, "Nitro Neil" Bisciglia, Jon "Thunderlungs" Lundberg, Dean Skuza, Ron "Crazy Legs" Capps and more, all of which have been underscored by a "Go! Cat Wild!" cross section of premium SoCal surf bands.
Will the worker bees at NR make their deadline for the record release? You'll be the first to know...
In the interim, take a ride with "Techno Tim...."
| "TECHNO TIM" GIBSON SIGNS WITH JOHN FORCE RACING FOR 2000 SEASON|
12-20-99--In a move that underscores their aggressive desire to win an unprecedented 10th NHRA AA/Funny Car Points Title, John Force Racing has procured the exclusive engineering services of Tim Gibson for the Year 2000 season. In 1999, John Force claimed his 9th Funny Car Championship most convincingly, a feat which apparently has only whet his passion for more domination.
Enter Gibson. The one year contract calls for Gibson to do in-house, proprietary "funny car development," i.e., enhance the aerodynamic flow and effects of the 2000 Mustangs used by both Force and team co-driver, Tony Pedregon, as well as a third r&d; "flopper." All bodies will be manufactured by Jack Rousch Racing in accordance to "Techno Tim's" specifications, with minimal changes applied to bodies already produced, but with further enhancements applied to coupes currently in production by Rousch with a scheduled April, 2000 delivery.
Gibson, a graduate from UCLA in 1990 with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, had been recently employed by a variety of Funny Car teams to engineer more downforce out of the GM Firebird and Camaro body styles, changes which will take effect in the upcoming season. Ironically, as an employee of Force, Gibson now has to out-engineer some of his own work by squeezing more downforce out of the Ford Mustang styles utilized by both John Force's Castrol GTX "Hound Dog" machine as well as Pedregon's Castrol SYNTEC AA/Funny Car.
What made Force's offer particularly attractive to Gibson was the team's reputation for perfection as well as its zeal for conquest. "Force has put together a family of extremely talented, highly motivated people," Gibson said in reference to a bodacious braintrust that includes Austin Coil, Bernie Fedderly and John Medlen. "What I am interested in is this family that Force has put together--it knows how to win. Whatever chemistry or intangibles are included in that (process), that is what I want to be involved in."
"In the last two or three years, by a sizeable margin he probably has more time in the wind tunnel than anybody," is how Coil summed up Gibson's contribution to the team. "He's also experienced in dealing with the NHRA's Rules Committees, which is very important as well.
"There are some changes within the parameters of the rules that Tim believes will be beneficial," Coil continued. "We're willing to gamble on that."
In an interesting juxtapositions of backgrounds, Coil, Fedderly and Medlen are all graduates of the school of hard knocks, while Gibson will be the sole, bonafide "collich boy" engineer under Force's employ. Nonetheless, in reference to an intellectual and engineering quid pro quo, Gibson said he welcomes the opportunity to not only pick the brains of some of the finest minds in drag racing, and that he also hopes to soak up some drag strip knowledge via osmosis. "There is something there that is beyond just racing," he said.
This does indeed cut both ways, Coil states. "By no means do we intend to use Tim for just aero projects. We intend to use him for a variety of engineering jobs." Gibson, who in addition to his engineering duties also shoes the Bill Miller Engineering Top Fuel Dragster part time of the NHRA circuit, sees no conflict with driving a fueler for BME and crunching numbers for Force. "We will go to about twelve races, including Vegas and maybe Indy. We are looking forward to the delivery of a new Don Long dragster sometime next year."