Motorsports

Thursday, Mar 06 2014 10:58 PM

Practice, qualifying runs begin at March Meet

  1. 1 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Tom Fowler of Paso Robles makes a run in his Camero Z-28 A/Gas car at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

    click to expand click to collapse
  2. 2 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Mark Hall of Sacramento waits patiently in his nostalgia eliminator dragster on the first day of the March Meet.

    click to expand click to collapse
  3. 3 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    A more traditional looking hotrod took its turn down the quarter-mile at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

    click to expand click to collapse
  4. 4 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    This golf cart carrying a blower and manifold for a dragster turned some heads at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway 2014 March Meet.

    click to expand click to collapse
  5. 5 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Shannon Speer had problems with her ambulance dragster and had to be towed back to the pits. Speer is a registered nurse when she's not racing.

    click to expand click to collapse
  6. 6 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Phil Lukens of Pasadena launches off the line during a run in his AA/A car on the first day of racing at the 2014 March Meet.

    click to expand click to collapse
  7. 7 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Tom "Giant" Nye of Modesto will custom airbrush a design on a T-shirt for you. You'll find him in the vendor area at the March Meet.

    click to expand click to collapse
  8. 8 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    A crewmember directs Ryan Hodgson to the staging area of the starting line at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway March Meet.

    click to expand click to collapse
  9. 9 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    There are plenty of interesting paint jobs and graphics at the March Meet. This one was on the trailer of a vendor.

    click to expand click to collapse
  10. 10 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Jim Frye, left, and Reggie Duby, center, celebrate the 7.60 run by the Brown and Reich Petroleum A/Gas car at the 2014 March Meet. The driver is Brendon Frye of Taft, CA.

    click to expand click to collapse
  11. 11 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Flags tucked in the parachutes showed some patriotism on this dragster at the 2014 March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway. The flags were removed before the dragster made its run.

    click to expand click to collapse
  12. 12 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Smoke pours off the slicks of Mike Smith's class 7 Pro front engine dragster as he prepares to make a run at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway March Meet.

    click to expand click to collapse
  13. 13 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Chris Beanes of Valencia heats the tires on his 1951 Henry J A/Gas racecar at Auto Club Famoso Raceway. Thursday was the first day of action at the March Meet.

    click to expand click to collapse
  14. 14 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    This A/Gas Corvette lifts the front wheels as it makes a run down the quarter-mile on the first day of the March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

    click to expand click to collapse
  15. 15 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Lonnie Gilbertson of Portland, OR waits in the staging line to make a run down the quarter-mile at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

    click to expand click to collapse
  16. 16 of 16

    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Lonnie Gilbertson comes off the line in his beautiful 1955 Chevy "Classical Gas" at the 2014 March Meet. Gilbertson is from Portland, Ore., and races in the Hot Rod class.

    click to expand click to collapse
BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer mgriffith@bakersfield.com

It's become a crowded playing field, and that's OK with Dan Horan Jr.

Horan, of Rancho Cascades, started driving nostalgia Funny Cars 10 years ago, before there were any real races for the newfangled, old-school division.

Seven years ago, nine cars were on hand for the first nostalgia Funny Car elimination race at the March Meet.

Today, about 30 drivers are expected to make qualifying attempts as the biggest nostalgia drag race in the world -- the March Meet -- kicks into high gear at Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

"No, it's just a lot more fun," Horan said when asked if maybe the class had become almost too popular. "We're not quitters. The more (teams) that come out, you have to look deep down inside and find something to beat them."

Horan came within an eyelash of winning the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series, finishing only behind Jason Rupert. He would have snared the title if he won the California Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso last October, but he lost in the final round to John Hale.

In a test session on Thursday, Horan was the quickest of 19 cars with a 5.74 at 254 mph.

Consistency has been Horan's strong suit which he credits to crew chief Ron Swearingen.

"Ronnie wanted to start where he left off last year," Horan said of yet another run in the 5.7 range. "He's pretty conservative and wants every run to count. So he goes down the race track every run because you learn something every time the car goes A to B.

"If you go up there and try to rotate the Earth then you don't learn anything."

Horan said not to read too much into testing times from Thursday (only four cars were in the fives) as there are many different agendas at play.

Some are just looking to make a short run, about half-track; others click off at 1,000 feet and there are some who are looking for big numbers but come up short.

"Everybody has their own program," he said. "Some people want to see exactly what the limits are. We just want to go to the finish line and see the increment numbers. Then (Swearingin) will make a decision based on that."

Horan said the 5.74 was a good starting point in his quest for his first March Meet win.

"Now he can tweak it a little here, pick up a little there. Every little bit counts."

Funny Car drivers will have three chances to make a 16-car elimination field: two today and one Saturday. Horan predicts four drivers to get under 5.70 seconds.

Last October, 25 drivers were in the fives and it took a 5.867 to make the show. Tim Nemeth of Chilliwack, B.C. set the pace at 5.693.

"I expect low qualifier to be 5.65 or 5.67," Horan said. I think there will be four cars between 5.67 and 5.71.

"It's tough (competition). There are a lot of guys coming out and everyone wants to be a hero for a day."

While it was just a testing day for the supercharged nitro cars, all other classes got in a round of qualifying.

Brendon Frye of Taft is second in A/Gas qualifying in his '57 Chevy at 7.607 seconds; Mike Williams of Bakersfield sits third in C/Gas at 9.618 in a '55 Chevy and Tim Gorman of Bakersfield is second in D/Gas at 10.605 seconds in his '64 El Camino.

Have something to share? Comment on this story

Bakersfield.com Daily Deal!

Triple Threat Solutions

Daily Deal

$50 for Marksmanship Training Course

Value
$85
% Off
41%
You Save
$35
0 Bought
Buy Now! See more deals
What do you think?