O’Reilly Raceway park, Clermont, IN – The stage doesn’t get any bigger than Indy when it comes to motorsports. For the country’s elite vintage drag racing teams, the Goodguys Hot Rod Nationals at O’Reilly Raceway Park is their one chance per year to say they too won Indy.
Per tradition, the Goodguys Hot Rod Nationals fills every inch but the paved oval on O’Reilly Raceway Park’s expansive property. It’s wall to wall chrome, flames, nitro fumes and candy paint. With 10 eliminator classes and exhibitions by the Geezer Gasser’s and Nostalgia Super Stockers, this year’s event kept the drag strip busy all day.
The Nostalgia Top Fuel field was the largest it’s ever been here in Indy with 12 fire breathing front motored monsters doing battle for a precious spot in the 8 car field. Paced by Denver Schutz’ 5.857, the field featured a mix of California cars, Midwest cars and the New York based “Nitrodiction” entry of Jim Didio, driven by 2-time Goodguys Indy winner Howard Haight.
Schutz again fired the biggest shot in eliminations clicking off a 5.844 in his first round race against Okahoma’s Odie Coker. Howard Haight legged out the opening round’s only other sub 6-second lap, running a 5.966 to dispatch San Jose, California’s Brendan Murry. When Rick Rodgers in Butch Blair’s “Fugowie” had to be shut off behind the burnout box in his semi final race with Schutz, the Fresno raisin farmer simply took the light and idled down the track, saving valuable parts and pieces for a final round match up with Midwest favorite Randy Bridges who woke everyone up with a 5.923 @ 244.03 semi final shot against Haight. So with the final round being a true East vs West showdown between Virden, Illinois’ Randy Bridges and California’s Denver Schutz, the stage was set for what should have been a classic battle. Unfortunately for Schutz, he got out of his smooth starting line routine, deep staged the car then left a tad early drawing a shocking red light on the tree while running 5.937. Bridges drove on through for a 6.03 @ 226mph win.
Bridges tasted victory here in 2003 when he defeated “Radar” Roger Lechtenberg, but this win was sweeter. “It’s so nice to see everyone come up and congratulating the team,” he said. “Car owner Joe Hendricks is the one who makes this all happen. He pays the bills, tunes the motor, drives the truck – he does it all. This is his baby – I’m just lucky enough to drive it.”
In Nostalgia Funny Car, 8 retro funnies dry hopped and thundered their way into the hearts of the fans. Stepping up to lead qualifying was Grand Blanc, Michigan’s Shawn Bowen who grabbed the pole position with a 6.038 @ 226.66 in his ’77 Pontiac Forebird but it was only a matter of time before the five-second runs began appearing on the scoreboards.
Peter and Ashby Gallen’s purple “Poverty Stricken” ’74 Vega was the first to step into the five second zone unloading a 5.904 @ 240.25 in a first round defeat of Steve Nichols’ Camaro. Gallen then dispatched of Indy’s Paul Romine in the semis in a great race which saw the winner post a 5.906 to Romine’s 5.939. In the final, Gallen faced first-time Goodguys finalist Anthony Bronge and the “Punisher” ’69 Camaro out of Marengo, Illinois.
The Funny Car final turned out to be close with Gallen turning in his 3rd consecutive 5.90 pass going 5.909 @ 241.97 to Bronge’s game 6.032 @ 238.81. This was Gallen’s 3rd Funny Car win in 2 years racing with Goodguys.
Both the 7.00 index and 7.50 index Pro Comp classes provided fans with great side by side racing and finishes decided by mere thousandths of a second.
In the Freedom Racing Engines-sponsored Pro Comp I division, number 4 qualifier Don Slout used consistency and a little luck to pick up his first-ever Goodguys hemi Oscar. Running as quick as 7.094 in eliminations, Slout got to the finals to face multi-time Goodguys event winner Richard Edwards and his brightly colored ’48 Fiat. Going in, Edwards was a big favorite but like the Top Fuel Final, the favorite’s role bit Richards when he red-lit giving the win to a popular underdog. Once he saw Edwards’ red light, Slout coasted to a slow victory, picking up an additional $500 cash from Freedom Racing Engines for the win.
In Pro Comp II, it looked as though the final would be a classic East vs West showdown with #1 qualifier Rich Barnard of Ohio against California’s Bruce McDowell. McDowell ended up blowing his engine in a 2nd round win which paved the way for John Bartos to reach the final to face Barnard. Barnard soloed to the class win when Bartos broke after his burnout but still ran it all the way through for a 7.535 winner.
The full bodied 8.50 index B/GAS category belonged to Lawrenceburg, Indiana’s Rob Davis and his supercharged ’67 Nova all weekend long. Davis qualified on the pole, ran a near perfect 8.506 in the semi finals and squeaked out a close win against Earl Scott’s ’34 Ford in the final logging a 8.527 @ 155.92 to Scott’s game 8.535 @ 157.34
Other event winners included Roger Lechtenberg (Top Fuel B), Don Nave (Nostalgia Comp), C.S. Bogshaw (Nostalgia Gas), Linda Riha (Hot Rod Eliminator), Brian Schimmel (1/8th Mile Hot Rod Shootout) and Roger Burman (1/8th Mile Street Rod Shootout).
The next stop on the 2010 Goodguys Vintage Drag Racing circuit is the 9th Blue Suede Cruise August 20-22 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, OH. For more visit www.ggvintagedragracing.com
Final Round Results, Goodguys 22nd Hot Rod Nationals
O’Reilly Raceway Park, Indianapolis, IN
Winner: Randy Bridges, Virden, IL 6.036 @ 243.90
Runner Up: Denver Schutz, Fresno, CA 5.937 @ 226.09 (foul)Top Fuel B
Winner: Roger Lechtenberg, Cedar Falls, IA 6.581 @ 178.92
Runner Up: Jeff Miller, Garrettsville, OH 7.731 @ 160.75
Winner: Peter Gallen, Broomall, PA ’74 Vega 5.909 @ 241.97
Runner Up: Anthony Bronge, Marengo, IL ’69 Camaro 6.032 @ 238.81
Pro Comp I:
Winner: Don Slout, Williamsport, PA 11.785 @ 84.50
Runner Up: Richard Edwards, Terre Haute, IN ’48 Fiat 7.065 @ 191.43 (foul)
Pro Comp II:
Winner: Rich Barnard, Conneaut, OH 7.535 @ 177.67
Runner Up: John Bartos, Mantoa, OH (broke)
Winner: Rob Davis, Lawrenceburg, IN ’67 Nova 8.527 @ 155.93
Runner Up: Earl Scott, Ashtabula, OH ’34 Ford 8.535 @ 157.34
Winner: Don Nave, South Whitley, IN 8.519 @ 152.47
Runner Up: Bob Lair, Lake Mills, IA ’23 Ford 8.629 @ 146.67
Winner: C.S. Bogshaw, Mooresville, NC, ’66 Nova 12.982 @ 51.79
Runner Up: Doug Dougherty, Plainville, IN ’69 Camaro (broke)
Hot Rod Eliminator:
Winner: Linda Riha, Shellsburg, IA ’55 Chevy 12.218 @ 103.14
Runner Up: Dale Schroeder, ’63 Ford 11.007 @ 123.49 (foul)
1/8th Mile Street Rod Shootout:
Winner: Roger Burman, Rockwell City, IA ’32 Ford 6.179 @ 110.44
Runner Up: Bill Paul, Highland, IL ’32 Ford 6.264 @ 112.15
1/8th Mile Hot Rod Shootout:
Winner: Brian Schimmel, New Berlin, WI ’55 Chevy P/U 6.494 @ 115.42
Runner Up: Jugger Brown, Thunder Bay CAN, ’28 Ford 6.826 @ 100.03