(Photos by Darr Hawthorne) • The Good Vibrations 65th March Meet, one of the oldest drag racing events on anyones calendar, showed off great performances and plaguing weather fronts that started the week by closing most of the mountain passes into the vast Kern County, with record snows.
The racers who made it to Famoso Dragstrip prior to the Highway Patrol’s road closures found a well groomed track and a constant battle with rain and cold. Weather delays on Sunday found the Top Fuel Dragster Association voting to depart early, before the event would finish on Monday. What they missed was a great track, stellar Funny Cars, Fuel Altereds, Nitro Pro Comp, Nostalgia eliminator and all those Gassers and Hot Rods by leaving before the Monday Finals.
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During heated and ultra-competitive qualifying in funny car, the final number one qualifier was Bobby Cottrell, driving the Bardahl-backed “Northwest Hitter” Camaro with a 5.661. Visalia’s Brad Thompson took top speed of the meet with his 258.22 MPH charge.
A resurgent Cory Lee, doing double duty in nitro funny car and the iconic “SheepHerder” AA/Fuel Altered. Lee drove the “Pedaler” ’79 Challenger to a solid 5.699 at 257.48 MPH for the number three qualifying slot.
Brad Thompson drove his potent ’69 Camaro to a Semi-Final finish. Consistency is back in his “Jailbreak” Camaro after Qualifying with a 5.839, ran 5.671/254.90, 5.676/242.06 before losing to Tim Boychuk’s Camaro.
Returning from a 2022 hiatus, running two event that year, was Kamaka Pocock, driving Don Nelson’s “California Hustler” rebodied ’71 Camaro qualified sixth with a 5.751 ET at 253.85 MPH.
Drew Austin and his legendary dad Pat debuted a new look for their unique Ford-powered nitro funny car, an orange, Spitzer-built ’79 Mustang Cobra. Drew qualified eighth among the twenty funny cars in the pits, with his 5.757 ET at 241.07 MPH. By far, the tightest race during eliminations was between Drew Austin and Bobby Cottrell in Round two, with Cottrell taking the stripe first with his 5.697 to Austin’s 5.705, both running 256 MPH.
Rookie Ryan Horan, a third generation fuel racer, took over the driving chores of the family’s ’69 Camaro. Ryan’s heads-up driving saved a round one pass after both he and competitor Mike Peck Sr. lost traction early. Both drivers finished in the eight-second zone, with Horan recovering first.
In the final round of funny car, Cottrell met Canadian Tim Boychuk who lost fire before the burnout, giving the single round victory to Cottrell. This was his fifth March Meet funny car victory and his sixth win overall, having previously won in 7.0 Pro.
The Fiberglass and Carbon Fiber Forrest lines up for Q2
In Fuel Altered, 2022 Runner-up Mark Whynaught led qualifiers in the 6.0 second index class with is 6.053 ET. Thirteen AA/Fuel Altereds entered, Jason Petit qualified eighth rounding out the field with his “Hitman” full-bodied ’48 Fiat at 6.443.
Newcomer Dylan Winefsky qualified in the top half of the field with his family-owned “Nitro Moose” ’32 Bantam. Winefsky was awarded the 2022 Legends of Nitro Rookie of the Year. He was defeated by Derrick Moreira’s ’48 Fiat in Round one.
In the Final Round Mark Whynaught grabbed a holeshot victory over veteran Johnny West running a 6.120 to West’s quicker 6.109 ET.
Nitro Pro Comp pairs up Rear-engined Top Fuel, AA/Fuel Altereds and Nitro Funny Cars racing on a 5.90 Index. This was Eily Stafford seventh March Meet final round in a variety of racecars, from the number one qualifying position finally took home the class trophy. Veteran crew chief Donnie Couch tuned the red Mark Borjon-owned top fueler, originally built by Victory Racecars.
Stafford defeated Tim Eickstadt’s nitro funny car and in the final round won a close match against Keith Wilson’s awesome “Witch Doctor” Altered, with Wilson going way under the index running 5.753 ET.
A/Fuel was won by Wayne Ramey (6.059) winning over Rick Ewens (6.069).
Jason Vanderpool defeated Danny Schrokosch with a near perfect 7.024 to a breakout 6.991.
Add the 66th March Meet in Bakersfield to your Bucket List, you might fight weather, but there is nothing like this gallery of Heritage Series Hot Rods.
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