The NHRA Heritage series cruised to Auto Club Famoso Raceway for the series finale. This marks the 25th running of the California Hot Rod Reunion. The reunion features hundreds of restored hot rods ranging from Model T’s to the classic American Muscle cars of the 60’s, 70’s and beyond. It also features restored drag racing machines from the glory days of drag racing. Hundreds of restored dragsters, funny cars, and much more from the history of the sport were on display for the thousands of fans in attendance over the three-day event.
With all the history on the property it was time for today’s nostalgia racers to take to the track and close out their 2016 season and decide championships.
In Top Fuel the championship came down to the final round of racing. Tony Bartone held a 19-point lead over his opponent Jim Murphy. Both teams put up spectacular performances all day. Bartone put up a 5.582 at 249 mph in the opening round to defeat Bret Williamson. In round two he put up a 5.685 at 254 mph against Adam Sorokin to advance to the final. Murphy marched his way through Rick McGee in his opening round matchup running a 5.629 at 254 mph. He would then take down Bill Dunlop in round two with a 5.642 at 245 mph. In the final round the two championship contenders looked to put on a spectacular show. As both drivers left the starting line it looked good but around 300 feet down track Murphy’s car began to lose traction and Bartone motored his way to a third consecutive championship with a 5.600 at 247 mph.
In Funny Car Jason Rupert dominated the weekend, qualifying number one and taking home the trophy. Rupert took out James Day in the opening round of eliminations with 5.630 at 257 mph. In round two Rupert made quick work of John Weaver when Weaver’s 1978 Dodge Omni began to lose traction. Rupert laid down the low elapse time of eliminations with a 5.579 at 258 mph. In the semifinal round, he would take on the Fighting Irish team of Rick Rogers. Rogers’ car lost traction almost as soon as he hit the throttle. Rupert put a 5.637 at 256 mph on the scoreboard. This would match him up with newly crowned Heritage Series Funny Car champion Kris Krabill. Rupert made easy work of the champ putting a 5.592 at 250 mph to Krabill’s 7.494 at 116 mph.
Local Funny Car racer Richard Townsend and the Nitroholic Team qualified 15th in the 16-car field with a 5.873. The Oakdale boys worked hard to solve some issues with the race car but it would not be their weekend as they were eliminated in the opening round.
As this closes the NHRA Heritage Series for the year, in one week the stars of the NHRA Mello Yello drag racing series will be in Las Vegas where Nitro meets Neon for the Toyota NHRA Nationals. This is the fifth of their six-race countdown to the championship.