Friday, November 19, 2010

2010 World Finals – Force is still ‘da Man!

NHRA Full Throttle Series 2010 Champions
Top Fuel - Larry Dixon, Al-Anabi Racing
Funny Car - John “da Man” Force, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Pro Stock - Greg Andersen, Summit Racing Pontiac GXP
ProStock Bike - LE Tonglet, NitroFish Suzuki
Super Stock - Ryan McClanahan, “Sgt Ryan” SS/AM Cobalt

The most exciting race last weekend was the Funny Car championship. John Force began the weekend in 2nd place behind Matt Hagan. To win the race, Force needed to go 2 rounds further than Hagan. - tough job, even for a legend. When Bob Tasca knocked Hagan out in the first round, it looked good for the 14-time champ to make it 15 as he only needed to make it to the semifinal round. But, in the normal John Force-style, he took them out one-by-one - Densham, Bode, Troxel and in the final round went 4.085s, 310.41 mph against Jeff Arend’s 4.109s, 307.65 run. "I've been 25 years with Castrol and I want to go for 30!” Force said. "I've got to give credit to all the kids on my team.” It was unbelievable the racecar they gave me all year.” On a sadder note, Force’s crew chief, Austin Coil announced his resignation from the Force organization citing “financial issues,” and “some animosities.” Austin stated, “Overall, there’s no real terrible issues going on. It was just time to go. Kind of like when you’ve been married for 26 years and heard all the bullshit.”

With a first round victory on Sunday, Larry Dixon clich├ęd the Top Fuel title beating out Mike Strasbourg when the over-zealous driver smoked the tires before the 660 lights. "I've never had so much excitement for a first round win in my life," Dixon said. Progressing to the semi-final round, Dixon was paired with Shawn Langdon in his Lucas Oil/Speedco Dragster. Unfortunately for the champ, his 3.856 s, 319.98 mph run was not enough to overcome Langdon’s 0.017s better light. Langdon and Antron Brown went to the final round with Antron piloting the Matco Tools dragster to win the Winternationals Top Fuel event running 3.840s, 311.99 mph.

The Pro-Stock Championship went to Greg Anderson very early in the weekend. With a 115-point lead over Mike Edwards, by simply qualifying for the race, Anderson clinched his 4th championship title. It was a herculean effort to get back on top after a dismal start of the season. He dedicated the championship to team owner Ken Black who has battled his way back from a stroke through most of the season. "We've had to fight scratch and claw our way back to respectability," Anderson said. "We had to find a way to cope with the fact that our team leader Ken Black wasn't with us. We weren't sure we'd ever see Ken back at the race track.” The other saga in Pro-Stock was Greg Stanfield and Mike Edwards. Edwards, who appeared unbeatable early in the season, felt the championship slip from his hands over the last three races. Then, in the first round of eliminations on Sunday, an engine problem at the line finished him for the season. It was exciting news for Greg Stanfield who moved into number 2 spot for the season.

The Pro-Stock Motorcycle Championship went to rookie LE Tonglet. The first rookie since Gary Scelzi claimed the Top Fuel championship in 1997 Tonglet at only age 20, also became the youngest champion in NHRA history in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Interestingly, John Force became the oldest champion in NHRA history on Sunday. "It's been larger than life," Tonglet said. "We just stepped up at the right time." Andrew Hines led the championship and also like Force, Tonglet had to go two rounds further than Hines. Tonglet’s chances much improved with Hine’s red-lighting in the first round. Tonglet blasted past Matt Guidera in the first round and clinched it up with an impressive win over Steve Johnson in the second round. "We've been on a roll since Indy and this is just huge," Tonglet said. "Especially for my dad, this is just awesome to win the championship."

Finally, in Super Stock, Ryan McClanahan, Alta Loma, Calif., took home a pair of winning both the NHRA Lucas Oil national championship and the Pacific Division championship before falling in the final round to Eric Bell, Chandler, Ariz., and his '70 Challenger. Bell went 137.34 mph in 9.540 seconds for the win.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

SEMA 2010 - A Renewed Enthusiasm

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – The 2010 SEMA show was a pretty impressive event. After 2-3 years of doom-and-gloom, the energy and excitement we experienced at the show was a welcome change. One of the most impressive cars at the show was the Bisimoto Honda CRZ hybrid. What you ask can be so exciting about a Honda hybrid? How about 533 horsepower from a turbocharged 1.5 liter engine – sounds almost like the old days of F1! What is really impressive, is that ‘Bisi only had 6 weeks to pull-off his magic. When ‘Bisi was presented with the possibility of preparing a CRZ for SEMA, he chose as his goal to build a hybrid with more power than the Porsche GT3 hybrid racer – 480 hp. He far exceeded even his own expectations and was the hit of the SEMA show. Even the New York Times believed it worthy of print. With a 64mm Turbonetics turbo-charger, Golden Eagle intake, Burns Stainless muffler and StopTech brakes, ‘Bisi is ready to hunt Porsches.
At the Mobil One booth, Underground Racing displayed one of their awe-inspiring Twin Turbocharged Lamborghini Superleggera masterpieces. The low-slung, matte-yellow super car could really draw a crowd. Built and owned by Underground racing, this twin-turbo beast does zero to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds and the quarter-mile in 9.1 seconds, and has a top speed of 169 mph. UR-owner, KC Howeth was at the booth and recounted their recent experience at the Texas Mile. If you haven’t heard of the Texas Mile, it is one of the premier “go-fast” events in the country. Racers from all-around the country meet just outside of Austin TX for the ultimate drag race. A 1-mile blast from a standing start to see who is the “fastest-one-of-all.“ A UR Lambo driven by Tim Holt holds the automobile speed record of 250.1 mph. The fastest speed this year in a car was also a UR Lambo at 243.0 mph. An unfortunate incident this year saw one of the UR Lambos experience a horrible accident during braking. Thank God the driver walked away with only mild bruises.
Other wild cars included a chopped and channeled ’59 caddy (yeah, the one with the biiggg fins). Known as the “Wild Cad”, this right hand drive car sported a neon-purple and silver paint scheme and another fin on the center console – like there wasn’t enough fin already!
My favorite was the “Mercedes-Bent,” a 2004 MBZ 600SL wrapped in a sumptuous 1961 190SL body painted in Ivory White. The twin-turbo-charged V-12 was tuned by Burns Stainless customer Renn-Tech and included a reprogrammed ECU and intercooler. The 19” custom wheels were the finishing touch with a design hearkening back to the ‘60s Mercedes Benz heritage.

And of course, there were girls, girls girls.

Let’s all hope that the excitement of SEMA will extend into 2011 and fuel a resurgence in the automotive racing and aftermarket industries.