2013 Bakersfield March Meet, Auto Club Famoso Raceway — In a thrilling, barnburning final round of Top Fuel Eliminator, Wisconsin-based racer Jim Young won the 2013 Bakersfield March Meet while extinguishing the hopes of local veteran driver Denver Schutz, repeating as event winner while posting a stunning Top Speed of 269.11-mph, the second fastest ever for the AA/Fuel Dragster class.
Those big numbers served as an exclamation point for Young and his “Crop Duster” teams dominance throughout the race weekend. On Saturday,in cold and moist conditions Young deftly guided the Frank Ousley-tuned Top Fueler to the #1 qualifier position. In eliminations on Sunday, Young never looked back, expertly dispatching 2012 Points Leader Adam Sorokin and 4-time March Meet Winner Jim Murphy with repeated 260-mph clockings, before squaring off against Bakersfield bridesmaid Schutz, a man who has been trying to claim a March Meet victory since the 1960s.
Fresno-based Schutz, in a brand new piece of pipe making its competition debut, qualified #2. On race day, Schutz and his Fritz Kaiser-tuned “Raisin Express 3” slingshot earned the right to fight for the title by first taking out Tony Bartone, the quickest Top Fuel entry on the drag strip, before upending Hot Rod Reunion winners Team Craig, and finally Neal & White.
As darkness gathered, young Jim Young and 67-year old Schutz suited up for battle and finding a sentimental favorite among the railbirds, race-chat keyboard jockeys and racing press was impossible. Schutz only had a handful of passes on the Jim Cullen-owned “RE3,” but with each blast down the Famoso quarter mile the car showed improvements in incremental performance. Schutz said a March Meet victory would “complete his resume.” In the other lane, the Young represented the hopes of the entire Midwest, and predicted a 270-mph clocking. But would a cooling track hold that kind of horsepower?
The other question on race fans’ mind was that old proverb that asks: Would age and treachery overcome youth and skill? In five seconds, they got their answer. At the hit, Young moved first but by 330 feet into the run, Denver had put a wheel out front. It stayed that way until 800 feet, when Young’s machine really started gathering steam. Denver put the pipes out at 1100 feet as Young went marching by with all eight candles lit, and in the cover of darkness neither driver knew who had triumphed. The scoreboards showed times of 5.65 seconds, and 269-mph for Young to a losing 5.70 at 242-mph for Schutz. As the RE3 team went in search of their driver, Young asked them in passing if they had won. They said: “No dude, it was you.”
It was that close, but the record books will show that eliminations ended as they began, with Denver Schutz number two and Jim Young and the Crop Duster number one, with their laurels punctuated by a 269-mph time slip.