“Good Vibrations’ Saturday Night Nitro,” Auto Club Famoso Raceway, September 19, 2015—For the second time this summer, front-engine Top Fuel virtuoso Bill Dunlap zoomed ahead of Rick White and captured the Title in the winner-take-all Mastercam Top Fuel Shootout in Bakersfield.
By virtue of his .044 second reaction time in his “High Speed Motorsports” machine, Dunlap launched ahead of the always-powerful “Neal & White Racing” dragster and was not to be caught.
“I didn’t see him until I pulled the parachutes and he blasted by me,” Dunlap said. “So I knew it had to be close.”
Dunlap won the event on skill and desire; indeed, his 5.75-second quarter-mile elapsed time with a top-end speed of 240 mph was inferior to the 5.73 that engine maestro Chuck Neal provided for his driver. Despite Dunlap’s holeshot, White never gave up, as evidenced by Rick’s speed of 247 mph.
Earlier, in the “all-run” first round of eliminations which determined the two quickest cars that would meet in the Shootout final, Dunlap laid down a Low ET 5.63 at 251 mph to drive around Jim Murphy, who cranked out a 5.69 at 238 mph in his Roland Leong-tuned “WW2” rail. Next, Rick White posted a 5.76 at a thundering 256 mph — numbers which stood for Top Speed of the Meet — to upend Champion Speed Shop’s 6.06. And finally, after Bret Williamson suffered from a trashed clutch earlier that afternoon in the “Forever Young” entry and missed showtime, Rick McGee singled to a 6.09 in his “Overtime Special.”
Because of their respective times of 5.63 and 5.69, the final round of the Mastercam Top Fuel Shootout was to be a rematch between Dunlap and Murphy.
Unfortunately, WW2 had endured crankshaft issues all day and couldn’t make the call. White was the alternate and gave Bill Dunlap nearly all he could handle, but fell short of upending High Speed, who have won half of the events they have entered this year.
The AA/Fuel Dragsters wrap up their season next month at the California Hot Rod Reunion, also at Famoso. If the numbers and the action from the Shootout are any barometers, it should be some rather fierce competition.