HILTON TAKES TOP FUEL AT TULSA – WITTENBERG CLINCHES CHAMPIONSHIP

Tyler Hilton hammered the big-block Chevrolet powered Great Expectations III into the Nitro Nationals winner’s circle with a 6.39 ET at 239 MPH after Runner-Up Pete Wittenberg struck the tires at the hit in the KMA Circuit Breaker.

After posting event Low ET and Top Speed, Wittenberg clinched the 2020 NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel Championship in the season-closing AA/Fuel pedalfest that came down to a margin of victory of just five-thousandths of a second.

The track was cooling down as the two Top Fuel titans staged into the night. The “KMA Circuit Breaker” hemi broke traction first, but Wittenberg wasn’t the only one fighting the balance of power over pavement. Hilton said he felt things get loose a little further down track and rolled into the fearsome big block Chevrolet for the win. “I don’t think the track would have held a quick pedal. It was pretty close at the end, but I was there first.”

Wittenberg quickly recovered from the smokey step and launched the hemi-powered “KMA Circuit Breaker” into hot pursuit, driving out the back door at 246 MPH with an almost but not enough 6.43-second ET. The two-time Bakersfield March Meet Top Fuel winner came into the race in the number one points position and pulled the chutes on the Nitro Nationals as the 2020 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series Nostalgia Top Fuel Champion.

2020 NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel Season Champion Pete Wittenberg and the KMA Circuit Breaker crew. Photo: Mary Robinson

More: Hot Rod Heritage Series Championship rundown from the NHRA. Bates, Cottrell, and Wittenberg claim 2020 Heritage Series Championships

The Top Fuel season wrap-up at Tulsa Raceway park saw timing tree trip-ups and mechanical mishaps through two qualifying sessions and eliminations. Brendan Murry overcame qualifying troubles but went out in round one eliminations with a 6.63 to Pete Wittenberg’s winning 6.169. Tim Cullinan’s 5.88 dispatched Jim Murphy, and Tyler Hilton’s 6.05 defeated Paul Schultz. Dusty Green drove Steve Harwood’s “Nitro Hemi” into the semi-final with a 5.89 over Gary Wheeler in the all-new Grand Prix Auto AA/Fueler.  

Wittenberg moved into the final with a 5.89 at 195 after Dusty Green scrubbed with mechanical problems during the warmup, and Tyler Hilton’s 5.83-second 246 MPH win over Tim Cullinan set the stage for the final Nostalgia Top Fuel battle of 2020. In an opening ceremonies move that foreshadowed the outcome, Tulsa Raceway Park impresario Todd Martin recognized three generations of Hilton and Lee family drag racing achievement by presenting Alison Lee with a Lifetime Dedication Award. Jim and Alison Lee campaigned the original “Great Expectations II” AA/Fuel dragster in the ’60s and ’70s. 

With the California Hot Rod Reunion’s cancellation, the Nitro Nationals at Tulsa Raceway Park marked the end of a tumultuous year for the NHRA Heritage Series drag racing community and the entire world. Head over the NHRA for the official 2020 Hot Rod Heritage Nostalgia Top Fuel Championship points final and mark the calendar for the 2021 March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California.

TOP FUEL UNDER THE LIGHTS AT NITRO NATIONALS

The All American Fuel Dragsters are heading for the Nitro Nationals season championship decider at Tulsa Raceway Park. With the California Hot Rod Reunion’s cancellation, the Nitro Nationals will conclude the 2020 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series. Tulsa Raceway Park is celebrating its 55th Anniversary, and the Nitro Nationals carries on a tradition of Top Fuel competition established by the 1965 NHRA World Finals.

Two-time March Meet Champion Pete Wittenberg is motoring to Tulsa town with the KMA Circuit breaker, and Dusty Green will suit up and drive Steve Harwood’s Nitro Hemi after taking Top Fuel at the Boise Nightfire Nationals. Runner Up Jim Murphy will be gunning for a final round rematch in the WW2 fueler, and Ohio’s own Tyler Hilton will drive the big-block Chevrolet powered Great Expectations III.

Brendan Murry is heading east with the Running Wild, and Paul “Nobody” Schultz is warming up the Spirit of Tulsa and the BBQ as one of two Tulsa Top Fuel contenders. Gary Wheeler will drive double in the all-new Jon Brook Grand Prix Auto Center AA/Fuel dragster and injected-on-nitro A/Fuel dragster. A few more contenders could round out the fuel field, but their current location remains a mystery.

The Heritage Series Nostalgia Top Fuel Championship is up for grabs. Pete Wittenberg holds the points lead with Dusty Green, Jim Murphy, and Tyler Hilton in the 2nd-4th slots. The Nitro Nationals runs Friday, September 18th, and Saturday the 19th. First session Nitro Qualifying kicks off on Friday at 7 PM. Session two qualifying begins Saturday at 2 PM, and Eliminations start at 5 PM. Semi-Finals get moving at 7 PM with Finals at 9 PM. No curfew means header flames long into the night.

Over a dozen fuel-huffing Fuel Altereds, a brace of supercharged nitro-burning Funny Cars, and injected-on-nitro A/Fuel dragsters will join forces with the AA/Fuelers for explosive 1/4-mile competition under the lights. For full event information and tickets, head over to www.tulsaracewaypark.com or check out the official Tulsa Raceway Park Facebook page.

NHRA HOT ROD HERITAGE SERIES TOP FUEL POINTS STANDINGS
Driver points standings heading into the 2020 Nitro Nationals at Tulsa Raceway Park.

1 – Pete Wittenberg – 173
2 – Dusty Green – 165
3 – Jim Murphy – 155
4 – Tyler Hilton – 145
5 – Bryan Hall – 132
6 – Bret Williamson – 112
7 – Dan Horan Jr. – 74
8 – Tyler Hester – 73
9 – Brendan Murry – 10
10 – Frank McBee Jr. – 10
11 – Adam Sorokin – 10
12 – Rick White – 10

Official Heritage Series racing news, schedule, official points standings, tickets, race results, rules, and more are available at www.nhrahotrodheritage.com.

NITRO NATIONALS AT TULSA RACEWAY PARK

WINNER: MENDY FRY AND HIGH SPEED MOTORSPORTS

Mendy Fry and Adam Sorokin in the 2019 Nitro Nationals Top Fuel Finals at Tulsa Raceway Park

Mendy Fry drove the High Speed Motorsports dragster into the night and won the Nitro Nationals Tulsa Raceway Park for the second time. Fry took the win with a 5.60-second 258 MPH blast over Runner Up Adam Sorokin, who posted a 5.98 ET at 186 MPH after the automatic shutoff malfunctioned and shut down the Champion Speed Shop small block Chevrolet around the 800-foot mark. The Nitro Nationals was Fry’s fourth consecutive event victory and clinched her second NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Top Fuel Championship.

Onetime High Speed Motorsports driver-tuners Sean Bellemeur and Troy Green joined the crew and family in honor and triumph for Crew Chief Tom Shelar, who died unexpectedly before the race. Fry’s emotions ran strong from start to finish. “I started crying when I crossed the finish line, and it didn’t stop. Tom won this Championship in absentia. We all knew how to do our jobs. He taught us all very well and put together a Top Fuel dragster that’s an absolute bracket car. He assembled a team that works well together and empowered us to make the right decisions even without him here.”

Sorokin left on Fry with a .017 light and was on an all or nothing charge to the stripe when unseen forces snuffed out the supercharged-on-nitro small block Chevrolet at the 800-900 foot mark. Sorokin could only watch as Fry drove on for the win. “The Leahy device shot the cannon against the throttle, closed it, and shut the car off. I couldn’t push it back. I didn’t even see her until it started to happen and then she went through,” said Sorokin. Crew Chief Tony Bernardini noted the system triggered even though logs showed boost and oil pan pressure parameters well within limits.

The Nitro Nationals at Tulsa Raceway park was the next to last race in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series ahead of the season-closing 28th California Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield October 25th-27th.

Scroll down for a reverse chronological order round-by-round Nitro Nationals Top Fuel Qualifying and Eliminations rundown, photos, downloadable results, and more originally complied LIVE from Tulsa Raceway Park September 19th and 20th 2019.


FULL TOP FUEL NITRO NATIONALS EVENT ROUNDUP

TOP FUEL SEMI FINAL

Mendy Fry will battle Adam Sorokin for the 2019 Nitro Nationals Top Fuel title. Mendy Fry took the semi-final round with a 5.61-second 247 MPH blast after Tyler Hilton scrubbed when his Dad and Crew Chief Robert Hilton noticed a broken rear axle mount on the Great Expectations III. Great Expectations III. Adam Sorokin ran clean to the 1000-foot mark and shut it down for a 6.29 ET at 161 MPH on a bye. The pair will square off for the Top Fuel title at Tulsa Raceway Park in a final round rematch of the 2017 Nitro Nationals decider. 

SEMI-FINAL BATTLE SET: MENDY FRY VS. TYLER HILTON AND ADAM SOROKIN ON A BYE

Jim Murphy heats up the hides in the WW2 AA/Fuel dragster.

ELIMINATIONS ROUND ONE

Tyler Hilton blasted around Jim Murphy and the WW2 at the 1000-ft mark and lit up the clocks with 5.89-second 245 MPH in the Great Expectations III. Adam Sorokin pushed the Champion Speed Shop small block Chevrolet past Tim Cullinan and the Irish Car Bomb and took the win with a nitro spud spittin’ 5.91 ET at 205 MPH. Mendy Fry ran the High Speed Motorsports hemi to the 1000-foot mark on a 5.64-second 222 MPH bye. Nitro Nationals Top Fuel Semi-Final is coming right up at Tulsa Raceway Park.

Tyler Hilton in the Great Expectations III big block Chevrolet-powered AA/Fuel dragster

TOP FUEL ELIMINATIONS LADDER IS SET: Session Two Qualifying is a wrap. Eliminations: Mendy Fry on a bye, Tyler Hilton vs. Jim Murphy, and Adam Sorokin vs. Tim Cullinan.

Adam Sorokin and Jim Murphy in Nitro Nationals Session Two Qualifying at Tulsa Raceway Park

SESSION TWO QUALIFYING ROUNDUP

Jim Murphy popped the blower in a 6.03-second 195 MPH wall hugger in the WW2. Tim Cullinan shaved a second off yesterday with a 6.13 ET at 171 MPH in the Irish Car Bomb. Adam Sorokin and Tyler Hilton ran just a few hundredths slower than Q1. Paul Schultz lost fire after the burnout and couldn’t get the Spirit of Tulsa restarted. Further inspection revealed the recently rebuilt magneto internals had come undone. After his Q1 no-time DQ and unable to stage in under power in Q2, NHRA rules dictate that Paul is unfortunately out of the running. Nitro Nationals Top Fuel Eliminations Run Ladder, final Qualifying order, and incrementals right here. Nitro Nationals TOP FUEL Eliminations scheduled for 6 PM at Tulsa Raceway Park.

SESSION ONE QUALIFYING ROUNDUP

Paul “Nobody” Schultz in the Spirit of Tulsa

Mendy Fry runs 5.66-seconds at 222 MPH for Low ET in the High Speed Motorsports hemi. Adam Sorokin cranks out a 5.91 ET at 210 MPH in the Champion Speed Shop small block Chevrolet for the second slot. Tyler Hilton hits 241 MPH Top Speed and grabs third with a 5.94-second big-block Chevrolet blast. Tim Cullinan shuts down the Irish Car Bomb and takes fourth with a 7.31 ET at 138 MPH. Jim Murphy strikes the tires with a pedal and idles through the lights for fifth. Paul Schultz and the Spirit of Tulsa launched out of the box before the lights were active for a no time DQ. Nitro Nationals Session Two Top Fuel Qualifying scheduled for tomorrow at 2 PM CST at Tulsa Raceway Park.

Top Fuel Session One Qualifying results from the 2019 Nitro Nationals at Tulsa Raceway Park

Pre-qualifying Top Fuel Test and Tune Preview

Four Top Fuel dragsters ran a 4 PM Test and Tune shakeout ahead of Session One Qualifying at Tulsa Raceway Park. Mendy Fry posted a 6.10 ET at 168 MPH in the High-Speed Motorsports dragster in an emotional first pass since the tragic loss of Crew Chief, tuner, and patriarch Tom Shelar. Jim Murphy clicked off a 6.40 ET at 129 MPH in the WW2 hemi. Adam Sorokin belted out a 6.24 ET at 162 MPH in the Champion Speed Shop small block Chevrolet, and Tyler Hilton cranked a 6.62 ET at 155 MPH out of the Great Expectations III big block Chevrolet. The sun has broken through the clouds and Session One Top Fuel Qualifying is scheduled for 8 PM.

2019 NITRO NATIONALS PHOTO EXTRA

TOP FUEL TITANS SET TO TEAR IT UP AT THE MARCH MEET

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Bakersfield, California – Top Fuel titans of the All-American Fuel Dragster coalition are loaded up with nitromethane and headed to the 61st Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway March 7th-10th. The historic event is the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series season opener and first shot at the championship for the front-engine nostalgia Top Fuel ranks.

Season champion Mendy Fry is back in the “High Speed Motorsports” dragster and last year’s March Meet winner Pete Wittenberg will stage in the “KMA Circuit Breaker.” Adam Sorokin will drop the lid on the small block Chevrolet-powered “Champion Speed Shop” dragster and Brendan Murry will light up his “Running Wild” 426 hemi. Bret Williamson will pilot the Mike Fuller “Forever Young” fueler and two-time March Meet champ Rick McGee will turn hours into seconds in the Tedford & McGee “Overtime Special”.

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Four-time March Meet winner Jim Murphy will gun for a record 5th victory in his “WW2” dragster and driver Phil Ruskowski, the Island Nitro Gang and their small block Chevrolet “Xibitionist” digger are heading south from the Great White North. Land-speed luminary and 2011 March meet winner Rick White is strapping into the Neal & White “Autopower” AA/Fuel dragster at the ‘patch.

All-American Fuel Dragsters President Bob McLennan is proud to announce that the Top Fuel Internship program will return for its second year. The team effort between the Jim McLennan Foundation, Bakersfield College, Auto Club Famoso Raceway, and AAFD racers places select automotive students on Top Fuel crews for a real-world introduction to drag racing and course credit.

The March Meet Top Fuel battle starts with nitro-fueled testing on Thursday at 3 PM. Qualifying kicks off at 12 PM on Friday. Eliminations are currently scheduled for Sunday. Head over to the Auto Club Famoso Raceway for the latest March Meet information. Schedule subject to change!

The 61st Good Vibrations Motorsports March Meet is the first of six races in the NHRA Heritage Series Nostalgia Top Fuel championship season that concludes with the NHRA Motorsports Museum California Hot Rod Reunion in October 25th-27th at Auto Club Famoso Raceway. Points count across all six races with the addition of the Nitro Summer Nationals at Spokane County Raceway August 16th-17th.

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TOP FUEL FRENZY AT FAMOSO FOR CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION

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A baker’s dozen’s worth of AA/Fuel Dragster combatants will close out the 2018 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series this weekend with a supercharged 8-car Top Fuel Eliminator at the 27th California Hot Rod Reunion at Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California.

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Thirteen drivers representing three generations of nitromethane-fueled drag racing are ready for the final race of competition. With an incontestable points advantage following consecutive event wins at the NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion and Nightfire Nationals, second-generation drag racer Mendy Fry and the “High-Speed Motorsports” team are already the 2018 Nostalgia Top Fuel Champions. But for the rest of the field, it’s not over until its over and the battle for the event win and number two Nostalgia Top Fuel points position will certainly be fierce at Famoso.

Current 2nd place points sitter and March Meet Winner Pete Wittenberg is back in the saddle of his early-model Hemi-powered “KMA Circuit Breaker” after a semi-final finish at the Nightfire Nationals in Boise. Venerable Brendan Murry is heading out of the Murry Building in San Jose, California with the “Running Wild” late-model Hemi-propelled dragster in tow. Second generation dragster driver Adam Sorokin is confident that the “Champion Speed Shop” small-block Chevrolet combination can make more with less at Bakersfield. “We’re concentrating more on making the car run harder and longer. We will be just staying on our side of the tree and maximizing everything we can,” said Sorokin.

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After a Herculean runner-up finish at Boise, Dusty Green will once again team up with Steve Harwood’s “Nitro-Hemi” contender. Bret Williamson will strap into Mike Fuller’s “Forever Young” AA/Fuel entry. 2006 CHRR Top Fuel winner Jim Murphy will drive the “WW2” fueler as an event Honoree. Last year’s Reunion winner Jim Young is hauling his Hemi-powered “Young Guns” rail to Bakersfield from Wisconsin and third-generation drag racer Tyler Hilton is moving towards California after posting the quickest and fastest time yet in the big-block Chevrolet-powered “Great Expectations III” AA/Fuel Dragster at the Nightfire Nationals in Boise, Idaho with a blistering 5.88 ET at 249 MPH.

Rick White is suiting up in the “Neal & White” front-engine dragster, and Dan Horan Jr. will push his departed father “Digger Dan” Horan’s front engine dragster towards the high fives with a tuneup from 1995 March Meet winner Fritz Kaiser. Phil Ruskowski and the Island Nitro Gang are motoring to Famoso from Canada with their small-block Chevrolet-powered “Xhibitionist” digger. Veteran driver Rick McGee and crew have been putting in plenty of extra hours preparing their Hemi-powered “Overtime Special” dragster for battle at the ‘patch.

And in a gesture to ensure future participation in the sport, the Jim McLennan Drag Racing Foundation is once again firing up its successful Top Fuel Intern program, taking students from Bakersfield College and tasking them with mechanical maintenance on these exotic front-engine Top Fuel dragsters. Solidifying the Reunion’s relationship to the past and present, former Top Fuel Champion, stunt driver Kelly Brown will serve as the Reunion’s Grand Marshal.

Event Honorees include crew-chief extraordinaire Bob Brandt, A/Fuel driver and trainer Jerry Darien, onetime Hot Rod Magazine Editor and current drag racing journalist-historian Dave Wallace Jr., former Car Craft Magazine Editor and drag racer Rick Voegelin, and 2017 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Nostalgia Top Fuel Champion Jim Murphy.

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The All American Fuel Dragsters will join nitro-huffing Funny Cars, awful AA/Fuel Altereds, front-engine blown alcohol and injected nitro A/Fuel dragsters, and the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum curated collection of nitro-burning history in is annual “Cacklefest.” Historic push-starts are scheduled to occur throughout the weekend. Hundreds of Hot Rods and Customs will complement a swap meet full of vintage speed parts along with specialty equipment and memorabilia vendors on the midway.

To purchase California Hot Rod Reunion tickets call 1-800-884-NHRA, head over to NHRA or drive on out to Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

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27th CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION TOP FUEL SCHEDULE:

Friday, October 19th
Top Fuel Qualifying Session 1: 11:00 AM
Top Fuel Qualifying Session 2: 3:00 PM

Saturday, October 20th
Top Fuel Qualifying Session 3: 12:00 noon
Top Fuel Round 1: 3:00 PM

Sunday, October 21st
National Anthem & Pre-race Ceremonies 10:45 AM
Top Fuel Eliminations Round 2 11:30 AM
Final Eliminations – All Categories 4:00 PM

Schedule subject to change

NHRA HOT ROD HERITAGE SERIES

Nostalgia Top Fuel Championship points standings heading into the 27th California Hot Rod Reunion at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, the 4th and last race in the 2018 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series following the cancellation of the Nitro Nationals at Tulsa Raceway Park.

1) Mendy Fry 334
2) Pete Wittenberg 188
3) Brendan Murry 179
4) Adam Sorokin 164
5) Dusty Green 161
6) Bret Williamson 131
7) Jim Murphy 126
8) Jim Young 97
9) Tyler Hilton 85
10)Tim Cullinan 84
11) Rick White 54
12) Jason Greenwood 52
12) Dan Horan 52
13) Julius Hughes 51
14) Phil Ruskowski 20
15) Rick McGee 10
15) Dave Miller 10
15) Paul Schultz 10

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