(photo by Chris Graves c/o maxcacklephotos.com)
(photo by Chris Graves c/o maxcacklephotos.com)


42nd Annual Pepsi Nightfire Nationals, Firebird Raceway, Boise ID—After three fiery nights of action that wowed capacity crowds in Boise, Utah-based Brett Harris dropped the drawers on an unsuspecting contingent of AA/Fuel Dragsters and claimed the event win at Firebird’s 42nd Nightfire Nationals.

Harris swung his first gauntlet late Saturday night in the final session of qualifying, posting a fierce ¼-mile elapsed time of 5.80 seconds and a full-throttle top speed of 247 mph, numbers which propelled the Steve Harwood-owned “Nitro Hemi” into the #1 qualifying spot, a position previously bogarted throughout the meet by Adam Sorokin in San Francisco’s “Champion Speed Shop” streamlined-dragster.

But Harris’s coveted slot meant more than just bragging rights: Because of a 7-car eliminator, the “Nitro Hemi” was granted a bye run into the semi-finals, where Harris’s 5.88 withstood the efforts of San Diego’s Neal & White. Harris also ran the final round unopposed after veteran racer Jim Murphy failed to make the call when he mortally wounded his “WW2’s” mount in the semi-finals while dispatching Sorokin. Murphy’s spectacular clocking of 5.73 seconds at 258 mph served as both Low ET and Top Speed of the Meet, but he said afterwards: “We hurt the # 5 piston real bad and have aluminum everywhere.”

Harris is the Boise AA/Fuel Dragster winner, but Murphy could hardly consider his efforts a defeat. His long-term goal—to claim the 2013 Heritage Series Top Fuel Points Title—became much more viable after his runner-up efforts allowed him to push past the two competitors in front of him before Boise, #2 Jim Young and #1 Denver Schutz, neither of whom drove at the Nightfires. Murphy now has a commanding lead in the points race with two events left on the Heritage Series schedule: The inaugural New England Hot Rod Reunion and the 22nd California Hot Rod Reunion.


AA/Fuel Dragster Final Qualifying

1.  Brett Harris, Hooper, Utah, 5.80, 247.38.
2.  Adam Sorokin, La Crescenta, Calif., 5.83, 224.83.
3.  Jim Murphy, Santa Rosa, Calif., 5.84, 237.52.
4.  Rick White, San Diego, Calif., 5.85, 248.00.
5.  Tony Bartone, Long Island City, New York, 5.93, 218.92.
6.  Brendan Murry, San Jose, Calif., 6.36, 230.35.
7.  Ron August, Pleasanton, Calif., 6.39, 212.91.

AA/Fuel Dragster Round One

Win-Jim Murphy, 5.913, 244.16.
Brendan Murry, 6.300, 194.13.

Win-Brett Harris, 13.409, 62.65.

Win-Adam Sorokin, 5.938, 226.13.
Ron August Jr, 6.493,216.19.

Win-Rick White, 5.974, 231.30.
Tony Bartone, 7.595, 117.61.

AA/Fuel Dragster Semi Final Round

Win-Brett Harris, .095, 5.884, 245.29.
Rick White, .134, 6.589, 219.40.

Win-Jim Murphy, .132, 5.739, 258.17.
Adam Sorokin, .053, 6.838, 144.27.

AA/Fuel Dragster Final
Brett Harris, Hooper, Utah, .315, 6.99, 132.95 def. Jim Murphy, Santa Rosa, Calif., broke.


1. Jim Murphy — 265
2. Denver Schutz — 195
3. Jim Young — 173
4. Rick White–151
5. Brett Harris–118
6. Adam Sorokin–109
7. Brendan Murry–106
8. Tony Bartone–86
9. Ron August–85
10. Randy Bridges–75

Follow the AA/Fuel Dragsters at aafd.tv and facebook.com/AAFDTopFuel



Jim Murphy in his latest "WW2" fueler. (photo by Mike Sopko, Jr.)
Jim Murphy in his latest “WW2” fueler. (photo by Mike Sopko, Jr.)

Firebird Raceway, Boise, ID, August 8, 2013—As a part of a year-long quest to claim the coveted 2013 Heritage Series Top Fuel Points Title, wily and tenacious veteran drag racer Jim “Holy Smokes” Murphy is leading a convoy of his California competition to Boise, Idaho for participation in this weekend’s 42nd Pepsi Nightfire Nationals at Firebird Raceway.

Based out of Santa Rosa, Murphy is third in Heritage Series points, about one round of competition behind the gutty and irascible Denver Schutz and the young, fast and terse Jim Young. Murphy plans to leapfrog over both Schutz and Young this weekend, and has both the mojo and machinery to do it. In fact, after retiring his old trusty-but-tiring “WW2” mount, Murphy purchased Frank Ousley’s Illinois-based “Crop Duster” AA/Fuel Dragster, the very racecar that Young drove to victory in the season-opening March Meet. With Tim Beebe, Murphy’s longtime cohort in grime, retiring from tuning Top Fuel cars, Jim also snagged Ousley himself to continue as his new co-tuner. Murphy then steered Ousley’s ex-machine to victory at the next race in the Heritage Series, the Holley National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, KY, when he dispatched Schutz in a wire-to-wire thriller of a final round.

Due to seasonal business commitments, and even despite leading the points chase, Schutz will miss this year’s Nightfire Nationals. Young, who is out of a ride after the “Crop Duster” was sold to Murphy, will still be in Boise, plotting to subvert and foil Murphy’s plans to take the points lead. Young will attempt this, not as a driver, but by assisting mechanically on the Champion Speed Shop fueler out of South City, San Francisco. Champion’s driver, Adam Sorokin, won the 2012 Heritage Series Top Fuel Points Title.

Impromptu partnerships aside, the fact remains that between Young’s tenure and Murphy’s ownership, the pre-owned “WW2” fueler-formerly-known-as-the “Crop Duster” is unbeaten in competition in 2013. This weekend in Idaho, Murphy’s objective is keep that undefeated streak intact.

Besides the Champion Speed Shop team, other potential obstacles to Murphy’s goal included the hard-charging Neal & White entry out of San Diego, Ron August, Jr. and the “Forever Young” dragster from the Bay Area, and the San Jose-based Brendan Murry’s 426 Hemi-powered “Running Wild.” Also attempting to throw a spanner in Murphy’s works are 2nd-generation fuel racer Brett Harris in Steve Harwood’s digger from Denver, Colorado and the so-called “Beast from the East,” Tony Bartone, who has posted the quickest ¼-mile elapsed time in the AA/Fuel Dragster class, at 5.561 seconds.

42nd Annual Pepsi Nightfire Nationals Details:
Firebird Raceway, Boise, Idaho
Friday Night Nitro Pro Qualifying: 7 pm
“Saturday Night Thunder” Nitro Qualifying: 7 pm
Sunday’s Nitro Eliminations begin at 2 pm

Follow the AA/Fuel Dragsters at aafd.tv and facebook.com/AAFDTopFuel


(photo by Chris Graves)
(photo by Chris Graves)

NHRA Motorsports Museum Holley National Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA, BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (June 15) –  Cagey drag-strip veteran Jim Murphy knows a driver is only as good as his piece of pipe. To that end, the Santa Rosa-based veteran drag racer stepped up and purchased the machine that won last year’s Heritage Series Top Fuel title, as well as this year’s March Meet, Frank Ousley’s “Crop Duster” out of western Illinois. Once the deal was struck, Murphy debuted his pre-owned fueler at NHRA’s prestigious Reunion race in Kentucky and claimed the event win by besting fellow Californian Denver Schutz in a stunning final, while posting a 1/4-mile an elapsed time of 5.80 seconds and a top-end speed of 233 mph to a losing 5.81 at 250 by Schutz.

Schutz, who also runner-upped to this same dragster (at that time driven Jim Young) at the season-opening March Meet, was less than enthused with the result, even though Denver’s successive 2nd place finishes have propelled him past Young in the 2013 Heritage Series Points Race. By virtue of the Bowling Green win, Murphy is now 3rd in points and has his sights set on taking the entire 2013 tournament by season’s end in October, at the California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield.

“This was a huge win, and I can tell you, we now have one bad hot rod,” Murphy said. “We haven’t scratched the surface of its potential. I’m real excited as Frank (Ousley) will be with us again in Boise and the man can tune a race car.”

To the detriment of his hopes of repeating as Heritage Series Top Fuel Champion, Jim Young lost in the first round of eliminations, posting a inferior 6.12 clocking at 242 mph in Steve McClain’s Chevy-powered “Mill Road Boys” entry to eventual semi-finalist Randy Bridges’ better 5.96.

The NHRA Heritage Racing Series 2013 Top Fuel Points battle continues at the circuit’s next race, the NightFire Nationals at Firebird Raceway in Boise, Idaho on August 8-11.-30-


The Crop Duster (photo by Cole Coonce)
The Crop Duster (photo by Cole Coonce)

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.


(photo by Darr Hawthorne)
(photo by Darr Hawthorne)


Auto Club Famoso Raceway, March 7, 2013—Seasoned and versatile drag racer Tony Bartone lowered the boom on the AA/Fuel Dragster scene during testing for this weekend’s Bakersfield March Meet, posting the quickest elapsed time in the history of the class, while covering the famous Famoso quarter-mile in a stunning 5.561 seconds.

What made Bartone’s feat even more remarkable was the relatively diminutive top-end mile-per-hour clocking, a paltry 220 mph, numbers which indicated he had “clicked” off the Bartone Bros. dragster well before the finish line. More proof that his machine was on a proverbial rocket ride was found in the details of his time-slip, which showed that Bartone was traveling at 217-mph at the 1/8th-mile mark, startling numbers which were unheard of until now. Indeed, previously Bartone has clocked top-end speeds of nearly 270-mph, which indicates his Steve Boggs-tuned nitro-burning dragster still has plenty left “in the tank,” in regards to the potential for even quicker passes.

Because it happened during a test, today’s 5.56 is considered unofficial. Bartone already holds the ET and Top Speed records for the AA/Fuelers, when he ran 5.566 seconds at 269-mph at Famoso in October, 2011. Regardless of the technicalities, all of this has given the rest of the Top Fuel dragster teams plenty to ponder tonight while preparing for competition at the always fiercely contested March Meet.


Friday: Noon–Funny Car, Top Fuel qualifying;. 3:15 p.m.–Funny Car, Top Fuel qualifying

Saturday: Noon–Top Fuel, Rear Motor Top Fuel, Funny Car qualifying; 3:30 p.m. –Top Fuel round one eliminations; Funny Car round one eliminations

Sunday: Noon–Funny Car, Top Fuel quarterfinals with remaining eliminations rounds in all divisions to follow throughout the day.