BAKERSFIELD, California – Mendy Fry drove into the 27th California Hot Rod Reunion with the 2018 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Top Fuel championship already in hand and drove the High-Speed Motorsports AA/Fuel Dragster over the finish line for the event win. Her Top Fuel victory at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield marked a three-peat season clincher for Fry and the team after successive wins the National Hot Rod Reunion and Nightfire Nationals.
“We lost only one round of racing this year, ran the table on Low ET and Top Speed at every event except for Top Speed at the National Hot Rod Reunion. I’d say Tom Shelar and the crew have it dialed in. My team gave me the car to beat, and I didn’t screw it up. So this win is theirs. I’m just glad they picked me.” said Mendy.
Fry drove the High-Speed Motorsports dragster to number one position in explosive qualifying rounds and set event Low ET and Top Speed with a 5.55-second, 261 MPH Semi-Final win. Fry took the event win with a hard-charging 5.61 ET at 259 MPH over Rick McGee, who launched the Overtime Special to a 5.74 ET at 256 MPH for Runner Up. The final round was a dramatic conclusion to the 2018 Hot Rod Heritage season following a frenetic weekend of Top Fuel qualifying and racing action at the California Hot Rod Reunion.
BY THE NUMBERS
Through three Top Fuel qualifying sessions, some drivers saw newfound success and others met surprising disappointment as teams pushed to run the numbers while chasing Fry and the remarkably consistent High-Speed Motorsports entry. Dan Horan Jr. blasted out of the gate with a 5.87 ET at 253 MPH but hurt the Fritz Kaiser-tuned late-model Hemi in the Second Session. Irreparable damage to Horan’s mount brought Tyler Hilton and the Great Expectations III back into the show from the bump with his 5.90 ET and 255 MPH qualifying Top Speed.
The qualifying shocker was 2017 Heritage Series Champion and Event Honoree Jim Murphy, who was unable to get the WW2 entry into the show. After missing the tune-up twice, Adam Sorokin lit the candles down the entire quarter-mile and blasted the Champion Speed small-block Chevrolet fueler into the running with a 5.72 at 243 MPH in Session Three. Dusty Green pedaled Steve Harwood’s Nitro Hemi to no avail after an extended Session Three cleanup and considerable track temperature drop. 2017 California Hot Rod Reunion Top Fuel winner Jim Young drove the Young Guns into the number two qualifier spot.
BATTLE AT BAKERSFIELD
Round One Eliminations opened with Rick McGee pedaling his way into the Semi-Final with a 6.07 ET at 222 MPH after Jim Young red lit in the Young Guns dragster. Mendy Fry belted out a 5.58-second 258 MPH win over Tyler Hilton who extracted a 6.30 ET at 251 MPH out of the big-block Chevrolet. Pete Wittenberg moved on with a 5.73 ET at 244 MPH on a single after Rick White and Chuck Neal could not get their dragster out of reverse after the backup. Adam Sorokin took the win with an explosive 5.88 ET at 213 MPH after Bret Williamson got loose and the Forever Young went up in smoke.
Number seven qualifier Rick McGee launched the Overtime Special into the final with a 5.74 ET at 233 MPH over Adam Sorokin who ran side-by-side up to the 1000-foot mark for a 6.00 ET at 182 MPH. In a March Meet final round rematch with an alternate outcome, Mendy Fry pushed the High-Speed Motorsports fueler to event low ET with a 5.55-second, 261-MPH run as Pete Wittenberg clipped a cone for a DQ and 6.15 ET at 169-MPH. Rick McGee grabbed the green in the final with a .036 reaction time in the Overtime Special but Fry charged hard past the 300-ft mark for the 5.61 ET at 259 MPH victory over McGee, who lit up the clocks with a 5.74 ET at 256 MPH for Runner-Up, closing out the 2018 season until the 2019 Bakersfield March Meet.
Photos Arlene Eliason and High-Speed Motorsports