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.

HOLLEY NATIONAL HOT ROD REUNION RESCHEDULED

The 2020 Holley National Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA Insurance is postponed and rescheduled for August 20-22nd at Beech Bend Raceway. Racer participation deadline is extended to July 15th, and spectator tickets are valid for the rescheduled event. For more information, read the official announcement from the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum below. We will update the rest of the 2020 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series racing schedule as the news comes in.

Holley National Hot Rod Reunion to be Rescheduled

Pomona, California. – The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum officials announced today the postponement of the 2020 Holley National Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA Insurance held at Beech Bend Raceway, Bowling Green, Kentucky. The annual three-day event, originally scheduled for mid-June, has been rescheduled to August 20-22 at Beech Bend Raceway.

We made this difficult decision as we see the effects this pandemic is having on our country, fans, sponsors, and racers. We believe this is the right decision since social distancing and reducing gatherings of people has been implemented in most areas of the country.

All classes originally scheduled will continue to be contested at the rescheduled event. Deadline registration date for participants not yet registered has been extended to July 15th.

Tickets purchased in advance of the June event may be used at the rescheduled August 20-22 Reunion. Tickets holders unable to attend on the rescheduled date should contact NHRA Ticket Services at (800) 884-6472 or nto@nhra.com.

The Museum, located in Pomona, is currently closed in compliance with California State law. Though we have to be physically apart, we encourage you to stay connected with the Reunion community through www.nhramuseum.org

TRADITIONAL TOP FUEL TO THUNDER AT 60TH WINTERNATIONALS

Eight Heritage Series Nostalgia Top Fuel dragsters are set to celebrate three generations of nitro-fueled drag racing history at the 60th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. These traditional AA/Fuelers will once again run the Pomona Fairplex quarter-mile 50 years after Larry Dixon Sr. triumphed in anger as the last front-engined dragster to win Top Fuel at the Winternationals. The vintage-style Top Fuel dragsters will join Nostalgia Funny Cars and throwback Pro Stockers for multiple exhibition sessions and a “Parade of Champions” at the home of NHRA drag racing.

Two-time Heritage Series champion and second-generation racer Mendy Fry will drive the High Speed Motorsports dragster for what could be her curtain call following the tragic loss of Crew Chief Tom Shelar last year. Driver Adam Sorokin and Crew Chief Bob McLennan will honor their paternal racing heritage with the small-block Chevrolet powered Champion Speed Shop dragster. Adam’s father Mike Sorokin drove the Surfer’s front-engine fueler, and Bob’s dad Jim McLennan founded the Champion Speed Shop. Family traditionalist Tyler Hilton will thunder down the 1320 in the big-block Chevy-powered “Great Expectations III,” backed up by his father Bobby Hilton and grandmother Allison Lee

Dan Horan, Jr. will strap into the Pete “Fritz” Kaiser-tuned 426-c.i. Hemi-powered dragster in tribute to his departed father, “Digger” Dan Horan Sr., and then hop into his fearsome Funny Car for double doses of nitro action. Veteran driver Jim Murphy will carry four March Meet victories worth of savvy down the track in the “WW2” dragster, and Bret Williamson will pilot the Mike Fuller Motorsports “Forever Young” into the future. Rick White and the Neal & White Racing team are heading north from the San Diego area, and Brendan Murry will leave the prestigious Murry Building in San Jose with his “Running Wild” 426 hemi-powered fueler.

Heritage Series Nostalgia Top Fuel is currently scheduled for two exhibition sessions following NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel and Funny Car Qualifying Q1 on Friday and Q3 on Saturday. The quickest two cars from these sessions are slated for a retro rematch following Q4 on Saturday. Head over to the NHRA for the latest event schedule and information. The 60th Annual Winternationals will air on FOX Sports television and stream live on the internet at NHRA ALL ACCESS.

Nostalgia Top Fuel at the 60th Winternationals heralds the 2020 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series racing season that officially kicks off at the Good Vibrations March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California March 5th-8th. Check out the five-race Nostalgia Top Fuel championship racing schedule here or head over to the the official NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series website for an all-classes 2020 event rundown.

UPDATES: 28th California Hot Rod Reunion

WINNER: MENDY FRY

MENDY FRY WINS SECOND CONSECUTIVE CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION

Mendy Fry is the 28th California Hot Rod Reunion Top Fuel Champion. Fry drove the High Speed Motorsports dragster to victory with a 5.52 ET at 264 MPH after runner-up Pete Wittenberg red-lighted in his Circuit Breaker machine, disqualifying a 5.64 ET at 248 MPH. Fry arrived at Auto Club Famoso Raceway with her second Heritage Series Top Fuel Season Championship already clinched and won the race for the second year running.

“The final was nuts,” Fry said. “I thought I lost on a holeshot. I was beyond shocked and amazed that I did that. I walked off in the field at the top end because I couldn’t bear facing the team having let them down in that way. Then I found out Wittenberg red-lighted, and I screamed with joy like a little girl. I am so proud of Sean Bellemeur and the team for digging deep and making this win happen.”

Fry’s fifth consecutive Heritage Series event win was an emotional moment for the entire team as they triumphed in honor of High Speed Motorsports team founder and crew chief Tom Shelar, who died unexpectedly in August.

Fry set Low ET in Round One Eliminations with a 5.522-second win against Dan Horan Jr., who was behind the wheel of an all-new dragster built as a tribute to his departed father, Top Fuel driver “Digger” Dan Horan, Sr. Fry also clocked event Top Speed with her 5.526-second 264 MPH Final Round win to conclude the 2019 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Nostalgia Top Fuel racing season.

Head over to the official All American Fuel Dragsters website for a round-by-round Top Fuel rundown with results, photos, videos, and more from the 28th California Hot Rod Reunion. The 2020 Heritage Series racing season begins at the famous Bakersfield March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway March 5th-7th.

“The final was nuts,” Fry said. “I thought I lost on a holeshot. I was beyond shocked and amazed that I did that. I walked off in the field at the top end because I couldn’t bear facing the team having let them down in that way. Then I found out Wittenberg red-lighted, and I screamed with joy like a little girl. I am so proud of Sean Bellemeur and the team for digging deep and making this win happen.”

– Mendy Fry

TOP FUEL updates, video, and more as it happened from the 28th Califiornia Hot Rod Reunion at Autoclub Famoso Raceway. Scroll down for Round-By-Round action and video coverage from all three days of NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series drag racing action.

TOP FUEL SEMI-FINAL ROUNDUP

MENDY FRY VS. PETE WITTENBERG IN THE FINAL. Bret Williamson got the holeshot in the “Forever Young” but Mendy Fry drove the High Speed Motorsports juggernaut around for a 5.69-second 204 MPH win. Pete Wittenberg clicked the “Circuit Breaker” for the win with a 5.78 ET at 214 MPH after Rick McGee clocked out early and lit up the red light in the “Overtime Special.”

TOP FUEL SEMI-FINAL RESULTS
DRIVER - ET - MPH
Mendy Fry - 5.69 - 204
Bret Williamson - 5.84 - 200
---------------------------------------
Pete Wittenberg - 5.78 - 214
Rick McGee - 7.90 - 94

ROUND ONE TOP FUEL ROUNDUP!

Mendy Fry reset Low ET and Top Speed with a 5.52-second 256 MPH win after Dan Horan Jr. red-lit. Pete Wittenberg took the win with a 5.71 ET at 246 MPH over Frank McBee Jr., who shut ‘er down for a 7.31 ET. Rick McGee blazed on with a 6.14 ET at 188 MPH as Jim Murphy struck the tires and coasted through. Bret Williamson lit up the win light with a 5.89 ET at 229 MPH over a trailing Rick White.

SEMI-FINAL ELIMINATIONS PAIRINGS: Mendy Fry vs. Bret Williamson and Pete Wittenberg vs. Rick McGee.

ROUND ONE ELIMINATIONS: 
DRIVER - ET - MPH
Mendy Fry 5.52 - 256
Dan Horan Jr. - 5.80 -252
---------------------------------------
Bret Williamson - 5.89 - 229
Rick White - 6.52 - 200
---------------------------------------
Pete Wittenberg - 5.71-246
Frank McBee Jr. - 7.31-131
---------------------------------------
Rick McGee - 6.14 - 188
Jim Murphy - 11.49 - 78

LIVE video Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!

Tune in to LIVE video of the 28th California Hot Rod Reunion. Round One Eliminations scheduled for 11:30 AM PST following opening ceremonies. PAIRINGS: Mendy Fry vs. Dan Horan Jr., Pete Wittenberg vs. Frank McBee Jr., Jim Murphy vs. Rick McGee, and Rick White vs. Bret Williamson.

Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY from the 28th California Hot Rod Reunion.

Saturday Session Three Qualifying

Mendy Fry holds onto #1 and Low ET with her 5.59-second Q1 run. Pete Wittenberg grabbed Top Speed and #2 with a 5.69-second 252 MPH blast. Rick McGee moved up to sixth with a 5.89. Frank McBee Jr. posted a 5.90 and bumped Tyler Hilton, who clocked a 5.98 that pushed Adam Sorokin out of the show. Top Fuel Eliminations commence at 11:30 AM SUNDAY.

Final Nostalgia Top Fuel qualifying order from the 28th California Hot Rod Reunion.

SESSION THREE RUN-BY-RUN:  Mendy Fry turned it off for a 5.70, Rick White ran a 5.81, Dan Horan Jr. ran a 5.94, Bret Williamson motored to a 5.99, Bryan Hall took a few hundredths out with a 6.13, Jim Murphy clicked off a 6.17, Adam Sorokin shut it down for a 6.23, Brendan Murry smoked a 6.85, Dusty Green skated to a 7.44, and Phil Ruskowski held in the pits.

Saturday Session Two Qualifying

Nostalgia Top Fuel Qualifying after Session Two from the 28th California Hot Rod Reunion

Bret Willamson and Adam Sorokin stepped up big and shut down early. Bryan Hall, Dusty Green, and Frank McBee ran their new rides quicker. Phil Ruskowski turned a 6.47 ET at 218 MPH and smoked his small block Chevy. Dan Horan Jr. and Brendan Murry go slightly slower with a 6.09 ET and 6.82 ET respectively. Rick McGee exhausted his hemi for a 7.03 ET and Pete Wittenburg pedaled to a 9.20 ET. Rick White hazed the tires and pedaled out with a 7.69 ET at 221 MPH. Jim Murphy, Mendy Fry, and Tyler Hilton all lost traction and coasted through with 11-second runs.

LIVE Saturday Video Streaming

Free streaming video coverage from the California Hot Road Reunion. Session Two Qualifying 12 PM. Session Three at 4 PM.

Recorded LIVE Saturday video streaming of the 28th California Hot Rod Reunion

Friday Session One Top Fuel Qualifying Results

Friday Nostalgia Top Fuel Qualifying is a wrap. Mendy Fry took Low ET with a 5.59-second 237 MPH blast. Jim Murphy ran a 5.37 ET at 247 MPH for #2 and Top Speed.

Unofficial Session One Nostalgia Top Fuel Session One Qualifying Results from the 28th California Hot Rod Reunion at Autoclub Famoso Raceway.

RUN-BY-RUN: Fourteen contenders battled for 8-car Elimnations including four all-new dragsters. Dan Horan turned a stout 5.98 ET at 234 MPH in the 426 hemi-powered tribute to his late father “Digger” Dan Horan. Rick McGee got out of the “Overtime Special” with a 6.10 ET at 194 MPH. Pete Wittenberg clocked a 5.92 ET at 244 MPH in the “KMA Circuit Breaker.” Bret Williamson smoked ’em in the “Forever Young” and coasted to a 10.76 ET. Brendan Murry puffed through the lights with a 6.62 ET at 147 MPH in the “Running Wild.” Bryan Hall directed the “Nomad” to a 6.41 ET at 201 MPH in his competition debut. Tyler Hilton backed down the big-block Chevrolet on the top end and posted a 6.28 ET at 186 MPH in the “Great Expectations III.” Rick White churned out a solid 5.79-second 230 MPH run in the Neil and White fueler. Phil Ruskowski pushed the small block Chevrolet “Xhibitionist” to a 6.88 ET at 185 MPH. Dusty Green and three backup representatives introduced the new “Triple Threat” with a 6.73 ET at 147 MPH. Frank McBee made a 6.98-second 129 MPH introduction in the new Thunder Valley Racing dragster and Adam Sorokin clicked the Champion Speed Shop special for a 6.31 ET at 165 MPH.

FRIDAY video recorded LIVE at the California Hot Rod Reunion

Check out the opening day of the 28th California Hot Rod Reunion at Autoclub Famoso Raceway

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