Saturday Night Nitro at Famoso Raceway
By Stephen Justice
How do you like your nitro: funny car; top fuel dragster; fuel altered; rear engine dragster; or Harley drag bike? How about all of the above. There is probably no other race anywhere in America that offers what Autoclub Famoso Raceway does twice every summer--the entire nitromethane genre. Add to that an admission price of only $25 per carload, and fans get the best single day drag race today, albeit with a lot of burning and stinging eyes. Saturday Night Nitro (SNN) uses a Chicago-style format for funny cars, whereas dragsters, altereds, and bikes are still limited to exhibition or test runs. Nonetheless, all counted, there were twenty-five nitro race cars in the Famoso Raceway pits for the track’s signature summer event. Eliminations for the nitro funny cars are done as follows: all cars run side-by-side in E1 and the Quick Eight return for E2. The quickest winner from these four pairs is declared the overall winner.
Seventeen nitro funny cars, four top fuel dragsters, three nitro Harley drag bikes, a fuel altered, and a rear engine nostalgia dragster filled the pits for the late June race. In nitro funny car, the pacesetter was Oakdale’s Richard Townsend with a 5.797-239.23. The eighth and last qualifier was Bob Godfrey’s “Burning Money” at 6.375-220.30. The biggest shocker was Dan Horan Jr.’s failure to make the Quick Eight. Nearly unbeatable all year long, the Ron Swearingen-tuned Mustang overpowered the track and shut off early. Brad Thompson (Jailbreak), Rian Konno, and Cory Lee were other notables that came up short.
Richard Townsend: 5.797-239.23
Robert Overholser: 5.899-245.7
Roger Garten: 5.943-239.02
Dale Van Gundy: 6.096-230.37
Dean Oberg: 6.110-230.10
Rick Rogers: 6.215-218.80
Bob Godfrey: 6.375-220.30
The Quick Eight round turned out to be a real nail biter. The class of the field, Townsend, went 5.97 in the first pair as Godfrey trailed at 6.01. Both Overholser and Rogers shut off early with traction problems. Van Gundy beat Garten to the finish line, but his 5.98 was just a click short of Townsend. Finally, in the last and best race of the night, James Day roared down the left lane in a time of 5.81 with Oberg’s “Holy Toledo” Jeep in hot pursuit and an all-time best of 5.92. So, it was the 2014 March Meet winner back in the winner’s circle once again and Richard Townsend’s “Nitroholic” the unfortunate recipient of Day’s clutch run. With another Saturday Night Nitro scheduled for early September, don’t be surprised to see Townsend and Day tangling once again.
(L) Scott Cousimano's "Nitro Mafia" FC is starting to make some performance strides of late as shown by this wheels up launch
(R) Scott Cousimano did not make the Quick Eight, but has been going quicker with every race
The 2014 March Meet winner did it again,winning Saturday Night Nitro with a stunning 5.81 from the last pair of the Quick Eight .
The launch of James Day's 5.937 that put him solidly in the Quick Eight in the #3 position.
(L) Pre race parade prior to E1 is an institution at Saturday Night Nitro. Also, all the nitro cars return to the pits in front of the crowd, a perk that the fans love
(M) Dean Oberg in the Holy Toledo Jeep and James Day in Gary Turner's "Pedaler". They would be side-by-side later again when Day made his winning 5,81 run
(R) Mike Ruggiero's Top Fuel Nitro Harley made several exhibition passes. No cage; no chute; brakes better work
(L) James Day and the "Pedaler" crew after their winning 5.81 run - (M) Team Craig Racing in the lanes awaiting their turn; Rick Williamson driving - (R) Scott Cousimano's "Nitro Mafia"; pre-race parade
Continued on next page...
Nostalgia Drag World - Text and photos by Stephen Justice Fast and Furious Photography
<<<PREVIOUS PAGE NEXT PAGE>>>