John Shoemaker Memorial Shootout
by Stephen Justice
John Shoemaker was a renowned chassis designer, engine builder, and fabricator who tragically lost his life in a racing accident in 2008. An experienced and savvy driver, John was competing in Nostalgia Top Fuel Dragster driving a rail of his own design at the time. His blue “American Eagle” dragster was easy to spot at any race with wife, Judee, backing him up as she simultaneously held the American flag aloft.
In honor of his lifetime achievements in drag racing, the National A/Fuel Racing Association (NAFRA) organized a race at Sonoma Raceway in July. It was held in conjunction with NHRA’s Division 7 race that weekend. Utilizing a Chicago-style format, seven nostalgia A/FDs duked it out for a handsome homemade trophy designed by one of the NAFRA members, plus $500 of Red Line Oil products. The event was not just about the action on the drag strip, but more to give recognition to one of drag racing’s own who had accomplished so much in the sport he loved; a racer, truly and deeply missed.
Dennis Allen and Dave Cowin's injected nitro hemi wasn't the quickest nor the fast A/FD,
but consistent enough to make it to the championship round.
With four qualifying sessions scheduled, the quickest three runs by each team would be used and averaged to determine who would race in the championship round. After two rounds, Shawn Corbari and Corbari Racing from San Jose, California, was the quickest car with a 6.403 (he also posted a 6.50). Darrell Waters, who had not run since the 2013 CHRR, was also impressive with a 6.547 at 217 mph. However, neither of them would be in the championship round. Waters hurt the clutch and was out. Drew Austin, with a brand new Ford hemi dragster, also had to withdraw after he spun a bearing in Q3. When Clayton Zulim came down with flu-like symptoms Sunday morning, only four A/FDs remained. In Q4, Corbari, still the odds on favorite, hit a bald spot on the track that so unsettled the dragster he couldn’t manage any better than 7.978. Because Shawn had passed in Q3, this run would be included in his totals. Next, Jerry Kumre Jr. in Dennis Murphy’s car smoked the tires and killed his run. The last pair to run in Q4 was Dennis Allen and Bobby Cottrell, and both made their best runs to that point—6.861 and 6.596, respectively.
After all the calculations had been completed, Shawn Corbari and Jerry Kumre Jr. would match up in the consolation round; Dennis Allen versus Bobby Cottrell in the championship round. Although Kumre hit a .001 light and ran his best time of the weekend (6.56), Corbari one-upped him with a 6.46 and the win light. The championship round was the classic injected nitro versus blown alcohol duel. Allen’s injected nitro hemi got the jump off the line (.043 to .065), but Cottrell had the horsepower and ran him down with a 6.62 and a trip to the winner’s circle.
Driver Bobby Cottrell took Tom Archibald's ANG Neil & Parks rail to the championship with a 6.62 run over RU Dennis Allen
Continued on next page...
Nostalgia Drag World - Text and photos by Stephen Justice Fast and Furious Photography
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