:::::: News ::::::


There were dramatic storylines in every category on the final Sunday of
the Countdown to 4, the first round of the NHRA Playoffs, but none
moreso than what unfolded in Funny Car.

After Brandon Bernstein’s Budweiser team finally rid itself of the
pesky, upstart UPS team and Richie Stevens knocked off Kurt Johnson to
clear the way for Mopar teammate Allen Johnson to secure the final bid
in Pro Stock, all eyes turned to Funny Car.

At the center of the chaos were the three Don Schumacher Racing cars competing for the last two Countdown to 1 spots.

For most of the day, it looked like Gary Scelzi and Ron Capps were competing for just one spot.

Jack Beckman began the day in third place and he came within a single
round of clinching one of the four berths in Funny Car, but he was
upset in the quarterfinals by Tony Bartone.


W_Bazemore.jpgThe unemployment line now
includes a 20-time NHRA national event winner.

Whit Bazemore, driver of
the David Powers Motorsports, Matco Tools-sponsored dragster was relieved of
his duties via a phone call from Powers this afternoon.


“I had no clue it was
coming,” Bazemore said. “I’m surprised because I had been talking to David for
the last couple of months about getting our handshake agreement in writing. I
thought we were making headway but this comes out of the blue.”


Bazemore said he was given
no real reason for his dismissal.


The family of the late NHRA founder, Wally Parks, who died Sept. 28, announced
the first of what is expected to be several tributes to the motorsports legend,
beginning at the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion and at the Automobile Club NHRA
Finals. A short tribute will be held at the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion at
the Auto Club of Southern California Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif., Oct. 12-14. NHRA also will have a
special trackside ceremony honoring Parks on Sunday, Nov. 4, prior to the final
round of eliminations at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at


Tony Schumacher has a
message to the media, “Get off the fact the points reset and I got the lead
after Indy.”


That was his response when asked Saturday during the post-qualifying press conference in Richmond, if
he was focused on battling with Fuller for the top spot in Top Fuel pointsenabling Larry Dixon to pass them both.


Schumacher praised Dixon’s efforts but wasn’t
as complimentary towards Fuller.


“I think one of Hot Rod’s primary
defects as a driver is that he’s so focused on our car,” Schumacher said. “You
hear him and all he says is, ‘We have to get around


“There are a lot of great cars out
here. Forget it. How about trying to win a championship? I wasn’t surprised that
Dixon drove
around us. He is a great driver and that’s a great car. I didn’t get passed
because I was focused on Hot Rod. We got passed because we broke first round. He
went a few more rounds and that’s how drag racing goes.


Larry Morgan was once an accomplished Competition
eliminator racer and even though he ran the class at the RECENT Jeg's
Northern SportsNationals in Columbus, Ohio, he has no desire to run the class on
a regular basis.
Morgan said that he was preparing a car for Nick
Morgan, his 18-year old son, to drive in future competition.



Senior Vice President, Race Operations Graham Light walked into the
control towerat Virginia Motorsports Park on Saturday morning of the
NHRA Torco Race Fuels Narionals and greeted his staff in the usual
manner. He didn’t say a word, but you could see on his face the desire
for an easier day.


Light hoped the day would be a
smoother day than Friday presented. In one day, Light survived inclement weather
which altered the schedule, a racing surface that refused the adhesive process
and a power failure that left the racers and thousands of race fans in the


“We’ve had tougher days, trust me,”
Light said. “We are fortunate to have a lot of good people that know what to do
– some of them twenty and thirty years.”


Light said sometimes you just have
to step aside and let those you have in place handle the


“You immediately try and figure how
you can juggle the schedule to make everything fit,” Light explained. “You want
it to be as fair as it can be for both the professional and sportsman racers.
Darryl Zimmerman and his crew do a great job of making all of that


History was made at the
recently completed 16th annual IHRA President’s Cup Nationals as
membership in the Sonny’s 220-mph club was officially filled. Rickie Smith
(220.73), Chuck DeMory (220.40), John Bartunek (220.15) and Dean Goforth
(223.62) were the last four to race their way into this prestigious club.


R_Capps.jpgNHRA POWERade nitro funny car pilot Ron Capps will return to the Automobile
Club of Southern California Hot Rod Reunion again this year, but this time
behind the wheel of the new Nostalgia Funny Car owned by Gary Messenger.  In
testing, Messenger's newly finished 1972 Dodge Charger-bodied funny car has
covered the Auto Club Famoso Raceway quarter mile in 6.26 seconds shutting
off at 1,100 feet when it was driven by Crew Chief Zane Messenger. 

Capps is one of more than 300 racers who will compete on the
quarter-mile dragstrip in ten classes at the 16th Annual event, presented by
Holley.  Racers are coming to Bakersfield from as far away as England and
Australia.  Media and racing fans are coming from the four corners of the

"We're getting ready for the biggest Reunion yet," said Tony
Thacker, executive director of the non-profit Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports
Museum, presented by the Auto. Club of So. Calif., which produces and
benefits from the event.  "Some cars never before seen in the United States
will be competing against the best in the business.  Since the NHRA POWERade

Drag Racing Series has the week off, we know already that many of the
racers from that series will be joining us in Bakersfield.  We've also got
previous champions in Top Fuel who want to add another trophy to their

In the hotly-contested Nostalgia Top Fuel Dragster class,
2006 California Reunion winner Jim Murphy could easily repeat, but Troy
Green, who won the Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion in Columbus, Ohio on
Father's Day weekend would also like to double his pleasure.  Also expected
are Brad Thompson, Rick White, Brett Harris, Adam Sorokin, Jason Richey and
Harris.  The ever-popular Mendy Fry is expected along with Shannon
Stewart, Rick Rogers, John Shoemaker, Mark Malde, Bill Dunlap – filling in
for Brendan Murry – Pete Kaiser, Rick Williamson, Scott Mason, Mike
McClennan, local Rick McGee, Howard Haight and Denver Schutz.



Crew chief turned Funny Car driver Mike Neff made his first laps on
Monday testing following the NHRA Torco Race Fuels Nationals in
Richmond, Virginia.

Neff's initial burnout was performed as well as a seasoned veteran and
his short launch was firmly entrenched in the groove. Expect more
testing in Las Vegas soon. 


The city of Concord, North
is quickly learning that life with a strip
can be a drag. According to a report in the Charlotte Observer, the city has
reversed its opposition to Bruton Smith’s drag strip on the grounds of Lowe’s
Motor Speedway.

Smith has threatened to
build his strip elsewhere, possibly on relocated Lowe’s Motor Speedway

Smith said on "Tony
Stewart Live" on Sirius NASCAR Radio, "So now they've decided maybe
they do want it.

"One day we will look
back at this, I hope, and we'll all laugh about it," Smith said. "But
in the meantime, when I get home I will take a look and read exactly what
they've done and try to diagnose the whole thing."

Council members voted to
consider amending the speedway’s zoning, which they voted last week to ban drag

John Cox, head of the
Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the move is exactly what Smith’s
company wanted.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Ramseur admitted
that even this reversal couldn’t guarantee that Smith will keep the racing
facility in Concord.