Nipped in Semi Finals
Quickest & Fastest Race in Firebird Raceway History
- August 11-13, 2006: The 35th Nightfire Nationals was a race
that will be remembered for years to come. For all the fans in
attendance, it was without doubt the single most impressive event
in the track's thirty-nine year history. Nearly perfect weather
greeted a record field of racers and jam-packed grandstands to
four incredible days of racing. Daily highs saw unusually low
temperatures in the 80's and because of it performances across
the board were simply stunning.
right through eliminations, the Top Fuel Dragsters were flying
and were by far the fan favorites. Fifteen of the best fuel cars
in the world towed to Boise for the 8 car show. Who would've
ever guessed a 6.01 bump at a track with a mien of 5,500 plus
feet of corrected altitude. 5.80's and several cars over 250
MPH - AT BOISE! Just incredible.
The High Speed
Motorsports - SilverThin Bearings team came into the prestigious
Nightfire Nationals riding a high from Bowling Green where a
rain out denied them a third straight win. After running quicker
and faster on all but one run they lost their semi final match
up by a mere .010 of a second to eventual event winner, Brad
Thompson. The side by side thriller was the quickest and fastest
race ever run in the state of Idaho. As Arnold said, "We
will be back".
and full story below.
Friday morning the car, nitro and spare parts sit
in the trailer ready for action.
The crew readies the pit area prior to unloading
Tom Shelar guides the car out of the trailer.
Once in its place, the car is raised up and prepared
for the first qualifying session.
High Speed Motorsports CEO, Dale
Singh and Marketing Director John Buyachek (left) hosted two
high profile guests for the weekend. Players Network Chairman
& CEO Mark Bradley and President of Programming, Michael
Berk. Players Network has had its Gaming Lifestyle Channel inside
Las Vegas and Atlantic City Hotel Casinos since 1994. Ten years
later Comcast decided the time was right to launch a national
Gaming Lifestyle Channel on its new VOD cable television platform.
By then several companies had come along and were trying to start
gaming channels after the success of the World Poker Tour.
But it was Players Network that Comcast went into business with,
because the worlds largest cable operator recognized that Players
Network was the only company actually creating and producing
high-quality content about the lifestyle of gaming. On November
8th, 2005, PNTV launched its channel initially in 10-million
Michael Berk has written and
produced over 400 hrs of television. Michael created and executive
produced multiple television series including Baywatch, the most
popular show in the history of the planet. Michael moved to Las
Vegas in 1994 after his house collapsed in the Northridge earthquake
and was soon creating Vegas-based Television projects with Steve
Wynn and Kirk Kerkorian. Michael founded the successful CineVegas
Film Festival (now going into its eighth year at the Palms Hotel),
and was awarded the prestigious Las Vegas Community Achievement
Award in Arts and Entertainment.
This was their first exposure
to drag racing and by all accounts they were very impressed by
the overall package. Berk quickly picked up the team and family
dynamics of a "nostalgia" event and is pondering the
possibility of a reality TV series centered on this aspect of
the sport. Recognizing that drag racing is in every since entertainment,
the possibilities for broad based programming is wide open. New
developments on the project will be announced as they become
were prominently displayed on the car.
What better way to help someone understand Nostalgia
Top Fuel than putting them in the seat for a fire-up. Tom Shelar
gets Michael Berk ready for the experience.
Sean Bellemeur explains
Troy Green and Rian Konno
fire the engine.
Crewchiefs Troy Green
and Brett Johansen check out the data computer as the engine
Berk was overwhelmed
by the experience and had several questions and comments for
Bellemeur after the fact.
After the warm-up the valves are checked and the
Mark Bradley takes it all in.
Friday - 1st
Due to the usual 100+
degree temperatures in Boise this time of year the pro sessions
were mostly scheduled for evenings. This year the weather was
as much as 20 degrees below normal and by the first session at
8:00 p.m. on Friday it was a comfortable 80.
the sun setting in the west, taking photos proved to be tricky.
Walt Stevens backs Sean
up while Roger McMartin keeps a close eye on the engine.
Off like a rocket Bellemeure's
first pass down the superbly prepared Firebird track netted a
5.985 at 247.52 time slip. That would be the only five second
run by any car on Friday and put Sean in the # 1 spot for the
After their pace setting
pass, the crew does their normal routine. The engine is taken
down to a block and crank with every part closely examined. More
often than not 8 new pistons are rods are plugged in so the ones
that came out can be gone over after the engine is back together.
They are usually recycled for the next tear down. The HSM team
works like clock and have a consistent turn round time of about
On Saturday the second
qualifying session was scheduled for 2:00 p.m. so the crew had
a leisurely morning basically double checking everything and
getting spare parts ready.
Tom Shelar does all
the head work for the team and constantly has a pair on the jig
checking valve seal and spring pressure after every run.
Walt Stevens gets new
spark plugs ready for use.
Saturday: Qualifying Session
At 3:30 in the afternoon,
the second session was held under the hottest conditions the
cars would see all weekend. In spite of the low 90's temps, the
track remained in excellent condition.
In spite of the hotter
weather the car yanked the front wheels and motored to another
5.98 at a slightly faster 248.75. That would place Bellemeur
# 4 qualifier.
Eight minutes after
pulling back into the pits the top of the engine is off, the
pan down and Rian is ready to push out pistons.
Shelar is already checking the heads.
New pistons in, the
heads go back on. Elapsed time - 18 minutes.
At 5:00 p.m. on Saturday
all the Top Fuel drivers gathered for an autograph session held
in the middle of the main pits. You would have had to see this
to believe it. There was a constant LONG line of fans that never
seemed to end. They were truly excited about meeting all the
guys (and Mendy) and had them sign just about anything you can
imagine. Lucky most of the teams had handouts (which several
ran out of) which the fans really loved. And speaking of the
Boise fans - they are second to NONE! Across the board the racers
constantly commented on how friendly and enthusiastic everyone
was. Racers at the event for their first time all vowed to come
back and the fans were are big part of their reasoning.
*You may have noticed
that there are a lot of HSMS web photos where video cameramen
are involved. This is the crew of Jay Shaw of RJS Video Productions has been traveling
with HSMS to all their venues around the country since last year.
They have amassed many hours of Nostalgia Drag Racing video which
will be used in future projects.
Sean Bellemeur and Mendy
After over an hour the
line finally waned leaving Sean Bellemeur and Brett Harris as
the last two drivers to stop signing. Neither would leave until
they were sure everyone had been taken care of.
Saturday: Qualifying Session
Prior to the final qualifying
session Michael Berk, Dale Singh and Mark Bradley took time for
some photo ops.
Troy Green ponders the track prior to
the last session.
The third and final
session went off at 8:30 p.m. The temp had dropped into the high
70's and performance across the board picked up.
Bellemeur left very
hard and judging by the incremental times was on his way to a
mid to high 5.80 run.
(1.064 @ 60' -- 2.704 @
330' -- 3.942 @ 1/8 mile -- 5.077 @ 1000')
But at the 1000' mark
Bellemeur got an excessive amount of clutch dust in the cockpit
and for an instant lost his point of reference on the track.
The car got out of the groove, darted to the centerline and he
was forced to abort the run to a 6.07 and just 195.90. This was
disappointing as it left him in the # 5 spot - the bottom half
of the ladder.
Top Fuel Qualifying
This was the quickest
and fastest field in the history of Firebird Raceway. Considering
the quickest run made during the entire 2005 event was 6.02,
the 6.017 bump spot left everybody stunned.
1. Brad Thompson
- 5.883 @ 245.70
2. Mendy Fry - 5.931 @ 235.66
3. Brett Harris - 5.971 @ 244.23
4. Jim Murphy - 5.971 @ 233.88
5. Sean Bellemeur - 5.985 @ 247.52
6. Rick White - 5.996 @ 241.09
7. Howard Haight - 5.998 @ 250.83
8. Rick McGee - 6.017 @ 237.90
- 6.021 @ 251.11
Scott Mason - 6.037
Bill Dunlap - 6.057
Mark Malde - 6.079 @
Adam Sorokin - 6.118 @
Brendan Murry - 6.212
John Shoemaker - 6.517
Throughout the weekend hard working
team hospitality and travel coordinator Arlene Eliason, with
the help of Amelia Singh kept the crew and quests fed and watered.
Before first round of
eliminations Danny Porsche and Darrell Tedford got a surprise
Birthday cake. Danny is "70 something" and Darrell
turned the big 60.
Sunday: Round One of Eliminations
At 5:20 p.m: Team pep
talk before Sean gets into the car for round one.
Tom Shelar straps Bellemeur
into the cockpit.
Hurry up and wait....
The cars come down from
the staging lanes and turn around into the water boxes. Bellemeur
is paired with 4 time World Champion Jim Murphy.
This race was Bellemeur's
all the way. He left first and carded a stout 5.93 at 253.59
(which to that point was top speed of the meet).
Like clockwork the crew
got the car ready for round two.
Bert Toulette is "The Fuel Man"
for HSM. The nitro percentage being correct is a critical part
of the tune-up and Bert is meticulous when he blends the methanol-nitromethane
ratio as called for by Brett Johansen.
Sunday: Semi Finals of Eliminations
Prior to the semis,
co-crew chiefs Brett Johansen and Troy Green check out track
conditions including the surface temperature.
in round two was low qualifier, Brad Thompson who also ran a
5.93 in round one. Everyone knew this was going to a tough one.
From the hit this race
lived up to its billing. Two of the best leavers in the business,
Thompson got a .046 advantage and he needed all of it.
The two cars were literally
welded together for 1320 feet. It was so close neither driver
saw the other the entire run and didn't know who won at the lights.
The reaction times told the whole story, .037 to a .062, in a
race decided by .010 at the ET light. Thomson's 5.922 at 251.67
just nipped Bellemeur's quicker 5.90 at 255.17. It was the quickest
and fastest race in Firebird Raceway history. This was one of
those races where you wish there could be two winners.
In spite of the loss,
the team was still pleased with the run and acknowledged the
cheers of the crowd.
So ended a very exciting
weekend of racing. The car performed better each run and did
not hurt any parts. This gives the team a lot of confidence going
to their next event, the California Hot Rod Reunion at Bakersfield
See HSMS runs on video!