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Bellemeur Nipped in Semi Finals
Quickest & Fastest Race in Firebird Raceway History



Boise, Idaho - 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.

From qualifying 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".

Photos 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 the car.







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 Comcast homes.

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 available.


PlayersNetwork.com logos 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 the procedure.


Troy Green and Rian Konno fire the engine.


Crewchiefs Troy Green and Brett Johansen check out the data computer as the engine heats up.






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 heads re-torqued.


Mark Bradley takes it all in.



Friday - 1st Qualifying Session


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.


With 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 session.


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 50 minutes.




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 Two


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 Fry



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 Three


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.


Final Top Fuel Qualifying

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


Jason Richey  -  6.021 @ 251.11
Scott Mason  -  6.037 @ 237.27
Bill Dunlap  -  6.057 @ 246.71
Mark Malde  -  6.079 @ 230.71
Adam Sorokin  -  6.118 @ 241.80
Brendan Murry  -  6.212 @ 233.16
John Shoemaker  -  6.517 @ 218.28

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.



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.


Bellemeur's match-up 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 October 6-8.


See HSMS runs on video! Boise Videos



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