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2006 CHRR


Bellemeur Scores NHRR Threepeat
Suffers Tough Loss in Round One of CHRR

 

 

Bakersfield, CA - October 6-8, 2006: The 15th edition of the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion lived up to its star billing - record crowds, huge car counts and to say the least, exciting racing. Considering this is one of the two premier nostalgia drag racing events in the country, teams come here loaded for bear with one thought in mind - winning. The High Speed Motorsports team had a dual win in mind when they rolled through the gates on Thursday. Foremost was their unfinished business - the final round of the rain shortened National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, KY against Adam Sorokin. This was set to happen amid the second qualifying session.

As it turned out, part one of their goal came to fruition as Bellemeur took out Soroking for the 2006 NHRR Top Fuel title - his third in a row... but the overall plan unraveled early. The HSMS team fell victim to drag racing fate - or a full moon. Take your pick. In this sport regardless of how carefully you prepare, how knowledgeable you are or how badly you want to win more often than not the unexpected will bite you in the tail. The last thing the team expected was exactly what happened Saturday night. Below is the good, the bad and the ugly....

 

Photos and full story below.

 

 


With the first qualifying session schedule for 3 p.m. Friday the crew had most of the day to make sure all their ducks were in a row. The mood was light and confident.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Roger McMartin gets a spare short block ready for duty.

 

 

 

 

Friday - 1st Qualifying Session

 


Prior to the first session co-crew chief Troy Green paid close attention to what the competition was running.

 


Crew Chief Brett Johansen and Rian Konno give the track surface the shoe test.

 


Bellemeur gets focused while Brett Johansen, Tom Shelar and Rian Konno get ready to fire the car.

 

 

 


Bellemeur got his first shot at the track at 3:45 p.m. on Friday. He was in the next to last pair of the session and had some very stout numbers to shoot at. He was paired with another young gun - second generation driver, Brett Harris.

 

 

 

 


The back up procedure never changes. Walt Stevens out front and Roger McMartin with his eyes on the engine.

 

 

 

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During qualifying reaction times don't matter - you are racing the clock to get a spot in the show. Nonetheless, good drivers use the sessions to sharpen their starting line reflexes.

 


Bellemeur had a flawless launch.

 

 

 

 

 


Even though it was qualifying, this was a great drag race.

 

 

 

 


This was a beauty. Bellemeur carded a very nice 5.868 at 254.74. This would ultimately land Sean in the # 6 qualifying spot.  Harris stopped the clocks at a slower 5.915 but with the top speed of the event - 260.19.

Everyone thought this was setting the stage for a record setting second session. That would prove to be the wrong assumption.

 

 


Following session one, Dale Singh goes over the qualifying list.

 


HSMS fashion statement?

 

 


Old time engine wizard Steve Montrelli stopped by to visit with Roger McMartin.

 


The car is fired up to make sure all is good for Saturday.

 

 

 

Saturday - 2nd Qualifying Session

 


Fast forward 24 hours to the second and last qualifying session. But for Bellemeur and the HSMS team this was much more than a qualifying run - it was the long awaited Top Fuel final held over from the NHRR in June.

 

 


For Bellemeur the race got off to an ominous start when there was a problem with the throttle stop and the car didn't even turn a tire on the burn-out. The concern was amplified by the fact that Sorokin, after just one session. was currently sitting in the # 1 qualifying spot with a 5.806 at 255.39.

 

 

 

 


After backing up the non-burnout the lack of throttle was weighing on the entire crews minds.

 

 


With the collective tension - crews and fans - built as both cars staged - the whole deal unraveled in the blink of an eye.

 


Sorokin's ride blew the tires at the hit and it appeared, with his clean launch, that Bellemeur would have a cake walk to the trophy and $5,000 check.

 

 

 


But this was a drag race and you never let your breath out until the win light come on. Although Sorokin smoked the tires at the hit he was able to recover while Bellemeur was smoking his tires down track. The end result was stunning. Bellemeur did get the win but Sorokin went by him like a freight train in the lights. Wrap your brain around these numbers - 6.838 at just 172.84 for the win and 7.070 at a stunning 246.71 to the loser.

 

 


Bellemeur's pulse rate is off the charts when he realizes he won this one by a much slimmer margin than the ET's would indicate. However - a win is a win and this one was although not pretty, was very sweet.

 


The HSMS team heads up track to pick up Sean as the NHRA Safety Safari tend to Sorokin's oil down in the right lane.

 


We did it!

 


Good friends off the track, Adam congratulates Sean before they even get their helmets off.

 


Being a member of the NHRA Safety Safari at Pomona, Bellemeur gets a big hug from one of his peers.

 

 


It was no surprise that Sean got hugs and high fives from the RB Entertainment - Champion Speed Shop crew for the win. They are a class act an one would not expect anything less.

 

 


Team HSMS finally gets to the top end and the looks on their faces say it all.

 

 

 


A very special moment when Nancy, Sean's Mom, shows unbridled pride for her one and only son.

 

 


HSMS CEO Dale Singh was busy calling the teams supporters with the big news.

 


Back to the pits to get ready for round one of eliminations that evening.

 

 


Back to the pits to get ready for round one that evening.

 

Final Top Fuel Qualifying
1. Adam Sorokin  -  5.806 @ 255.39
2. Jason Richey  - 5.833 @ 259.81
3. Brad Thompson  -  5.849 @ 222.93
4. Shannon Stewart  -  5.867 @ 249.44
5. Denver Schutz  -  5.867 @ 247.45
6. Sean Bellemeur  -  5.868 @ 254.74
7. Brett Harris  -  5.895 @ 259.51
8. Mendy Fry  - 5.928 @ 242.13
9.   Scott Mason  -  5.935 @ 241.48
10. Howard Haight  -  5.945 @ 256.84
11. Jack Harris -  5.953 @ 230.71
12. Jim Murphy  -  5.961 @ 230.47
13. John Shoemaker -  5.962 @ 253.02
14. Mark Malde  -  5.970 @ 244.03
15. Pete Kaiser  -  6.022 @ 248.13
16. Rick McGee  -  6.054 @ 229.47

DNQ
17. Bill Dunlap  -  6.069 @ 224.04
18. Brendan Murry  - 6.333 @ 194.72
19. Paul Jones  -  6.425 @ 218.87
20. Rick White  -  6.464 @ 218.34
21. Dan Rusk  -  6.706 @ 167.16
22. Ron Maroney  -  6.777 @ 200.13

 

 

Saturday: Round One of Eliminations

 


In round one of eliminations Bellemeur was paired with Jack Harris in the Rodeck Racing entry. Sean had lane choice and under normal circumstances the HSMS team would be feeling somewhat confident. However, the four pairs of cars that ran before them had already broadcasted that this was anything but a "normal" round of Top Fuel. It was, in a word, ugly and about to get worse. If you don't believe that weird things happen on the cusp of a full moon - you should have been here.

 


After several mishaps and delays, Bellemeur finally got to run at 7:45 p.m. This would not be significant had the session not started a 6:45 p.m.

 


The burnout and backup were uneventful.

 

 

 

 

 


At the hit all was good - Bellemeur was out on Harris by a tenth (0.078 to a 0.197).

 

 


All was fine until the 900' mark when the HSMS car got out of the groove and made an abrupt move to the right. At 200 MPH this is not a good thing. In the blink of an eye Sean was into Jack's lane and going sideways. One could read the Plaza Hotel logo on the nose from the starting line - it looked very bad. Incredibly Bellemeur got the car back into his lane and avoided what appeared to be a sure roll over. Come to find out it was a combination of quick reflexes and the right canard wing keeping the car from going over. Between spinning the tires and getting a cockpit full of clutch dust Sean was "hunting" on the top end and this time it almost bit him. Full moon.

Crossing the center line erased any chance Bellemeur had of winning so Harris got a gift 9.196 at a mere 91.75 MPH win. For the record, Bellemeur went thought the lights on two wheels at a 7.038 at 131.46. There would be no double NHRA reunion wins this year.

 

 


In spite of their near disastrous loss the night before, the HSMS team were center stage during the pre-race ceremonies Sunday morning when they were awarded the 7 foot tall trophy for winning the 2006 National Hot Rod Reunion. Here Dave McClelland interviews Sean Bellemeur.

 


Representing the NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports Museum, Greg Sharp awards the trophy.

 

 

 


Sean Bellemeur, Dale Singh and Tom Shelar.

 


The team stayed around for the remainder of the race on Sunday but did leave a parting shot in the way of the team BBQ that finally became a liability no longer deserving a trip home in the trailer. Signed by Sean Bellemeur and named AA/Fuel Grill it was last seen in the pits of Formosa. Maybe it will still be there when they return for the Goodguys Finals November 3-5, 2006.

 

 

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