Bellemeur Runs Top
Speed at Weather Shortened March Meet
2006 was the
13th year the March Meet has been run under the Goodguys VRA
banner and it proved to be unlucky indeed. There are some things
in life you just have to write off as a really bad deal that
was nobody's fault. The 47th March Meet proved to be one of those
things. Drag racers can do a lot but running in the rain is not
one of them. Over two miserable weekends the Goodguys, racers
and fans could only look at the weather reports and hope they
were wrong - they were not. It was the first time in history
that the event had to be not only postponed for a week but canceled
altogether. It was a no win situation for all involved.
In spite of the
curves thrown by Mother Nature, the High Speed Motorsports team
left their mark running top speed of the abbreviated event with
a 252.52 blast while winning their 1st (and only) round of eliminations
Sunday morning. Driver, Sean Bellemeur was one of the favorites
going in and was feeling very confident they could go all the
way when the event was canceled Sunday afternoon due to unsafe
track conditions caused by two weeks of heavy rain.
and full story below.
SHOT QUALIFYING - SATURDAY AFTERNOON
After sitting in the rain all
day Friday and again Saturday morning, the crew got the word
that they were going to try to get a one shot qualifying session
off that afternoon. The team went to work making sure the car
was ready to run.
Just after 2:00 p.m. it was time
to warm up the engine, check for leaks and make sure everything
from the data recorder to the clutch were working properly.
Crew Chief, Brett Johansen
fires the engine with a remote starter.
Due to the nitro fumes crew members
behind the engine wear breathing masks.
When Johansen is happy
with everything the engine is shut off.
The team members show their unity
prior to taking the car up for qualifying.
Bellemeur backs up from
his burnout at the direction of Walt Stevens.
At 3:51 on a
cold afternoon the Top Fuel cars finally got a shot at the track.
Sean Bellemeur was in the forth pair out paired with Jason Richey
in Dave Smith's "Nitro Fever".
After the burnout the crew checks
for leaks and wipe the tires prior to Bellemeur staging.
left first and really hard.
some tire spin down track and had to "whack" the throttle
to control the tire speed.
Once he hooked up, Sean managed the first full
pull of the Top Fuel session... a 6.223 at a fast. 245.96. This
would ultimately land him in the # 5 qualifying spot which was
a nice place to be.
Bellemeur prepares to
pack his chutes.
- ROUND ONE OF ELIMINATIONS
Sunday morning the crew was hard
at work making sure the car was ready for the toughest round
of any race - round one.
Sunday was just that - the first
day in two weeks that predicted NO rain. The Goodguys crew had
cars on the track by 8:00 a.m. trying desperately to salvage
the race and give the racers at least one shot at the show. Everyone
was planning for a very long day and nighttime finals. In spite
of the sun shine and comfortable temps, the massive amounts of
rain would prove to be the winner yet another day.
Grand Marshall, the legendary
Don Garlits with Goodguys PR Director John Drummond and CEO Gary
Meadors during the pre race ceremonies.
10:02 a.m. Much nicer
conditions this morning. About 58 degrees and lots of sunshine.
Track temperature in the high 70s. A perfect day for a drag race
Sean Bellemeur in the High Speed
Motorsports car was was in the third pair out. Ironically he
was matched with the car he ran in qualifying - Jason Richey
in "Nitro Fever".
After the burnout the crew goes
through its normal routine prior to Sean staging.
Both drivers left together
but Bellemeur had the better 60' time.
By the 1000' mark the
Plaza Hotel car was really flying but Richey never gave up.
Needless to say, the
crew was elated and responded to the cheers from the fans.
At the stripe it was Bellemeur
carding a superb 6.033 at 252.52 (top speed of the meet). Richey
ran a game 6.178 at 242.78.
Returning to the pits after the
first round win the car went through it normal maintenance program.
All was good until a crack was discovered in the Donovan engines
"girdle" (bottom main support). Tom Shelar (who is
usually on the computer) got under the car to inspect the damage
After the new engine
was in the crew made sure all was good for a warm up.
The injured engine was pulled
out and a spare installed. Lucky the crack at the rear of the
girdle didn't cause any other damage (i.e. crankshaft, rod or
main bearings). Johansen figures the damage happened on Saturday
when the car went into tire shake during its qualifying run.
Still thinking there would be
a second round of eliminations, the crew warmed up the new engine
in anticipation of meeting ex-teammate Mendy Fry in round two.
Shortly after the High
Speed Motorsports dragster was ready to go the staging lanes
the word was handed down that the event had been canceled. The
Bakersfield, CA Wet track
conditions caused by weepers (pockets of water seeping
through tiny cracks in the asphalt) forced Goodguys/VRA officials
to cancel all racing at the 47th March Meet. Water from weeks
of rain continued to seep through the racing surface today even
though the weather conditions were perfect for racing.
The day started off with some
sportsman eliminations and continued with round one of top fuel.
Conditions were fine with Visalias Brad Thompson running
Low ET of the meet at 5.862. After a couple more hours of racing
water started seeping up through the racing surface in several
areas causing the cancellation of the event.
Goodguys officials deemed the
race canceled at 1:30pm. There will be no rerun.
The 47th March Meet got off to
an inauspicious start when it was postponed a week due to rain.
The rerun this weekend was not much better with most of the first
two days washed out due to passing rain showers.
Its as frustrating
as it gets, said Goodguys President Gary Meadors. The
racers and the officials both agreed that the conditions were
not suitable for further competition.