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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.

Photos and full story below.



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.





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".






Bellemeur backs up from his burnout at the direction of Walt Stevens.




After the burnout the crew checks for leaks and wipe the tires prior to Bellemeur staging.


Bellemeur left first and really hard.







Bellemeur had 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.





Sunday morning the crew was hard at work making sure the car was ready for the toughest round of any race - round one.



Bellemeur prepares to pack his chutes.








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 - almost.


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.



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.


Needless to say, the crew was elated and responded to the cheers from the fans.




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 himself.



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.



After the new engine was in the crew made sure all was good for a warm up.




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 reason being:

Official Goodguys Press Release

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 Visalia’s 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.

“It’s 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.”


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