Splits Rain Canceled Final - Sets Both Ends of Track Record
Runs 5.86 at 251 mph
KY - June 16-18, 2006: As good as it was, the 4th annual National
Hot Rod Reunion didn't exactly go as planned for the racers,
fans and staff in general or for High Speed Motorsports Plaza
Hotel - SilverThin dragster in particular. For the first time
in its short history, the NHRR had two severe rain storms come
through on Saturday and Sunday afternoons forcing the cancellation
of the final qualifying sessions and final rounds of eliminations
where Sean Bellemeur was to meet Adam Sorokin for all the marbles.
This denied Bellemeur, who won here in 2004 and 2005 the chance
for a threepeat. Instead both teams split the winner and runner-up
money and will actially run the final 2100 miles from Kentucky
at the 15th California Hot Rod Reunion in October.
Backing up, the
weekend started on Wednesday with the maximum number of entries
allowed (500 race cars and 1500 "rods") beginning to
fill every square inch of the historic and impeccably maintained
Beech Bend Park pits and surrounding properties. After being
rained out for the third time this season the weekend before
(Goodguys Indy), the HSMS team was really looking forward to
sunshine and a full weekend of racing. Qualifying started on
Friday which was sunny and hot setting the stage for what was
suppose to be a dry weekend.
sunny and hot allowing the second qualifying session to go off
as scheduled. But by 4:00 p.m. some classic mid-west storm clouds
rolled in and everything was put on hold. When it was obvious
that the track could not be dried out in time to continue qualifying,
Bellemeur and team were denied a chance to take the poll and
had to settle for the # 2 spot with a 6.031 at 251.44 (first
leg of a new track speed record). The elimination ladder was
made up of the two sessions that were completed. Sunday two rounds
were completed until more rain halted the show for good.
and full story below.
High Speed Motorsports
Inc. CEO, Dale Singh.
Over the last three seasons Dale
Singh and Tom Shelar have worked very hard to formulated the
best team possible to field the best car possible. The results
are becoming obvious to all and one of the many keys to the teams
success is unity. At every race, before the engine is ever fired
for the first time, the team groups together for a pep talk and
solemn reminder that they are there to win ... nothing else is
Can you read a hydrometer?
That's the percentage this car runs.
After the team meeting
the car is fueled by Bert Toulette and Walt Stevens.
Primed by Troy Green,
started by Tom Shelar.
After the engine is started
Tom and Troy check the magneto timing at idle.
Adjustments are made
from information from the data computer.
As the air fills with the pungent
fumes of nitro the large crowd that always gathers backs up.
All is good - the engine
is warm, set and now shut down.
After the warm up the
team had some time to relax.
- 1st Qualifying Session
With Bellemeur in the
car the crew waits for the signal to fire the engine.
Since the 2005 event the entire
track surface had been replaced and was still a bit "green"
on Friday. Tune ups were made accordingly. Bellemeur does his
first burnout of the weekend.
Walt Stevens guides Sean back
while Roger McMartin checks for anything abnormal on the engine.
Bellemeur was paired
up the Randy Bridges in the Hendricks Motorsports car.
With a tune up fit to the track
conditions the car left hard and carded a 6.035 at 250.04 (quickest
and fastest run of the session). It should be noted that the
tune up call was made by Assistant Crew Chief Troy Green as Crewchief
Bret Johansen hadn't arrived yet. Nice call Troy.
the run Green and McMartin diagnose the engine.
Saturday - 2nd
Saturday afternoon the car was
prepared and warmed for the second session of qualifying. The
schedule called for one session at 3 p.m. and a third session
at 7:30 p.m.
Waiting for the
call to suit up. The weather on Saturday was hot but overcast
and humid which called for a tune up change from Friday.
Nice four shot burnout
sequence by Warren Merriman.
As Bellemeur completes
his burnout one can't help but notice how prominent the teams
major sponsors are on the car. The Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas and
SilverThin Bearings are getting great exposure - especially backing
In the second session Bellemeur
was paired with fellow Californian Brendan Murry. Again Bellemeur
left hard and stopped the clocks with another 6.031 but faster
with a 251.44 (first leg of a new track record).
However, they now had the data
to put a five second tune up in the car for the night session...
which never came.
3:30 p.m. The crew picks
up Sean and the car at the top end of the track.
4:00 p.m. This is one
of those "a picture is worth 1000 words".
All the crew could do
was laugh it off and get ready for eliminations on Sunday.
Top Fuel Qualifying
1. Roger Lechtenberg
- 6.018 @ 251.44
2. Sean Bellemeur - 6.031 @ 251.44
3. Howard Height - 6.167 @ 236.88
4. Adam Sorokin - 6.211 @ 213.30
5. Brendan Murry - 6.221 @ 203.65
6. Randy Bridges - 6.321 @ 230.80
7. Ernest McClain - 6.377 @ 219.54
8. Dan Rusk - 6.618 @ 186.74
Top Fuel Round One - Sunday
The crew buttons up the car after
the 10 a.m. warm up. First round was scheduled for 11:00 a.m.
but the weather forecast didn't look good for the afternoon.
More thunder showers were coming - the only question was, when?
After the opening ceremonies
it was time for Top Fuel. # 2 qualifier Bellemeur was paired
with the # 7 qualifier, Ernest McClain from Smyrna, DE.
Brett Johansen makes the final
adjustment before sending Bellemeur into the staging beams.
McClain knew he had to cut a
great light and hope Bellemeur had problems to get a win. He
guessed and missed by a mile catching a red light and giving
an automatic win to Sean.
Bellemeur waited for his green
and left identical to Saturday and carding a like time - 6.054
at 250.04. The five second zone was still alluding them.
The crew responded to
the cheers from the fans.
While the crew was getting the
car ready for the second round, team hospitality and travel coordinator
Arlene Eliason BBQ's some lunch.
After an impressive 60 minute
turn around time (the time it took the crew to get the car ready
for the next round once it returned to their pit from the prior
run) the HSMS met the call but there was no sign of their opponent,
Howard Haight in Butch Blair's "Fugowie".
The HSMS car was moved out onto
the track and there was still no sign of their opponent.
Everybody knew they were not
only racing on the track but also racing the immanent storm.
Haight and Steve Gibbs can be seen looking nervously at the staging
lanes for Blair's car.
Just when it looked like Gibbs
was going to tell Bellemeur to suit up and make a single, the
Fugowie car was hurriedly towed out.
Girlfriend, Erin Adams
helps Sean with his Hans device.
As he always does, Tom
Shelar straps Bellemeur into the cockpit.
Finally both drivers
were in and the burnouts went off together.
With the burnouts complete both
cars got their final tweaks and were led into the staging beams.
Bellemeur took a slight
advantage at the start and never looked back.
After a very hard leave the car
pinned Bellemeur in the seat for 1320 feet stopping the clocks
with a 5.869 (new track record) at just 244 mph. Had the car
not lost the blower belt at the 1100 foot mark the ET would have
been even lower and the speed into the 253 range.
You can see even at this angle
that Bellemeur had a good lead before the 330' mark.
The crew was elated and
anxious to meet Adam Sorokin in the finals.
With rain clouds on the horizon
the car was rushed back to the pits in hopes of getting turned
around and have time for the final.
In spite of pouring rain - lightning
and thunder - the team worked with their normal precision to
get the car ready for a final that would never come.
With worsening weather
reports coming in, the event was called at 2:45 p.m.
Call it quits you say? Not a
chance. After most of the racers and fans had already left for
home, Don Ewald came up with the bright idea to run the Top Fuel
final anyway - using golf carts. Ewald had one cart and a camera
and it took Bellemeur and Sorokin about 5 minutes to come up
with another cart and full fire suits. Rain pouring down, a band
of brave (or not so smart) souls made their way to the starting
line to settle it here and now.
Erin assumed the role of backup
girl for Bellemeur. One lone fan remained and was rewarded for
Sorokin finished his
burnout and moved up to stage.
Tom Shelar acted as the "flag
starter" and both carts were off. Since the PA system was
still on the guys in the tower picked up on this deal and were
announcing it like a real race. Funny stuff.
On the top end it was was, due
to the fact he added some leg pushes, a disputed win for Bellemeur.
Boys being boys, Sorokin won
the race back by a wheel. Must be he two hand driving style.
Still laughing, Wally Parks Museum
Curator, Greg Sharp came down to congratulate the winner.
After that the only thing
left to do was eat more food. Next stop - Boise, Idaho.
Great shots that have no home...
Prior to the 2006 HSMS Eastern
Swing (Indy & Bowling Green) the guys thought it would be
fun to put Sean's girlfriend, Erin in the car for a final check-out
fire up at their Anaheim shop. Most would agree she looks better
than Sean even with the mask.
Erin in car - starter
hooked up - Bellemeur giggles.
Brett Johansen lites
the engine and Erin enjoys the "ride".
Yea, that was fun. Can
I do it again?
After being rained out at Indy,
the team headed to Bowling Green via John Force's Indianapolis
Race Headquarters where they spent Sunday night.
Roger McMartin, Frankie Hedge
and Sean Bellemeur are dwarfed under the huge American flag outside
See HSMS runs on video!