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
All is good - the engine
is warm, set and now shut down.
After the warm up the
team had some time to relax.
Friday - 1st
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
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
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.
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
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
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 his endurance.
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
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 Force's shop.
See HSMS runs on video!