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HSMS ADDS NITRO TO POPULAR TV SHOW


 

September 11-12, 2009 - Bakersfield, CA - Granted the widely popular cable TV show Pinks All Out probably doesn't appeal to hard core drag racers but it does put the sport out there in a different format. Like it or not, one would not go to the Speed Channel hit to see nitro cars but that changed for the first time at Famoso Raceway.

The format is -- From bright city lights to quiet country roads… They come from all walks of life, with a car, a dream, and a burning desire. Now thousands of fans fill the stands every year, as hundreds of competitors thunder down the quarter mile. Everyday people strapped behind the wheel of cars they built. No sponsors, no pit crews… Just One Rule: RUN ALL OUT.

A Top Fuel Dragster or Nostalgia Nitro Funny Car would hardly fit into this twist on old time street racing but they did prove to be a very popular exhibition for this particular program. The brain child of Famoso Dragway manager Blake Bowser, It featured 3 Top Fuel cars and 3 funnies with the idea of exposing a new breed of fans to nostalgia racing and promote the upcoming NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion.

For Troy Green and the HSMS team it was a chance to do some testing while getting national exposure for the sport and their sponsors. Although two runs were scrubbed due to fluid leaks, they did get a full nighttime run in and gathered some good data. Running with local favorite, Brad Thompson the dragsters showed the butts in the seats what header flames were all about.

When the show first airs on Nov 27 at 9:00pm Eastern - Friday after Thanksgiving - you may agree that it was a cool way for Pinks All Out to end its 2009 season.

Photos by: Arlene Eliason

 

 

The man behind expanding on the PAO format at Bakersfield was its manager, Blake Bowser.

 

Friday was very low key with the teams basically setting up and kicking back. It was hot and the HSMS team were not in any hurry to do much of anything.

 

Brad Thomson and crew made the short trip south from Visalia.

 

 

Don Danhof had his slick NTF car on hand.

 

The first fueler to spread some nitro was the High Speed Motorsports car with Troy Green in the seat. The team had been struggling of late and were trying some changes in the fuel system.

 

 

 

 

The plan was two test runs on Friday and a test run before the two TV runs on Saturday. However the 1st of 2 Friday test runs were canceled due to "Pinks" cars needing to get their qualifying runs done.

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Everywhere one looked there was evidence of the Speed TV production crew.

 

 

That's the tower behind all the production rigs. The entire winners circle area was taken up.

 

Sunset at The Patch is often a beautiful site.

 

 

 

The Friday exhibition runs got under way as the temps finally started to drop.

 

 

 

On Friday the flag was at half mast in honor of 9-11.

 

As the track lights started to take effect Troy Green and Brad Thompson came up to test the track for the first time.

 

 

 

 

 

Walt Stevens guided Green back. Note the grandstands are a little sparse of spectators. That REALLY changed on Saturday.

 

 

 

When Green stopped from his burnout the crew spotted small oil leak and shut the engine off.

 

Thompson staged and left on a single pass.

 

 

 

Thompson left hard but got into some tire shake and had to pedal it.

 

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Mike Cross then did a classic push start and short pass in the Dandorf fueler.

 

 

 

Back in the pits the HSMS guys were not to happy. It is not their style to get shut off with a leak.

 

The HSMS car was field stripped to nail down the leak.

 

 

 

 

Bill Condit, the Famoso starter was done for the night and visited the HSMS pit.

 

 

 

Unloading Saturday morning there was no doubt it was going to be another hot day. The Pinks crew film the process.

 

 

 

 

Brett Johansen and Jake Sanders, the 20 yr old crew chief of the Mr. Explosive NFC. Jake flew down for the weekend to hang out and talk racecars. Here Brett was changing the camshaft timing in the spare motor. If they had been given the opportunity to make another run Sat night they would have changed motors to test the cam timing change.

 

Thompson pit getting their car ready for the day.

 

 

Lil Nate had given up early on Friday evening after the early test session was dropped and they got 1 run in on Sat. After that they had the oil pan dropped for regular service when the TV crew came by and wanted them to run in 15 minutes. They politely declined. The Pinks crews lack of knowledge of what it takes to run a fuel car was made apparent in several instances. They are too used to the cars hot lapping. Even a long interval between runs in their regular show is usually "15 minutes so the engines can cool down".

 

 

In stark contrast to Friday the Saturday stands starting to fill up early. Advertising stated the start time as 7:00 PM. This was 1:30!

 

Pinks host and conductor Rich Christensen with the old time start… pinks web site and a Famoso fan message http://www.speedtv.com/programs/pinks

 

 

Pinks crew mugging host?

 

HSMS "Iron Chef" Roger McMartin has his own form of entertainment - talking with his hands. Tom Shelar decided to enhance this a bit buy taping shop towels to his wrists for even more emphasis.

 

 

 

Fun aside, the car was warmed up for the second exhibition session.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a set up here, note Tom Shelar (center) putting his breather mask on.

 

The story here is a carry over from Bowling Green, almost 3 months ago. When he was asleep, Tom 'tattooed' son Patrick's ear with the Sharpie. Well, here Patrick lined Tom's gas mask with black grease to get back at him, but Tom never put it on till now. It wasn't alot of grease on the nose, but it shows, and Patrick had a blast - finally got his pay-back in.

 

 

The only "cacklecar" on hand was the Howard Cams Rattler.

 

Clay Millican of "Big Show" Top Fuel fame (and Pinks commentator) took a seat Larry Dixon's old ride to give an interview.

 

One of the original owners of the Rattler was Danny Porsche and he obviously had some funny stories for Clay about "the day".

 

 

 

Porsche, Troy Green, Millican and Walt Stevens.

 

Dusty McWilliams and Don Irvin

 

With Green and Thompson in the lanes, Rian Kono and Johansen checked out the track. With the air temp at 95 degrees the surface was suspect.

 

4:00 PM and its SRO at Famoso.

 

 

4:00 PM Before the exhibition runs another "mandatory 15 minute hydration period" was called by the TV crew so starter Condit held a discussion group.

 

4:10 PM Hot as an oven, wispy clouds, light breeze, NO action. Meanwhile, Green and Thompson are in their cars, in their suits, all strapped in and no one bothered to tell them about the mandatory break! And then a fan in the stands had a medical emergency, so the ambulance was tied up for a while.

 

 

The cars finally moved into the water box at 4:38 pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walt Stevens got tired of the heat and went off to Ventura for the sprint car races turning his backup job over to the capable hands of Erin Bellemeur.

 

Note the guy with the mop... another bad sign for Green.

 

Sean Bellemeur gave the shut off sign to Green - this time a fuel leak.

 

 

Once again Thompson staged and left for a single.

 

 

 

 

Thompson experienced tire shake and had to pedal once again.

 

Note folks and motor homes on the spectators side of the track... looks like the March Meet!

 

 

One shut off is unusual but two was becoming unacceptable. This was not a happy crew and the car was pushed back.

 

 

The long tow back to the pits had one up side - tons of sponsor exposure. It wasn't just SRO, it was Mosh Pit!

 

 

Hopefully this is a preview of the CHRR crowd.

 

 

Back in the pits the daughter of a friend of HSMS crew member Frankie Hedge hammed it up in the diggers seat.

 

 

"Is that all there is?"

 

Needless to say, the car had to be started to nail down the fuel leak and make sure it was fixed.

 

Green thinking, "After coming all the way from Oklahoma, roasting my butt off, it would be nice to get this thing down the track. Burnouts are cool but...."

 

Reasonably assured that the engine was done bleeding, there was not much to do but kick back, try to keep cool and wait for the evening session.

 

Going out for the last chance to get down the track on their 7:15 schedule.

 

 

A jet funny car in the middle of the show? Normally these deals would be run at the end but not here.

 

 

 

 

 

McWilliams looks like he has indigestion while Blake is thinking - we can do this.

 

Gino - "Give me patience!"

 

Almost time....

 

Huge crowd wasn't going anywhere.

 

Almost time for the National Anthem.

 

Under the lights Thompson and Green did their burnouts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No leaks! Both cars were able to stage and left together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About 800' Thompson got close to the wall - pedaled it - and got back in.

 

 

Not killer times but at least there were lots of people that got treated to Nitro drag racing, many probably for the first time… LOTS of people!! ALL the way down the track.

 

 

 

 

 

All that was left was to pack it all up and head home.

 

 

The 'kids' that are really growing up. They were last together (except Max) probably 5 or 6 years ago at Pomona.

 

Oh, there was one more thing - it was Sean Bellemeur's birthday and the team went all out with some really swell cupcakes.....

 

 

Next stop for the fuelers is back here at Famoso for the CHRR on Oct 16-18.

 

 

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