HSMS ADDS NITRO TO
POPULAR TV SHOW
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Needless to say, the car had
to be started to nail down the fuel leak and make sure it was
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
McWilliams looks like
he has indigestion while Blake is thinking - we can do this.
Gino - "Give me
Huge crowd wasn't going
Almost time for the National
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.