DUNLAP TAKES TOP FUEL
2+ Year Winning Streak
Record 7th NHRR Team Win
Kentucky - June 20, 2015:
In a spectacular
return to form, 74-year-old Bill Dunlap captured Top Fuel Eliminator
in his California-based High Speed Motorsports entry at the 13th
Holley National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Ky. Dunlap
defeated defending event champion Tony T-Bone Bartone
and upended Bartones unprecedented domination of the NHRA
Heritage Series Top Fuel Dragster class.
In the NHRR final,
Dunlap laid down an exemplary 5.73-second quarter-mile blast
at 251 mph to stun the New York-based Bartone, who encountered
tire shake in his Steve Boggs-tuned dragster while falling short
with a losing effort of 6.15 seconds. In victory, Dunlap snapped
Bartones six-event undefeated streak and fired the first
volley in a quest for what could be called regime change.
going to keep knocking on his door, Dunlap said post-race,
after advancing to 2nd place in current Heritage Series Points,
two rounds behind Bartone. We want him to feel our breath
on his neck. We want to give him a bad time the rest of the year.
remarks were a follow-up to a gauntlet thrown down prior to the
Reunion. We feel that it's time to put an end to (Tony)
Bartone and (Steve) Boggs winning streak, HSMs
crew chief Tom Slick Shelar had said last week, before
towing his Top Fuel dragster 2000 miles from Anaheim to Bowling
Green in pursuit of his quarry. That declaration went viral on
the Internet and piqued old-school drag racing fans everywhere,
whether in Beech Bends packed grandstands or among those
following the event on the web.
It also caught
the attention of Bartone and his team, who began its defense
of their undefeated status by going back to work and letting
their numbers at the dragstrip do the talking. After qualifying
in the #1 spot with a clean, effortless 5.77, Bartone picked
up the pace in eliminations, first by dispatching NorCal veteran
Brendan Murry with a Low ET, track-record clocking of 5.56 seconds,
followed by a 5.64 that upended Wisconsins Jim Young in
the other side of the ladder, Dunlap was also making statements,
winning his first-round match against Dave Hirata with a 5.72
ET powered by a thumping top-end speed of 255 mph. In the semi-finals,
Dunlap posted another 5.72 to defeat Dusty Green. Dunlaps
winning speed of 248 mph served notice to Bartone that in the
run for the NHRR Top Fuel Title, T-Bone would have
to drive his record-setting machine through the proverbial back
door with the throttle down if he wanted to remain undefeated.
All things considered,
Bartone was considered the favorite in the final round. Even
after setting Top Speed of the Meet at 255 mph, Dunlap was unsure
about his chances. I was thinking, We got a tough
one here, I dont know, Dunlap recalled. But
the best thing is that Tom (Shelar) kept us cool. He said, We
are going to do our thing, they are going to do their thing and
he is just going to have to outrun us.
for Bartone and the status of his unprecedented record (22 rounds
of racing without a loss), he never got the chance to back
door it. His mount shook the tires 200 feet into his final-round
race against Dunlap and, despite some deft back-pedaling, the
New York-based champ never caught the hard-charging Dunlap.
I thought he was going to run a .50 and blow our doors off,
Dunlap admitted. But when you don't see him and you dont
hear him and the win light comes on, its unbelievable.
This makes for
6 out of 7 event wins for Shelars team in Bowling Green.
(A 7th NHRR title was claimed by High Speed the year
it was contested in Columbus, Ohio.) This was their first, however,
with Bill Dunlap as the teams driver.
I am 74-years
old, how much longer am I going to be able to do this?
Dunlap asked rhetorically, responding to a query about the meaning
of this win. When the team got down (to the shut-off area),
I was jumping around like I was lost.
kicked ass, Shelar stated. Despite the usual daunting heat
and humidity in Kentucky, the HSMS crew fulfilled Tom's vision
of reclaiming Bowling Green and upending Bartone by swapping
engines between every round of eliminations. I'm the lucky
one that gets to turn the knobs and Dunlap drove his ass off,
Dunlap will continue
his pursuit of points-leading Bartone this summer in Boise, Idaho
and Epping, New Hampshire and finally this fall in Bakersfield,
Make no mistake:
Currently in Heritage Series Top Fuel Competition, statements
are being made. Only this year, they are not all by Steve Boggs
and Tony Bartone.
of the NHRA Motorsports Museum
*There are A LOT of photos in
this coverage because: (1) There were 5 people shooting and I
want them all represented. (2) This was arguably the biggest
win in the teams long history. (3) The team really deserves the
So fans, on behalf of High Speed
Motosports, we hope you enjoy this indepth coverage.
Thursday morning was bright and
sunny, and we'll open with some pit shots as the team waited
for the first qualifying session scheduled for 3:00 pm.
With the car basically ready
to run, they guys pretty much tinkered, waiting for the afternoon
Darrell Reid, Sean Bellemeur
and Rick Shelar.
Walt Stevens (on right)
gapping the spark plugs.
Bill Dunlap, Kyle Wakefield
and new bottom end man, Donnie Ho.
Frank "Root Beer"
Hedge, driver, Bill Dunlap and Nick Arias III.
Donnie Ho, Todd Shappe,
Arias and photog, Steve Scott.
Ken Gentry was on hand
to do the tech cards.
Team owner, Tom Shelar
checking the wiring on the data computer.
Fast forward to early afternoon,
the weather report predicted thunder storms and heavy rain and
it didn't disappoint. The skies did open up.
After the first storm,
the staff set about drying the track. It was another wait.
Just as the track was close to
ready, round two hit. Not a bad as its predecessor, but enough
to eventually off any more racing.
HSMS Hospitality Manager, Arlene
Eliason making the massive shopping list for Friday. The team
was feeding over 30 crew and family.
Into the box, off to
Backing the car out of the pit
is Robert Fontes and Gregg Weist, both nephew-in-laws to Tom
The Champion team next
door did the same.
With rain predicted for the entire
weekend everyone was expecting a repeat of Thursday, but the
drag racing gods would have none of that. With the exception
of a couple of drizzles, the Friday program was completed.
Off to the staging lanes.
Al Rentarea Jr. and
FRIDAY - QUALIFYING SESSION
For their first shot at the superbly
prepped Bowling Green track, Bill Dunlap was paired with Jason
Greenwood. The car was awash with the distinctive HSMS uniform
Stevens in wait.
As always, Walt Stevens
backs up Dunlap in his burnout tracks.
Dunlap had a strong leave,
Greenwood was much softer.
A nice tune-up run of
5.897 at 235.76 would put them in the #2 qualifying spot.
Warming the engine for
Warming the engine prior
to the 2nd qualifying session.
FRIDAY - QUALIFYING SESSION
The second session went off about
4:00 pm the #1 and #2 qualifiers from the first session. Dunlap
was paired with the defending champ, Tony Bartone.
Both cars left super
hard, maybe too hard.
Dunlap was first to experience
tire shake, see cup under tire.
Bartone was a flash later.
Dunlap drove through
it, Bartone clicked it.
Before the 330' mark Dunlap had
also shut off knowing he could not improve on his previous run.
From the first session the final order would he Bartone and Dunlap
1 & 3 setting up the epic final round on Saturday.
1 - Tony Bartone, Long Island
City NY, 5.770 @ 228.92
2 - Dusty Green, Pleasant Hill CA, 5.870 @ 242.45
3 - Bill Dunlap, Capitola CA, 5.897 @ 235.76
4 - Dave Hirata, Lowell IN, 5.922 @ 223.99
5 - Jim Young, Salem WI, 6.054 @ 204.73
6 - Adam Sorokin, Glendale CA, 6.058 @ 203.71
7 - Jason Greenwood, Racine WI, 6.272 @ 201.43
8 - Brendan Murry, San Jose CA, 7.063 @ 134.74
------------ Not Qualified ------------
9 - Jerry Kumre Jr, Rohnert Park
CA, 7.178 @ 216.03
10 - Paul Schultz, Tulsa OK, 9.646 73.78 @ 76.18
11 - Tim Cullinan, Des Plaines IL, 29.785 @ 278.12
Page Two - Saturday
Page Three - Saturday