MENDY FRY WINS MARCH
CA - March 06, 2017:
The 59th edition
of the fabled March Meet offered five days of racing with near
perfect conditions with the exception of one weather snag on
Sunday. The event was completed on Monday that included a couple
of very exciting nitro finals.
Unlike the California
Hot Rod Reunion in October which is a gathering that includes
a race, the March Meet is a hard core drag race. That is not
to say that the grounds aren't littered with geezers, its just
that the focus is on the race track and everyone wants to win
the most prestigious race of the year.
In Top Fuel it was Mendy Fry
taking her first major win ever in her debut driving the High
Speed Motorsports fueler. Fry was paired with Jim Murphy in the
final who unfortunately broke a fuel pump drive shaft on the
burnout leaving Fry, in only her eighth pass in the car, to single
for the win. As and exclamation point, Fry proved she would have
been hard to beat posting low ET of eliminations 5.598 and 252
mph. The High Speed guys could have played it safe and saved
the parts but that's not the way Tom rolls. As some icing on
the cake, their 5.597 in round one was also low ET of the entire
Backing up, with
the driver switch over the winter, the team desperately needed
to get seat time for Mendy Fry. With the big weight difference
between her and former driver Bill Dunlap, the car would have
to be rebalanced and the clutch dialed in. Arriving at the track
a full week ahead of the race hoping to test, the weather had
(below) the skeleton crew of Tom and Rick Shelar, Sean Bellemeur,
Donnie Ho, and Walt Stevens finally got a shot at the track.
The plan was to get a bottom end baseline i.e. short squirt and
go from there.
Fry gets dressed for her second shot with the help of Bellemeur.
The car left hard but
went into tire shake just after the 60' mark.
On what would prove to be a very
long Thursday, the first order of business was to get the car
ready for the afternoon test session.
Darrel Reid and Donnie
Ho tend to the Cam2 BlueBlood Oil.
Fry, very much a hands on driver,
had to trim the seat padding that gives her the best view of
thing from the cockpit.
Sean Bellemeur getting Fry comfortable
in the car with Walt Stevens and Al Rentarea Jr. looking on.
Rentarea helping Fry
with the good stuff.
There is never a shortage of
food in the High Speed pit. This is the hospitality tent prior
to set up.
Emergency fix on a bent
By afternoon it was time
to warm up the engine for the upcoming test session.
Angela Reeves messing
with her earplugs.
Donnie Couch spent a
few minutes interviewing Mendy, clowning included.
Things on this Thursday
afternoon test run were all was good, until they weren't.
At the 60' mark the engine rpm
went up, there was a bang, sparks everywhere and the engine went
dead. In the blink of the eye, there was a dangerous situation
when the input shaft broke causing havoc in the clutch can. Thankfully
the Trick Titanium bell housing did its job, containing the scrap
Note the blower askew on what
would be a mortally injured engine. This was a very expensive
As documented below, it took
the crew hours to literally cut the clutch out. If not for parts
help from Brad Thompson and John Rasmussen, all the work would
have been wasted as they did not have the spare parts on hand
to fix all the damage.
After working late into the night,
the car was repaired but the borrowed parts were not exactly
like the ones that were destroyed, especially the clutch. Sean
Bellemeur did a superb job of doing the math to make the clearances
the same as their data.
The cause of it all.
With the car finally back together,
it was all hands on deck to get the car ready for the first qualifying
session on Friday.
Friday - 1st Qualifying Session
Sporting a new engine and clutch,
Fry was ready for her first official run in the car. She was
paired Phil Ruskowski in his Victoria BC based SBC car.
After strong early numbers Fry
completed the planned early shut off running a 6.02 at just 175.48.
The crew let out their collective breaths.
As soon as the car was in the
pit the routine maintenance got under way to get ready for session
two. Kyle Wakefield doing the bottom end with Jake Dugan.
Friday - 2nd Qualifying Session
Due to several funny car oil
downs the Top Fuel cars were left in the dark, literally. Some
took a shot at a very cool track but there was not a lot of shuffling
. The High Speed team chose to pass as the track was to cold
to get solid data.
Tami Reid and Angela Reeves are
the Hospitality Tent hostesses/cooks, and they do it good.
Kyle Wakefield and his girlfriend
Amanda seem to be just kickin back but looks are deceiving.
In the wings the girls had Birthday
Cupcakes for Kyle (Amanda thought
she was giving him the surprise. It was the other way around).
After a birthday moment, Amanda
got blind sided by Kyle who went down on one knee and proposed.
The answer was "yes"
which called for a cupcake in the face.
Saturday - 3rd Qualifying Session
Proposals aside, it was Mendy
Fry and Adam Sorokin out for their last chance to shuffle the
Sorokin improved a bunch with
a 5.738 at 239.02 moving him up to #4. Fry shut off very early
and coasted to a 11.19. Sitting #8 with a best of 6.027, and
drawing Bartone in round one, there was not a lot of high hopes
for Sunday. Surprise!
Two - The Race