After the routine maintenance
to get ready for the final a blower issue arose throwing the
team into a major thrash. They had to get the spare supercharger
ready to use, when it wasn't. The background tells all how late
the schedule was running..
Tom Shelar made final
adjustments to the fuel system.
After what seemed like an unreasonable wait, the nitro
finals did not take place until after 7 p.m. on a very cold racing
surface where finding traction was a major problem.
Looking for a repeat March Meet win was the 2017 champ
Mendy Fry and TF sophomore Pete Wittenberg - the overwhelming
Wittenberg left first
as Fry was taking no chances of a red light.
Before the tree Wittenberg went
into tire smoke. Fry was long gone until she wasn't. The high
horse power HSMS fueler rattled the tires, got out of the groove
and the car went over the center line handing the win to the
TOP FUEL INTERNS
I would now like to give credit
where credit is due and recognize what was a really cool program
that took place throughout the course of the March Meet weekend.
It was called the Top Fuel Intern project that involved select
automotive students from the Bakersfield Jr. College. It was
the brain child of Bob McLennan of Champion Speed Shop fame.
Below, in Bob's own words, this is how the program came together.
"Nitro Bobby" McLennan
"I have been wanting to
do this for quite some time. I started a program last year at
Skyline College in San Bruno Calif which offers a great automotive
curriculum. The Junior Colleges have filled the void from the
elimination of 99% of all high school auto shops. I formed the
Jim McLennan Drag Racing Foundation, a self funded entity that
promotes automotive education and the promotion and participation
in Drag Racing. Last year we gave graduating students tools to
welcome them into the automotive repair world. My next move was
to get Bakersfield College involved because of it's proximity
to 2 of the largest races of the year. I finally pulled the trigger
and called the Dean of Students who was very excited who in turn
introduced me to Vic Posey the Automotive department head. After
Vic and I talked a bit, it was time to make a visit to the College
to see what they were about. I called Blake Bowser who had expressed
interest if I ever got anything going to go with me to visit
When we got to the school we
were both blown away at the facility as well as the instructors
teaching the more than 400 students. We viewed a complete machine
shop equipped with a head surfacer, CNC honing bar, line bore
machine, etc. Having a machine shop course puts them a cut above
most JC's. The three of us talked, I gave him my history with
an emphasis on my Dad and his passion for the sport of Drag Racing
and my desire to get the students involved, not just putting
them in the seats as a spectator but to get them involved in
the nuts and bolts of getting a Top Fuel Dragster to the starting
I've always said to people that
ask, we have a great group of car owners that are pretty special
in their own right, we all help each other out across the board
no matter what. I was pretty sure most of the teams would help
me out if I asked them to take a student and have him or her
shadow one of their crew members. I was fine with the concept
until I really started thinking about the little nuances of each
student hanging around the pits. This was a big ask on my part,
but I have to say, every team took at least one student, most
took two and I couldn't have asked for a more professional presence
from all of the teams. We are still getting feedback from the
college to see what we can do better at the reunion in October.
Blake was fantastic, he provided all the students total access
to the starting line, a 3 day event ticket for every student,
a prime space right in middle of vendor row for the school to
put up a booth promoting their curriculum as well as showing
off an oval track car the students built in their classroom.
NHRA Museum, I called Larry Fisher
to see if the Museum would be interested in providing the students
a 1/2 day visit to the Museum to show them the heritage of drag
racing and where we all came from. Larry was fantastic, not only
did he get them into the Museum the Sat before the race, he provided
them with a 3 hour personal tour. Wow!
So, I could go on and on with the success of our first try at
this. We all hear the complaints about the kids today, from what
they race (if any) to what's it like to work on a car today but
we really don't do anything to get them involved with some of
the great people that had first hand experiences of yester-year.
I think this was a good first step."
I really dont have much
more to add. In my conversations with Vic (Posey), the students
have said this was a life changing event for them, never in their
wildest dreams did they realize the intensity and shear all out
effort it takes to make a car perform.
We are preparing for the next race which is the Reunion in October.
The Jim McLennan Drag Racing Foundation is a sponsor of this
years Nitro Revival as we hope to spread the word of its mission,
to enhance the promotion and participation in Drag Racing.
Lets get the next generation involved!"
TOP FUEL COLLEGE
At the end of the weekend I was
left more than impressed with the two students assigned to the
High Speed Motorsports Top Fuel car. They are the only two females
in the class and both have excelled. I was able to observe them
soaking up information given by several members of the team,
then jumping in to help where needed. Cylinder heads, clutch,
fuel, top end - they were all over the place as the photos below
will attest to.
Now, in their own words, is how
the experience left Morgan and Alanna.
"Im glad I was given
the opportunity to help out with the HighSpeed team. Everyone
was extremely nice and helpful. Im not very good at writing,
Im more of a hands on type of person and want to work on
something. I loved being able to work on the dragster and actually
being taught what to do was fantastic. It was my first time going
to the drag races. Like words cannot express how amazing of an
experience I was given. I loved it and cant wait to help
out again. I want to thank everyone in the HighSpeed team, Mr.
Posey, Bob McClennan, and everyone who made this experience possible."
"I cannot thank the High
Speed Motorsports team, Bob, and my professors enough for putting
on this amazing experience.
I had never done anything like
this in my life. Its a completely different world than
what I was used to, but I felt so comfortable and excited with
you guys. You all made me feel incredibly welcome, and didnt
spare us! We did whatever you guys needed, and would do it again
in a heartbeat. Its truly a euphoric feeling to watch Mendy
scream down the track and watch all the hard work you guys(and
a little bit of us) put into the car pay off. This internship
was honestly one of the best, if not THE best, experience of
my life. "
Thank you for your time, and
I look forward to your story!
Alanna Kuhn with team
owner, Tom Shelar.
Morgan Langston with
Eric Mc Morrow who has a multitude of tasks.
Mike Bucher explaining
clutch management to Alanna.
Whit Bazemore interviewed
both girls for a Dragstrip Rumble video.
Morgan and Alanna
Interview on Tape - Mid First Round TF Video
Come check out the Top Fuel
Interns at the 2018 California Hot Rod Reunion in October.
One - Qualifying & Pits