High Speed Motorsports


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Expensive Gremlins Sandwiched Between a World Record



Bakersfield, CA - March 11, 2019:

Going into the 61st annual Good Vibrations March Meet, High Speed Motorsports owner Tom Shelar was confident they could pick up where they left off from a domineering 2018 season that ended in the Top Fuel Championship.

At the end of the day it was a new NTF ET world record sandwiched between new season gremlins. Mendy Fry had to settle for her second March Meet runner-up in as many years when a 50 cent bold vibrated loose on the throttle linkage in the final. The previous two runs in eliminations were the quickest in the classes history; a 5.51 and then the twilight zone 5.49.

At the start of qualifying the team was plagued with back-to-back catastrophic parts failures beginning with a coupler malfunction in the first session on Friday that destroyed the engine.

Fitted with a new bullet, Q2 on Saturday was over early in the run when the right rearend bracket broke, damaging the master cylinder which causing brake failure. All Fry could do was take a trip into the sand trap.

On the upside, and there was a huge upside, in the first two rounds of eliminations Fry ran the two quickest passes in Nostalgia Top Fuel history setting a record that may stand for a while.

Much more on these issues in the following coverage.



Records aside, due to the epic problems experienced over the weekend the entire crew had to come together time and again. They did so at every turn. Thus, there are a lot of pit photos in this story honoring the extraordinary hard work of all involved.

Special kudos to the HSMS Hospitality gals who kept the crew and guests fed and watered all weekend. Maria Stevens, Angela Reeves, Manda May Wakefield and Leslie McMarrow.

That said, we hope you enjoy this extended coverage from the 2019 March Meet.



Friday morning found the team getting ready for the first of two qualifying sessions.


Kyle Wakefield and Don Anderson got the engine buttoned up.


Just add nitro.....



Owner/Crew Chief Tom Shelar checking the fuel system at idle.



Warming the engine all was good.





Alanna Kuhn making sure all her bottom end work is as should be.


The High Speed pit was a popular place for the who's who of drag racing hung out. Case in point, Tom Jobe of "The Surfers" fame and HSMS OG crew member, Walt Stevens.


Before the fist session of every race the team gathers for a "GO HIGH SPEED" pep talk.







Pair two of the first session on Friday featured the 2018 Heritage TF champ Mendy Fry and 2018 March Meet winner Pete Wittenberg.






Shelar waiting for Wittenberg's crew chief to give the nod to turn the cars over to the drivers


Fry launched hard, Wittenberg blazed the tires before the tree. It was just the beginning of a very frustrating weekend for the defending champ.







Fry was on a good one until the coupler failed at the 300' mark. That instantly soared the engine RPM to 12,493 before it dropped a valve which started a chain reaction that resulted in massive carnage.






Blower askew, Fry's ears ringing, the car came to a safe stop.




Amid all the engine chaos Fry ran a 6.257 at 127.61 which was still better than Wittenberg's 12.82 at 86.74. Not a good omen for either team.





Back to the pit and the autopsy began.


This photo doesn't do justice to the damage done to the top end of the engine. What is obvious is the top half of the unique "Surfers Style" injector scoop is gone. Lucky they did have a spare albeit a red one.























On board camera clip of the big bang.


Ed "The Ace" McCulloch was taking it all in.


New short block in wait.


How many people does it take to install a new short block you ask:













Fast forward. After working until midnight the crew got back on it Saturday morning. The car was just waiting for the supercharger and injector.


Getting the new blower and repaired fuel system married was the final step to get ready for the second qualifying session. The spare Surfers Scoop in red got its first call for duty.



The source of the driveline issue was repaired.



Fry packs her own chutes, mixes the fuel and fills in where ever needed. She's the full package.





Virtually a new engine injector to pan. Warm her up.


Video pro Les Mayhew on top of it.




Nitro filled the air.






It was all good, roll out for session two.





After working until midnight on Friday, for the first of two Saturday sessions Fry was paired with good friend Rick McGee in the Tedford & McGee "Overtime Special".








Once again Fry launched very hard but it was short lived.



Before the tree Fry felt a severe vibration and shut off, a very astute reaction from a vet driver.







The vibration was a broken rear end mount that took out the master cylinder. Fry was just along for the ride. Without any brakes the only and correct option was to go nose first into the sand pit.


The car was undamaged other than every compartment that could be was filled with sand - including the fuel tank. This led to a down-to-the-chassis clean up which put all hands on deck again.






Chassis builder Bruce Dyda jumped in and assessed the damage.


The cause of the brake failure was obvious. Dyda concluded that the vibration from the coupler failure fractured the mount and it broke when Fry left the line.




Mendy and Al Renteria Jr. took on the task of cleaning the fuel tank. This was crucial because just a couple of grains of sand in the fuel lines could lead to yet another incident.








Frankie Hedge getting another pair of heads ready to rumble.




The team took hours getting the car cleaned while Bruce Dyda drove 110 miles back to his shop in Gardena to get a replacement rearend bracket. The already weary battle team worked until 3 AM Sunday. Eliminations would truly be a crap shoot.





The call for qualifying session three came and went. Lucky their abbreviated Q1 pass held when Pete Wittenberg failed to run quicker. A DNQ would have been a really bad start of the season.






Page Two - Eliminations



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