FRY RUNNER-UP AGAIN
AT SEASON OPENER
Gremlins Sandwiched Between a World Record
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
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
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
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
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,
Before the fist session
of every race the team gathers for a "GO HIGH SPEED"
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
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
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.
Two - Eliminations