EXTREME TOP FUEL WOWS CROWD AT MARTIN
Drag Racing Action Online Images: Phil Hutchison and Geoff Sculley
The Extreme Top Fuel circuit made its last event of the season one to remember. A dozen of some the quickest Nostalgia Top Fuel cars in the country made their way to US131 Motorsports Park in Martin Michigan for race #3 for 2023. The field at Martin was made up of a variety of front motored cars featuring Chrysler Hemis, big block Chevy’s and a Donavan between the frame rails.
Race promoter and Extreme Top Fuel CEO and racer Jim Young from Salem Wis. said after the race. “Extreme Top Fuel is a series in the mid-west that I put together with the help from Custom Floaters out of Ohio, American Metalcraft, and Nelson Trucking . Jason Peterson and the Peterson family at Martin put on an unbelievable awesome show. I’ve been racing at the track since the early 2000’s. This is a real race, not just a show. We qualify the fastest eight cars for a three-round race. This year some of the racers ran their career best multiple times. The race went really well.
After the dust settled from qualifying, which is a unique system in itself, the quickest eight cars faced off in a three round showdown
“Qualifying is different than the usual NHRA way”, Young said. “Instead of the best run being the deciding factor, we use the average of two runs to set the field. The reason we did that is to give the fans the best show possible. So if a racer is just sitting on his first qualifying time, they must run good again to maintain their spot in the show. It’s like having to hit two home runs instead of just one in a baseball game. If someone has a good run and then smokes the tires in the second run, they could be lower in the field than a racer that runs two 5.90’s and could be in front of them. If NHRA did this, the show would be a whole lot different We also have a third optional qualifier for racers on the outside to have a chance to make the show.”
Qualifying in the #1 spot was Jim Young’s “Young Guns” car with a 5.738 with recent Norwalk winner Shawn Bowen in the “Violator” right behind with a 5.749. Georgia racer Julius Hughes put his Atlanta Speed Shop entry in at #3 with a 5.938. Holding down the bubble was John Lorbiecki who along with Michael Anderson, took advantage of the optional 3rd qualifier to make the show.
Just missing the eight car field was the Mill Road Boys Chevy powered car from the East Coast. The popular dragster, piloted for the weekend by Joey Haas had issues with the second half of all their runs which put an end to their weekend settling for #9 in an eight car show.
Haas, in the drivers seat, warms the Chevy Top Fueler in the pits before making a qualifying pass
Joey Haas said after the weekend. “The car was pulling really hard to the 1/8th mile. 3.86/202 mph is very impressive. I thought we had the bugs worked out, the flames were high, I had it where I wanted it in the groove, then the engine went flat about 700 feet. Sounds like a weird flutter, so I lifted off the loud pedal and saved it for another day.
“We have great data to learn from, and still an impressive 6.18 at only 175mph. The flames and thunder of this car is unreal!”
First round on Saturday went true to form with all the higher qualified cars moving on to R2.
Low qualifier Jim Young ran a great 5.669 in his win over John Lorbiecki and Hughes outran Tim Cullinan in the Irish Car Bomb in a close one, 5.935 to the 6.006 of Cullinan.
Bowen, near lane, loses the laundry on the top end against Anderson in R1
In one of the more bizarre matchups, Bowen in his race with Michael Anderson, had his chutes rip off at the end of his 5.737 second run. The errant dragster got stopped in the sand trap with minimal damage.
Young said, “After the run when Shawn pulled the parachutes, they pulled the back of the chassis off. Nobody out there other than Bowen’s team could have bounced back after the damage on the car. They have the equipment and knowhow to fix the car in record time.”
Bowen, near lane, is out in front of Hughes but mechanical issues slowed the Violator and the Atlanta Speed Shop entry took the win
Bowen’s team, with the help of friends and other racers, made the second round bell but lost to Julius Hughes 6.371 to the 5.963 of the Georgia racer. After the run Bowen said, “Had it won till the fuel line came off. Oh well congrats to Julius!”
Young continued his march to the finals defeating the Time Machine of Larry Gocha with a 5.69 to the slowing 6.135 of Gocha setting up the final against Hughes.
Under a starry Michigan night sky and a packed US131 house, Young and Hughes did their burnouts and at the green, Young grabbed the lead and by halftrack, Hughes seeing Young’s car marching downtrack, clicked it early slowing to a 6.283 to the winning 5.604 of Young.
Young said after the win at Martin, “I have to thank Mike Kern, Chris O’Reilly, Ben and Joe Chart, Brian Spencer and Tom Olsen at T&T in Gurnee Ill.
Young adds, “None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for Custom Floaters from Brookpark Ohio, American Metal Craft Industries out of Union Grove Wisconsin and Nelson Trucking in Michigan for their support of the event. And of course, US131 Motorsports Park and the Peterson family for having our series at their beautiful facility.”
In addition to the Extreme Top Fuel show, the US131 team, booked in a pair of Fuel Funny Cars and a quartet of NHRA Top Fuel cars to keep the fans on their feet.
The best of the Funny Cars, the Buzzy’s Bomber ’66 Chevy Nova with Mark McElwee behind the wheel and Rob Wendland turning the wrenches, set everyone on their ears with an unbelievable 5.448 @ 291.07. This is from a single mag, stock stroke motor in a shoe box body!
The team was scheduled to race the Runaway Mustang of John Lawson for two side by side runs, but after the first match up, Lawson’s team discovered some lifter damage to their potent hemi and had to park the car for the remainder of the weekend.
The four NHRA Top Fuelers featured former NHRA World Champ Larry Dixon, and the “Nitro Ninja” car owned by for Dom and Bobby Lagana driven by Gary Pritchett.
Joining the two was Spencer Massey behind the wheel of the Commercial Metal Fabricators car of Pat Dakin and third generation racer Krista Baldwin in the McLeod Clutches dragster.
Dixon beat Spencer Massey in round one and then took the nightcap beating clutch tech-turned-weekend driver Gary Pritchett in the final. Dixon’s car ran a 3.841 against Massey and a 3.863 against Pritchett to take his second straight win at Michigan’s “Fastest Track”.