FINALLY! The First Night!
Boise August 15, 1999
I got into Boise the previous evening, and spent some time hunting down my pals with the Mastercam front-engined dragster. Not having much luck tracking down the guys, found their trailer and tow rig, with a highball glass sitting on the bumper, I knew I wouldn't be able to track 'em down that evening. Frustrated from the search, I went to grab a bite to eat. The closest place open at that time of evening was a Denny's right by the motel. Zip on in, and find that at the booth behind me, is Ray Higley and a couple of his crew...I introduce myself, and have a short conversation, promising to stop by at the track the next day.
Today, Friday I get to the track in the early afternoon, after running some errands in Boise. Pick up my credentials, and park, wander over to the pits. Now, I've never been to Firebird Raceway before, so this is a whole new track...nice place! It's got my home track (Seattle Int'l Raceway) beat hands down as far as the pit conditions, cleanliness, and competent people! The place is clean as a whistle, Pro Pits in a separate upper area, bracket guys in a lower area, a small park, just a great looking place!
Only thing I feel that detracts from the overall excellence, is that the staging lanes parallel the track, and force the longer cars to do a 180 degree turn to get facing the right way down track...can't pull up from behind as at most tracks. Small deal, though.
The pits are FULL of fuel altereds! More pulling in throughout the afternoon...Walking in I see the Consolidated/Mike Sullivan Fiat, Ray Higley, Steven Neece (from Phoenix), the MOB, the No Mercy Fiat of Jeff and Bonnie Bennett, the Winged Express, Louis Sweet and the Sweet Thrills Fiat, and a car I'd never even heard of before, Al Morgan's Red Hot Racing Fiat...and the cars were still coming in...
While I was cruising the pits, Ron Fassl pulled in, followed by Mack McCord with his Gorilla fuel altered. Along with the presence of four front-motored fuelers, the Thunder Trucks of Brent and Vicky Fanning, Mitch McDowell and Cal Jackson's AA/FC's...I was surrounded by the smell and sound of Nitro! But this was nothing...wait until dark.
During the afternoon I spent time hanging with my pals on the Mastercam crew, meeting and talking to the fuel altered guys who weren't totally busy...which meant I didn't get to talk to too many of 'em! Spent some time with the Winged Express guys...Al "Mousie" Marcellus, Mike Boyd, and Darrell and Rick, the crew guys...the Winged Express auxilary was there also, consisting of Mike and Robby Fellows, and some of their friends and kids. It was getting towards dusk, so it was time to get down to the starting line...
Turns out some of the best photogs in the business showed up at Boise, Rich Carlson, famous NW Photographer, Dale Wilson, editor of then-Bracket Racing Monthly (now Drag Racing USA), Larry Pfister, of Horsepower Heaven website fame, and Tim Marshall. Tim goes waaaay back when it comes to drag racing photgraphy...and he's pretty damn good at it.
So, Friday night was the first round of qualifying for the AA/Fuel Altered Nationals presented by Western States/CAT...
Round one...ten fuel altereds in the lanes... First run, Al Morton's Red Hot Racing Fiat, wheeled by C.J. Nelson. Since this was the first run on the car, they ran a single, clicking it off at about 400 feet, just a checkout run.
Next up, the MOB Fiat of Larry and Carol Dana, driven by veteran Marc Sievers,in the other lane, Louis Sweet's "Sweet Thrills" Fiat...Sweet tears off a 6.63 at 168.85, shutting off early, to Siever's out of shape 10.41, 81.16 mph.
The Neece T Roadster PU stages...you can barely see the Schmidt/Sullivan Fiat in the background.
Steven Neece says "Flame ON!"
Steven Neece in his 23 T roadster p/u was next, up against the Fiat of Mike Sullivan and Gary Schmidt, driven by another veteran FA shoe, Gary Read. Neece ran a shutting off 7.44 at 126.35, while Read got out of the groove and kissed the retaining wall about 400' out. Fortunately no damage to the Schmidt/Sullivan car other than one rear tire...
The No Mercy Fiat of Jeff and Bonnie Bennett
Ron Fassl's Pepsi sponsored T roadster
No Mercy said "mercy" to tire shake...
Next up, Ron Fassl in his Pepsi T roadster took on Jeff Bennett, in the "No Mercy" Fiat out of San Diego. Fassl came out on top with a 6.44 at 220.21, first run over 200 for the evening, while Bennett was suffering from tire shake, and could only manage a 7.88 at 125.27. Bennett came in second for the night in flame height, though, only being surpassed by the man in the final round for the evening.
But next up, the Winged Express. Big Mike Boyd laid down a bitchin' burnout, and the iron 392 was belching flame up and over the wing...light goes green, and Mike goes out about 400 feet, and turns hard left...wrestles the Wing back into his own lane and crosses the finsh line to a cheering crowd. Only a 9.22 at 179.06...take his foot out? I don't think so...
Higley hits it...
The last pair of fuel altereds for the night...Ray Higley, coming out of retirement for the Fuel Altered Nationals, up against Mack McCord in the "Gorilla". My vote for tallest and fullest header flames for the night? Higley. Fastest run of the night, no question McCord, as he lays down a 6.17, 232.67 pass, while tossing the blower belt at 1000'. We could have seen a 5.80- run, easy, if that belt hung on...Higley, started out very stout, with a .903 60 ft time, but rattled the tires on the transition from concrete to asphalt 300 feet out, and shut 'er down.
And next I'll tell ya 'bout Saturday...
Jim Sorenson Photos, © 1999
Awful Awful Fuel Altereds © 1999-2001 Jim Sorenson
All text is either copyright 1999-2001, Jim Sorenson or used by permission.