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Aug 5, 2012

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2012 Englishtown Funny Car Reunion

By Ted Pappacena

Dale Broderick flashes the "victory" sign during a smoky burnout

Somebody's math is off but this should be the 11th annual Funny Car Reunion. Since the first one was in 2002, this would be the 11th edition. Anyway, I'll get the weather out of the way first. Leaving my house on Long Island to pick up a friend, it was overcast, damp, humid, and misty. At my friend's house the sun actually peeked through but then went away as we trekked to New Jersey. It was still bleak when we arrived around noon and actually sprinkled for a few minutes. But then after the brief sprinkle, the clouds went away and bright sunshine filled the rest of the day.

Stan Shoppel and the twins

So there we were attending the Nostalgia Summernationals, Old Time Drags, and Funny Car Reunion. As you can see, the FCR is third on the bill and seemingly sinking fast. Or that's what the message boards would have you believe. Why not rename the event what it was before the FCR was even a fleeting thought in Berserko Bob's and Steve Bell's minds; simply the Old Time Drags. That would encompass everything and there wouldn't be any useless banter on the Internet. Nobody would worry about payouts or car counts and whatever showed up would be a bonus. Just like when I'd see an occasional funny car or the Hot Rods from Hell.

Larry Lombardo takes the Grump's Monza for "one last pass"

That said, this year despite the fact that the funny car portion of the day was booked in, there were some neat surprises. I knew that the N E T O group would be there as well as the East Coast Gassers, Rocky Pirrone's traveling gasser show, and the 38 Special wheelstanding gasser pickup. What I wasn't ready for however was the massive Nostalgia S/S cars that were in attendance. What a great show these guys put on. A few other surprises were Joe Black's just completed restoration of his "Green Hornet" altered wheelbase Plymouth and Stan Shoppel's equally stunning restoration of his twin blown flathead engine dragster the "Midnight Express". There were two somber moments at the start of the show though. The Bill Jenkins Monza was on hand as was its driver Larry Lombardo. Larry took the Grump's Monza on one last pass down the fabled track. And as a tribute to the racers who passed on this year, Bruce Larson cackled his Corvette funny car in their honor.

Nice Deuce coupe making an "old time pass"

This year was different because the fields (such as they were) were booked in. There were only 2 nitro cars; "Crazy" Jake Crimmins' Mustang vs. Peter Gallen's Poverty Stricken Monza. They made two solid runs with Gallen squeaking out a second round win over Jake 5.91 to a losing 5.93 both at 240 mph. The blown alky funny cars were booked in as well. In attendance were Rocky Pirrone's Screaming Eagle Firebird, The McKean's Agent Orange Duster, Dave Sano's Screaming Insanity Grand Am, and Rocky Roxlau's Time Bomb Vega. The four made 3 pretty good runs each with Rocky Pirrone taking all the marbles in the final against Sano. Prior to that last round, Rocky literally buried the track in one long smoky burnout. The man knows how to entertain!

Peter Gallen's Poverty Stricken Monza ran a second round 5.91, 240mph

I really don't know if the injected funny cars were booked in or not (they weren't) but on hand were Willie Johnson's No Money No Funny Nova, the War Horse Mustang, Frank Barnard's Poison Arrow, the Money Maker Camaro, and Krista Masserella in the injected Temporary Insanity Monza. Willie dominated the field with a string of 7.80s all the way to the final.

Bob Toth starts a burnout in the Time Bomb Vega

As I mentioned before, Rocky Pirrone knows how to entertain and his traveling period correct gasser show is proof. His cars are nothing short of stunning. They would be equally at home in a car show as well as on the strip. On hand were the Boss Hydro 33 Willys, the K S Pittman 33 Willys, the 40 Willys S & S Racing, and the Big Time Memories 41 Willys. They put on a mighty impressive show with the Big Time Memories almost stealing the show as well as the Christmas tree with a completely sideways burnout caused by a stuck throttle. Naturally I was focused on the other car!

Chris Masserella lines up Krista in the family's injected Monza

NETO, the East Coast Gassers, and Nostalgia Super Stocks rounded out the day's action with relentless full throttle wheelstanding runs.

Mike Hall gets the Boss Hydro sideways.

Although it started out dismal, the weather was great. It probably had an effect on attendance but I thought there was a pretty good crowd. I hope the powers that be at Raceway Park took notice and repeat this formula next year. Keep it all the same except book in at least 2 more nitro cars. And drop the booking of the alky cars and let everyone who wants to, run for a realistically structured purse.

The Woodsman Shaker Chevy II gasser lifts 'em

Don Nicholson's Comet was just one of the fantastic N/SS cars on hand

Rocky Pirrone on his way to burying the track in smoke

Rick Osburn lifts the front end in his '38 Special' '38 Chevy C/G pickup

Willie Johnson's No Money No Funny Nova was the class of the injected field

Joe Black was a welcome sight in his Green Hornet Dodge early funny car


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