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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Rich Hanna Continues New England Jet Domination

By Billy Anderson

Rich Hanna's First Strike is the most dominant Jet Funny Car of the past few years. James Morgan photo
James Morgan photo

For the seventh consecutive year, Rich Hanna claimed victory at the New England Dodge Dealers Jet Cars Under the Stars held at New England Dragway on August 12. The Jet Funny Car pilot claimed Low E.T. of all three rounds at the premier exhibition event at the Epping, NH facility. Other winners were Lou Brookman (Jet Dragster), Danny O’Day (Wheelstander), Jim Kane (Super Slammer Challenge), Dan Page (Pro Comp), Jim Yergeau (Quick 8 Bikes) and Neal Parker (Hot Rods From Hell).

Hanna’s First Strike Firebird was by far the class of the field. Hanna’s best lap of 5.71, 277.89 far outdistanced Pat Davidson’s 5.87, 257.28 in the Phantom Lumina. Al Hanna, who won this event from 1991-1993, thrilled the fans with his Eastern Raider Firebird to the tune of a 6.00, 268.81. Rounding out the field was the car with the biggest engine, Mario Carranca, who ran a 6.11, 255.92, but consistently put on the biggest flame show.

Brookman battled Jessica Willard for Jet Dragster supremacy. Brookman’s 5.04 from the Braveheart entry topped Willard’s 5.10 in the Queen of Diamonds entry. Both drivers topped 300-mph, and Willard ran her best speed at Epping, 307.72.

Dick Rosberg brought out Paul Stender’s incredible stock-looking Dodge Ram Jet Pickup Truck for a pair of exciting passes in the seven-second zone.

Danny O’Day’s Superwinch ‘34 Ford provided performance antics in Wheelstander action, running a 9.16, 144.61 best. Kenny Nelson’s Cool Bus Fun System recorded times of 12.30 at 100.25 mph.

Jim Kane won his first ever Super Slammer Challenge event at New England Dragway in his nitrous-assisted ‘69 Camaro. Kane qualified fourth at 6.94 then improved in eliminations. A 6.80, 207.85 easily defeated Terry Hall’s troubled 8.59 in his ‘36 Chevy. Kane then got a bye run when number one qualifier Ron Iannotti (6.58) could not returning after injuring his engine on a first round single. The final paired Kane with Sal Passarelli’s blown ‘68 Nova. Passarelli had qualified second at 6.62, but fought traction problems in the opening two rounds. Passarelli’s problems continued in the final, as Kane streaked to Top Speed and victory, 6.70, 209.79.

Dan Page joined Russ Vernali as a two-tine New England Dragway Pro Comp winner. Page had won the previous month’s Night of Thrills by pure luck from the number eight position. This time he qualified number one at 6.63, 206.48 and dominated the race in his nitrous-assisted dragster. Page’s path was greatly assisted when all the top half qualifiers (Roland Deering, Uno Ilvonen and Don Johnson, all driving supercharged entries) lost. 

Paul Jannoni’s 6.99 was no match against Page’s 6.67 in round one. Page beat Vernali in a semi-final showdown, 6.66, 200.08 to 6.83, 199.25 to waltz into the final opposite Jerry Futia’s Mopar-powered dragster. Futia made laps of 6.76 and 6.99 to topples the problem-plagued dragsters of Ilvonen and Shawn Spencer. In the final, Futia lose his reverse and Page took an eased-up 7.77 to victory.

Jim Yeargeau’s Pro Modified Kawasaki made short work of the Quick 8 Bike field. With the regional Pro Stock racers in Indianapolis for another meet, Yergeau dominated action but almost gave up the title in the final. Against Steve White’s turbocharged Kawasaki, Yergeau opened up a huge lead before breaking an engine at the finish line. Yergeau coasted to an 8.16 as White’s normally consistent seven-second runner missed the tune up, and an 8.47 could not catch Yergeau. 

Also adding controversy was the fact that pieces of Yergeau’s engine hit the centerline cubes, knocking it over, but was apparently not called for disqualification. The winner had Low E.T. at 7.36, 175.07 while White was closest at 7.63.

Neal Parker was the only driver to set a new track record as he lowered the Hot Rods From Hell E.T. mark to a 6.31. In the final, the Excavator driver pedaled to a 6.41, 216.10 to best Harry Hall’s 7.38, 185.36 in the Shenandoah ‘23-T.

The New England Dodge Dealers Jet Cars Under the Stars once again provided the best exhibition action in New England. The next event on tap is the IHRA North American Nationals sponsored by Parts Pro, along with the New England Dodge Dealers Night of Fire, September 8-10, 2000.

Billy Anderson

 

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