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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Hot Times at MIR's Jet Car Nationals

By Bill Pratt
Photos by Charlie Willis

Fran Peppler's Rock N Roll Thunder Jet Lumina lost two to Bunny Burkett, but came back to beat Bob Beaulieu. Photo by Charlie Willis
Fran Peppler's Rock N Roll Thunder Jet Lumina lost two to Bunny Burkett,
but came back to beat Bob Beaulieu. Photo by Charlie Willis

Budds Creek, Maryland (August 19) - Maryland International Raceway held its popular Jet Car Nationals event on August 19. The weather was great, the racing was exciting, and the crowd was into it. A good time was had by all.

Round one kicked off with Bunny Burkett facing Fran Peppler. Based on the elapsed times from a recent race run in Atco, New Jersey, Bunny was awarded a four tenth head start over the jet funny. Well Bunny must have had an off night in New Jersey because four tenths seemed excessive. That was proven as Bunny roared to a first round win over Fran, 6.054 at 229.82 to 5.866 at 271.79 mph.

Fran Peppler vs. Bunny Burkett at dusk. Photo by Charlie Willis
Fran Peppler vs. Bunny Burkett at dusk. Photo by Charlie Willis

Up next were Al Hanna’s two jet funnies with Rich Hanna driving the First Strike and Bob Beaulieu driving the Eastern Raider. Rich has been nearly unstoppable over the past several years and tonight’s first round was no exception, the bright yellow Firebird easily trailered the Raider, 5.785 at 274.72 to 6.137 at 263.36 mph.

Dennis Roslansky's fire shows resembled thermonuclear meltdowns! Photo by Charlie Willis
Dennis Roslansky's fire show resembled a thermonuclear meltdown!
Photo by Charlie Willis

Dennis Roslansky faced Lou Brookman in a jet dragster match-up, his aging and heavy Crossfire entry facing Brookman’s futuristic Bill Mattio-built Braveheart machine. Roslansky's machine won the fire show easily with the biggest flames anyone had ever seen. But at the green, Brookman’s J-60 powered entry streaked away to an easy first round win, 5.099 at 313.80 mph to 5.436 at 263.41 mph.

The Frantic Four dragsters were up next, but with 13 quality machines in the pits, Royce Miller extended the field to eight cars. After two rounds of qualifying, the field was set as follows: 1. Leroy Dewdney in Bob White’s EMCO Elevators supercharged altered, 6.357 at 218.90; 2. Charlie Gambino, The Godfather nitrous dragster, 6.508 at 207.46; 3. Doug Nordberg, Young Guns supercharged altered, 6.518 at 204.23; 4. Jim Fudge, The Big Dawg supercharged dragster, 6.523 at 216.31 mph; 5. Richard Wilson, Wilson Bros. nitrous dragster, 6.547 at 211.03 mph; 6. Larry Plummer, nitrous dragster, 6.658 at 200.68 mph; 7. Ross Morris, Morris & Sons nitrous dragster, 6.743 at 198.35 mph; and 8. Bob Holtzner, Miller Lite supercharged dragster, 6.756 at 196.39 mph.

Alternates included Phil Adams A&A Motorsports nitrous dragster, 6.780 at 201.16 mph; Kevin Evans’ injected dragster, 6.966 at 191.87 mph; George Paul’s Oakley supercharged dragster, 7.089 at 192.47 mph; Karen Haddock’s Black Widow supercharged dragster, 7.113 at 180.09 mph; and Dickie Smith, Jr.’s Hartman Enterprises nitrous dragster, 7.662 at 180.72 mph.

Frantic Four round one kicked off with number one qualifier Dewdney facing number eight qualifier Holtzner. The Miller Lite machine needed the holeshot, but Dewdney got it and never looked back to take a 6.587, 212.96 to 6.766, 193.32 mph win.

Doug Nordberg and the Young Guns Fiat put in another impressive performance at MIR. Photo by Charlie Willis
Doug Nordberg and the Young Guns Fiat put in another impressive performance at MIR.
Photo by Charlie Willis

Doug Nordberg then faced Larry Plummer, the racer who beat him in the final round of the last Frantic Four race. This race had a much different outcome as Plummer broke right on the line. Larry Plummer lost the battle but won the war. Just by qualifying for the program, Larry Plummer had enough points to become the Frantic Four Dragster champion for the 2000 season. Nordberg took the Young Guns ’48 Fiat to a consistent 6.643 at 200.59 for the broke bye win.

First alternate Phil Adams replaced a broken Ross Morris in the show and he faced Charlie Gambino’s 6.50 nitrous digger next. Gambino suffered an explosion on the burnout, sending Adams’ A&A Motorsports machine into the next round with a 6.834 at 198.29 mph single.

Jim Fudge and Richard Wilson then lined up in what should have been the closest match of the round based on their 6.52 and 6.54 qualifying times. Jim Fudge’s Big Dawg must have been eating its Alpo, however. Fudge drove around a Richard Wilson holeshot with a dominating 6.315 at 217.77 win over Wilson’s squirrelly 6.999 at 174.77 mph.

Fran Peppler lights it up at MIR! Photo by Charlie Willis
Fran Peppler lights it up at MIR! Photo by Charlie Willis

Round two of the jets again brought out Fran Peppler and Bunny Burkett, this time awarding Bunny only a two tenth head start based on the previous round. Bunny Burkett must have been determined to have her four tenth head start one way or another. She dropped a two tenth holeshot on Fran Peppler -- .557 to .749 – and held on for a 6.209, 205.94 to 5.885 at 253.04 mph win! The reason for Bunny’s reduced speed soon became apparent however. The Bunny and the Boys Dodge Avenger blew the burst panel and threw a blower belt in the lights.

Rich Hanna and Bob Beaulieu were up next, with Bob trying hard for a holeshot advantage. The Eastern Raider driver tried a little too hard, however, leaving before the tree came down and not receiving a time. Rich Hanna rolled through to a consistent 5.775 at 274.83 mph win.

Dennis Roslansky and Teddy await the fire up signal. Photo by Charlie Willis
Dennis Roslansky and Teddy await the fire up signal. Photo by Charlie Willis

Dennis Roslansky and Lou Brookman tangled again. As always, Roslansky and Teddy the Wonderdog rode from the pits to the starting line together before the pass. Once the motors started to whine, Teddy was gently tossed into the front seat of the duallie, although a few fans missed that and thought he rode along! Dennis ran a good 5.345 at 296.83 mph, but Brookman again prevailed at 5.126 at 287.05 mph.

Bob Correll fires up the Jet Bike! Photo by Charlie Willis
Bob Correll fires up the Jet Bike! Photo by Charlie Willis

Up next was Bob Correll and the seldom-seen JetCycle. After a first round test firing, Correll brought the bike back to record a second round 9.350 second run at 148.38 mph. This thing must be seen to be believed!

The legendary jet powered Kenworth semi truck of Bob Motz then came out of the night to wreak havoc on the Maryland race fans! After a huge fire show, Motz eclipsed his own MIR track records by going 7.483 at 216.31 mph in the 7,000 lb. vehicle.

Round two of the Frantic Four dragsters was up next with the 6.30 cars of Jim Fudge and Leroy Dewdney facing off. The dream match-up was spoiled as Dewdney recorded a redlight, but drove it out the back door in disgust. His time? How about an amazing 6.287 at 219.83 mph – both personal bests for the machine! Fudge, seeing Dewdney’s fate, coasted to a 13-second shutoff for the win.

Up next were Doug Nordberg in the Young Guns ’48 Topolino and alternate Phil Adams in the A&A motorsports car. After a clean start, Nordberg reeled in the dragster, 6.656 at 205.16 mph to 6.798 at 199.08 mph. Adams put on a valiant effort and will be tough next year.

Bob Beaulieu had the Eastern Raider on fire! Photo by Charlie Willis
Bob Beaulieu had the Eastern Raider on fire! Photo by Charlie Willis

In the third round of the jet cars, promoter Royce Miller paired up Fran Peppler and Bob Beaulieu because Bunny did not have time to repair the Bunny and the Boys entry on the abbreviated schedule. At the green, Beaulieu grabbed a super .486 light, followed by Fran’s .575 effort. The lady from Chicagoland passed the New England car at 1,000 feet to take a consistent 5.870 second, 250.04 mph win. Beaulieu trailed a car length and half behind at 6.046 at 262.69 mph.

Rich Hanna's First Strike was again the class of the jet funnies, running consistent 5.70s. Photo by Charlie Willis
Rich Hanna's First Strike was again the class of the jet funnies,
running consistent 5.70s. Photo by Charlie Willis

Rich Hanna then took a single and nailed yet another 5.70 run, this one a 5.759 at 274.94 mph.

Up next was the third and final round between long time veteran Dennis Roslansky and up and coming star, Lou Brookman. Brookman’s car, which weighs about 400 lbs. less than Roslansky’s machine, maintained its clear advantage with a 5.044 decision at 315.86 mph. Both marks were just a few ticks of f the track records at MIR. Roslansky made it close with his best effort of the night, a good 5.308 at 298.47 mph.

Bob Correll came back with the JetCycle, hoping to knock a little more off his ET and to increase his speed. Correll couldn’t hold the bike on the line for the Christmas tree, however, and left without a green. No times were recorded on the run. Correll also dislocated his shoulder on the run, aggravating an old injury.

Bob Motz sets the night on fire. Photo by Charlie Willis
Bob Motz sets the night on fire. Photo by Charlie Willis

Bob Motz brought the incredible Kenworth back and lowered his track ET record again, going 7.463 seconds at 215.31, to the delight the crowd.

The Frantic Four Final was next, with Jim Fudge facing Doug Nordberg. Fudge had been one of the quicker cars all day, but had shown some signs of inconsistency. Nordberg had not been as quick, but was deadly consistent all day. Pure power beat consistency this time as Jim Fudge won the final MIR Frantic Four dragster/altered race of the season. Fudge’s supercharged dragster ran 6.333 seconds at 216.31 mph to defeat Nordberg’s consistent 6.537 at 205.88 mph.

Billy Farmer – who had just wrapped up the 2000 Frantic Four doorslammer title (adding to his 1998 and 1999 titles) – was out testing his C&B Racing ’63 Corvette. Farmer ran times of 6.67, 6.61, and 6.54 at speeds between 211 mph to 213 mph as they experimented with a third stage of nitrous.

Dickie Smith Jr. brought out his dragster for test runs as well after his DNQ in Frantic Four dragster. Smith improved on each run, going 7.13 and 7.039 seconds at 193.27 mph.

The next MIR special event is the IHRA Presidents Cup Nationals, on September 28, 29, and 30. This year’s event features drag racing on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with a Friday Night of Fire and Saturday eliminations at night!

Bill Pratt

 

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