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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Night of Thrills is Night of First Ever Performances

By Billy Anderson

Rich Hanna vs Bunny Burkett NED 2000 by James Morgan
The light turns green and the air is filled with the simultaneous sounds of a screaming Alky Hemi and a Jet. Bunny Burkett did what she could to hold off the charging Jet but when you have to worry about traction on a cool humid night the weenie roaster has the definite advantage. Bunny and Rich Hanna put on a show at New England's night of thrills Saturday night. After she backed up from her burnout, Bunny answered each one of Hanna's burnout pops with a wing of the throttle to really get the crowd into it. James Morgan photo and caption

Epping, New Hampshire (July 15) Terms like "first-time ever" and "never-before-seen" would be apt in describing the Night of Thrills presented by Campers Inn of Kingston, NH, at New England Dragway on July 15. Performances ranging from Monster Trucks to BMX bicycles to smoking trucks to the battle of the funny car breeds took place in Epping, where they had never happened before.

The feature pair of the Night of Thrills was the match-up between Bunny Burkett's Alcohol Funny Car and Rich Hanna's Jet Funny Car. For round one of this pairing, Burkett did her burnout. While she was backing up, Hanna started up and did his flame show, which drowned out the noise from Burkett's motor. When Hanna did his burner pops, Burkett answered back by revving the engine in her Avenger. Burkett shot out to an early lead, but with a 6.42, 221.82, Hanna passed her with room to spare at 5.93, 249.49. For round two, the mayhem repeated itself. Burkett again found herself overmatched, as Hanna shot by at the top end, 5.88, 270.18, to 6.43, 218.69.

More conventional fair was the Jet Dragster match-up between Jessica "Queen of Diamonds" Willard and Dan "Chicago Rush" Sullivan. Willard took the match two straight with a 5.17, 292.98 best. Sullivan recorded a respectable 5.56, 283.43.

Danny O'Day was again the star of Wheelstander action with a 9.22, 145.05 best despite fighting handling problems in the Superwinch '34 Ford. Danny Burmer drove the Heartbeat High to a 10.38, 121.38 best. Jon Oswell ran a 12.82, 91.86, but put on a great sparkle show on his last pass.

Paul Gill was on hand testing his Federal-Mogul Funny Car, and reset the Alcohol Funny Car track record in the process. Gill's ModuLine Avenger drove out of a bit of tire shake to an incredible 5.74, 257.48. Gill's mark will be difficult to overcome for a long time.

The open competition categories of Super Slammer Challenge, Pro Comp, and Quick 8 Bikes provided great quarter-mile action. Pro Comp was the most competitive field of the year. Roland Deering's supercharged dragster qualified number one at 6.58 in a field that stretched to Dan Page's record bump of 7.05. The fact that chassis builder Page qualified last didn't deter him from marching through the field. Deering couldn't start the Cheap Thrills dragster against Page in round one. 

In round two, Page was facing Don Johnson, who had just stepped up to a 6.68 round one win over defending event champion Paul Jannoni. Johnson lost a blower belt after a late start, and Page marched on with a 7.11, 190.57, to meet Russ Vernali in the final. Vernali's nitrous-assisted dragster had recorded times of 6.69 and 6.70 to defeat the supercharged entries of Shawn Spencer and Uno Ilvonen. Vernali fouled in the final, handing the victory to Page's naturally aspirated dragster at a shut-off 10.49, 76.05.

Sam Hurwitz won the Quick Eight Bikes from the number one qualifying spot, but was seriously challenged in the final. Jim Yergeau's Pro Modified Kawasaki had bested Pat Wise's Pro Stock Suzuki in the semi-finals, 7.30 to 7.29, and looked to take the final. Hurwitz, however, dug down and left first to win on a holeshot, 7.35, 179.59 to Yergeau's Low ET 7.25, 178.00.

No one was able to challenge Ron Iannotti in Super Slammer Challenge action. Iannotti qualified number one at 6.64, then improved to a 6.57 in a round one trouncing of Dave Sottile. Iannotti's blown Rosemar Construction Corvette received the odd-lot single in the semi-finals before facing Terry Hall's '36 Chevy. Hall qualified number two at 6.76, but failed to improve upon that in eliminations. In the final, he rolled through the beams for a red light, while Iannotti headed for the centerline. Iannotti wisely shut down to a 12.74, 62.65, to avoid losing by the First or Worst rule.

After the drag racing action completed, the madness began as the New England Dodge Dealers Monster Truck took to the track. In 330' drag racing action, the Prowler beat the Predator in the final, 5.69 to 5.72. The Monster Trucks also held a car-crushing contest later in the evening.

Also on hand were two trucks who smoked their tires until they were engulfed and out of sight. One of the trucks even smoked his tires until one of them burst, much to the delight of the crowd.

Also on hand were the BMX Maximum Velocity Stunt Bicycles.

The Night of Thrills presented by Campers Inn of Kingston, NH, provided something in addition to the usual fanfare of quarter-mile drag racing.

Billy Anderson


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