Drag Racing Story of the Day!
MIR Spring FC Classic Titles to
Gibson, Plummer, Hayes
By Bill Pratt
Photos by Tim Pratt
Billy Gibson won the 2000 MIR Funny Car Classic in his G&H Jewelers Camaro.
Handout photo by Bryan Epps
June 10, 2000 - Budds Creek, Maryland – Maryland International Raceway
hosted the eighth Annual Spring Funny Car Classic Saturday night. The race
featured the War on Wheels funny car circuit, Royce Miller's own Frantic
Four dragsters, altereds, and doorslammers, and two Jet Funny Car
Four Dragster/Altered qualifying was up first. When the smoke had cleared,
Palm City, Florida's Steve McMillion led the field with the Godfather Pro
Outlaw machine. The blown 500-inch Chevy powered dragster slammed into the
number one spot with a great 6.441 second, 218.69-mph blast. Larry Plummer's
nitrous-fed 706 cubic inch missile qualified second at 6.757, 200.05,
although he went 6.52 on an earlier time run. Bruce Bennett's totally
outrageous retro-Top Fuel looking Chevy dragster was third quickest at
6.800, 205.63. On the bump was Doug Nordberg's awesome "Young
Guns" '48 Fiat Topolino from Buana, NJ, with an early shut off 6.806,
the outside looking in were Richard Wilson's nitrous dragster, 6.817,
203.83; Phillip Adams' A&A Motorsports nitrous digger, 6.933, 196.82;
Bob Holtzner's Miller Lite blown dragster, 7.006, 192.93; Leroy Dewdney in
Bob White's EMCO Elevators '00 S&W Altered, 7.380, 204.39, and
Sorrento, Florida's Ross Morris in a nitrous dragster.
nobody's surprise, Billy Farmer led the Frantic Four Doorslammer
qualifying. The reigning series champ put his C&B Racing 706-inch
nitrous Corvette went 6.775 at 205.13 mph to take the pole. Following Farmer
was Marc Hayes and his ever improving '99 Monte Carlo nitrous machine at
6.798, 208.26. Veteran doorslammer racer and international superstar Tommy
Howes qualified third, putting the blown '92 Camaro into the field with a
fat 7.075, 197.51 pass. Former Frantic Four series champ and nitrous pioneer
Bob Bailey put his huge '86 Monte Carlo onto the bump with a 7.075, 186.77
gorgeous machines filled out the DNQ list. Steve Thodos's flawless '63
Corvette went 7.689, 184.50; Robert Tyree's immaculate '57 Chevy went
7.927, 174.53; and Terry Stemper went 9.013, 144.64, while still shaking out
his new "Sorcerer" '63 Corvette.
Car round one kicked off with Billy Gibson taking the G&H Jewelers '95
Camaro to a win and Low ET of the Meet with a flawless 6.072, 231.52 effort
in the 95 degree heat. The major action was occurring in the other lane,
however. Sam Leland stayed side by side with the Camaro until half-track,
when the Dodge Avenger started smoking the tires and got out of the groove.
When the Avenger hooked again, it shot up on two wheels, showing the pit
side bleachers a good view of the complete underside of a funny car.
Somehow, Leland was able to get the car under control to coast through the
lights in 9.48 seconds.
next was Bruce Mullins' beautiful War Horse Mustang against journeyman
racer Bill Naves in the Shooting Star Cutlass. Mullins, who had run a career
best of 6.081 seconds the previous night at Cecil County, hoped for more of
the same at MIR. He was about two tenths off that pace, but his 6.284,
223.65, still led Naves' 6.534, 213.30 effort.
Preslar was up next against Greg Beckner's pure Chevy '93 Corvette.
Preslar, his new '00 Corvette, his rig, and his crew were decked out in
the livery of new sponsor Alliance Tractor - Trailer Training Centers.
Preslar always seems to be able to find corporate backing. Beckner was
making one of his first appearances with Bunny Burkett's War on Wheels
circuit. His unique machine features a rare 440 inch Rodeck Chevy power
plant built by a circle track engine builder!) Beckner laid down the best
burnout of the night, and possibly the best burnout seen at MIR in years.
However, the Chevy was somewhat less impressive on the run, and Preslar
easily won with an early-chute 6.333, 193.82 pass over the Chevy's 7.221,
Burkett then ran a single due to a no-show. The event featured ‘Chicago
Style" eliminations, meaning that the two quickest cars from the first
two rounds would meet in the final. With that goal in mind, the grand dame
of alcohol funny car racing blasted down the MIR 1320 in 6.242 seconds at
215.65 mph, temporarily bumping the War Horse out of the final.
next were the Jets. Ernie Bouge, Jr., brought out the great looking new
"Blast from the Past" '57 Chevy Jet Funny Car and went 6.177 at
261.27 mph after a great fire show.
Neilson brought his ageless Mercedes jet limousine. After a great fire show,
Neilson blasted the long, heavy car to a 7.492 second run at 216.13 mph.
Second round of the show kicked off with the first round of the Frantic
Four doorslammers. First, Billy Farmer lined up against Bob Bailey in a
battle of series champions. At the hit, Farmer immediately went towards the
right guardrail. He got of it, got back on it, then got crossed up again.
However in the other lane, Bailey lost power at half track and started to
coast. Seeing this, Farmer nailed the throttle again and passed the Monte
Carlo for the win! Farmer went 7.590 at 190.09 to Bailey's unfortunate
Marc Hayes faced Tommy Howes in the next match. Hayes had looked good
with an out of the box 6.79 qualifier and similar numbers at the last race.
Howes was definitely running rich after annihilating his motor at the
previous event, but the first doorslammer driver in the sixes was expected
to set it on kill for his match against the upstart Hayes. Marc Hayes showed
he will be a force to contend with for the series championship this year,
however, nailing the blown car with a great 6.740, 208.55 to Tommy's 7.053
Frantic Four Dragsters/Altereds were up next, with Bruce Bennett's
blown Chevy facing Larry Plummer's nitrous Pontiac. Fans expecting the
neat "rump-rump-rump" of Bennett's ‘70s Top Fuel look-alike
were disappointed by total silence as the Chevy lost oil pressure. Plummer,
who has had consistency problems this year, seemed to put them behind him
with a great 6.472 blast at 205.29 mph.
McMillion's killer dragster then faced Doug Nordberg in the neat "Young
Guns" Fiat altered. Nordberg grabbed a nice holeshot, then wrestled it
down the strip, holding off the dragster for most of the run. McMillion
caught up and passed the Fiat but then shut off and the Fiat surged again.
At the stripe, the cars were still together, but McMillion got there .056
seconds before the altered, 6.576, 176.67 to Nordberg's career best 6.710
at 199.52 mph. Nordberg later said the car kept jumping out of third gear,
forcing him to slam it back in twice during the run!
Harley racer Jamie Emery, fresh off a win at the All Harley Drag Racing
Association event in Norwalk, Ohio, made an exhibition pass. The Colton's
Point, Maryland, racer went 7.054 at 191.43 mph.
Leland won the battle but lost the war in the first funny car match of the
second round. Facing Mike Preslar, Leland grabbed a .481 to .525 second
holeshot and hung on for a superb 6.227, 226.85 mph to 6.195, 188.96 mph
win. However, Chicago Style rules dictate only that the two quickest cars
return or the final, not the two quickest winning cars. Despite the
loss, Preslar moved ahead of Bunny for the right to face Gibson in the
Gibson faced Bruce Mullins next. Bruce and Pattie set up the War Horse
exactly as it was on the 6.08 Cecil County run the night before, and were
hoping for at least a low ‘teen. It wasn't there, however, and the G&H
Jewelers car overcame Mullins' holeshot to win, 6.111, 231.64, to 6.236,
218.48. Gibson's 231.64 was Top Speed of the Meet.
Burkett then lined up against Greg Beckner's pure Chevy. She was hot to
eclipse Mike Preslar's 6.19 to get into the final, but the Bunny and the
Boys Avenger took a sharp turn for the centerline and Bunny had to correct.
This momentary delay held her to a 6.490 at 217.46 mph. In the other lane,
Beckner was having problems of his own, the car again running flat and going
7.353 at 155.63 mph. Greg and his crew later discovered that the car had
cracked a gasket on the first run, keeping the car away from its 6.40
potential on both passes.
Naves finished out the round with a single. The Cleveland, North Carolina,
driver went straight and true at 6.591 seconds, 210.90 mph.
jets then did their thing again. Neilson got no time, but made a good blast.
Bouge Jr., who still has a Pro Mod Chevy Beretta back home in the garage,
went a consistent 6.18 at 252.43 mph.
final round kicked off with the Frantic Four doorslammers. Billy Farmer has
ruled the roost at MIR during 1999 and 2000, but Marc Hayes had been
impressive recently, matching Farmer's 6.70s. Hayes had lane choice for
the final, too. After two smoky burnouts, the two 706 inch nitrous machines
left the line dead even with .491 reaction times! It was all about the
performance after that and Hayes had just enough to hold off Farmer, 6.727
at a booming 210.01 mph to Farmer's close 6.756 at 204.94 mph. The margin
of victory was .029 seconds – about eight feet! Marc Hayes and his candy
tangerine Monte Carlo are going to be a handful during the remainder of the
2000 Frantic Four season at MIR.
great as the Frantic Four door car final was, the Frantic Four
Dragster/Altered final was somewhat disappointing. Steve McMillion had hurt
his dragster on the run against Nordberg and couldn't return to face
Plummer in the final. Larry Plummer had something to prove however. At the
green, the nitrous machine stood up and marched for 500 feet with its front
wheels in the air. After a smooth shift, the purple digger kept marching for
the top end. The result? A superb 6.388 at 212.36 mph that would have been
tough to beat.
funny car final had its share of excitement, but it wasn't the kind Mike
Preslar wanted to see. Preslar left first and led the race through every
stage until about 900 feet. At that point, his engine sneezed, blowing the
burst plate on the blower and getting oil underneath the tires. Preslar
pulled his chutes to straighten the car and that was all Billy Gibson
needed. The '95 Camaro blew past the '00 Corvette to take a 6.172 at
230.80 mph to 6.780 at 140.74 mph win. It was a heartbreaking and expensive
loss for Preslar, who otherwise looked to be holding off Gibson's IHRA
speed record-holding top end charge. Gibson, a true hometown hero from
nearby Chaptico, Maryland, has won at MIR in Super Pro, Pro Stock, Pro Mod,
and now Funny Car. And he's only 25!
The event ended with a unique twist on the jet cars. Royce Miller grabbed
two flashlights and sent the jets on a staggered start, side by side race!
Neilson left first with the huge and heavy jet limo. Two ticks later, Royce
dropped the flashlight to send Bouge, Jr. Bouge, Jr's '57 got there
first, nipping the limo in the lights, 6.151, 262.79 mph to 7.546, 216.76
addition to the big cars, the Junior Funny Cars of Stephanie Chappell and
"Lil' Bear" Pritchett staged a three round match race during the
pro rounds. The young lady from Clinton, Maryland, beat "Lil'
Bear" three straight, scoring a solid victory for "Girl
The next MIR special event is the Maryland Pennysaver Superchargers
Showdown on July 8, featuring supercharged Funny Cars and Pro Mods, Jet
Dragsters, Nitro Harleys, and for the kids, "Tranasaurus" – a
fire breathing, car eating dinosaur. Check out http://www.mirdrag.com/
for info on all upcoming MIR events.