Saturday night, June 17, was the date of the 2000 edition of the New
England Dodge Dealers Funny Cars Under the Stars at New England Dragway.
Sponsor Dodge was well represented in the winner's circle in the Nitro and
Alcohol portion of the program. The event was completed despite a storm that
came through and delayed action for hours earlier in the afternoon.
Vicky Fanning took the Udder Nonsense Dodge Dakota Nitro Thunder Truck to
two straight victories over Mike Wade. Wade was behind the wheel of the
American Dream S-10. In round one, Fanning pedaled to a 6.69, 179.25 to best
Wade's 7.43, 162.12. The final round produced the most excitement. Wade
spun the tires and headed across the centerline, disqualifying himself at
that point. Meanwhile, Fanning got to the 900' mark when her truck made a
move towards the wall. She lifted momentarily, then gunned it to a 6.66,
204.89 to gain the event title with header flames dancing around the roof of
Paul Gill completely dominated Pro Funny Car action. The Moduline Dodge
Avenger driver reset his track speed mark to 250.23 in testing. Gill came
out in round one and shook the tires. He was forced to short-shift, but
still managed Low E.T. at 5.89, 249.72. His opponent was Eric Laurie, who
put up a career best 6.03, 237.75 to gain a berth into the final. Moisture
had set in prior to the final, making for tricky track conditions. Gill
managed to pedal to a 6.00, 249.99 as Laurie's 6.33, 210.44 from his
Camaro fell short. Next quickest in the program was Fred Tigges at 6.12. The
legendary Bunny Burkett made an appearance and ran a 6.29, 226.01 in round
one despite getting close to the wall. She was bested in round two by Bill
Naves' Shooting Star, which ran its best time in Epping at 6.29. David
Rowe and Dave Ray were also in the 6.1's.
Danny O'Day debuted his gorgeous ‘34 Ford Wheelstander by resetting
his own track record. Three consistent runs culminated in a 9.03, 146.98
best. The machine was built to have less undercarriage area to not push so
much air. O'Day has proven that the concept works.
It was no surprise to find Rich Hanna's First Strike Firebird at the
top of the Jet Funny Car list. A 5.76, 276.58 best easily distanced himself
from Al Hanna's 5.97,268.43 in the Eastern Raider. Ernie Bogue, Jr.
recorded a 6.10, 264.48 in the Blast from the Past ‘57 Chevy, while
"Super Mario" Carranca's Monte Carlo belched flame to a 6.13,
The Pro Comp competition was the best ever for the category, as defending
event champion Uno Ilvonen and Russ Vernali battled for the title. Ilvonen
qualified number one in his supercharged 572" Olds-powered dragster at
6.71, 201.16. Ilvonen got two freebies when round one opponent, Joe Nadeau,
shut off with problems and then Grant Flowers failed to show. Ilvonen
recorded a 6.73 and an eased up 12.39 to advance. Meanwhile, Vernali and his
nitrous- assisted dragster slowly improved with times of 6.75(qualifying),
6.69, and 6.68 in beating Dan Page and John Thibault. The final was the
quickest ever side-by-side Pro Comp race with Vernali getting the win, 6.63,
200.50 to 6.64, 203.43.
The Super Slammer Challenge final was not completed due to curfew, but
new track records were set before that. John Bartunek reset his own track
record to a 6.53, 214.62 in qualifying, but was bounced from the field in
the semi-finals. Jim Kane used a 6.89 holeshot in his '69 Camaro to deal
out Bartunek's 6.79. Meanwhile, in the other semi-finals, Ron Iannotti was
too busy resetting both ends of the track record himself with a 6.42, 216.17
pass that punted Pat Doherty from the field. The final between Iannotti's
blown Corvette and Kane's nitrous Camaro was never finished.
All in all, the New England Dodge Dealers Funny Cars Under the Stars
provided plenty of on-track excitement. Stay tuned for the next major event,
the Night of Thrills presented by Campers Inn of Kingston, featuring the New
England Dodge Dealers Monster Truck battle.