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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

New England Dodge Dealers
Funny Cars Under The Stars

By Billy Anderson
Photos by James Morgan

Paul Gill's screw blower equipped ModuLine funny car completely dominated the action over its Roots-blown competitors. James Morgan photo

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 the truck.

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, 260.62 best.

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.

Ron Iannotti's blown Corvette set new NED doorslammer track records at 6.42, 216. James Morgan photo

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.

Billy Anderson

 

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