2 0 0 2 A H R A W O R L
D F I N A L S
By David Hapgood
Photos by David Hapgood and Nolan Hibbard
Top Fuel event winner Craig Smith. Photo by Nolan Hibbard
I was certain that the economic recession would mess the
race up this year. I somehow must have forgotten that this is the track
whose motto should read 'expect the unexpected.'
And so, I was more than happy to see that things still
aren't 'Normal' up in Spokane. It is truly a one of a kind event
and this year's version was the most competitive in years.
A downside to the weekend was the absence of
two AHRA competitors who have passed away since the 2001 event, Jeff
Phillips and Bobby Baldwin.
Nitro Funny Car pit row with Jason Duchene, Jack Wyatt, and the Impulse.
Photo by David Hapgood
A quick tour of the pits on Friday afternoon gave
some indication of what was in store. Always in high attendance, the
alcohol funny car and dragster pits were packed in with even more
cars than usual, all the way down to the far end of pit row by the scrap
yard! The nitro funny car pits were not quite so full with six cars trying
for the 8-car field. They were, however, excellent low buck
cars. Top fuel was well represented with ten cars, including the
surprise entry of John Mitchell/David Grubnic. All in all a lot of nitro,
though I did miss the presence of one of my favorites, the Gary Omlin TF
F R I D A Y N I G H T
The one-shot qualifying on Friday generally serves as a
'get acquainted' pass for teams as they tune for this all-asphalt / high
altitude track (2240'). But this year, with cooler than
usual air temps, the track conditions were excellent right from
the first hit. Following an uneventful session in Pro Mod- led by Tim Vogt
with a 7.124, the alcohol dragsters really got things hopping. Seventeen
showed for the eight-car field and competition was fierce.
Greg Tacke broke the track ET record for alcohol dragsters on Friday night.
Unfortunately for him, his record only held up for 24 hours. Photo by David Hapgood
blasted to a 5.983 to reset the track record until Greg Tacke lowered the
mark to 5.833. Impressive, considering that going into this event one year
ago the track record was in the six-second zone. The starting line had
significant 'bite,' which resulted in some decent wheelstands, one of
which ended with a car in the wrong lane and, nearly, into the
opposite wall. By the time the session was over, a third driver -
Bill Edwards Jr- had run in the fives. And what makes this race so
different: three front-motored slingshots were trying to make this field
Take a look at what passes for an Alcohol Funny Car at AHRA events. Photo by David Hapgood
Alcohol funny car had seventeen entries as well, but
these guys were all over the track in this session. Of course, it explains
a lot when you consider that four out of the seventeen were competing in
ALTEREDS. When it was all over, Ken Kraus sat on top with a 6.162 at
Top Fuel was next. As I noted earlier, the Friday night
session is generally a throwaway for most teams, with much tire smoke,
backpedaling and ET's in the eight and nine second zone. Not this
year. No less than three cars went down into the five-second zone and four
more recorded six second passes. The moment of truth arrived
when the Titan Express pulled out of the staging lanes.
Not much wrinkle in these sidewalls. Arley Langlo on the move.
Photo by David Hapgood
weekend the team had grenaded two engines in a row on the starting
line at Sonoma. They were down to their last engine here at
Spokane, which, I had been assured, was toned "way
down." Even still, that 82-gallon per minute pump sent chills down my
spine and, frankly, I did not relish the idea of "hitting the
deck." I gave the car a wide berth. Thankfully, it was unnecessary as
the run went off without a hitch. Good to see the team getting
back to form. A final notable was Todd Meikle's Gary Ritter-tuned
slingshot, which finished in the fifth position at the night's end. Here
is how they stacked up after Friday night:
1- Chris Karamesines 5.397 / 265.04
2- Ron Smith 5.476 / 266.29
3- David Grubnic 5.736 / 231.88
4- Don Sosenka 6.039 / 174.49
5- Todd Meikle 6.545 / 198.02
6- CJ Nelson 6.747 / 133.50
7- Arley Langlo 6.947 / 134.03
8- Steve Chrisman 7.353 / 155.03
9- Michael Grekul 8.679 / 94.13
10- Craig Smith 11.776 / 65.33
Vinny 'This Space Available' Arcadi's Camaro blasts to the top of the FC pack
Photo by David Hapgood
The funny car session was ruled by Vinny Arcadi,
who hammered out a 6.07 and led second-best Jason Duchene by more than
eight tenths. But it was a wonder that Duchene was in competition at all.
Not that many weeks ago, he burned up his funny car. He was competing here
in a borrowed ride and his crew seemed delighted when the machine cleared
the traps without incident.
Duchene was not the only driver in a 'borrowed' ride, as
Cory Lee was running for the first time in the IMPULSE Firebird,
warming up for his new job the following week in the Worsham camp.
His first pass in a year and a half was an instant tire smoker but in true
Cory Lee fashion, he got back into it and did record top speed of the
night despite an eight-second-time slip. When I later asked him what it
felt like to be back behind the wheel he remarked that it seemed like
"just yesterday" that he was running his old car. He hasn't
missed a beat.
Cory Lee is back! He shoed John Lindsay's Impulse here. Photo by Nolan Hibbard
This is how the funny car field looked after the
1 - Vinny Arcadi 6.076 / 181.47
2 - Jason Duchene 6.917 / 204.55
3 - Jack Wyatt 7.169 / 114.87
4 - Cory Lee 8.210 / 217.29
5 - Jeff Bennett 9.590 / 206.69
6 - Terry Haddock 15.748 / 49.44
The night finished off with wheelstanders and jets.
Normally this is my cue to relax and enjoy the show. Not this time. As I
got done shooting the jet in my lane, I stood back to a reasonable
distance from the track- about 15 feet and watched them launch.
Expecting the usual slow and lumbering launch, I was startled to see Ancel
Horton blast off the line with the speed of a top fueler. What,
I wondered, was I looking at here? A peroxide rocket? Wasn't that a
jet car a second ago? While I was questioning this sight, I had
not realized I was breaking a cardinal rule: never stare downtrack after a
Before I knew it, a shower of grass, pebbles, corn dog
wrappers, and jet fuel had begun to shower the starting line. Just as
the car had left incredibly fast, the debris cloud also had
arrived much too soon and I got a face full of it. But better than this:
Ancel Horton had just run 301 mph, the first time anyone has
ever run 300 mph at this track. The crowd went nuts. I looked at my watch:
it was only 12:30 AM. The event was already over for the night? How could
it be? This is the home of the world's last 2:00 a.m. nitro funny car
runs! Actually, I was looking forward to getting some sleep.
S A T U R D A Y
Steve Chrisman's fueler qualified seventh. Photo by David Hapgood
It was 1:00 p.m., AHRA time, and the lanes were empty
for the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. What
a pleasant contrast to the rigid event choreography of certain
other drag racing venues. Before long a few alcohol cars appeared at the
top of the staging lanes and slowly towed in the direction of the starting
line. Eventually the first fuel car made its appearance in the staging
lanes, but, really, there was no hurry. (To the track's credit, this
year's event ran smoother than any other Spokane event I've seen).
before 2:00 p.m., it all got underway. A couple dozen alcohol dragsters
and funny cars began working to improve on their qualifying positions
with defending alcohol dragster champ Mike Austin blasting to a
5.847 in the heat of the day. At the moment, the top four qualifiers in
alcohol dragster were strong enough to rank 4th-7th on the Top Fuel
The nitro session was short but sweet, with Steve
Chrisman making a solo run trying to get off the top fuel
bubble. The run appeared clean and netted him a 5.683 ET, good for the
provisional third spot in the field. In actuality, though, the pass was
not as clean as it looked with dead cylinders mangling a bank of headers
in the lights. As a result, this fueler ran the rest of the weekend with a
set of borrowed FUNNY CAR headers.
Jeff Bennett in the Get Ugly Motorsports - Nuffsaid Avenger, 2002 World Finals Champion.
Photo by David Hapgood
The lone funny car to make the session was the "Get
Ugly Motorsports" Avenger of Jeff Bennett. This team qualified
number one here last year before breakage sidelined them. This year,
co-owner John Kiegly told me, "We want to win this." The run was
straight and true, a 5.750 good for the top spot in nitro FC. Pretty
impressive in the heat of the afternoon.
As always, Saturday night was one of the highlights
of the event. As the last qualifying session of the weekend, all the fuel
cars run, the stands are always packed, and some of the fastest times
of the weekend are recorded. The ambiance cannot be beat.
Mike Cofini shattered the track record in Alcohol Dragster. Photo by David Hapgood
Alcohol dragsters were the first up. With nine cars
slated to miss the cut, this was the end of the line for some. Not even
the application of VHT by crewmembers could save some of these runs. One
driver -- who will go nameless -- did his dry hop in the VHT except the car
was still in reverse and shot backwards, colliding with his tow truck. Oh,
the fun never stopped. But as I watched all these teams not make the cut I
was kind of bummed that the talk of expanding the fields to 16 cars for
Sunday seemed to have died down. It's actually a great idea for next year
(and would work pretty well in the alky funny car ranks, too).
The alcohol dragster session progressed. And then along
came Mike Cofini. The Cofini team had experienced trouble all weekend, but
not on this pass. It was a super-aggressive launch and then the car just
kept pushing strong all the way down. 5.558 at 248.72 mph! The run broke
the track record set the night before by nearly three tenths and at the
time would have put Cofini into the third spot in the Top Fuel field! I
was standing right behind the car when it launched and yes, it
was that impressive.
Virgil Sellers' alcohol slingshot. Photo by Nolan Hibbard
In the past, the alcohol dragster fields have included
the odd front-engined rail, In 1999, Mike Schewe even runner-upped in a
slingshot. Not this year. Those days may well be over with all three FE
dragsters failing to qualify. It was an unbelievably tough field. Here's
how it ended up.
1 - Mike Cofini 5.558 / 248.72
2 - Greg Tacke 5.833 / 240.82
3 - Bill Edwards, Jr. 5.842 / 244.61
4 - Mike Austin 5.847 / 242.34
5 - Serge Dion 5.988 / 229.42
6 - Chris Denison 6.224 / 219.43
7 - Nathan Sitko 6.247 / 212.22
8 - Randy Jensen 6.602 / 206.45
1A- Bob Lougue 6.982 / 193.96
Number seven qualifier in Alcohol Dragster, Nathan Sitko. The kid just turned 17.
Photo by David Hapgood
Alcohol funny car was another tough contest with
Friday's bump of 8.11 seconds dropped down through the sevens on
Saturday afternoon and then finally into the sixes at night. Leader
of the pack through all of this was Ken Kraus, who backed up his earlier
6.162 with a 6.101 for a new track record. Few of the alcohol funny
car teams had this track figured out yet and Kraus's closest competition
was a full tenth back so he was looking pretty good for raceday.
Ken Kraus set the alky funny car ranks on fire at Spokane. Photo by Nolan Hibbard
None of the four altereds ran well enough to make the
funny car field, but they put on a great show in qualifying. A genuine
surprise, however, was the DNQ suffered by last year's runner up, Forrest
LeBlanc. Look for that team to return next year and inflict
Here's how the alcohol funny cars ended up.
1 - Ken Kraus 6.101 / 225.88
2 - Glenn Whitehead 6.222 / 228.24
3 - Bob Hurley 6.329 / 227.15
4 - Lloyd Dyck 6.717 / 213.22
5 - John Knox 6.826 / 224.79
6 - Jamie Kemp 6.839 / 194.13
7 - Ron Richardson 6.844 / 193.07
8 - Royce Taylor 6.967 / 167.29
1A - Forrest LeBlanc
Could they have mounted the body any taller. Number 8 qualifier in Alcohol Funny Car,
Royce Taylor. Photo by David Hapgood
Shortly after 10 P.M. -- a sensible time to begin a
nitro show -- the first pair of top fuel wings appeared above their
tow trucks from out of the staging lanes. With the nearby
maximum-security prison serving as a backdrop, we were about to get
underway in a big way. It was current number two qualifier Ron Smith going
up against defending champ Craig Smith, who just happened to be the
unqualified second alternate at the moment.
Ron Smith, number one qualifier in Top Fuel and runner up. Photo by Nolan Hibbard
Talk about thin ice: this
was the defending champ's last chance. On the green, the two fuelers left
with clean, strong header flames and without tire smoke. They got down to
the top end in a hurry with Ron Smith's 5.215 taking him to the top of the
field, while Craig Smith's 5.309 moved him into the field in the
second spot. Karamesines was bumped back to third.
In the next pair, Don Sosenka chopped nearly half a
second from his earlier qualifying pass with a strong 5.591, momentarily
advancing him from the sixth to the fourth spot while Steve Chrisman did
Todd Meikle burns out in his classic top fueler. Photo by David Hapgood
Next up was Karamesines on a solo pass, trying to
reclaim his number one qualifying slot. "Greek's" run was good
but tire smoke before half-track cost him the two tenths he was looking
for. Being the fearless scrapper that he is, Karamesines drove it through
anyway (he usually does, even on crossed up and
losing runs) for a 5.41.
Then it was Arley Langlo, currently 1st alternate, up
against C.J. Nelson who was sitting on the bump at 6.74. Both cars
needed good passes and both cars got them, with
Nelson hitting a 5.491- good for the provisional fourth spot. Langlo
recorded a 5.839 that got him into the eighth spot and bumped Todd Meikle.
Next, it was David Grubnic who, as a result of this
session, had dropped from third to seventh on the
qualifying list. One good run took care of that, as he chopped three
tenths off his earlier time with a 5.451 blast, good for the fourth spot.
David Grubnic qualified 4th in Top Fuel. Photo by David Hapgood
The final pair had a bit of melancholy to it: Mike
Grekul and Todd Meikle in their front motor cars. The bump was a 5.83; no
way they had a chance. Meikle, who had qualified last year and who had
ranked fifth on the qualifying list on Friday night, gave it his best
shot, improving from an earlier 6.54 to a 6.37, but it was not enough.
Grekul clicked it off early.
And so, the TF field was set as follows:
1 - Ron Smith 5.215 / 285.28
2 - Craig Smith 5.309 / 283.10
3 - Chris Karamesines 5.397 / 265.04
4 - David Grubnic 5.451 / 263.17
5 - C.J. Nelson 5.492 / 222.90
6 - Don Sosenka 5.591 / 224.85
7 - Steve Chrisman 5.683 / 230.59
8 - Arley Langlo 5.839 / 229.76
1A - Todd Meikle 6.37 / 210
2A - Mike Grekul 8.67 / 94
It was the first all-five second field I've seen at this
Mike Grekul brought his classic top fueler down from Canada. Photo by David Hapgood
The funny car session was intense, with five of the six
cars improving. First up, Vinny Arcadi defeated Cory Lee, 5.81/192 to 6.28
at 243. You'd have to wonder what Arcadi's ET would have been if he hadn't
clicked it early. As it was, he improved a quarter of a second but
remained in second spot. Lee moved from 5th to 3rd. Next, Jeff Bennett
laid down a smooth 5.731, cutting two hundredths off his afternoon time
slip and holding onto the top position. Jack Wyatt went 6.34 in
the other lane for the fourth spot.
Now we were down to the last pair of floppers. Right
about this time I decided I'd been on the starting line for two days
and two nights and had had enough of it for now. This year was
the invasion of the digital cameras on the starting line and it seemed
every Joe was out there playing with his new toy. It was real crowded. But
no, it was more than that. It was the feeling that I had sort of wasted
two nights of perfectly good top fuel and nitro funny cars on the starting
line when my heart is really down at the top end.
So as the Bennett and
Wyatt tow vehicles went down the track to fetch their cars, I packed my
camera gear, ran up to the spectator area, and then all the way down to
the top end. There, a small crowd of a half dozen race fans stood at the
fence in the dark, waiting for the final pair of the evening, Terry
Haddock and Jason Duchene. As I looked down the track, I felt completely
at home. I love the top end, always did.
A novel use of shoe polish. Photo by David Hapgood
The cars started up; Haddock did one of his long
burnouts. It all sounded just wonderful from down there, as the noise
reverberated out across the plateau. I wondered if either car would
actually be under power when it went by, but I pushed
these doubts aside. The run wasn't going to disappoint. I just knew
That's pretty much how it went down, too. Both cars went
up in smoke hard. Duchene called it a day (can't blame him; I understand
that the borrowed car was not a great fit). Haddock, however, got back
into it and came through hard -- swept back header flames, tall up on the
tires, the most beautiful sight of the weekend. But then, icing on the
cake: the car goes by at speed and enters the traps. I see
that the rear brake discs are glowing bright, bright, bright orange- he's
been holding the brake handle all the way down. Perfect! Great show, Mr.
This is how the nitro funny cars ended up:
1- Jeff Bennett - 5.731 / 246.29
2- Vinny Arcadi - 5.814 / 192.02
3- Cory Lee - 6.287 / 243.53
4- Jack Wyatt - 6.345 / 163.10
5- Terry Haddock 6.850 / 232.18
6- Jason Duchene 6.917 / 204.55
After the wheelstanders and jets (Ancel Horton tried for
a 4 second pass, but missed by a few hundredths), I looked at my watch:
11:30 p.m. Done before midnight? Here? No way! I think it must have been
yet another track record.
S U N D A Y
Better than nostalgia... Photo by David Hapgood
Raceday began with a bit of drag racing archeology. An
hour before eliminations, I was scouting out a good photo vantage point
for the first round, down at about the 1,100-foot mark where the dry weeds
grow three feet tall up on the hillside. This was in the spectator area,
but a place few spectators ever bother to venture. (Once in a while I've
seen a person or two down there but they usually leave within minutes
because the view of the starting line isn't so great).
Satisfied that I had found a decent angle for
photographs of the finish line, I happened to glance down at my feet and
noticed a piece of fiberglass about half the size of a playing card,
half-covered in dust. Noting the maroon paint on one side of it, I
immediately identified the piece as a scrap of Dave Benjamin's Cutlass
funny car, which blew itself to smithereens down here three long years
ago. (See the complete story of Benjamin's explosion on www.motorsportunderground.com
under "Hapgood's Corner.") Delighted with this find, I placed
the treasure in my camera bag to take home.
So here we were, finally at raceday, 40th annual AHRA
World Finals, and this is how it went:
P R O M O D
Pro Mod winner Tim Vogt. Photo by David Hapgood
With a 6.91 ET, Ross Hogenson had out-qualified his
closest challenger by more than two tenths. It appeared that he might have
an easy time of it in eliminations, but everything changed when Tim Vogt
unloaded a 6.61 in the first round. Hogenson improved in that round
also, but only to a 6.77. To raise the tension further,
number four qualifier Wayne Hofer put his car into the sixes in the
first round as well. Suddenly it was going to be a fight for the title.
Ross Hogenson was runner up in Pro Mod. Photo by David Hapgood
the semifinals, Hogenson dispensed of Hofer with a 6.78 while Vogt slowed
a bit from his first round 6.61, slipping to a 6.81 but advancing to the
finals just the same. This set the stage for the big showdown
between Hogenson and Vogt. Between the two of them, they have been in
more AHRA World Finals final rounds and have collected more AHRA world
championships than you can shake a stick at. It really was a classic
final, with Tim Vogt in his Corvette getting this one with a 6.757.
A L C O H O L F U N N Y C
Alcohol Funny Car champ and track record breaker, Ken Kraus. Photo by Nolan Hibbard
Ken Kraus' 6.10 qualifying time was a track record, a
full tenth ahead of his closest competitor and many tenths ahead of the
rest of the pack. But like Ross Hogenson in Pro Mod, any illusions that
Kraus would be able to walk off with the trophy appeared to be shattered
in round one. John Knox (6.173), Glenn Whitehead (6.187), and defending
champ Bob Hurley (6.148) each stepped way, way up with 'teen runs of their
own. Although Kraus posted the best of the bunch at 6.133, it was no
longer the best by much.
Glenn Whitehead was runner up in Alcohol Funny Car. Photo by David Hapgood
But it really didn't matter: this was Kraus' day.
Next he dispatched John Knox in a tight semifinal bout with a 6.156. When
Glenn Whitehead's semifinal win over Bob Hurley only resulted in a 6.203
ET, Kraus pretty much had the event title sewn up. He saved his best for
last, unleashing a 6.018-second, 240.84 mph blast on Glenn
Whitehead, resetting the track record once again. From number
one qualifier to track record breaker to event winner all in the same
weekend, Ken Kraus did it all.
A L C O H O L D R A G S T E R
Alcohol Dragster track record holder and runner up, Mike Cofini. Photo by David Hapgood
Mike Cofini was yet another racer in a good position to
destroy the competition after resetting the alcohol dragster ET record by
a third of a second in qualifying (and a full half second over what it was
a week ago). He was so far ahead of everyone else that it was almost
assumed the event title would have to be his. But as we had seen in
Pro Mod and Alcohol Funny Car, the competition heated up dramatically on
While Cofini nearly duplicated his 5.558-second qualifying pass
with a 5.568 in round one, all of a sudden his competitors no longer were
three full tenths back. Defending champ Mike Austin posted a first round
5.773, Bill Edwards, Jr. improved with a 5.700, and Greg Tacke unleashed a
5.657. With a good light, each of these cars were now within
striking distance, though none besides Cofini had managed a 5.50 time slip
yet (and Cofini had two of them).
Alcohol Dragster winner Bill Edwards, Jr. Photo by David Hapgood
In the semifinal match between defending champ Mike
Austin and Mike Cofini, the light went green and then the system went
down. The cars crossed the finish line without ETs, MPH readings, or a win
light, though it was clear that Cofini had crossed the finish line first.
AHRA rules state that when the clocks malfunction the race must be rerun.
This sparked a wave of heated arguments that lasted the entire twenty
minutes it took to fix the clocks. Action picked up again with the other
half of the semifinal. Bill Edwards, Jr improved to a 5.670 in a surprise
win over Greg Tacke.
The Cofini/Austin semifinal rematch did not happen after
all. It was Cofini and Edwards pulling to the line for the final round,
and the match was a study in contrasts. Edwards' short wheelbased and
somewhat blandly painted machine had so far generated only a fraction
of the attention of Cofini's long wheelbased, colorfully painted and
track record setting dragster. The reality was that Edwards had cut
straight through this field almost unnoticed. Unfortunately for Cofini,
his weekend was about to deteriorate further, as Edwards saved his best
for last. When Cofini's engine began eating itself at around 900 feet out,
Edwards was right there to take him out. A 5.668/247.06 did the trick.
Bill Edwards, Jr.: 2002 AHRA World Champ.
F U N N Y C A R
Nitro Funny Car runner up, Terry Haddock. Photo by David Hapgood
Number one qualifier Jeff Bennett opened the round right
where he left off in qualifying, with yet another 5.7 pass. This one, a
5.754, beat defending champ Jason Duchene, who trailed at 8.19. For
Bennett, not only was his the fastest car on the premises this weekend,
but this was his third consecutive run within three hundredths of a
second. He was going to be really tough to defeat.
The only other driver
who had come close so far was Vinny Arcadi, and when he smoked the tires
and lost to Terry Haddock in the next set that was that. Well, not so
fast- Haddock recorded a 5.730 on that pass, becoming the quickest funny
car of the event, for the moment anyway. In the next set, Cory Lee stepped
up the pressure in the Lindsay & Miller Impulse, running a weekend-best
5.801 to defeat Jack Wyatt's 6.31. Better yet, Lee's 266.12-mph charge
would hold up as top speed of the meet.
Haddock really turned up the heat in the semifinal,
defeating Cory Lee with a 5.634 -- the quickest funny car pass at Spokane
in quite a few years. On the other side of the semifinal ladder, Jeff
Bennett got the bye run on the basis on his number one qualifying pass. At
5.936, it was a bit slower than his previous three passes, but it was a
clean, straight run.
Jeff Bennett, event champ in AAFC. Photo by Nolan Hibbard
And so the stage was set for the final. Immediately
before the FC final, however, the alcohol dragster final resulted in a
serious oildown at the top end in the right lane. Haddock had lane choice.
Since he'd been winning in the left lane all day, that's the lane he took
for the final. Bennett would have to drive on the recently oiled lane. But
Bennett is a fuel altered driver whose strategy -- easy enough -- would be
to drive around the recently-oiled portion of the lane.
It wouldn't have mattered anyway. Shortly after the
light went green, Haddock's car went up in smoke hard and Bennett was long
gone, reclaiming once and for all Low ET of the weekend, a 5.561 at 249.80
mph. It was the quickest funny car pass at SRP in a long, long time. It
was the fifth consecutive, hard pass by this team over the course of the
weekend -- nobody else came close -- and it was this consistency
that won the KBM team the AHRA World Finals championship.
T O P F U E L
C.J. Nelson's fueler from Riverside, CA. Photo by Nolan Hibbard
Top Fuel was yet another hotly contested field on
raceday, kicking off with low qualifier Ron Smith defeating Arley Langlo,
5.34 to 6.81. Then it was a surprisingly close match-up won by David
Grubnic over C.J. Nelson, 5.58 to 5.59. Next, it was Craig Smith putting
away Steve Chrisman with a 5.23. Finally, the round closed with an
upset, as number three qualifier Chris Karamesines struck the
tires in his match again Don Sosenka and then trailed him to the finish
line, 5.58 to 5.65.
Mr. Magoo is running stronger than ever. Went to semifinals. Photo by David Hapgood
In the semifinals it was Ron Smith improving to a 5.29
to take a close one over David Grubnic and Craig Smith hitting a 5.46 to
barely put away "Mr. Magoo," Don Sosenka.
The final round between Ron and Craig Smith was an
all-Washington contest between former and defending AHRA champions. They
had qualified numbers one and two. Now they were the last two cars
left. As it turned out, the final was an excellent side by
side run down the quarter mile with the win light coming on in Craig
Smith's lane, 5.243 to 5.378. As if on cue, the winner's engine burst into
shrapnel and flames, blowing out the top end clocks and his opponent's
Top Fuel champion Craig Smith. Photo by Nolan Hibbard
And so, the flame show and burner pops of jet cars
brought the 2002 World Finals to a close. It was a weekend I'll not
AHRA World Finals Photos HERE!