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2013 March Meet

Nitro Marauders Motor on and Famoso Fuelers Fight back

By Cole Coonce, Photography by Cole Coonce, Ted Soqui

"We've still got to redeem ourselves from last year and the bungle-up," he mused after Head's misstep. To that end, Boychuk would have to defeat another racer from the Northwest, Mark Sanders and his brand-new Mr. Explosive Mustang out of Seattle, tuned by his son, 23-year-old Jake Sanders. After his dad motored by NHRA Funny Car megastar Ron Capps in the second round, the younger Sanders was happier than a King County coyote with a mink in its mouth.

"We put up a career-best 251 mph, and we got around some big names in the sport," is how Jake summed up his family's race before entering the finals.

By the time the finals ran, night fell. Earlier, the Team Craig AA/Fueler had soiled its diapers early in the first round of Top Fuel, its engine's pan pressure building up like soap bubbles in a Peter Seller's movie, before the puke tank burst and an effluvium of synthetic oil coated the shutdown area.

An exhaustive 80-minute cleanup meant the race would run late. The later it got, the more track temperatures fell and the more Canuck Tim Boychuk was in his element, cooler than a sasquatch's six-pack. Indeed, it was dark and nippy when the green light flashed for the final pair of floppers. At the hit, Sanders' mount fell mute, and Boychuk blasted around Mr. Explosive, seizing a victory nobody was going to nullify, while posting a 5.81 time at 249 mph. Boychuk had made good and showed who was the baddest.

Atonement might've been Boychuk's team's theme, but the Top Fuel class needed it collectively after a less-than-full field and a couple of ass-numbing track cleanups that tested race fans' patience, if not the announcers' abilities to filibuster and fill dead air with stories about drag racing in the 1970s. In 2013, boredom is not an option. If Top Fuel was going to save face, it needed to finish with a flourish.

It did. The final round was a hellzapoppin' shootout, with sparks flying and header flames blazing toward the heavens. On its association's website, the AA/Fuel Dragsters described the spectacular showdown between young, quiet Jim Young and veteran gunslinger Denver Schutz this way: "The question on race fans' mind was that old proverb that asks: Would age and treachery overcome youth and skill? In five seconds, they got their answer. At the hit, Young moved first but by 330 feet into the run, Denver had put a wheel out front. It stayed that way until 800 feet, when Young's machine really started gathering steam. Denver put the pipes out at 1,100 feet, as Young went marching by with all eight candles lit, and in the cover of darkness neither driver knew who had triumphed. The scoreboards showed times of 5.65 seconds and 269 mph for Young to a losing 5.70 at 242 mph for Schutz. As the Raisin Express 3 team went in search of their driver, Young asked them if they had won. They said: ‘No, dude, it was you.'"

Yes, the out-of-towners showed the California nitro racers the way home…and in a bigger sense, Elapsed Times would be remiss in not mentioning that Tony Waters, Art Chrisman's final-round competition back in 1959, was also proverbially called home a couple months before the 55th March Meet, dying after an extended illness.

Poignantly, Tony Waters' son, Darrell, carried on the family tradition and entered the A/Fuel Dragster class for the first time without his dad there to turn the wrenches. And in another bittersweet final round, Darrell Waters won.

Meaning? The March Meet will outlive us all. (OK, maybe not Art Chrisman.)

By Cole Coonce
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Patrick Gyotoku
Patrick Gyotoku

I miss that Keith track racing you to be right next to farm test out the engine on the rail but its more awesome at the track

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