The Past Year, the Present, and the Future of Nitro Nostalgia Racing

Well, the leaves are turning, for those of us in the northern portions of the United States, Halloween is over and another year of nostalgia drag racing is behind us.

So many things have happened this season. Some excellent racing, some moaning and groaning, along with some stunning performance were turned in, but nonetheless an excellent year.

Stunning performances such as Tony Bartone’s 5.56 lap at only 220.19 miles per hour at the Patch in March. What would that have been if it ran the entire way? John Hale had a 5.61-second hit at Martin, Mich., at the DRO Challenge race, and both Anthony Bronge and Brett Thompson went 5.62 at the CHHR in October.

How could you argue with the points battles that took place this past year in both Top Fuel and Funny Car?

There were three drivers with a chance at the World Championship in Top Fuel, and four drivers with a shot in Funny Car when the tour hit the final stop in Bakersfield.

Both titles were decided on Sunday during eliminations. Jim Murphy’s win in the second round sealed the deal when Jim Young’s dragster could not make the call. The win gave Murphy his fifth Top Fuel title in his long career, the first in the Heritage Series to go with the four championships he had with the Goodguys.

The title in Funny Car was something that some movies are made of. As eliminations took place and the day wore on, it came down to the top two contenders. However, there was another character in this Hollywood blockbuster who was about to make his appearance in the climactic final scene.

After taking a semifinal round win, it appeared that Dan Horan was in perfect position to take his first-ever Funny Car championship. He caught a huge break when the lone ranger from Texas, John Hale, took out Horan’s chief rival Jason Rupert in the semifinals. 

However, Hale was not about to roll over for anybody and fulfilled his goal of coming to Bakersfield to win a race. He was able to take out Horan in a repeat of the Pepsi Nightfire Nationals in Boise some six weeks before. Hale’s win gave Rupert the championship by nine points.

It was an exciting ending to an exciting year in both categories.

However, what is in store for 2014? Will Obamacare keep us from enjoying drag racing? Well, that is a subject for a different column. However, there was an announcement that will change the landscape of the nostalgia funny car series as I see it.

The IHRA’s announcement of bringing nostalgia nitro funny cars (or as the IHRA calls them, Prostalgia Funny Cars) will continue, with a change for the 2014 season.

Next year, instead of an all run two-round “show”, the IHRA will promote a ten-car invite only event, with the quick eight cars running for the win.