Words by John Drummond
fter a completely rained out final day of qualifying, the final eliminations of the Goodguys 20th Hot Rod Nationals at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis were as sunny and hot as the previous day was wet. A field of over 200 cars did battle on the ORP quarter mile today in twelve different classes offering everything from ground pounding Nostalgia Top Fuelers and Funny Cars to 13-second station wagons. Variety and ingenuity was the order of the day.
In Nostalgia top fuel, Cedar Falls, Iowa racer Roger Lechtenberg won the battle and the war. Driving Dale Suhr’s “Orange Crate” dragster, the man they call “radar” breezed through eliminations, routinely pulling his parachute at the 1,000 foot mark. Maybe he was saving gas? “We’ve tinkered and tinkered with our tune up,” said car owner and chief mechanic Dale Suhr. “But today we left it basic and got the trophy.” Lechtenberg took Suhr’s hot rod through three flawless elimination rounds running as quick as 6.001 (in the semi final) and as fast as 251mph. In the final he defeated the gritty and consistent Randy Bridges of Virden, IL 6.024 @ 236 to the runner up’s 6.324 @ 236.71
The 8-car Nostalgia Funny Car exhibition delivered in a big way with ear-piercing nitro burning retro funny cars bringing the fans to their feet throughout the afternoon. Veteran racer John Dunn of Monticello, IL driving his maroon “Dunn & Gone” '69 Nova pounded out a hard earned victory over rival Steve Nichols in the Mill Road Boys '70 Camaro. It was Nichols who got the performance spoils of the weekend, setting Low ET and Top Speed of the meet @ 6.195/226.96 in Friday’s qualifier. In the final, Nichols appeared poised for sure victory but a sheared magneto rotor spelled his demise. Dunn’s 6.290 was good for the event victory.
Joining the nitro burners was no less than five eliminator classes from the NPCA. Pro Comp I (7.00 index) and Pro Comp II (7.50 index) featured a dazzling lineup of altereds and front engine dragsters of all shapes, sizes and colors. Pro Comp I winner Richard Edwards drove his '48 Fiat to the winner’s circle from the number two qualifying spot, taking out the number three qualifier Dave Damon with a 7.164 to the loser’s 7.58. Pro Comp II belonged to Middleton, Ohio’s Wayne Sears who drove his injected front engine dragster to the title from the class’ third qualifying spot.
In the 6.50-index Super Eliminator division it was Chicago’s Mark Worden who won the trophy – taking his blown alcohol front engine dragster to a 6.545 to defeat runner up and last year’s class champion Tony Bronge.
Taking home the Hot Rod Nationals B/GAS trophy was Utica, Kentucky’s Darrell Wathen who drove his popular '41 Willys to a victorious final round time of 8.524 to defeat Rodney Bennett’s Nova.
AA/ Funny Car Indianapolis Indiana Goodguys
AA/FD Indianapolis Indiana Goodguys