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Murphy Wins 15th California Hot Rod Reunion




Bakersfield, CA - October 6-8, 2006: Over its 15 year history the California Hot Rod Reunion has evolved in many ways not the least being the quality and quantity of race cars. What started as a one time weekend get together for "geezers" has become one of the two major races for nostalgia drag racing in the country. Every year the CHRR attracts record crowds of spectators and maxed out car counts in all the contested classes. It is in a word - a spectacle of all things drag racing. To win this event in any class is a huge accomplishment and to win Top Fuel is as good as it gets.

Jim Murphy, Tim Beebe, Ron Rapadas and the rest of the WW2 Racing team came into this race with the same goal as always - win. However, having not won a major event in over two years (2004 March Meet) their confidence level was mixed with doubts. After the two allotted qualifying session they found themselves qualified in the bottom half (# 11)of the quickest 16 car field in Nostalgia Top Fuel history. The car was still hurting parts and nothing they did seemed to help. Up against the wall - again.

First round of eliminations was held on Saturday night and Murphy was paired the the # 5 qualifier, Denver Schutz and would be the last cars to run. To say the seven pairs before them had every imaginable problem one could think of would be an understatement. To say that it was the ugliest round of NTF racing anyone could remember would be unanimous. By the time Murphy ran they were over two hours into the round and things didn't get any better. In a pedalfest (both cars smoked the tires hard) Murphy came out on top - dodging a bullet and advancing to round two on Sunday.

Back in the pits Murphy was admittedly baffled as what to try next and that's when, after a prayer or two, things started to turn around. The team was informed that due to a very rare dual disqualification in round one, they would have a single in round two. It was just the break they needed and a chance to "go back to basics" with the tune-up knowing that they would at the very least be in the semi finals.

As they say, the rest is history. The free pass Sunday morning told them they were on the right track with the tune-up and for the first time all weekend believed they could be in the Winners Circle that afternoon. The semi and final races were all Murphy, all the time and the sweet taste of victory once again filled a camp that had been down too long. At the end of the day you could see it on all their faces - WW2 Racing is back.


2006 CHRR Winners Circle


Photos and full story below.



With the first qualifying session schedule for 3 p.m. Friday the crew had most of the day to make sure all their ducks were in a row. Above Jim gets a new blower ready.


Tim and Ron give everything a double check.




Prior to firing up, Murphy gets focused.



Michael Beebe lines Murphy up for his first qualifying burn-out.






Murphy backing up from the burn-out. It is crucial to stay in the "tracks" laid down during the burn-out procedure.




Before Murphy moves into the staging lights each crew member has a job to do including hard wiping the tires.


Tim Beebe gives the engine his final OK.


Dave Thornhill moves Jim into the first staging beam as Brian Shamrock activates the data computer.


With the top light on, Murphy is about to lower his visor and stage.


Murphy launched hard.


In the left lane is Pete Kaiser who is about to give a lesson on what not to do when you get out of the groove and cross the center line.



By the 500 foot mark Kaiser was collecting cones wholesale littering the track with orange foam.











In spite of what was going on in the other lane Murphy legged it through to a piston eating 6.064 at 242.71.



Back to the pits to repair the carnage.





Session two went off at 2:45 p.m. Saturday.


Murphy's first session 6.06 had him in the 14th spot and everyone knew that wouldn't be good enough to make the show.



In the left lane was Brendan Murry.




Murphy left good and was able to improve his time with a 5.961 at 230.47 which would landed him in the # 11 qualifying position.




But the run was costly and told them it would be nearly impossible to beat this field at their current rate.



The car gets towed back to the pits to regroup.



As outlined in the lead in story, it was nearly 8:45 p.m. before Murphy finally got his shot at Schutz.



The burn-out went smoothly but the run went down hill soon after.



Murphy left first and the launch was clean but by half track both cars were smoking the tires and doing all they could to get to the finish line first. Murphy won the battle with a dismal 6.564 at just 177.27. Schutz coasted through with a 7.949 at 108.73. Murphy would be back on Sunday.



Repairs went on late into the night and the decision was made to get back to basics for the "free pass" on Sunday.






Getting the car ready for round two. After Saturday's epiphany, a back to basics tune-up was in place.



Sunday was the warmest day of the weekend and out came the umbrellas.


It may have been a single but the information gleaned from this pass would set the tone for the next two rounds.



All was good after the burn-out and Dave Thornhill backed Murphy up.



Murphy moves into stage.


The leave was flawless.






Murphy ran the car about 900' and shut off to a 6.363 at just 152.18. This told them what they needed to know. The engine was happy and they had a good base line tune-up.







Judi Murphy (left) plays a major piece in Jim's racing efforts. Here she visits with old friend Suzi Kelly prior to the semi finals.



The semi-finals pitted Murphy against Mendy Fry who had taken out the # 1 qualifier, Adam Sorokin the previous round with a sterling 5.856 at 240.89. Fry had lane choice and Murphy had his work cut out for him.




Fry put Murphy in the less popular left lane.



Both drivers had identical reaction times and were glued together for most of the race until Fry's engine started eating pistons.





Murphy caught a piston himself but took the big win with a stout 5.906 at 251.74 (low ET and Top Speed of the round). He would face Jack Harris in the final and have lane choice.



This was it - what we do this for. The final round of a big one. In the other lane was another former World Champion, Jack Harris. Murphy had lane choice and opted to stay on the left side. Let the games begin.









Murphy moves in... computer goes on.


Murphy was ready for this one. He drilled Harris on the tree by a tenth.









Every step of the way Harris was playing catch-up.



But Murphy was not to be denied with a wire to wire 5.989 at 244.69 win. Harris gave it all the car had but his piston burning 6.145 at 201.92 was not even close. Murphy had won his second CHRR... the first being in 1999.


With what he had just done still processing in his mind, Murphy turns off the track.






After giving thanks for prayers answered, an emotional Murphy climbs out.




Drag racing is a group effort and in most cases a family effort. In Murphy's case its both and you can believe that everyone in this truck is as happy as he was.



Jim and Judi have a moment while reality sets in.



It was a good weekend.


Related Link

AA/FD Inc. - Nostalgia Top Fuel Teams


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