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After Qualifying #1 Rain Denies Murphy 5th March Meet Win




2006 was the 13th year the March Meet has been run under the Goodguys VRA banner and it proved to be unlucky indeed. There are some things in life you just have to write off as a really bad deal that was nobody's fault. The 47th March Meet proved to be one of those things. Drag racers can do a lot but running in the rain is not one of them. Over two miserable weekends the Goodguys, racers and fans could only hope that the rain would stop and the race begin.

Although the Top Fuel cars did get one qualifying run and squeezed in first round of eliminations, the sun that finally came out on Sunday only served to draw water up from under the racing surface making it to dangerous to race on. It was the first time in history that the event had to be not only postponed for a week but canceled altogether. It was a no win situation for all involved.

This was all very disappointing to Jim Murphy and the WW2 Racing team as they were poised to do exactly what they came here to do - win Murphy's 5th March Meet which would have tied him with the legendary Don Garlits with the most wins in the 47th year of drag racings oldest established event.

Photos and full story below.



This sets the tone for the weekend.



Friday morning - nothing but rain. Tinker with car. Talk to friends...


or just take a nap.


An upside of the wait was Jim had time to spend with his grandson.



Friday afternoon with little hope of getting a run in the WW2 Racing crew fired up the engine to make sure there were no leaks that would bite them the following day.







Among all the cool things the Goodguys had planned for the weekend was the unveiling of the March Meet Champions board. Fortunately they were able to pull this one off and had 9 of the drivers pose for photos on Friday.


L to R: Art Chrisman (1959), Don Garlits (1965, 1971, 1979, 1986 & 1987), Gary Beck (1984 & 1985), Butch Blair (1988), Pete Kaiser (1995), Bill Dunlap (1994 & 1997), Jim Murphy (1998, 1999, 2003 & 2004), Jack Harris (2001 & 2002), Howard Haight (2005).


Goodguys PR Director, John Drummond with four time winner Jim Murphy.



At about 2 p.m. on Saturday the teams were told that they were, barring anymore rain, going to try to get a one-shot qualifying session in around 3 p.m. It was time to warm the engine.



Saturday - One-Shot Qualifying Session


At 3:51 on a cold afternoon the first pair of Top Fuel cars finally got a shot at the track. Murphy chose go in the 8th pair gambling that the track would get better with more rubber on it. As they prepared to start the engine it was nearly 4 p.m. The track did have more rubber but it was still cold and had a very narrow racing groove.


Doing his burnout in the left lane, Jim Murphy knew low ET was only a 6.13. Under normal (or even average) conditions that would be "weak". But these where not normal or even average conditions and with only two pairs to go, a .13 was looking way good. In the other lane was Terry Cox in the Cheetah III car.





Long time WW2 crewman, Dave Thornhill backs Murphy up from his burnout.





The green car was on the edge from the hit and logged the best 60' time of the weekend.



Cox smoked the tires early and could only watch Murphy pull away from him.




The Tim Beebe - Jim Murphy tuned car never missed a lick and although Murphy got way close to the wall on the top end his 5.947 at 238.72 would move him to the head of the class - by a full tenth.




Check out the tire distortion! Murphy was running the new M&H "C" compound slicks that are a full 2" taller than previous designs.



Jim made his contribution to The Patch Insect Abatement Program (burned pistons) but it was worth it for the time slip they netted.


There is no better praise than that of a peer.....

"Every time I look at the photo of Jim Murphy throwing the laundry out it impresses me more and more that Jim was able to run as good as he did on that run. Not only is he out in the marbles throwing dirt, but he is so far out of the groove that you can't even see it in the picture. These cars are notorious for spinning the tires under the best of conditions, so for Jim to run a '90' with all of that working against him is quite amazing. This run is typical of the challenge that everyone faced. Just keeping the tires glued to the ground, and the car pointed in the right direction, was a major challenge that nearly everyone failed to accomplish.

Henry Walther
Cheetah III Nostalgia Top Fuel


Final Top Fuel Qualifying
1. Jim Murphy -  5.947 @ 238.72
2. Brad Thompson  -  6.033 @ 250.13
3. Howard Haight  -  6.137 @ 248.00
4. Mendy Fry  -  6.185 @ 181.67
5. Sean Bellemeur  - 6.223 @ 245.96
6. Brett Harris  -  6.233 @ 218.23
7. Shannon Stuart  -  6.369 @ 227.33
8. Pete Kaiser  -  6.403 @ 232.01
9.   Rick McGee  -  6.569 @ 214.95
10. Bill Dunlap  -  6.750 @ 202.83
11. Adam Sorokin  -  6.980 @ 228.19
12. Jason Richey  - 7.251 @ 175.26
13. Terry Cox  -  7.316 @ 210.32
14. Rick Rogers  -  7.639 @ 180.00
15. Mark Malde  -  8.447 @ 99.45
16. Rick Williamson  -  8.662 @ 94.92




Sunday morning Jim Murphy, Tim Beebe and Ron Rapadas go over data prior to the first round of eliminations,



The crew got the car ready for battle.




Eliminations - Round One


Sunday was just that - the first day in two weeks that predicted NO rain. The Goodguys crew had cars on the track by 8:00 am trying desperately to salvage the race and give everyone at least one shot at the show. Everyone was planning for a very long day and nighttime finals. In spite of the sun shine and comfortable temps, the massive amounts of rain would prove to be the winner yet another day.


The only person to win the March Meet more times than Jim Murphy was Grand Marshall, the legendary Don Garlits here with Goodguys PR Director John Drummond and CEO Gary Meadors during the pre race ceremonies.


10:02 a.m. Much nicer conditions this morning. About 58 degrees and lots of sunshine. Track temperature in the high 70s. A perfect day for a drag race. Or not.


#1 qualifier, Murphy was in the fifth pair out for round one and would face #16 qualifier, Rick Williamson.




Brian Shamrock activates the data computer just prior to Jim staging.


Playing it safe, Murphy had an unusually slow reaction time (0.238) so for a second or two he was playing catch up to Williamson.





By the 330' mark Murphy was past and pulling away.



Before the 1000' mark there were signs of piston sacrifices but lifting, for Murphy, was not a option.



Amid oil and smoke, Murphy took the win and Low ET of the Event (5.917 at 241.41) even lower. He'd taken the first step in tying Big Daddy Don's record.



After the first round win the car was hustled back to the pits and repaired.



Still thinking there would be a second round of eliminations, the crew warmed up the engine in anticipation of round two.





Shortly after the WW2 Racing dragster was ready to go the staging lanes the word was handed down that the event had been canceled. This was the last thing Jim Murphy and his crew wanted to hear. They were more than poised to win the event and accomplish what they had set out to do - win Murphy his 5th March Meet tying him with Garlits. But Mother Nature had other plans and now they have to wait until next year to take another shot at tying the record. A huge disappointment for everyone - especially Jim.



Official Goodguys Press Release

Bakersfield, CA – Wet track conditions caused by “weepers” (pockets of water seeping through tiny cracks in the asphalt) forced Goodguys/VRA officials to cancel all racing at the 47th March Meet. Water from weeks of rain continued to seep through the racing surface today even though the weather conditions were perfect for racing.

The day started off with some sportsman eliminations and continued with round one of top fuel. Conditions were fine with Visalia’s Brad Thompson running Low ET of the meet at 5.862. After a couple more hours of racing water started seeping up through the racing surface in several areas causing the cancellation of the event.

Goodguys officials deemed the race canceled at 1:30pm. There will be no rerun.

The 47th March Meet got off to an inauspicious start when it was postponed a week due to rain. The rerun this weekend was not much better with most of the first two days washed out due to passing rain showers.

“It’s as frustrating as it gets,” said Goodguys President Gary Meadors. “The racers and the officials both agreed that the conditions were not suitable for further competition.”

The next Goodguys West Coast Championship Series event, the 9th Pomona Nitro Nationals, is scheduled for May 5-7 at Pomona Raceway.



And so ended a very disappointing weekend for the WW2 Racing team. Their sights are now set on the VRA May race in Pomona.



Related Link

AA/FD Inc. - Nostalgia Top Fuel Teams


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