Jim Murphy and
the OSH-WW2 Racing team started the 2003 season the same way
they ended the 2002 campaign - with a huge win. The March Meet
has been held at the Famoso Raceway outside Bakersfield, CA for
the last 44 years. Next to the US Nationals, it is the longest
running annual event in drag racing. In four decades only one
driver has won Top Fuel Eliminator three times ... until this
When the sun set Sunday evening,
Jim Murphy and the OSH -WW2 Racing crew were the victors over
a revamped race track and a stellar field of Nostalgia Top Fuel
Dragsters. The final pitted the two quickest cars on the property,
the yellow and black entry of Murphy and the new VRA ET record
holder, Roger "Radar" Lechtenberg in the "Orange
Crate" of Dale and Kat Suhr. Jim's 5.97 was more than enough
to cover the trouble plagued Radar and give the team their first
step in regaining the VRA Top Fuel Championship and putting the
big # 1 back on the car.
Enjoy the entire story and photos
1. Roger Lechtenberg 5.853 239.93
2. Bill Alexander 5.882 240.00
3. Jack Harris 5.962 243.77
4. Howard Haight 5.963 236.09
5. Gerry Steiner 5.978 229.06
6. Bill Dunlap 6.013 233.88
7. Rick McGee 6.029 224.32
8. Lee Jennings 6.068 220.64
9. Denver Schutz 6.071 229.29
10. Kent Terry 6.162 217.54
11. Jim Murphy 6.182 202.20
12. Brendan Murry 6.215 222.22
13. Pete Kaiser 6.234 202.56
14. Rich Howell 6.291 188.79
15. Tim Gibson 6.300 222.44
16. Mark Malde 6.347 207.56
The Top Fuel final was literally
anybody's race. Roger "Radar" Lechtenberg had a 5.91,
5.85 and record setting 5.78 under his belt, while Jim Murphy
had carded a 5.80 (256) and 5.98 in eliminations. Lechtenberg
had a slight starting line advantage and was barely leading to
the 600' mark when his engine started eating its internal organs.
As the sun sets over the track,
Murphy hits the throttle in route to a 5.97 win and a third March
By 800' it was
a done deal and Murphy streaked on to a 5.97 @ 240.25 win. Covered
in oil, Lechtenberg had a hand full of race car and finally got
it stopped in Murphy's lane.
Murphy gets comfortable
while his elated crew comes to get him (below).
Like the Rolling
Stones song, "It's All Over Now". The chute is out,
the car stops and out pops a very happy Jim Murphy.
In the background you can see
the VRA Safety Safari tending to Roger
Lechtenberg who had more than his share of problems during the
The crew gets the car ready for
the Winners Circle photos while Jim shares the thrill of victory
with wife, Judy.
Gentlemen, start your
Murphy heats the tires
prior to his round one race with Harris.
Backing up to Sunday morning,
the best race of the day was the first round match up between
Jim Murphy and Jack Harris. Both cars had struggled in qualifying
- neither getting in until the last session. Jack's 5.96 was
good for the # 3 spot while Jim's 6.18 was only good for the
#11 position. So on paper, Harris looked to be the favorite,
but races are never run on paper.
launched like a rocket and never missed a lick in route to his
256 MPH - stable as a
Jim got a huge
hole shot (0.515 to a 0.621) and never looked back in the quickest
side by side race in NTF history - 5.80 to a 5.93. For good measure,
the OSH-WW2 Racing fueler tripped the clocks with an incredible
256.84 top speed ... the fastest MPH ever for a front engine
Going into the
second round against the always tough Rick McGee, the OSH team
was just trying to repeat their first round numbers. The cars
left together and most figured Murphy would pull away down track.
had basically the same tune up as the previous run and left the
starting line perfectly. However, the track surface had gotten
hotter and after a close race to half track the abundant horsepower
in Murphy's fueler started the rear tires to spin, causing the
engine RPM to go dangerously high. When pulling on the break
didn't stop the spin, Murphy was forced to shut off and watch
McGee take a 6.07 @ 224. Even with the early chute, Jim still
ran a 6.10 and only 195. Had the car not spun the tires, the
times would have been close to those in round one and the win
would have been in the bag.
After the second
round loss to Rick McGee, Jim Murphy capitalized on the one thing
all racers need, a little luck, to proceed to the finals. When
the Dunlap & Fuller car was unable to repair their round
two damage, Murphy (being the quickest loser from the previous
round) got back in on the "break rule" (designed to
put on a better show for the fans), and went on to beat the newest
member of the 5-Second Club, Howard Haight in the semis which
put the Orchard Hardware Supply fueler into the finals.
Tim Beebe makes
last minute adjustments the engine as Jim Murphy puts on his
firesuit prior to their semi final race with Howard Haight.
A strange thing
happened to Murphy during his semi final match up with Howard
Haight. After his burnout the starting line crew found two chunks
of track missing near the staging beams.
After some momentary
confusion, Murphy was moved over to the left about a foot.
He then proceeded to rip off
a 5.98 @ 241 in his new groove which easily defeated an up in
smoke Haight. Look to the right of the front wheels and you can
see the damaged surface.
Two huge chunks of track are
gone down the foundation. No clue what caused it. Nonetheless,
Murphy got the win and was into the finals.
shots were taken over the weekend and show what goes on off the
Jim Murphy proudly displays the
award he received Wednesday evening before the March Meet from
The Motor Sports Press Association. The prestigious group chose
Murphy "Drag Racer of the Year" for his participation
in the Goodguys (VRA) nostalgia series.
The hottest ticket at the March
Meet were the hundreds of OSH 4-gallon utility buckets given
away at the WW2 Racing trailer to the fans.
Crew member Jon Moore had the
enviable task of passing out the buckets, thus meeting all the
great fans that follow the Orchard Hardware Supply dragster.
Jim Murphy spent all the time
he could shaking hands and autographing the OSH buckets and full
Needless to say,
the attractive OSH buckets were seen everywhere over the weekend.
To say this was a successful promotion would surely be an understatement.
In all forms
of racing the driver usually gets all the accolades when he or
she does good. But its what goes on "in the trenches"
that makes the driver look good (and often bad). Here are several
pit shots taken over the weekend of Ron Rapadas, Barry Byrne,
David Thornhill, Gary Grisel, Jeff Shamrock, Brian Shamrock,
Jon Moore, Tim Beebe and Jim Murphy at work in the pits. This
is where it all happens because if the car isn't right when it
leaves here - it doesn't perform out there.
WW2 Racing Crew
Drag racing is far from a 9 to
5 job. Many teams, including the OSH-WW2 Racing crew often work
long into the night to get the race car ready to go down the
quarter mile the next day. These are a rare breed of people who
will eat cold hamburgers in lieu of a steak dinner in order to
see their car perform as they hope on race day.
Unlike the night maintenance,
the days are more hectic. There are more people willing to help
and a lot more fans wanting to watch. Just take a look at the
next group of photos and ask yourself if this is how you'd like
to spend Sunday afternoon.
The fans at nostalgia races are
no different than those at the "Big Show". They watch
the between round thrashes and move from camp to camp during
WW2 Crew Chief, Tim Beebe and
Gary Grisel prepare to fire the OSH car.
Barry Byrne (in front of the
car) and Gary Grisel (behind) back up Murphy to the starting line, making sure
he stays in "the groove" (the track surface with the
best traction). Backing up in the same tracks you made on the
burnout is crucial to the best start possible.
After every run the onboard data
computer is downloaded and analyzed by Tim Beebe and Jim Murphy.
This information will tell the duo what was right or wrong on
the tune up - what the engine did and where - and hopefully give
them what they need to make the car run better next time.
Judy "Team Manager"
Murphy obviously approves of things at this time and place.
Gary Grisel, Jon Moore and David
Thornhill get the car ready to be towed to the staging lanes
for the final round of racing.
After their huge win over Lechtenberg,
the WW2 team had some fun on the top end before towing the car
back for the trophy, photos and the all important $10,000 purse.
AA/FD Inc. - Nostalgia Top Fuel Teams
All is well that ends well. Jim
Murphy and the Top Fuel Eliminator trophy for the 44th annual