Murphy - OSH-WW2
Racing Retain VRA Points Lead
things considered, Jim Murphy and the OSH-WW2 Racing team came
out of the Goodguys 6th West Coast Hot Rod Happinin' in good
shape. Battling hot and tricky track conditions all weekend,
the guys left Pomona with a semi final finish and still holding
on to the # 1 spot in the 2003 VRA Top Fuel Championship Points
race. Even before the season started most everyone agreed that
Murphy and Jack Harris would be the pace setters in Top Fuel.
With only one VRA race left (Fuel & Gas Finals) the two are
indeed on top of the heap and in a very close battle for the
2003 TF Championship. Murphy holds a slight lead (275 to 264)
which means Bakersfield in November will be a nail biter for
both. Who ever goes one round further than the other will be
Top Fuel Qualifying
1. Jack Harris 5.879 256.33
2. Jim Murphy 5.887 225.39
3. Howard Haight 6.015 242.13
4. Jeff Diehl 6.027 243.70
5. Bill Dunlap 6.061 238.22
6. Lee Jennings 6.083 238.91
7. Bob Muravez 6.092 236.96
8. Denver Schutz 6.102 229.47
9. Bill Alexander 6.134
10. Rick McGee 6.158 212.11
11. Brendan Murry 6.188 222.44
12. Troy Green 6.258 226.64
13. Rich Howell 6.372 200.80
14. Bob Hallock 6.384 171.03
15. Rick Rogers 6.504 208.04
16. Chuck Tanko 6.811 206.56
Although the teams set up on
Thursday, for all intent and purpose the weekend started for
the Top Fuel cars on Friday afternoon. Due to the fact that these
types of cars hadn't run at Pomona in two years meant their past
data was near useless. And then there was the heat and extreme
track temperatures to consider. The first qualifying session
was full of unknown factors.
lights it was close. A nice side by side qualifying race.
4:30 PM - track
temp 139 degrees. Both Jim Murphy and Lee Jennings Jr. had very
good "base" tune ups and got down the hot track together.
Murphy ran a conservative 6.23 @ 228 while Jennings carded a
6.24 @ 232.
There's nothing like Top Fuel
dragsters under the lights and this event featured two such qualifying
sessions on Friday and Saturday night. With cooler track temperatures
and better air, the nitro cars should (at least in theory) run
much better than they do during the day. The Friday night session
proved to be an exception to that rule. Only two cars improved
over their earlier attempts and Jim Murphy wasn't one of them.
The OSH-WW2 Racing fueler was on a great pass (the data recorder
had it in the 5.90s) when the car got loose at the 1000' mark
and headed for the center line. Murphy reeled it in but not before
barely hitting the timing lights. This resulted in a negated
run and a dented front wing.
The third qualifying session
went off late - 5:15 PM. This was a good thing in that the temperature
had dropped to the high 80s and the track was ONLY 140 degrees
(down from 145). This session paired up Murphy with Bob Muravez.
As seen from the grandstands,
both cars left hard and it was a great drag race for 900' when
Muravez shut it off.
Towing back to the pits.
Murphy had no
intentions of cutting his run short and went right down the middle
of the hot track to record a nice 6.14 @ 235.
Speaking of towing back to the
pits ... without a doubt the most popular promotion of the event
was the give-away OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware) T-shirts that
the WW2 crew threw out to the fans. To quote one lucky catcher,
"This is the coolest thing I've ever got! For sure front
line in my racing wardrobe!" And OSH thought the buckets
were a big hit!
As always, Tim Beebe poured over
the data collected on the previous run. He figured going into
the night session on Saturday the car would run in the fives
with the cooler temps and better air.
Session #4 - Saturday night.
This is what the fans came to see and what a show they got. For
the only time all weekend the #1 (Jim Murphy) and #2 (Jack Harris)
VRA Top Fuel points leaders squared off. The masses expected
a side by side 5 second race and nobody was disappointed. Murphy
leaped up to the #2 qualifying spot with a stout 5.88 @ 225 with
Harris trailing with a 5.92 but ran the backup for the speed
record - 256.55.
As a side note, this pass could
well have been the quickest in history if not for a broken rocker
arm at half track. The data computer indicated that it should
have been (had the engine stayed in tact) a mid to low 5.70 pass.
For you fans who are into numbers, check out the stats between
the 5.80 run at Bakersfield in March against the numbers from
this pass at Pomona.
To quote Murphy, "As you
can see the cylinder dropped and then a rocker broke at 4 seconds
and the last half of the run was on 6 cylinders. One of these
days we'll put it all together and be famous (LOL)."
First round Sunday morning pitted
Jim Murphy and Rick McGee. Had the Tedford & McGee car been
healthy this could have been a great match up. The cars left
together but it was over early for McGee when he blew the tires
off at the 200' mark. Murphy repeated his 5.88 (low ET in eliminations)
qualifying time and run a ton faster at 241.15.
After their first round
win over McGee, the crew busy swapping short blocks.
With track temps once again rising
into the 140 area, traction was becoming a rare commodity. In
round two, Jim Murphy and Lee Jennings Sr. illustrated that in
spades. It was one ugly drag race with both cars leaving hard
then going up in smoke before the 200' mark.
At this point both cars had blazed
the tires, tried in vane to recover and shut off (note closed
throttle blades on the injectors). Jennings had no way of knowing
that the OSH-WW2 Racing entry had a broken throttle shaft and
was literally dead in the water. Had he known, he may have given
the gas one more whack but there's that big word "if".
At any rate, both drivers peddled their hearts out and in spite
of the broken throttle shaft, Murphy coasted through first. 8.64
After dodging a bullet, Murphy
replaced the broken throttle shaft in preparation of his semi
final meeting with Jeff Diehl.
After all the second round antics,
the Top Fuel semis were a crap shoot. After his coasting match
with Jennings, Jim Murphy was paired with Jeff Diehl (who in
a questionable call was back in on the break rule for Chuck Tanko).
Murphy wanted this round badly - maybe too badly.
Just off the line Murphy strikes
the tires (see it starting in the shot below). With Diehl streaking
to a 6.09 @ 235 pass, all the throttle peddling and break
pulling in the world wouldn't catch him. Making the most of his
reinstatement, Jeff is going to the final. The weekend is over
for the OSH-WW2 Racing team.
Saturday afternoon saw a gathering
of the Kings of Speed - the very exclusive "250 MPH Club".
From left to right: Jack Harris, Howard Haight, Jim Murphy (who
ran the first 250 ever) and Gerry Steiner. Sponsored by WDIFL.com,
the club will follow a Bonneville format in that there are no
set spots available. Since the 250 mark is the last frontier
for the Nostalgia Top Fuel cars (and very hard to do), anyone
who runs the speed will become a member.