Jim Murphy and
the OSH-WW2 Racing team is getting tired of winning battles but
not wars. This was the case again at the 2002 CHRR. With the
problems that plagued the team earlier in the season found and
solved, expectations were high for this event, one that Murphy
has won twice in the past. With only two qualifying sessions,
both on Saturday, none of the 27 Nostalgia Top Fuel cars in the
pits could afford to make mistakes including WW2 Racing. After
a nice 6.12 first attempt, Murphy came back in the second session
to run a "safe" 6.06 @ 234 MPH landing them solidly
in the # 5 qualifying position of the quickest NTF field in history.
With a mere .10 of a second separating the # 1 and # 8 qualifiers,
Sunday eliminations were deemed "anybody's race". That
anybody turned out to be Jack Harris from Utah but for another
stroke of "freak luck" it might have been Murphy. Enjoy
the full story and photos below.
Final Top Fuel Qualifying
1. Gerry Steiner 5.999 244.43
2. Jack Harris 6.004 179.56
3. Glenn Hutchenson 6.01 235.10
4. Rich Howell 6.013 194.84
5. Jim Murphy 6.063 234.19
6. Rick McGee 6.066 219.51
7. Bob Hallock 6.071 211.01
8. John Shoemaker 6.095 217.07
9. Bill Dunlap 6.098 229.88
10. Brendan Murry 6.102 217.67
11. Troy Green 6.123 227.73
12. Kerry Moreira 6.149 236.15
13. Bill Alexander 6.152 218.87
14. Denver Schutz 6.171 226.81
15. Lee Jennings 6.199 211.61
16. Marc Malde 6.208 219.35
though water box prior to burnout.
The first qualifying
session on Saturday netted the team a "safe" 6.12 which
was good but not good enough to ultimately make the "A Field".
Session Two would be crucial.
From the beginning
of Top Fuel qualifying it was obvious that the track personnel
had done an excellent job preparing the racing surface. All weekend
long only one car smoked the tires - that is the true testament
of the "bite". Here Murphy launches on his 6.12 run...
rear tires glued to the surface, car perfectly balanced.
HP nitro hemi on the hoof. i.e. - a beautiful bomb.
Warming up prior
to Saturday's second qualifying session. The "warm up"
procedure is done back in the pits prior to every run the car
makes. This is done to (a) get some heat in the engine and more
importantly, to make sure there are no leaks or other problems.
on Saturday and Sunday hovered in the 90 degree range and there
were umbrellas everywhere - mostly keeping the drivers shaded
while they sat in 6 layer fire suits waiting to run. One of the
many hats worn by Cheryl
Grisel is "keeper of the shade".
Crew Chief Tim Beebe squirts
gas into the injector (to help engine start) before activating
the remote starter (below).
does his typical short and smoky burnout.
Saturday - Qualifying
Session Two ... WW2
rolls though the water box before burnout.
Barry Byrne backs
Murphy back 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. Note the SRO crowd that lined the Fomosa
The second qualifying
session got underway about 3 PM, right in the heat of the day.
Normally 90 degree air temps make for a hot and "unstable"
track. The concern is spinning or smoking the tires on the less
than ideal surface. With that thought in mind, Murphy tweaked
the tune-up and set out to give the track all it would take.
cars come to a safe stop - Murphy in the show, Ginsberg is not.
literally had his tongue hanging out after this run!
Rear tires hooked
up, front end dangling in the air, Murphy's on his way to a "safe"
but quick 6.06 @ 234 MPH. This put them in the # 5 spot of the
top eight and gave Murphy and Tim Beebe the data they would use
for their first round match up with Gerry Steiner on Sunday.
All was good.
Firmly in the
field, the crew prepares the car for Sunday's eliminations. Here
are several candid pit shots of Ron Rapadas, Barry Byrne, David
Thornhill, Gary Grisel, Jeff Shamrock, Brian Shamrock, Jon Moore,
the "WW2 Women's Auxiliary", Tim Beebe and Jim Murphy
Jim Murphy mixes his own fuel.
Here he is checking the "percentage" (nitro vs alcohol)
with a hydrometer. Since most fuel cars cannot run straight nitromethane,
the percentage is cut with methanol so the engine is actually
getting anywhere from 92 to 95 (depending on the tune up) percent
On Sunday morning
the first round of Top Fuel "A" saw # 5 qualifier,
Jim Murphy paired up with # 1 qualifier, Gerry Steiner. This
is a pay-for-view final at any nostalgia race in the world.
Tim Beebe backs
down (makes sure there is no raw fuel in the cylinders) the potent
WW2 hemi just prior to Murphy getting into the car.
After their burnouts
both Gerry Steiner and Jim Murphy stage for their first round
match-up. In the closest race of the weekend (and there were
several close races) Murphy sent Steiner packing with a hole
shot win that was determined by less than 13 inches at the finish
line! Murphy's 6.026 @ 239.10) just did defeat Gerry Steiner's
quicker and faster (5.985 @ 249.51).
As illustrated above, the new
M&H tires were working flawlessly all weekend giving the
fuel cars a rare chance to use more horsepower.
At the 300' mark
Murphy was a good 3/4 of a car ahead of Steiner. Try as he did,
Gerry was never able to make up the starting line deficit and
failed to run down (catch) Murphy.
An elated crew head down to pick
up the car after their first round win over Steiner.
After their huge win over Steiner,
the WW2 team got back to the pits and started preparing for round
two against Glenn Hutchinson.
two, all looked fine during the burnout.
After his win
over Steiner in round one, most of the smart money was on Murphy
to defeat Hutchinson in the semis setting up Nitro Thunder -
OSH-WW2 Racing final.
Backing up from
the burnout there was no indication that the car was broken.
Winning was not
to be as the WW2 car broke a rod bolt on the burnout and had
to sit dejected as the Foothill Flyer took an early shut-off
single. Jim Murphy climbed
out of the car and like everyone else was asking, "what
happened this time?" Later it came down to... "That's
Jim Murphy, Tim Beebe and Roland Leong.
some time with Roland Leong, legendary dragster and funny car
AA/FD Inc. - Nostalgia Top Fuel Teams
Jim Murphy accepts
his "5-Second Club" jacket during the Nitronic Research
presentation ceremony on Saturday. Jim Sorenson has that look
of a tailor to him as he inspects the goods.
& commentary by Vic Cooke