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October 28-30, Auto Club Famoso Raceway-Bakersfield, CA-  Holy cow!  What a finish to the 2005 VRA Series.  The Fuel and Gas Finals closed out the season in dramatic fashion, with many first time winners and class champions.  Those who were there witnessed the first "5" run in Nostalgia Funny Car, while many were stunned by the 6.17 run in A/Fuel.  Interestingly, both of these milestone moments belong to newly crowned champions.  Of the 14 champions crowned, six of those came into the event with points deficits and full fields of stout entries to get around to "make it happen".  NE1 "Kingpin" Don Taros was one of those drivers to do so, and became the first driver to win four consecutive class titles.  Can anyone unseat this guy?  Speaking of repeats, Ed Carey repeated as D/Gas Champ, while Scott Parks and Craig Wallace collected three-peats in Jr. Fuel A and NE3, respectively.  B/Gas, B/Gas, B/Gas...the most notable achievement would have to go to the B/Gas Champion, Rob Patten, who started the season in his '55 Chevy and then debuted his '63 Vette at Pomona, but did not win a single event this year!  Interestingly, Patten won the 2001 C/Gas title without having won an event as well.  Is this guy something else, or what?   Our congratulations to all the competitors who made the 2005 points chase a memorable one and fun to keep track of.  Looking forward to 2006 for sure!  The following photo highlights will take you on a journey of just some of the excitement and ups-and-downs that happened during this event. Enjoy! Dawn & Mark

Bobby Rivas, near lane, pulled a foul start against Eric Christianson during the first round of NE3.  Christianson went on to win the event.

A/Gas competitor Brad Chafee qualified his '67 Nova in the ninth spot of the show with a great 7.70, but lost to eventual winner and newly crowned champ Steve Castelli in the opening round.

Scott Parks claimed his third consecutive Jr. Fuel "A" championship when nearest challenger, J.D. Zink failed to win the event.  Parks will be switching from Chevy power to a Hemi combo in 2006. 

The A/Gas final featured newly crowned champ Steve Castelli, far lane, and Mike Thielen.  Thielen caught a slight starting line advantage but his 7.668 was not enough to hold off Castelli's 7.610.

Rick Williamson had a very respectable weekend in Top Fuel, qualifying 11th in the field with a 6.04 and lasting until the semi final round where he red-lit against newly crowned champ Rick White.

The biggest surprise of the B/Gas show was watching B/Gas points leader Kevin Riley get bumped out of the field in the last qualifying session.  It was a tough field, as 32 entered for the event and Riley's 8.75 was only good for the 18th spot.  How tight were the top 16.  Dave Matson grabbed the number one spot with an 8.605, while Rafael Quiroga held the bump spot with an 8.71.  Yowsa!  What a show!
It's been some time since we've seen the "Ground Zero" Top Fuel entry in late rounds, and fans were happy to see Pete 'Fritz' Kaiser advance to the semi finals.  Kaiser qualified fourth in the field with a personal-best 5.897, and disposed of Brendan Murry in round one with a slightly better 5.895.  Kaiser defeated Adam Sorokin in round two, in what was the closest race of the class 6.044 to 6.045, before losing to eventual winner Howard Haight in the semi's.
Randy Armstrong entered the Finals in the third spot of the B/Gas points chase, just 12 points out of first.  Armstrong qualified in the second spot with a great 8.611, but lost to first alternate Jim Teague in round one, 8.65 to 8.62. Uggh! 
The Top Fuel championship came down to the first round pairing of number one and two points leaders, Rick McGee, far lane, and Rick White.  McGee, who was in as an alternate, needed to defeat White to claim the championship and despite a hole-shot effort, McGee encountered traction woes and was forced to pedal it and eventually give up the race and title chase to White.  White had problems of his own but was able to score a 6.11 win light over McGee's 6.66.  White clinched the title following his round two win over Terry Cox, and went on to earn runner-up honors to Howard Haight.
Marking the first time a European racer has competed at a Goodguys event, Thor Sleirgen brought his '41 Willys all the way from Norway. Sleirgen just missed making the 16-car field with his 8.04, as the bump spot was a 7.87.  

Dan Schrokosch nailed the number one spot of the NE1 field with a perfect 7.600, but was upset in the first round by Dan Whiteman.  Whiteman used a 7.70 to take out "Dirty Dan's" 7.73.  Look out for this cat in 2006!
Reigning B/Gas Champ James Schwartz was just eight points behind Riley coming into the event, and needed just one round win to move ahead of his non-qualified friend, Riley.  Schwartz was unable to capitalize on the opportunity, as he lost his first round match to Frank Merenda, 8.699 to 8.638.  Unbelievable! 
After qualifying second in Funny Car with a great 6.02, Mike Savage, near lane, fought to keep his errant "Speed Sport" entry in his own lane during this first round meeting with Steve Nichols.  Nichols advanced to the next round with a winning 6.592 over Savage's shut-off 10.13.
Kin Bates enjoyed another great outing in A/Fuel competition, as he qualified second behind brother-in-law Claude Lavoie with a 6.281.  Bates charged to another final round meeting with Lavoie, but was faced with tractions woes and was forced to shut off.  Bates did finish second in points behind Lavoie.
It was four years in the making, but the team of Abbey and Goshgarian finally captured their fist AA/GS championship.  Abbey capped off the team's stellar season by qualifying number one with a 6.589/209.69, and despite losing his opening round match to Sean Renteria on a hole-shot, 6.647 to 6.682, was reinstated into the field when Renteria was unable to return in round two.  Abbey took full advantage of his reprieve, scoring wins over Howard Anderson and Ron Nunes, respectively, to collect his second win of the season.

Bud Hammer completed a great '05 season in Jr. Fuel B, qualifying third with a great 7.27 and earning runner-up honors at the Finals.  Hammer finished second in points behind John Rasmussen
Dennis LaCharite was one of three drivers to open Funny Car qualifying with a 6.10.  LaCharite's 6.106 held for the fourth spot of the field, followed by round wins over Jeff Utterback and Steve Nichols, respectively, to advance to his first final round appearance.  LaCharite ran a 6.46 in the final, but that was overshadowed by the 6.16 run by newly crowned champ Larry Pettit.
C/Gas racer Pat McDonald led the points chase going into the event by 32 points.  McDonald qualified his '63 Chevy in the third spot with a great 9.61, but red-lit by .001 against Clay Bentson in the first round.  McDonald watched his points lead evaporate and ultimately be surpassed by eventual runner-up, Steve Galileo.
Sitting back in the fourth place of B/Gas was little 'ol Rob Patten, who was just 20 points behind Riley.  Patten qualified in the third spot with an 8.611 and  disposed of Monte Fitzgerald (who cut a perfect light), 8.62 to 8.67.  Patten clinched the title, but lost in round two to eventual winner Red McGuiness on a .011 redlight.  Double ugggh!
Steve Galileo, who entered the event in second place-just 32 points behind Pat McDonald, launches his squeaky-clean '64 Fairlane to the number one spot of the field with a 9.609.  When McDonald fouled in the opening round, the window of opportunity widened for Galileo to take over the points battle and win the championship.  Galileo methodically marched through his side of the ladder and ultimately clinched the title with a semi-final round win over Jess Wooten in a double break-out clash, 9.587 to 9.558.  Despite a hole-shot advantage, Galileo's storybook weekend came to an end in the final when he lost to good friend John Contreras, 9.68 to 9.66.  Congratulations, Steve!

Lee Paul Jennings participated in what would be his final A/Fuel appearance, as he is moving up to the nostalgia  Funny Car class in 2006.  Jennings qualified the "Jennings and Scheele" entry in the fifth spot with a season's best 6.657, and lasted until the second round where he lost to eventual runner-up, Kin Bates.  Good luck next year, Lee Paul!
Richard Wilson drives this beautiful '35 Chrysler in C/Gas.  Wilson cranked out a great 9.72 during qualifying which placed him in the 14th spot, only to bow out in round one.  Wilson's entry did not go unnoticed by officials, as he receive the VRA Best Appearing Car award.
What a rockin' cool ride!  Dan Crisp debuted this flamed '64 El Camino in B/Gas, but failed to make the tough show when his 8.57 was too quick against the 8.60 index. 
Funny Car driver Larry Pettit entered the event 35 points behind class leader Dan Horan.  Pettit ran the table at the event scoring the low e.t. and top speed with class' first "5" with a 5.92/245.16 during the second round of qualifying.  Pettit backed that number up with another 5.92 to close out qualifying, and then ousted Horan during their second round meeting 6.09 to 6.22.  Pettit clinched the championship at that point, and then went on to close the season with a final round win over Dennis LaCharite 6.16 to 6.46.
Claude Lavoie rocked the "Patch" with a stunning 6.179 during Saturday's final A/Fuel qualifying session.  When class points leader Mike Austin departed the event to compete at the Div 7 points meet in Las Vegas, Lavoie took command of the field on Sunday and went on to win the event and the class championship.  Holy cow!

Ed Schwarz enjoyed his best qualifying performance of the season, when he put the "Estrus Racing" '70 Vega in the seventh spot of the field with a personal-best 6.342.  Schwarz's weekend came to an early end in the opening round when he lost his pedal-match to Dan Horan 6.782 to 6.557.
The surest thing to exist in Banning, CA, is Del Dysart's wicked '55 T-Bird.  Dysart qualified in the 10th spot of the B/Gas show with a great 8.65, but was unable to return for the first round.
Those that witnessed the Jr. Fuel "A" final watched J.D. Zink go into an instant wheelstand/blowover and pirouette down track.  Zink was uninjured in the mishap, while opponent Stu Sandhaus charged to a 7.09 for the win.  
Longtime Hot Rod competitor Alan Ross launches his '65 Mustang during Friday time trials.  Ross, who was dialed-in to the 11.50 range all weekend, lost a close quarter-final match to eventual winner Michael Furiani.  In what was one of the closest races of the event, both drivers had nearly the same reaction time while Ross ran an 11.55 (11.53 dial) to Furiani's 10.230 (10.23 dial).  Wow!
Ronnie Lennon entered the Finals leading the NE1 points chase by 11 points over Don Taros.  Lennon out-qualified Taros by running a 7.61 to qualify third, but red-lighted away any championship hopes in his opening round match with Kent Specht.

Dave Ward had a slim shot at winning the NE1 title, but rolled the lights during his first round meeting against Terry Caldwell.
Les Vogt qualified his blown, BBC-powered '31 Ford Coupe in the fourth spot of NE2 with an awesome 8.609.  Vogt ran a near-perfect 8.60 in the first round, but his tardy reaction time against Jim Cutts' 9.65 prevented his advancing to the second round.
Auto Club Famoso Raceway neighbor, Randy Winkle, was one of 23 cars competing for a spot in the NE2 field.  Winkle missed the cut when he ran below the class' 8.60 index, but did take home the VRA Most Nostalgic Award.
Jim Data qualified well in the A/Gas program, earning the sixth spot with a 7.66.  Data, who had his entire family with him for the weekend, lost to eventual winner Steve Castelli when he red-lit by .001!
Lary Alvey drives this homebuilt altered in NE1 and qualified fourth with a great 7.617.  Alvey was another casualty of the a first round redlight.

Steve Nichols made his second tow from Delaware this season well worth the trip, qualifying in the sixth spot of the Funny Car field with a great 6.312-the best number for a Chevy-powered entry.  Nichols defeated Mike Savage in round one, before losing a close race to Dennis LaCharite in round two.
Brett Harris, near lane, and Rick Rogers met in round one of Top Fuel, and the race was over past the tree as Harris blazed the tires and was forced to watch Rogers take the win light with an early shut off 7.273.
John Rasmussen launches his Jr. Fueler to a great 7.278 during the final qualifying session.  Rasmussen, who had clinched the class championship at the Seattle event, ended up fourth in the field and lasted until the semi-final round where he was disposed of by defending class champ and eventual winner, Don Enriquez, 7.26 to 7.29.
Ron Nunes, near lane, and Mike Leonard streak to the finish line during their first round meeting.  Unfortunately for Leonard the chute trailing behind him and then eventually blossoming past the tree, forced him to abort the run and trail Nunes through the lights. 
Defending A/Fuel Champ Bill Wayne fought to keep his entry in the very narrow groove during the first qualifying session.  Wayne came back to qualify fourth with a 6.422, but red-lit against Trinon Cirello in the first round.
Dialed-in at 9.60, Hot Rod competitor Kevin Houmard drove the wheels off his gorgeous blown '70 Camaro en route to his first Goodguys win.

Mike Boyd took the ride of his life in the Winged Express when the front left wheel liberated itself during an exhibition pass at the Goodguys Fuel & Gas Finals. Following an encounter with the retaining wall past the finish line and a couple of side-rolls, the car came to a rest on its side in the shutdown area. Mike walked away unscathed from the incident, but the car did not fair as well. Current plans for the team are to have a fourth version of the Winged Express rebuilt and ready by the start of the 2006 racing season.   Sequence by Dawn Mazi-Hovsepian

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