A year ago, Nostalgia Funny Car driver Dan Horan Jr. honored the memory of his father by having the rear quarter panel of his car adorned with a depiction of his father’s front-engined dragster doing a burnout.
Horan took things a step further this year.
He is driving the Nostalgia Top Fuel dragster owned by his late father in the 60th annual Good Vibrations March Meet at Auto Club Famoso Raceway. Horan is also campaigning his Funny Car
“I just really miss my dad every day and the opportunity came up to run his car,” Horan said on Friday. “I repainted it exactly like he would have had it and I teamed up with Pete Kaiser.
“It was Kaiser and his dad, and me and my dad battling out in the early ’90s when all these front motored cars started. It’s 100 percent a tribute to my dad (who died in November, 2016). I miss him every day. I want to do the best I can in the dragster and I have a lot of good people helping me.”
Horan is qualified 10th at 5.82 seconds after two rounds of Funny Car qualifying on Friday. He is seventh after one round of Top Fuel qualifying at an off-pace 7.03 seconds.
The Funny Cars are scheduled for one more qualifying run Saturday to set a 16-car field with two qualifying rounds scheduled for Top Fuel, which will set an eight-car field.
While he is very comfortable in the Funny Car which he has campaigned for several years, Horan said getting back into the front-engined dragster is a new ballgame.
“The Top Fueler is much different than when I stopped driving them,” he said. “I stopped driving them in 1994. This Top Fueler has a lot of power and accelerates really hard compared to what I’m used to. There’s a learning curve to it but it’s something I’m going to dive into.”
Horan said he’s not sure how much double duty he will pull this year, most likely for sure again at the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion in October, and is formulating and exit strategy for his own racing career.
“I might retire out of the Nostalgia Funny Car ranks next year, run one year of Nostalgia Top Fuel and hang up my helmet and call it quits,” he said. “I started racing front-engine Top Fuel cars in 1990. If I finish where I started then that’s not a bad thing.”
But before then he wants to make a little March Meet history.
“They’ve had this March Meet for 60 years and there’s never been one diver who has qualified in both classes,” he said. “That’s my mission. I want to do the best we can in both cars.”
Two Funny Car drivers picked up where they left off at last October’s Hot Rod Reunion.
Bobby Cottrell, who qualified No.1 and went on to win the Reunion, leads the way in qualifying at the March Meet with a run of 5.650 seconds at 239.31 mph.
He is followed by Jeff Arend, 6.664; Mark Sanders, 5.678, Steven Densham, 6.679; and Jason Rupert, 5.688.
Rupert had a devastating Reunion, running quick enough to be among the qualifying leaders on all three of his runs. But he blew the motor on each of those runs and put oil on the track which disallowed every run and left him not qualified.
Rupert blew his engine again on Friday, but his time oil did not make it to the track.
“We kicked a rod out out of the same spot we kicked a rod out last year after making repairs,” Rupert said. “At least we did a lot of work on the containment device, the belly pan, and we didn’t put one drop of oil on the track so we’re allowed to keep that run.”
Defending Top Fuel champion Mendy Fry led qualifying in Top Fuel at 5.736 seconds at just 219.51 mph. She was trailed by Bret Williamson, 5.933; Pete Wittenberg, 6.305, and Jim Murphy, 6.402.
One of the most impressive performances was that of Dan Hix, who ran 6.005 around 7 p.m. on a cold race track to lead AA/Fuel Altered qualifying.