When defending NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion Top Fuel champion Jim Young rolled in Bakersfield a couple of days ago, he had a bit more than just his dragster in a semi trailer.
In addition to the car he drove to victory last October, Young brought along a Fuel Altered, an Arias engine, a couple of rear ends and a junior dragster — all for other people.
Trying to defer the cost of the long tow from Salem, Wisc. to Famoso, Young put the word out on the internet that he was willing to haul items out west.
“I’m hauling a whole bunch of stuff for a lot of people,” Young said a few days before starting his 2,200-mile plus journey (yes, he drives the semi) through Albuquerque, N.M. where he stopped pick up the junior dragster.
“I like to take I-40 anyway,” he said. “I don’t like driving over the mountains (I-70 or I-80). I’ve gone all three ways and 40 is the easiest way.”
Young, who owns his own excavation business, won the March Meet in 2011 and 2012 driving a car owned by Frank Ousley and his victory at last year’s CHRR was his first in his own car at Famoso.
“Between (the death of Fuel Altered driver Brett Henry) and Jim Murphy not being able to make the final round there was not a lot to celebrate,” Young said.
Young is primed for a proper celebration this year, should he emerge with another win.
“We were runner-up at Bowling Green and I think I can repeat,” he said.
But to do so he will have to get by the usual suspects: Mendy Fry, who has already locked up the Hot Rod Heritage Series championship, Murphy and Adam Sorokin as well as other strong runners, such as March Meet winner Pete Wittenberg.
“It’s fun to running out there and it’s fun to run against the best,” Young said of his reason for making the long haul to Famoso. “And beating them on a budget is really rewarding.
Young loves to race, but generally only compete in a handful of races much closer to his home to keep costs in check.
“I’m trying to grow a business, not sink it with a racing addiction,” he said. “We have parts, two engines and pile of pistons but we don’t want to use them if we don’t have to. In our situation we try to use finesse, not sledgehammer it.”
Fielding a Top Fuel dragster takes a lot of support Young said, from Kim Phillips, who celebrated Young’s victory last year with their infant child, Crew, to a volunteer crew.
“These cars take gobs of time and there is no way I could do it without all the help,” he said.
Young qualified third for last year’s event, had top speed of the meet at 261.78 mph, and said he was on the ragged edge every run.
“We were on the verge of smoking the tires every run,” he said. “In the final we had that grudge race with Adam and we smoked the tires about 300 feet out.”
Indeed, it is a fine line between a solid run and blowing the tires off.
“We’re putting a bigger M&H tire on for this race and hope it hooks up,” he said.
The three-day event kicks off Friday and is a mixture of race and reunion. In addition to 17 classes of competition, including Funny Car and Fuel Altered, the event also features restored and recreated cars from the early days of drag racing.
As usual, the popular Cacklefest, where front-engined dragsters of yesteryear are push started in front of the grandstand and then idle on the race track, is set for 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Mayhem, SuperMoto at KCRP
The final JoRonCo Rental Night of Destruction takes place Saturday at Kern County Raceway Park with an interesting mix of mayhem and actual races on tap.
On the racing side, it will be the final round of the Golden Empire SuperMoto Series along with the debut of Hot Stocks on the quarter-mile oval.
For sheer entertainment, freestyle motocross riders Javier Villegas, Greg Schaaf and Gabriel Villegas will be performing.
The mayhem (destruction) side will feature skid plate racing and waterless boat races.
Action gets under way at 6 p.m.
More than 300 racers turned out for the American Nostalgia Racing Association Fall Nationals at Auto Club Famoso Raceway last weekend.
Brendon Frye of Taft won in Nostalgia Eliminator III, Greg Nylander of Tehachapi was the Hot Rod winner and Mike Little of Bakersfield won in Sportsman. Roger Stalkner was runner-up in B-Gas, William Glapenske of Bakersfield was runner-up in E/Gas and Joel Peterson Sr. was runner-up in Open Wheel.
Bakersfield’s Derek Thorn lost a lap early after contact from Derek Kraus but battled back to a third-place finish last Saturday in a NASCAR K&N Pro Pro Series West race at All American Speedway in Roseville. Thorn heads into the finale at Kern County Raceway Park 26 points up on Roseville winner Cole Rouse.