April 22, 2000 (Sacramento Raceway). The California Independent Funny Car Association (CIFCA) opened its 16th season at the Sacramento Funny Car Fever. This annual event, sponsored by Napa Auto Parts, was slated to be an 8-car field though escalated into a record show.
The first race of the year is normally a gloried test session. That wasn't the case here. Fourteen cars towed through the gate and all made it past 2 qualifying sessions producing personal best elapsed times. The end result was the largest CIFCA field at Sacramento Raceway.
Mike Hilsabeck showed true championship form by winning the Perma-Cool Burnout Challenge while qualifying 2nd behind Richard Stannard's Estrus Camaro. Hilsabeck defeated Jim Carter in the opening frame with a perfect 7.500 time. He then claimed the Enderle Quick Reaction Time bonus with a .421 light against Jim Maher's Good Vibrations. Hilsabeck soloed his way into the final when Jim Scott lost a transmission on the burnout.
Working his way down the other side of the ladder was defending champ Robert Lee. After qualifying at the back of the pack with a breakout 7.31, Lee disposed of Tim Scardino during first round with a 7.51. His next victim was Larry Leonard of Phoenix followed by Ed Schwartz in the Estrus machine.
Lee vs. Hilsabeck in the money round. Number 1 and 2 in points last year, respectively. Hilsabeck's Arizona Thunder got the jump and never looked back stopping the timers victoriously with a 7.51 to Lee's 7.78.
The CIFCA circuit is off to an excellent start. This west coast association has a very stout membership with participation at an all time high. And the performances are superior. Gonna' be a great year.