Rookies Rise to the Occasion
Submitted by: Jim Maher
June 22, 2002 (Top Gun Raceway): The California Independent Funny Car Association (CIFCA) rolled through Fallon, Nevada for the annual FC Fever. This centralized location attracted 19 teams from Salt Lake City, UT to Tucson, AZ. It also attracted Bob Frey and the ESPN crew who were doing a feature on Top Gun Raceway.
After qualifying concluded 1999 Points Champion Robert Lee stood atop the 16-car ladder with a near perfect 7.509. In a season in which veterans such as Mike Hilsabeck, Steve Tryon and Jim Maher decided to remain sidelined, it was the rookies who rose to the top during eliminations.
Dennis La Charite of Torrance, California made his CIFCA funny car debut one race earlier. This weekend the ex-boat racer found himself in the finals. La Charite first victim was Jim Carter during the opening frame. The “Back-in-Black” team then sent fellow ex-boat racer Paul Peterson packing. La Charite continued to cut excellent lights coupled with consistent ET’s as he defeated Lee (7.51 -7.70) in the semi-finals.
Waiting for the La Charite ’69 Corvette in the money round was Richard Bogan and his fresh 1998 “Obsession” Firebird. Bogan hails from Magna UT and his well-attired crew was hungry for their first win. “Bogie” redlit in the first round but his opponent, Pete Ortiz jr., crossed the centerline resulting in a worst over first decision. Ortiz would exit as the Perma-Cool Burnout Challenge winner. Bogan then was on the receiving end of a red light from Jim Scott and ran it out the back door to 7.48. When Sean Dale lost fire during the semis, Bogan found himself in just his second final round.
When the jets cars and diesel rigs completed, the CIFCA funny cars took to center stage. La Charite drilled the 'tree with a .405 light (good for the Enderle Quick Reaction Time bucks). Bogan’s Firebird then drove around the nostalgia ‘Vette but broke out with a 7.45. La Charite would reap the spoils of victory; Bogan remains a bridesmaid.
Dave Smith/Adam Sorokin, the current DragParts.com series leaders, went out in the first round opening the door for a shuffling in the points. La Charite is now in the Top Five with momentum as the West Coast circuit reaches its midpoint. Special thanks to the Big 4 Truck Dealers for their generous support of this popular event.