Submitted By: Jim Maher
May 3, 2003 (Southwestern Int’l Raceway): Seventeen funny car teams from 4 western states showed up for the California Independent Funny Car Association season opener. This is CIFCA’s 19th year and it got off to a great start.
Rookie Steve Macklyn also got his debut off to good start with a near perfect 7.508 to grab the pole during qualifying. Jeff Seraphine grabbed the fans attention when he won the Perma-Cool Burnout Challenge.
Jack Beckman and Jim Maher, two seasoned drivers, outlasted the hungry newcomers and found themselves in the money round. Beckman’s trek to the final began with a 1st round victory over Jim Maroney. The Frank Hawley driver instructor then narrowly got around Seraphine placing the Dennis Murphy owned Omni into the semi-finals. Beckman’s .410 initiated 7.53 barely edged out Dennis La Charite’s 7.54 which was prompt with a .414 light.
Maher was slicing his way thru the other side of the 16-car ladder after a one-year hiatus. His first round victim was Ron Maroney. Maher then was on the receiving end of a 7.499 when Macklyn went .001 second too quick. The closest race of the day came during his semi-final bash with Michael Irwin. Maher’s 7.69 took the stripe over Irwin’s 7.68 by .a mere .0036 seconds and placed the Good Vibrations team into the finals.
The final was held at 3:14am though that didn’t deter the drivers. Beckman was awake at the switch with a .408 light followed by Maher’s .414. On the top end it was Maher first but too quick with a 7.492 breakout. Beckman’s 7.55 would give the Ground Zero team their first CIFCA win.
Jim Scott’s .401 light over Buzzz Miller’s .402 made Team Scott $100 richer virtue of the Enderle Quick Reaction Time. Maher padded his own pocket when he was awarded the Good Vibrations Best Package bonus based on his final round margin of .022 seconds. This new program rewards the team that comes closest to making the perfect run during eliminations.
Murphy has taken an early lead in the DragParts.com points series. With Beckman in the driver seat, all eyes will be on Ground Zero for a while. Special thanks to the hard working staff at SIR for providing a first class facility for CIFCA’s season opener.