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Fuel & Fire Spectacular

Race Report

Submitted by: Jim Maher

Famoso Raceway: April 24, 2004

April 24, 2004 (Bakersfield, CA): What a difference a decade makes. The California Independent Funny Car Association last event at Famoso Raceway was in 1992. Eight funny cars proudly strut their stuff down the famous quarter mile. Thanks to promoter John Keigley, the CIFCA funny cars returned to Bakersfield, this time with a record 23 funny cars. In addition there were 2 late model nitro cars & 8 nostalgia nitro floppers. This event was officially named the Fuel & Fire Spectacular though may be remembered as the Red Light Extravaganza.

As CIFCA celebrates its 20th anniversary the circuit is strong as ever. An influx of new blood makes a program necessary to know the players. Rookie Steve Romanazzi showed that his pre-season testing was fruitful when he unloaded a near perfect 7.502 (7.50 index) to claim the top slot in the 16-car ladder. Romanazzi pocketed $300 from Bar’s Leaks for his effort. Budweiser kicked in some suds also.

When the qualifying smoke had cleared, Jack Beckman was $100 richer virtue of the Perma-Cool Burnout Challenge. Beckman continued to strike gold as he advanced Dennis Murphy’s Omni into the final round. His first round opponent would be his toughest as the Frank Hawley School teacher barely held off Paul Paterson by .043 seconds. Beckman than recorded a back door 7.419 to Halstead’s red light. Another red-light gift from Pete Cogswell in the semi’s put the Beckman/Murphy duo into the money round.

The father/son team of Jim Scott was slicing their way down the other side of the ladder. Scotty dodged a bullet when the Adam Sorokin driven machine of Jim Broome experienced handling problems. A .388 red-light by Lyle Larkin in the quarterfinals gave Team Scott the win light though Scott’s .405 reaction showed they were ready. The semi-finals pitted the Scotts against Dennis La Charite. Ironically, La Charite was the only 1 of the top 8 qualifiers to survive the first round (4 fell by red lights alone). The racing gods were shining on the Scotts as La Charite recorded a too quick 7.48 breakout.

Jim Scott vs. Jack Beckman. Two teams that know this ‘strip extremely well via extensive Division & Goodguys racing. The two fired up at the stroke of midnight. At the yellow it was Scotty first with a great .413 to a late .497. An instant and unexplainable back-pedal by Scotty allowed Beckman to pull slightly ahead; a lead he held for the next 1320’. Beckman & Murphy would reap the spoils of victory and take an early lead in the series.

Cogswell’s .401 earned him the Enderle Quick Reaction Time bucks while Dennis La Charite took home the Good Vibrations Best Package honors (.111 seconds). A successful opener to a milestone season. Special thank to Chuy’s Restaurant for their generous support of this race.

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