CA - March 07-09, 2008: The 50th anniversary of the March Meet can only
be summed up with a an amalgamation of superlatives that would
send an English major scrambling for their Thesaurus. Under four
days of Chamber of Commerce skies, the largest car count/spectator
attendance in history filled the hallowed Famoso Dragstrip grounds
for the event that lived up to its star billing - and more.
Joining 23 other
Top Fuel dragsters was Jack Harris who was back in the seat of
his Nitro Thunder car for the first time in two years. In 2006,
while taking on other projects including a funny car and driving
for the Paso Posse, Harris turned the driving chores of "Big
Red" to son Brett who won, among other accomplishments,
the 2006 VRA World Championship.
The Sheriff and
his Posse went into the weekend feeling optimistic that the spotty
performance the car experienced in 2007 was cured over the winter.
Considering the car was originally built for Jack and his size/weight
they felt the "balance" could be corrected. They also
lightened the car some 30 pounds which gave them a net loss of
about 100 pounds over last year. They had no idea that the weight
loss and some engine/tire/wheel changes would have them in the
drag racing history books by Sunday night.
Aside from the
unforeseen and grievous loss of Top Fuel veteran John Shoemaker,
the 2008 March Meet was a grand slam home run for Harris, Billy
Robins (also back after two years off) and the ace crew from
Kaysville, Utah. The 40,000+ fans that packed the facility over
the three-day event were treated to many career best performances
in all classes but the stunner was the incredible 5.56 at 263
and full results below.
sunny skies and ideal track conditions the first session of Top
Fuel qualifying went off as scheduled at 2:00 p.m. Friday afternoon.
with his game face on prior to the first session.
All went well on the
For his first shot at the fabled
Bakersfield track Harris was paired with Howard Haight.
As she always does, Lauren Tyrrell
(daughter of crew member Don) backs Jack up from his burnout.
Coming back toward the line a
track official notices a leak on the top of the engine. Rayce
checks it out and sends Lauren to tell the crew to get tools.
All was good until Harris was
ready to move up to stage. A small oil leak developed and the
crew frantically tried to stop it.
As the crew pushed the
car back, Haight made his run.
Finally Starter, Bill Condit
tells Co-crew chief Rayce Muchmore to signal Jack to shut it
Back in the pits the leak is
fixed and the car is ready for the second session.
p.m. Saturday afternoon: More sunny skies and ideal track conditions
set the stage for the second session of Top Fuel qualifying.
Crew Chief, Steve
Watson and Harry Dubach check out the track.
Harris waits for the
signal to fire up.
Engine lit moving into
the water box.
The car left hard and
would have been fine had it gone 1320 feet.
Lauren Tyrell and Cami Beck (granddaughter
of Gary Beck) with the car in the staging lanes.
As can be seen, Harris experienced
severe tire smoke early and had the throttle closed by half track.
Coasting through the lights with
a 7.597 at only 125.90. This would leave them with just one more
run to make eliminations on Sunday.
p.m Saturday afternoon: With the sun beginning to set, the third
and final session of Top Fuel qualifying was underway.
It was do or go home when the
engine was fired. Harris and company have had a flare for the
dramatic in the past - could they do it again.