Funny Car Frenzy at Mission NHRA National Open

Filed by:  Gerry Frechette & Rich Carlson

Canada’s premier “left coast” racing facility Mission Raceway, played host to an amazing event weekend which combined a very significant Funny Car “happening” with an official NHRA Sportsman National Open…..

 A year after debuting the new Hodgson/Leong Firebird AA/FC at Mission Raceway Park, Tim Boychuk returned and, to nobody’s surprise, totally dominated the 8-car Nitrofest field on Sunday. The Troy Lee Design-sponsored car was so dialed in to the conditions, which were clear and warm with no humidity both days, that Boychuk ran the four quickest times of the weekend by far, and had the only car in the 5.70s.   

Tim Boychuk's team Dominated Mission's NFC Program

It started in qualifying, with a straight-as-a-string 5.72 at 249, that might have been bettered in the cooler second session under the lights, except that the team chose not to run, surely disappointing the packed house of fans and the pundits predicting a “60.” The best that the rest of the runners could come up with in two tries was Washington’s Mark Sanders with a 5.83 and a 5.88 by alky veteran Mark Hentges in Bucky Austin’s Arrow, while Tim Nemeth’s Mustang slid into fourth with a personal best of 5.91.

Come first round on Sunday, Boychuk stepped it up to a stupendous 5.706 secs at 253.66 mph, one of the quickest and fastest AA/FC runs ever — and the Canadian record.  After that came the realization for the rest of the field that it was Boychuk’s race to win or  lose. Sanders stayed in the ’80s with a 5.89, a number matched by Nemeth for another personal best, and Todd Lesenko found the combination after two sub-par runs with a 6.00 secs effort

 The semis saw Lesenko spinning his way to a losing 6.07 beside Sanders’ 5.95, while Boychuk laid down another one, 5.74 / 249, to walk away from Nemeth’s good 5.95.

BC's Tim Nemeth continued his great progress with his new nitro-burner

The final came down to the two cars that have been doing most of the winning this season on the West Coast, and Sanders had to know that he’d need to dip into the 5.70s to have a chance. His 5.924 secs at 241.87 mph was good, but Boychuk was long gone with a fourth straight low “70” this one at 5.716 secs at 249.65 mph which put an exclamation point on a weekend that saw the team make four perfect runs, the last couple in high 20-degree heat.

As if the Nitro cars weren’t enough, also on hand were two supplemental 8-car alcohol FC shows, one from each of Canada and the USA. The popular Rocky Mountain Nostalgia Funny Car association was on hand running on a 6.90 index, and the big burnouts and close racing kept the fans on their feet.

 The semis came down to Joey Steckler running a 6.89 to break out by the slimmest of margins beside Brent Murray’s 7.12 in his new Mustang, while the brothers Sekura matched up in a wild one, Cory’s perfect-but-late 6.90 losing to Ron’s on-time 6.93.

 The final was however confusing.  Ron Sekura broke out with a 6.88, but was the only car to get a timed run, as Murray was left sitting on the line, having been timed out in staging, thus depriving the fans of a good race. Why this technology needs to be used in this sort of situation (e.g. a booked-in racing show) is simply beyond me as it did seem to ruin this group’s final round.

The other alky FC group was the Northwest BB/FC Association, and they, too, put on a show. They are also based on a 6.90 index, but they are allowed to go quicker, with escalating disincentives to do so. With most of them running quicker than 6.90, they got a lot of penalties! In the final, Mission alky veteran Randy Parker from Washington was the favorite, and his 6.79 at 206.94 was stout, but Royce Taylor drove his Mustang to an even quicker 6.72 secs at 211.96 for the win.

Funny Car Frenzy at Mission!

 The Mission event also showcased great racing in Top Fuel Harley and Fast Street car classes.  

Alberta’s Miko Pelrine emerged victorious in TFH after his final round 6.890 secs at 204.87 toppled Canadian star rider, Ron Houniet.  Washington’s John Brekenridge set both low ET and top speed at 6.402 secs and 218.12 mph. 

Top Fuel Harley Final Round

Top Fuel Harley Final Round

The Pro Street and Outlaw Street titles both were won by Canadian drivers with Darryl Stowe scoring in his ’67 Nova in Pro Street and Mike Hawkins winning in Outlaw driving his ’81 Malibu. 

 Trevor Lowe, from Chilliwack, driving his former Pro Mod ’57 Chevy, was the fastest “street” car at the race hitting an ungodly 6.243 secs at 225.28 mph.

 NHRA class category racing featured wins by Rob Harrison in Comp who beat Bob Marshall in that all Canadian final round.  The “Super” class winners were Bob Woodruff (SC), Todd Sims (SG) and Brad Vinge (SST). 

 Other event winners included Gary Howe in the Stock/SS Combo, Justin Bond (Top Comp), Vince Mozink (Open Comp) and Brett Bayne in Sportsman Motorcycle.

The event’s ET class winners included Vicki Strell (Super Pro), Allen Macham (Pro) and Don Elgin (Sportsman).  Junior Dragster wins went to Peter Lachanas and Austin Calborn.

The Competition eliminator final was "all BC"...

(Photos by: Gerry Frechette and Rich Carlson)