Canada’s propensity for expertise within NHRA TAD class racing was evident again during the AAA Fall Nationals event last weekend…

At that marquee annual event held at the Texas Motorplex located just south of Dallas, some history was made when Clif Bakx’s highly potent “The Bull” injected nitro car, which is based from Manitoba, emerged victorious.  But that happy development was tempered because it possibility was a swan song performance for the team — who’s plans for continued racing beyond 2017 are now unclear.

Manitoba’s “The Bull” was on the rampage during NHRA’s AAA Fall Nationals near Dallas last weekend.

The Dallas race featured the NHRA national event debut for driver Todd Bruce, who is a long time race team member who resides in North Dakota. Todd truly did make the very best of his opportunity subbing in the car for regular team driver Gord Gingles, with the end result being a pretty definite fairy tale story, and something that very rarely happens within drag racing.

“I met Todd when I started racing some 12 years ago,” Clif revealed. “He was heavily involved in the Mid West Wild Bunch, a group of fast cars that visited small tracks to put on a show. We became excellent friends, and when he heard I was considering TAD, he was all over it. So he and us Canadians (Rob Schultz Gord Gingles & I) became the main crew. Last year I wanted to test a new clutch set-up at Brainerd, and as I only needed ‘short’ half-track runs, I put Todd in the car – he was just beside himself. He did such a great job, and made several good runs that day, that he upgraded his license to TAD so then I promised him he would get one Regional in this year. In September, we were in Earlville for the LODRS Regional, and he had a few beginner errors, and we did not qualify. He felt bad about it — but I was not going to let him live with that memory, so I gave him the keys to the car for Dallas and he drove it perfectly — and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Bruce’s event victory came over an amazingly tough field of NHRA TAD cars. 27-machines were entered for the 16-car field and they produced a bump spot of 5.349 secs (We are checking to confirm if that is the all time quickest bump?)

Under very heated atmospheric conditions during qualifying, “The Bull” ran a best of 5.306 secs to enter the tournament from the #11 position. During rounds one and two Bruce clocked back-to-back runs of 5.288 secs and 5.239 secs to turn back opponents Jackie Fricke and Spencer Massey. Then in round three Todd had a “James Bond like” (.007) RT while defeating Chris Demke’s supercharged car to advance to the final round.

For the event championship dash the team had to contend with Megan Meyer’s injected nitro car which had qualified #1 (5.167 secs) and also set top speed of the meet in earlier action (278.58 mph). But despite some improbability, the team seemed undaunted by that task as they calmly ran a winning 5.260 secs at 275.96 mph while Megan’s machine had some tire spin issues and slowed to a 7.11 secs.

“The win was the result of a long, hard-worked weekend,” Clif continued. “And it was also a bit emotional – because Dallas was the track of our very first A/Fuel competitive event, back in 2011. And as this may be our last race (!) – it was great to close things out at the same venue and bring back a “big” Wally . Our nitro-burning / parts-eating / pension-depleting dragster just kept hauling ass down the track!  I’m so happy for Todd, who was one of our dedicated crew for the last 7 years on this car who piloted the car to the win — he really handled the pressure & responsibility very well. And to add some icing on the cake, his did this on his 23rd wedding anniversary, right along side his wife Jolene, who also crewed on the car this weekend.”

Prior to and now in addition to being an accomplished TAD class driver – Todd Bruce is a popular attraction in the Mid-West racing his outrageous “Vanishing Warrior” Mid-West Wild Bunch circuit car.

Cliff also revealed that his son Dave Bakx (a clutch department specialist) flew into Dallas all the way from Scotland to take on those clutch duties which also made the weekend special. He also cited his highly valued crew member Rob Schultz who has anchored his race car operation from “Day 1”.

“No words can describe Rob’s dedication to our team through out our 7-year run in AFD,” Clif emphasized. “And a special thanks to my wife Rose and Rob’s wife Lynne, for supporting us & allowing us the time to not only accomplish this win, but to have so much fun racing these past seasons.”

Was NHRA Dallas the final event appearance for “The Bull”?   Sigh — we certainly  hope not!

Editor’s Notethis victory at Dallas marked the 5th national event win for Canadian-based cars this season in NHRA’s Top Alcohol Dragster category including previous circuit wins by Shawn Cowie (3) and Jeff Veale (1).

Posted by Bruce Biegler
Photos courtesy of NHRA, Jim Kampmann and Auto Imagery