5305 Excelsior Road
Jim Murphy and WWII Racing celebrating their Governor’s Cup victory in the Sacramento Raceway
Jim Murphy and WW II Racing clawed their way back into the Heritage Series championship hunt with a determined and deserving win at the 42th Annual Governor’s Cup contested at Sacramento Raceway Park. Murphy’s hard working team wasted little time after setting up their pit, making two runs during the test-n-tune session prior to the Friday qualifying sessions. Jim’s early shut off 6.020-206.12 on the second run would be a precursor of things to come. On an unseasonably cool night for the Sacramento Valley in September, seven teams searched for that magic that would propel one of them to the top of the ladder. Testing turned out to be a fortuitous decision for the WWII Racing team as Jim coaxed a fine 5.908-237.31 out of his ’09 Thornhill racer to lead all qualifiers. Murphy was closely followed by points leader Brett Harris at 5.922 and a resurgent Terry Cox at 5.988. In addition, with the eight car field short by one competitor, that also meant that Murphy would get a gratuitous pass into E2 with a single run.
• Jim Murphy: 5.908-237.31
• Brett Harris: 5.922-244.86
• Terry Cox: 5.988-247.61
• Mike McLennan: 6.530-181.97
• Brendan Murry: 6.554-193.47
• Mike Irwin: 7.346-145.76
• Rick White: 7.762-109.86
Brett Harris, the track record holder at 7.693, looked unbeatable after demolishing Rick White
in E1, but in drag racing nothing should be taken for granted. Despite getting a good jump
on Terry Cox in E2, Brett had to click it early when the N&P car took “a walk on the wild side”.
Coming into The Governor’s Cup, the 2011 championship chase looked to be down to just two teams—Brett Harris driving “Nitro Thunder” from Keysville, Utah, and Rick White and Chuck Neal from San Diego. White trailed Harris by 20 points (one round of racing), but Rick had been to the last four Governor’s Cup finals, winning in 2009. Harris, on the other hand, had not won a Governor’s Cup since 2004. If the “blue car” performed like it had in the past, the “red car” could find itself trailing White-Neal going into the final event at Famoso Raceway. However, Rick never got untracked in qualifying and ended up the seventh and last qualifier. The bigger ramification of this slip up was that it set up a colossal showdown between the two contenders in round one. In that race, White left first (.078 to .120), but this drag race was all Harris. Brett maneuvered down the Sacramento Raceway asphalt with a masterful brake-grabbing wild ride, setting low e.t. in the process with a 5.785.
Contests like this one, between reputably, the two best cars in nostalgia top fuel dragster,
are usually reserved for final rounds. However, this Heritage Series showdown occurred in E1.
Rick White (far lane), consistently the quickest driver at Sacramento Raceway for the past five years,
was thoroughly trounced by Brett Harris—5.785 to 6.255.
Meanwhile, Murphy was making a little bit of noise of his own, running a solo 5.846 in E1 just to let the Utah posse know that he would not be going away peaceably. In round two, Murphy dispatched Mike McLennan with a fine 5.948, sending Jim back to a Governor’s Cup final for the first time since 2008. Overlooked in this commotion was the Dale Adams-tuned “Cheetah IV” driven by Terry Cox. Since its debut in 2008, the Sacramento based team has struggled to find the consistency needed to be a winner in nostalgia top fuel dragster. But, the Wilson-Cox-Ninnis team may have turned the corner with its impressive performance at the Governor’s Cup. In E1, Cox dominated the brand new, and yet unpainted, “Nitro Fever” car with a 5.984-252.02. Then, in E2, the big cat roared once again with a magnificent 5.957-251.54 run to upset Brett Harris who was seemingly on his way to another win but had to lift at the top end and slowed to 5.993-195.50. The final was a tightly fought race with Murphy winning by .018 (5.982-6.008) over the hard charging Cox. With his win, Jim moved past White into second place. Harris, with 291 points, is still in the driver’s seat, and possibly on the verge of winning his second Heritage Series championship. However, as Murphy (247 pts.) and White (246 pts.) are still within striking distance of Harris, the last race at the California Hot Rod Reunion in October should make for a compelling and exciting finale to the season.
When Jim Murphy gets on a roll, he is hard to beat. The ace from Santa Rosa shot down all
opponents with a barrage of five second runs--5.908; 5.846; 5.948; and 5.993 in the final (above).
Although this was a Heritage Series event solely for top fuel dragster, three nitro funny cars
showed up to add spice to the proceedings. Included in this trio was John Powers with his
Johnny Loper tribute car. Powers made two passes in the Arrow, the last of which was
a splendid 6.037-233.24.
In other classes, the West Coast Pro Gas Association was out in full force with 70 cars entered in five divisions. This was sportsman drag racing at its best and the results showed it with two tense and tight double breakout finals. In F/G, number one qualifier Randi Rodoni, not only broke out, but also went -.026 under the index trying to run down a quicker leaving Chuck Adams who also dipped under 12.60. The C/G final featured #5 Kent Coomes against #11 Greg Bagwell, and Greg lost to Kent by virtue of his 9.565 being slightly quicker than his opponent’s 9.577.
Mike Mossi (near side), shown here taking down #1 qualifier Mike Winston in E2, saved his
best run for the final when he ran down the quicker-leaving George Madden with a great 8.603.
Kent Coomes was all smiles after working his way through five rounds of C/G, which included
a double breakout win (9.577-9.565) over Greg Bagwell in the final round.
Melissa Wright survived two double breakout races, broke out a third time but won when
Rick Fitzsimmons fouled, fought off a feisty Alden Conway, and then nicked Jack Nilson
by .001 to win D/G—take a deep breath; exhale.
Chaysse Trimp has been doing a lot of double duty of late, competing in both
7.0 Pro and E/G. At “The Cup” he garnered a runner up with the altered before holding off
Dustin Lee to win E/G by the slightest of margins--.003!
Chuck Adams won F/G because he hit “killer” lights in every round, including a whooping
.067 advantage over Randy Rodoni in the final. For his part, Randy gave the “73 Vega
too much whip and broke out by .026, much worse than Chuck’s.010.
The Pro Slammer Door Car Association (PSDCA) completed their season crowning new champions in both 7.0 Slammer and 7.60 Slammer. San Martin’s Mike Doushgounian won the title in 7.0 Slammer but saw his streak of five consecutive final round appearances stopped by Mike Henry Jr. In a classic nitrous vs. supercharged confrontation in E1, Henry out muscled Doushgounian’s blown ’67 Nova with a 7.061 to a losing 7.092. In the final round, Henry had a less than spunky start with a .216 r.t., but recovered nicely to run down a laboring Ken Christiansen Jr. for the win with a 7.18-181.55 time slip. Tony Jurado won 7.60 Slammer, becoming the fifth different driver to win a race this year. Jurado, the #5 qualifier, beat Fox Hunt winner Karl Whisenhunt in E1, got a single in E2, and then eased into the winner’s circle when Bret Pichler went red in the final.
Mike Henry Jr. ran career best times to win his second Pro Slammer race in 2011. The #1
qualifier also had the unenviable task of getting past Mike Doushgounian, a feat he accomplished
by running a PR 7.061 in E1.
Newcomer Tony Jurado did not show any rookie nerves in taking the 7.60 Pro Slammer trophy. In
only his second race this year, the Foster City, CA, resident had his Chevelle in the groove.
In E1, Jurado took out Fox Hunt winner Karl Whisenhunt with an almost perfect 7.608.
In 7.0 Pro, a familiar face returned to the winner’s circle. Although Richard Phillips had not won at Sacramento since Nitro Night of Fire in May, the Visalia resident made it three-out-of-five at his home track this year. In addition, he had to go through some tough hombres to get the win. In E1, Phillips got the jump on Bob Murphy, who in full pursuit, broke out with a 6.962. In the next round, Lake Havasu City’s Rick High ran a near perfect 7.001 but left -.005 early to let Phillips off the hook. After a solo in the semis, Richard worked his way past a quick leaving Chaysse Trimp to trip the beams first with a 7.041-177.24 pass.
Richard Phillips has been the dominant car in 7.0 Pro at Sacramento Raceway this year.
As usual, Phillips qualified near the top (#2), then parlayed a 7.062-7.060-7.041 series of runs
to notch his third win in five tries.
Steve Norling, riding his ’02 Suzuki Hayabusa, won his second consecutive Governor’s Cup
when Michael O’Neil broke out. For his part, Norling ran a near perfect 9.725-141.67 on a
9.71 dial in.