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October 13, 2008

In Mendy Fry’s career, the California Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway has been a point of both triumphs and travails. In 2004, she became the first female drag racer to record a 250 mph top speed in a front-engined Top Fuel dragster, becoming the only distaff member of the AA/Fuel Dragster 250 MPH Club.

Yesterday, in 2008 at the CHRR, Mendy is no longer shoeing a fuel dragster, but now stabs and steers an equally beastly nitromethane-fueled funny car, the “McCain’s Bomb Squad” ’73 Plymouth Duster. And because Famoso heretofore has been a point of precedent-establishing performance for Mendy, she and the crew of McCain’s Bomb Squad Nitro Funny Car felt confident about another benchmark: claiming the Points Title in the Nitro Funny Car class in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series’ Inaugural Season.

This would take a little doing, however: Fry and McCain’s Bomb Squad entered the event #3 in the Points, behind leaders Steve Romanazzi and Bucky “the Northwest Hitter” Austin. For  McCain’s Donnie Couch-tuned entry to claim the Title, Mendy would have to win the event, and both Romanazzi and Austin would have to be early round losers.

Things never got that far. In Sunday’s first (and only) round of qualifying, Romanazzi and Austin both advanced to the Elimination rounds reserved for the field’s 8 quickest entries by virtue of elapsed times quicker than the class’s 6.34 bump spot. In comparison, McCain’s Bomb Squad approached the qualifying session relatively aggressively, and succumbed to an immediate lack of traction, milliseconds after Mendy stomped on the throttle. In a deft, valiant but ultimately futile attempt to calm the Duster down and make traction instead of spinning the tires, Mendy “pedaled” the car twice before it went 100 feet down the track. Each time, the machine refused to cooperate with her footwork and Fry opted not to tempt fate by jumping on the throttle a fourth time, a potentially-explosive move which could very well have resulted in McCain’s Squad having to reconstruct its “Bomb.”

(For those keeping score, Bucky Austin not only won the event yesterday, he also claimed the NHRA Heritage Series Points Title.)

(photos by Cole Coonce)

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