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Fry’s First At Famoso Saturday Night Nitro

June 29, 2015
Mendy Fry wins Funny Car Eliminator at

Mendy Fry wins Funny Car Eliminator at “Saturday Night Nitro” (photo by Ted Soqui)

“Good Vibrations Saturday Night Nitro,” Auto Club Famoso Raceway, June 28, 2015 — In her first event win in a AA/Funny Car, Mendy Fry laid down a career-best 5.72 at 252 mph in “Smokey’s Darkside” ‘78 Challenger to claim the June 2015 edition of the “Good Vibrations Saturday Night Nitro” race at Auto Club Famoso Raceway. This was the quickest and fastest Funny Car pass ever with an Arias Hemi-Chevy using nitromethane as a fuel.

“This win was a series of firsts,” an elated Fry explained. “The first Nitro Funny Car win for the Arias Hemi. The first win for our team. The quickest and fastest run for the team and its driver. And for me, finally, my first Nitro Funny Car win.”

Mendy Fry launches to victory at Saturday Night Nitro. (photo by Ted Soqui)

Mendy Fry launches to victory at Saturday Night Nitro. (photo by Ted Soqui)

Fry’s first was no mean feat. With over a dozen Nitro Funny Cars entered, Mendy had to outrun some of the finest fuel coupes on the West Coast, including James Day’s “Pedaler,” Rick Rogers’ “Fighting Irish,” Brad Thompson’s “Jailbreak” and more.

After posting a 5.97 in the first session, “Darkside” tuner Smokey Alleman added a radical amount of timing and instructed to Fry to crank up the nitro percentage. Aided by those corrections, in the second and deciding round, the Darkside improved its performance by over two-tenths of a second.

Smokey's Darkside at Saturday Night Nitro (photo by Rob Gibson)

Smokey’s Darkside at Saturday Night Nitro (photo by Rob Gibson)

“This was such a critical win for the Smokey’s Darkside team!” Mendy said afterwards. “When Smokey approached me in November of 2013, suggesting we do this with an Arias Hemi Chevy, I was pretty skeptical. I was not getting any younger, and I was still searching for my first Funny Car win. I wanted to move forward toward that goal, not backward into what I thought could be a lengthy project to develop an engine program. With my fingers crossed, I said ‘ok.’”

Fry’s faith was finally rewarded, as Saturday’s winning 5.72 was nearly a tenth quicker than the event runner-up, Robert Overholser. While trying to chase down the Darkside’s number, Overholser turned an elapsed time of 5.81 at 253-mph in the Ronnie Swearingen-tuned “California Hustler.” Unfortunately for the Hustler and the rest of the Chrysler’s, they were no match for the Alleman’s Arias Chevy-Hemi.

With her victory secured, Mendy said: “I clearly underestimated Smokey’s tenacity and stubbornness.”

She wasn’t the only one proven wrong.

“Hey Roland, I knew this’d run,” Alleman said to Roland Leong, who was observing with Alleman as the times were posted on the scoreboard. “I’ve been saying this for how long?”

On a more somber note, on the morning after the race, racers received word about fellow Funny Car driver Roger Garten succumbing to injuries suffered in a crash Saturday night. Fry posted on social media: “There really are no appropriate words. I am stunned that Roger lost his life in that crash, and offer my deepest condolences to his family.” Then, in reference to the sport’s highs and lows, she concluded: “Drag racing sure is a sport of contradictions.”

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