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Nov 20, 2008
Author: Bobby Martin



Well, now it's official. Our Parkertech Racing Services, Lane Automotive, CAP, Bobby Martin Racing team is the 2008 NHRA Division 3 Top Alcohol Funny Car Champion.

In addition we achieved a Top Ten finish in the NHRA National Lucas Oil Series national points series at number 8. Another goal that was especially close to Frank's heart was the Spitzer Cup, awarded to the team that accumulates the most points in qualifying during the Division 3 series. That's an important one for a crew chief, because it's all about performance. So, we attained a Top Ten finish, the Division Championship, and the Spitzer Cup all in our first year together. Frank's a tough racer and a great manager, and these were the goals that he set for the year. But now that they're a reality, I can quote Austin Coil, who once said of his legendary exploits with the Chi-Town Hustler, "It was an Iron Man contest, and we were just amazed that we could pull it all off."

Division 3 is really developing into a hot division for TA/FC. What else can you say about a division where the defending champion ends up fourth? Obviously Daniel Wilkerson's team knows how to race. His dad, Tim, darn near won the whole shootin' match in nitro. As we all know, he would be the champion in any non-Countdown year. Plus, Daniel's crew chief, a guy by the name of Fred Mandoline, well, let's just say he's seen a drag race or two in his time. So it comes down to Mick Snyder and Andy Bohl. D3 has lot of great racers and cars, guys like John Bojec, Fred Hagen, Wayne Butler, and up-and-comers like Brian Harvanek. But as the season got going, it seemed like Daniel, Andy, Mick, and we were battling it out week after week. Hats off to Andy Bohl. Bob Frey said it; this is one of the most improved teams in the whole country over the last couple of years. Now Mick. I'm going to do a whole News & Views about the amazing see-saw battle between Parkertech Racing and Snyder Motorsports that went on all year. Then you can decide who came out on top. It was that close.

It was the kind of drama you'd find in a Hollywood script. The Parkers and I closed out our first season together in dramatic fashion at fabled Pomona Raceway. With wildfires blazing all around us, the trip can best be described as an adventure. I've been a drag racer for a pretty long time, and a fan for even longer, but I'd never set foot on the hallowed grounds of Pomona Raceway until last weekend. Frank and Dan have both been there, but not racing their own car. We were all really pumped about the opportunity provided by Cerritos College, Total Flow, CAP, Lane Automotive, and others. When we got there, the sun was blazing with virtually no chance of rain for the entire week. The scenery with those majestic mountains in the background is absolutely breath-taking. Then there was the little matter of the entry list. I talked about this in a previous News & Views. We just knew this was going to be a war zone.

Our first qualifying shot yielded a 5.68 that put us sixth. The run was not without its concerns though. The motor hiccupped a spark plug. Back the second time, this time the big bang theory reared its ugly head. Frank decided to regroup and miss the final session. The problem with that was it got nice and cool and people were flyin'! I was watching from the stands. I'll tell you, it's the worst time I ever had watching drag cars. It looked like we were gonna get bumped out! As it was we ended up 13th. The good news was we were in the show. The bad news was we had to take on one of the hottest cars in the country over the last half of the season, Roger Bateman. Although I didn't know it at the time, ol' Rodge hadn't lost in the first round all year! Frank and Dan got the problem fixed - this time for good - and we made a nice 5.68 run at 253 for our first win light in a while. Roger ran 5.60 to qualify 4th in the cool air, but had trouble in the other two sessions when it was hot out. Against us, he got down the track with a 5.86, but we got a much needed win.

We were all giddy with excitement about running in Pomona on Sunday. An interesting match was coming up. Steve Gasparelli beat us in Dallas when we lost the lead with an engine problem. The Gasparelli team is the epitome of a solid west coast team. I received my first National Dragster in 1986, and who was on the cover but Lou Gasparelli. Lou was already a seasoned TA/FC veteran and he had just won the Winternationals at this very track. Now his son Steve drives the family race car and has done an outstanding job. It was a great race, we made our best run of the week, but then I had to contend with the notoriously short shut down at Pomona Raceway with no chutes. Tune in for the next installment for all the wild details! (Don't forget Sunday, ESPN2, Noon Eastern).

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