For 41 years, the Pepsi Nightfire, Idaho’s largest motorsports weekend, has proven to be a double throw down nitro affair every August under the lights. The event is a key stop in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series, with points for Funny Car and Top Fuel attracting competitors from 15 states and two Canadian provinces.
This year’s race was quite a bit on the toasty side, as thermostats climbed to near 100°F, pushing the corrected altitude to nearly 7,000 feet and track temps to 140°F. These factors made qualifying a bit more challenging for a number of teams.
Qualifying was staged in three sessions, one on Friday night and a pair on Saturday. Considering the atmospheric conditions, the field was lead impressively by Will Martin, who nailed down a pair of 5.91 performances at 246.17.
In round one, Rupert ran 5.87 to easily beat Faria. Day unleashed a 6.00 to clip LaCharite’s 6.17. Hentges pulled off the biggest upset of the opening round, hitting a 6.11 to beat a blower-exploding 6.21 by Martin. Hale benefitted from a broken Snelson, soloing to a 7.99. Krabill then knocked out Boychuk in the best race of the event, 5.96 to a 5.97. In the final pair, Obalek posted a 6.07 to dust Garten’s 6.70.
In an outstanding quarter-final round, Rupert dusted Day 5.90 to a 6.05, Krabill nailed Hentges 5.97 to a 6.23, and Hale easily beat a tire-smoking Obalek with a 5.94.
Rupert all but buttoned up the Heritage national title for the second straight year, downing Hale in an outstanding 5.86 (low E.T. of the meet) to 5.97 contest, while Krabill singled to a 5.91.
In the final, the Bucky Austin & Dennis O’Brien-owned Plymouth Arrow vaulted into the Pepsi Winner’s Circle with a 5.94-239.04 to eliminate Rupert’s 6.00.
Top Fuel featured quality over quantity this year. Rick Williamson claimed the top spot in qualifying at 5.82-256.41, a significant pass in the heat.
The opening round saw Williamson run top speed of the meet at 257.28, 5.90 to beat Fry’s 6.27. Sorokin dumped White 6.03 to a 6.17. And Murphy clipped Young 5.97 to a 6.02.
In round two, Sorokin won on a holeshot against Murphy, 5.95 to a 5.90. Williamson advanced uncontested.
The Champion Speed Shop team pulled off an amazing thrash between rounds after wounding their combination in the semis. Thanks to a massive effort by the Jim Young Crop Duster team and everyone involved with Bob McLennan, they made it to lanes with few precious minutes to spare. In a spectacular final, Sorokin sped to a 5.83-233.10 to upset the low-qualifier Williamson who finished at 5.94.-248.48.
Coming out on top of the strong Outlaw Pro Mod field was the `57 Cameo pickup of Dan Myers. In what was shaping up to be a very good final round after Myers had run a career quickest 6.22 and Marc Meadors had nailed down low E.T. at 6.18, unfortunately ended much earlier than planned. Meadors developed an oil leak and had to be shut off on the line after his burnout, handing Myers the victory. His single produced a 7.04-195.95 winning lap.
The race also featured a record $80,000 purse for the Meridian Automotive & Machine Bracketeer Series. Nightly Bracketeer champions in the oldest major bracket tournament in America (dating back to its origin in 1976) included: Paul Nero, Mark Kidd, Andrew Morris and Darryn O’Connor. The four-night Overall Point’s Championships were awarded to: Bracketeer-Kidd, Pro-Houston Head, Heavy-Ryan Schaefer and Richie Pedraza in Sled/Bike.
Nightfire Professional Results
Champion-Kris Krabill, Anaheim, CA, 5.94, 239.04
Runner-up-Jason Rupert, Yorba Linda, CA, 6.00, 235.23
Champion-Adam Sorokin, La Crescenta, CA, 5.83, 233.10
Runner-up-Rick Williamson, Stockton, CA, 5.94, 248.48
Champion-Dan Myers, Ramona, CA, .108, 7.04, 195.95
Runner-up-Marc Meadors, Danville, CA, Broke (oil leak)
Final Professional Qualifying Results
1. Will Martin, San Dimas, CA, 5.91, 246.17
2. John Hale, Addison, TX, 5.95, 215.87
3. Jason Rupert, Yorba Linda, CA, 6.01, 235.84
4. Dennis LaCharite, Torrance, CA, 6.04, 230.88
5. Jim Obalek, Mission, BC, 6.06, 226.35
6. Kris Krabill, Anaheim, CA, 6.08, 244.89
7. Tim Boychuk, Edmonton, BC 6.16, 231.66
8. Roger Garten, Fallbrook, CA, 6.20, 224.21
9. James Day, Mission Viejo, CA, 7.00, 150.47
10. Brad Faria, Rohnert Park, CA, 7.01, 162.33
11. Derek Snelson, Anchorage, AK, 7.45, 131.59
12. Mark Hentges, Federal Way, CA, 8.14, 116.18
1. Rick Williamson, Stockton, CA, 5.82, 256.41
2. Jim Murphy, Santa Rosa, CA, 5.90, 256.84
3. Adam Sorokin, La Crescenta, CA, 5.94, 229.24
4. Rick White, San Diego, CA,6.06, 245.16
5. Jim Young, Salem, WI, 6.09, 239.17
6. Mendy Fry, Aliso Viejo, CA, 6.13, 247.52
Outlaw Pro Modified
1. Marc Meadors, Danville, CA, 6.23, 234.68
2. Dan Myers, Ramona, CA, 6.34, 234.13
3. Andy Neyer, Phoenix, AZ, 6.85, 210.52
4. Craig Cawte, Cranbrook, BC, 6.92, 199.20
5. Robert Costa, Albuquerque, NM, 7.55, 174.72
6. Clint Satterfield, Albuquerque, NM, 7.59, 150.15
7. Rod Burbage, Anderson, CA, 7.88, 121.86
Overall 2012 Four-Night Sportsman Point’s Champions
Bracketeer: Mark Kidd, Twin Falls, ID
Pro: Houston Head, Fruitland, ID
Heavy: Ryan Schaefer, Tigard, OR
Snow/Bike: Richie Pedraza, Boise, ID
Text by The New Crew
Photos by David Fudge, Brian Losness and Gary/Jessica/Alex Photography