Rockingham - Reporter's Notebook
Notes from Jim Luikens' Reporter's Notebook at the 9th Annual Bethesda World Finals
Sixteen cars attempted to qualify for the eight car Top Fuel field here. The bump spot elapsed time record was lowered again this weekend, this time to 4.766 seconds from the 4.835 that it was at the start of the weekend. This is the third time that a new record low elapsed bump time has been set in the last two months.
Doc Sipple experienced chest pains during his Top Fuel qualifying run on Friday evening. When he got to the turn off area he was in obvious distress and needed help getting out of the car. He was then sent to a local hospital for further assistance. Tim Cullinan also experienced trouble Friday night, but his was of the mechanical kind. He got up on the wall during his qualifying attempt. Although he came through the incident unscathed his car reportedly is a write-off. Sipple did not fare as well, diagnosed with both a heart attack and pneumonia. Fellow Top Fuel racer Bobby Lagana Jr. added "Get Well Doc" on the side of his car for the remainder of the race, expressing the sentiments of fans and racers alike.
Three attempts at the Joliet track saw him go up in hard smoke three times. It appears that Keith's horsepower level has significantly improved but now he needs a larger rear wing. Keith did not have enough time (or finances) to obtain such a wing before this event
Funny Car Eliminator saw 23 F/Cs attempt to qualify for the 16 car field. One of the best performances was turned in by young Joshua Hernandez, a member of the Tommy Lipar Racing Team. Joshua, who debuted this car at the US 131 event at Martin, Michigan this past August, then went on to win his first round of professional competition when he defeated Melinda Green-King in the first round. Jeff Burnett ended Joshua's day in the second round but more bright days are ahead for this young man.
Tim Stevens slid down the track on its side. After it finally came to rest he was cut from the car and airlifted to a local hospital. Tim appears to have little permanent damage, suffering a mild concussion and second degree burns to his hands, but the same can not be said for his car, which is a total write-off. Stevens was released from the hospital Sunday morning.
Speaking of DiStefano, he has sold the 1953 Corvette that he drove last year to Winnipeg's Kenny Lang. Using the drive line from their Pro Modified Firebird, Kenny and his crew were here attempting to qualify the Corvette for its first event under
Von Smith made his return to competition here as the driver of the Tommy Lipar Mustang. After doctors discovered 100% blockage on his right side Von, one of the fittest athletes in motorsports, received a quintuple (five way) bypass in early August. Eight days ago he was cleared to drive again and he wasted no time in returning to the track.
Pro Stock Eliminator reaped the most benefits of the mine shaft conditions that existed here this weekend. Jerry Haas and Mike Bell claimed the final two spots in the Rick Jones 6.40 (Second) Club when they were the first two
After an inadvertent pit incident on Saturday morning I found myself with frame damage and two holes in the radiator of my street car. Knowing that I was 800 miles from home only added to the gravity of the situation. Fortunately, several of the nearby racers came to my rescue and spent more than three hours repairing the damage so that I could drive home without trouble. Special thanks go to Peter Kollinger and Dan Lang of t