Written by Cole Coonce
14th Annual Holley National Hot Rod Reunion, June 18, 2016, Beech Bend Raceway, Bowling Green, Ky. — Using a mixture of fluid mechanics, dicey determination, and sheer driving skill, Adam Sorokin muscled his McLennan Family Tony Bernardini tuned “Champion Speed Shop” AA/Fuel Dragster to the Winner’s Circle here and to the top of the NHRA Heritage Series’ Top Fuel Points Chart.
After qualifying in the #2 spot for the 8-Car eliminator with a 5.64 elapsed time at 246 mph — with about as big a nitro percentage as is mathematically possible — Sorokin handily dispatched Tyler Hilton’s “Great Expectations III” in the opening round with a 5.83 to trailer Hilton’s 8.01. It was never that easy for the rest of the day: In the semi-final round, Sorokin strangled the starting-line Xmas tree with an extraordinary .026-second reaction time to seize the lead against fellow California Rick White, who cut a very reasonable light and began a ferocious pursuit that culminated in the “Neal & White” dragster catching the Champion car at 1000′, whereupon White’s mill began nosing over while Sorokin — who was out of the groove at half-track and nearly hit the wall at 1000′ — stabbed it back out of the marbles and finished just ahead of his opponent. Sorokin’s ET: 5.79 seconds. White’s: 5.80 at a piston-puffing 235 mph. The margin of victory was 9/100ths of second.
“That was full opposite lock,” Sorokin explained as to how he manhandled his ill-handling mount under full throttle when his race looked lost.
That win advanced Sorokin into the final round against another Californian, Santa Rosa’s Jim Murphy and his Roland Leong-tuned “WW2” railjob, who had spent the afternoon dispatching the creme de la creme of modern front-engine Top Fuel racing. Murphy’s first victim was recent March Meet winner Rick Williamson. As Williamson laid down a 5.87 at 247 mph, victory was within his grasp until half-track when Murphy’s mount suddenly gained another burst of steam and the WW2 machine tripped the timers in 5.74 seconds and at an indomitable 260 mph. Unfortunately for Williamson, he lost not only the round but also the points lead, which was now up for the taking, specifically among Sorokin, Murphy and Murphy’s next victim, Long Island City’s Tony Bartone.
Yes, in the ww2/Bartone semi-final heat, Murphy once again made massive amounts of horsepower and stopped the clocks first in 5.68 seconds with a top-end speed of 245 mph. Bartone’s mount quit a couple of hundred feet into the run, after a barrel valve fitting broke, dousing the New Yorker with a faceful of nitro.
This left Bartone — the two-time defending Heritage Series Points Champ — in an unfamiliar, if not uncomfortable position, the 4th slot in the Points Race. This despite Bartone and his Steve Boggs-tuned rail setting Low ET here with a 5.60.
“It ain’t over yet,” Bartone vowed. True, but the reality is that his always stout dragster will probably have to run the table during the remaining two Heritage Series races (Boise and Bakersfield) if he is to claim a third-straight Top Fuel Points Title.
Meanwhile, both Jim Murphy and Adam Sorokin were still in points-accumulating mode. The winner of their final-round battle would leave with a Wally and also the Points Lead.
To that end, after another holeshot by Sorokin, both drivers used up a lot of real estate trying to find and re-find the groove. Murphy clicked it as Sorokin once again played with the marbles during the last 320 feet of the dragstrip and clocked a victorious 5.76 at 237 mph to Murphy’s valiant but losing 6.37 at 158 mph. (Some would maintain that this kind of top-end action is why real drag racing is 1/4-mile long.)
“We are no longer a pretender, but a contender,” Murphy said, knowing that he set Top Speed here at 260-mph and he is only two rounds behind Sorokin in the Points Chase.
“We are back,” Sorokin exclaimed. In humility, he admitted that the final round was a proverbial pick ’em and with the competition this tight and unpredictable, could have gone either way. Sometimes, the saying goes, in order to be the Champion you have to win some coin tosses. And sometimes one has to grab the coin and make it do one’s bidding.
Sorokin, Murphy, Williamson, and Bartone — numbers 1 through 4 in the points — will all be at the next race on the NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel docket, Boise’s Pepsi Nightfire Nationals in August.
Check out the site AAFD
The Adam Sorokin led Champion Speed Shop team will head to Bowling Green Kentucky Father’s Day weekend to compete in the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion. The Champion car is fresh off a runner-up finish at the March Meet in Bakersfield, Ca, which put them number 2 in the point standings. The race car was plagued with wheel stand problems all weekend at the match meet. While it was a huge success for the photographers, it was devastating to the performance of the car. Crew Chief Tony Bernardini vows to have the wheel standing issue taken care of for this outing!
The race will be run Thursday through Sat, with eliminations Saturday only.
Check out the new article written by Cole Coonce on the Hot Rod Network.
Read the story here: AAFD – Bakersfield Update
Jeff Stich (1961-2015)
Veteran Champion Speed Shop pit-crew leader Jeff Stich was killed in a freak sprint-car pit accident September 5th at Calistoga Speedway in California. Jeff sustained fatal head and spinal injuries after being thrown off the back of a quad pit vehicle while holding a rear tire for a car in the race. Jeff was a lifelong friend of Champion’s McLennan family. “The news is tragic for the crew and friends of the Champion Speed Shop team,” car owner Bob McLennan said. God bless Jeff Stich.
This mini dragster was built by Mickey Thompson and given to Jim McLennan for his Champion Speed Shop. Bob McLennan is donating the dragster for the 2015 Nitro Alumni Auction to benefit the Wally Parks Motor Museum. Check out the other items that have been donated at: We Did It For Love. See you at the reunion!!
Check out the new featured article article written by Thom Taylor at : Hot Rod Network
August 7th 2015
Champion Crew headed for Boise!
After our 1st round loss due to a spectacular wheelstand in Bowling Green, Adam Sorokin and the Champion Crew are headed to Boise, Idaho for the Nightfire Nationals, Aug 13th – 16th. It looks like there will be a full field of Top notch Fuel cars for this years event.
A special thank you to Bob Brown for providing the great photos.
By piloting the Champion Speed Shop Special AA/Fuel Dragster to a runner-up finish at Auto Club Famoso Raceway’s 21st annual California Hot Rod Reunion, Adam Sorokin snagged the 2012 NHRA Heritage Series Championship. Sorokin clinched the Title during the Reunion’s quarter-final round of eliminations, when his Tony Bernardini-tuned small-block Chevrolet-powered machine ran its quickest and fastest quarter-mile time ever at 5.69 seconds with a top speed of 244.35 mph. Despite posting these previously-unprecedented numbers, the victory wasn’t settled until the finish line as opponent Rick White ran a slightly quicker 5.690 to Adam’s 5.697. However, Adam’s superior reaction time enabled the Champion dragster to score a hole-shot win and, by extension, the 2012 Championship.
Later that evening, and for the third race in a row, the Heritage Series AA/Fuel Dragster final round pitted Sorokin and the Champion entry against Rick Williamson in the Team Craig effort. Initially, and like their previous encounters, Adam left first. He seemed to have the race won until a valve failure caused a massive blower explosion that allowed Williamson to go on for the win.
Despite their spectacular runner-up finish, for Champion the Heritage Series Points Title was the greater victory.“It was a great year for us,” said team owner Bob McLennan. “Having the small block win it is so special for our family — this one wasfor (team founder) Jim McLennan. I know he was watching over us. The entire team knows he is our foundation to running this car. He provided us with the never say die confidence in the small-block Chevrolet.”
“The Champion cars of the past have been blessed with incredible drivers,” McLennan continued, “but this year’s Championship was due to Adam Sorokin’s uncanny driving ability race after race. He had two critical hole-shot victories that ultimately earned us the Championship.” McLennan also said that the Champion team provided Adam with “a consistent power plant that really came alive the second half of the year. We made a few more believers in the Chevrolet power.”
Champion Speed Shop is led by Tony Bernardini, along with Mike Perry and Jeff Stich, who specialize in cylinder-head maintenance; Dave Carkhuff works the bottom end; Tom McLennan dials in the clutch; Tom Homer manages the fuel; Dennis Barranza and Nick Sharp serve as the anything-goes utility-men , Bob Gavron keeps everyone well fed and Sparky keeps everybody honest as the team statistician.
Round 2 of qualifying- 5.90 202 mph
Famosa October 19,2012
1st Qualifier round not as planned.
Adam Sorokin took the Champion Speed Shop small block Chevrolet on it’s first qualifying run on Friday and the result was not was expected. The Chevrolet smoked the tires right at the hit and had to coast down the track on a aborted run. “The car just had too much power at that particular time of the day”, says crew chief Tony Bernardini. “We will adjust and give it a good run tomorrow”.
Sorokin has a 61 point lead going into the last race of the year. The entire crew is primed for a competitive weekend knowing they are the car to beat.
The 2nd round of qualifying will be at noon on Saturday and the first round of eliminations will be at 3:30pm the same day.
Check out the live track action on www.BANGshift.com.
Get the best seat at the track with NitroAmerica’s 2012 NHRA Heritage Series drag race videos. Great work by Les Mayhew.
Adam Sorokin drove the Champion Speed Shop small block Chevrolet to its 2nd win in a row, at the NHRA Top Fuel Heritage Series in Sacramento, California. The Champion Car was low qualifier at 5.82, which gave them a first round bye. The semi-finals pitted Adam against longtime friend Terry Cox. The Cheetah car was having one of its best outings but fell victim to the small block, as Adam left first and ran another 5.80’s pass at 5.83 to Terry’s 6.25.
The final round was a repeat of the Boise Nightfire National, Rick Williamson vs. Adam Sorokin. The Small Block Chevy was ready for battle, knowing the “Team Craig” car is having its best year to date. The Champion crew headed by Tony Bernardini ,had to throw down the power to get by the Hemi. Adam left first, with a scorching 1.02 60ft time on a late night track that tends to get loose after 9:00 pm. Rick Williamson smoked the hides right at the hit to assure the Small block a victory. Things got a little edgy at the 1000 foot mark as the Chevrolet power was kicking in, the car started to drift to the center line prompting Adam to lift and tip toe pass the finish line. The car still posted a 5.85 for the win.
The win puts the Sorokin/Champion Speed Shop team 61 points in front of Rick Williamson in the run for the championship going into the last race of the season. It will be decided at the NHRA Hot Rod reunion October 19th, 20th and 21st.
Team owner Bob McLennan would like to congratulate his outstanding crew: Tony Bernardini, Dennis Barranza, Dave Carkhuff, Bob Gavron, Tom Homer, Tom McLennan, Mike Perry, Nick Sharp and Jeff Stich, the best in the business.
August 12, 2012 – Boise, Idaho
The Champion Speed Shop small block Chevrolet got its first win of the year at Firebird Raceway’s Nightfire Nationals in Boise,Idaho. Adam Sorokin took the canopy car to the winners circle with an incredible final round win over low qualifier Rick Williamson. Adam left first and never looked back as he drove the flame throwing Chevy from center line to guard rail to nail down the victory. The crew led by crew chief Tony Bernardini had to change an engine between rounds after a broken rod occurred while racing Jim Murphy in the previous round. This was the closest race of the day, as Murphy ran a 5.90 to Adam’s 5.95. Adam’s .032 reaction time to Murphy’s .128 gave the Chevrolet the win light.
The win puts the Champion Car #2 in the NHRA Heritage Series point race. The next race is at Sacramento Raceway, Sept 14th followed by the final race of the year, the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion, Oct 20th and 21st in Bakersfield CA.
Brian Lohnes has posted a great article on CSS on the BANGshift blog. BANGshift.com
South San Francisco
The Champion team had to settle for a 1st round win and that’s it. The Chevrolet decided to take to the sky on the second round against Mendy Fry. Adam did his best to get it back to earth but the damage was done and Mendy went on to take the win. Adam had a great light at .032 but the car made a direct move upward right at the hit of the spoon so the great reaction time was wasted.
Overall the car produced it’s best performance ever as it posted times of 5.78,184.108.40.206 on all three of it’s full runs. The team is looking forward to the remainder of the year and bettering it’s good performance in Bakersfield.
A big thank you to our fans.
Photo by Mark Gewertz
In a last minute move, Bobby McLennan decided to take the small block out of retirement and take on the “new quickies” in Top Fuel. The class has seen some incredible times in the last two races, times in the mid 5.50s is not uncommon now. The Champion Speed Shop crew put the small block in contention the first time out, with a respectable 5.78 during qualifying and a huge first round win over Terry Cox running a 5.79. So far, it has been a good outing for the Champion Team, Tomorrow they are paired up with Mendy Fry for the second round of eliminations at noon.
News just coming in from Bob McLennan aka BobbyNitro