Posts Tagged ‘Bakersfield’

Champion takes Small Block Chevrolet to 2012 March Meet, takes 1st Round

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Autoclub Famoso Raceway
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.
Watch the races tomorrow on

In the pits before round #1 eliminators

In the pits before round #1 eliminations


Sork and the Goat Moving Up at March Meet

Saturday, March 19th, 2011


Autoclub Famoso Raceway, 3-19-2011–After two sessions of qualifying for the 53rd March Meet, the Van Dykes Motorsports/Champion Speed Shop fuelers are provisionally qualified 11th and 12th for Sunday’s 16-car eliminator, with Adam Sorokin posting an elapsed time of 6.22 seconds at a top end speed of 219 mph in his Chrysler-powered machine and Larry Gotelli residing a notch behind at 6.41, after clicking it off early in his Chevy-powered streamliner.


On the down side, during Friday’s qualifier, the Chrysler mill is completely deconstructed. The catalyst? A rod through the block.

“The first hit was real soft on the clutch, as we are trying get a baseline on (Famoso’s) new track surface,” Adam explained. “So it left soft, and never really pulled—never really got up on the tire… I kinda plugged it on through, and when I shut it off, it kicked a rod again.”


The Champion pit after first round of qualifying

He’s only had one swing of the shovel, but Sorokin said it’s been a long day in the proverbial salt mines. “The salt mines would be a step up,” he said. “This has been more like a bad day in the blood diamond mines in the heat of the day….”

On a more positive note, after a long hiatus, Larry Gotelli Jr. is playing catch-up with driving a AA/Fueler, but, according to Sorokin, is making impressive strides.

“After six years out of the saddle, Larry’s coming up to speed pretty quickly,” Adam noted. “You have to realize the small-block Chevy has a different sound and a different power band. And then you take a driver used to fresh air and stuff him into a canopy… well, SFI hasn’t made a snorkel long enough for what he’s used to.”

Qualifying resumes Saturday at noon, PST, with the first round of eliminations this evening. All the action can be streamed on

Larry Gotelli and Adam Soroking discuss driving a streamliner

Larry Gotelli and Adam Soroking discuss driving a streamliner

Step Aside Sheen: Sorokin Speaks Of “Winning” On Speed Scene Live

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011


March 8, 2011, South City, CA–Step aside Hollywood: In what is arguably the most anticipated interview since Charlie Sheen explained the new definition of the word “winning,” tonight on the Speed Scene Live podcast defending March Meet Top Fuel champ Adam Sorokin will grab the microphone and explain the word’s more traditional meaning, while also discussing his chances at “re-winning” this year’s upcoming March Meet in the Van Dyke Motorsports/Champion Speed Shop dragster.

Besides revealing whether or not the Champion team runs on the same “tiger blood” that Sheen has credited with his success, this will be an opportunity for Sorokin to publicly reflect on last year’s conquest, a feat that had a special, familial resonance for him as his father, the late Mike Sorokin, claimed the same event title in 1966, an event that some historians claim was the most epic Top Fuel drag race ever.

Held annually at Bakersfield’s AutoClub Famoso Raceway, the March Meet is the first event for Top Fuel in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series 2011 season, and has the entire Champion team wringing their hands in anticipation, as last year’s triumph propelled them towards eventually claiming the NHRA Heritage Series 2010 season title.

Tonight’s show runs live at 6 pm PST and can be accessed at

Listeners with any questions for Sorokin can call in to the talk show at 1-800-809-0802.


Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
Van Dyke/Champion shoe Adam Sorokin gauges the pressure at Pomona

Van Dyke/Champion shoe Adam Sorokin gauges the pressure at Pomona

November 16, 2010, Champion Speed Shop HQ, South San Francisco, CA—The 2010 AA/Fuel Dragster wars culminated in a fiery bang Sunday at Pomona’s NHRA Finals, as the postponed, deciding round of October’s California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield—rescheduled for Pomona last weekend because of inclement weather last month—saw a see-sawing donnybrook of a drag race between Adam Sorokin at the helm of the Van Dyke Motorsports/Champion Speed Shop Top Fuel Dragster and Brett Harris’ Utah-based Nitro Thunder machine, with Harris claiming the belated CHRR Event Title against a burst-panel bursting Sorokin.

For the Van Dyke entry, the loss was disappointing yet somewhat immaterial, as the rescheduled match served as a punctuation mark to the Champion team being crowned 2010 NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel Champions last month, by virtue of their eliminating Jim “Holy Smokes” Murphy and his WW2 dragster during CHRR’s semi-finals in Bakersfield.

In that heat, Sorokin posted a stunning 1/4-mile elapsed time of 5.63 seconds, with a fearsome terminal speed of 252 mph. Champion’s nitromaniacal braintrust of Tony Bernardini and Bob McLennan decided to keep that tune-up intact for Pomona’s postponed-Reunion final round—albeit, perhaps to their own peril…

Sorokin in a pre-race nitro bath (photo by Cole Coonce)

Sorokin in a pre-race nitro bath (photo by Cole Coonce)

Moments before the season’s final customary warm-up and leak test, when asked about the specifics of the Bakersfield-cum-Pomona tune-up, McLennan replied: “98 percent”—a nitro/alcohol mixture good for then-current  atmospheric conditions of 3000′ altitude and Pomona’s superlatively-prepped race track. After the warm-up the sun set however, and temperatures cooled while the adjusted elevation dropped to 2500′.  The improved air—and increased oxygen—was tantamount to more nitromethane in the tank, all of which added up to an explosive situation—and a shorter fuse.

At the hit, Adam cut a quick-as-cat’s-feet .016 reaction time and had a wheel out on the Nitro Thunder machine. Sorokin’s stellar starting light was inspired by the ambiance and intensity of the NHRA’s season-closing race:  “The opportunity to run in front of that many people, on that caliber of race track was a very savory prospect,” he noted. “After the burnout and moving my car forward in preparation of the run, was the first time I became aware of just how many people were watching. It was a very cool sight.

“The car felt strong going down the track,” he explained. “I had strong, high header flames all the way until a rocker arm broke at around 1000′, followed by a burst-panel explosion.”

The engine damage slowed the hard-charging steed, enabling Harris to blast by Sorokin and take the event win.

“They won it with a 5.74 to our 5.88,” Sorokin concluded. “But I could not be more proud to be a part of the team—we made a valiant effort. The ride back up the return road blew me away. I could not believe the great reception we received from all the fans! It made the whole journey worthwhile.”

Perhaps the fans’ accolades were in recognition of the notion that—as the drag-racing punditocracy has already noted—Champion and Van Dyke Motorsports may have lost Pomona’s battle, but they had already won the war. They are the 2010  NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel Champions.Cole Coonce

Champion Speed Shop Takes AA/FD Championship Title

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

sorokin-final-01Adam Sorokin and the Champion Speed Shop launched the Van Dyke Motorsports Retroliner to the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series win over worthy opponent Jim Murphy at the California Hot Rod Rod Reunion. Sorokin clicked off an astounding 5.63 for the win, pushing the Retroliner to victory at 252 MPH. The team stepped up on the win incrementally over the weekend. Co-Crew Chief Bob McLennan thought Murphy had loaded the gun for bear at the burnout, but quickly saw Sorokin pushing straight around Murphy. Sorokin hit a quick light and was traveling 210 MPH at half track.

“To have the car run that hard in the round that decided the championship was pretty cool. The thing was a rocket ship, and pulled all the way to the lights”, said Sorokin

With the points win in the bag the team was ready to reload and come back out for the final event battle. The weather had other ideas. A raindrop decision on Sunday postponed the racing action until Monday. The new day brought more rain, and the event was called once more. The remaining top fuel racers decided to pick things up again in Pomona, California at the 2010 NHRA World Finals on November 11-14th. Adam Sorokin will go up against Brett Harris in a race to decide the winner of the rained-out California Hot Rod Reunion. The team is back in South San Francisco preparing the launch vehicle for the final round, less than a month away in Southern California.

Photo Sean Work of the Bakersfield Californian. Click here for tickets and information on the upcoming 2010 NHRA World Finals

Governor’s Cup Grabbed – Onward to Bakersfield

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

sorokin-cup-525The Champion Speed Shop has grabbed the Governor’s Cup victory at Sacramento Raceway in the Van Dyke Motorsports hemi-powered AA/Fuel dragster. The stunning Retroliner is back in South San Francisco getting set up with the accumulated wisdom of an impressive top fuel season – and it’s not over yet. The team is honing in on the last runs of 2010 at the 19th NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion. Adam Sorokin and the Champion Speed Shop team are heading into the AA/FD points race finals with a number two slot against Jim Murphy’s number one standing.

Grabbing the Governor’s Cup at Sacramento Raceway quickly overshadowed the mechanical mayhem that plagued the car at the 2010 Nightfire Nationals in Boise, Idaho. Chicago Style drag racing action dispensed with the usual qualifying runs in Sacramento, and put Adam Sorokin up against Rick White for the final round. By the time the header flames went dark and the smoke cleared, it was Sorokin who took the win along with the elusive Governor’s Cup.

The team is staged for the launch sequence to begin again at the California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield, on the same track that Sorokin marked the debut of the race car by winning the 2010 March Meet with a 5.76-second at 241 MPH run against Howard Haight just slightly over six months ago. Sorokin feels confident that lessons learned over the course of a half year of racing with the new machine have already begun the countdown to fierce competition for the win out on the legendary 1320 feet of the patch.

“We’re trying to start the win happening at the shop”, said Sorokin.

Co-crew chiefs Bob McLennan and Anthony Bernardini have come to the same consensus. The last race of 2010 will be counted, and the South San Francisco crew are making sure of that reality with just days before the big drag race.

“We’ve got six passes left in the year, and we’re going to make the absolute best of those six”, said Bob Mclennan of the upcoming 200-plus mile per hour quarter mile nitromethane confrontation.


As hard as it is to believe, 2010 marks the 19th running of the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield. Top fuel action starts Friday October 15th, and wraps up about five seconds after they fire the last pair on Sunday the 17th. For more pics and a roundup of all the action at the Governor’s Cup head on over to All American Fuel Dragsters Inc. For more information on the 19th California Hot Rod Reunion consult with the NHRA Druids. Photo by Steven Wallace – courtesy of AA/FD INC.

Champion Speed Shop takes first ever March Meet Win

Monday, March 8th, 2010

semifinal_FTW525Adam Sorokin has taken the Champion Speed Shop Van Dyke Motorsports hemi-powered dragster to victory at the 2010 Bakersfield March Meet with a 5.76-second at 241 MPH run. Sorokin charged on Howard Haight’s 5.93-second 246 MPH challenge, and tripped the win light for the first ever March Meet win for the South San Francisco crew. Co-crew Chief Bob McLennan was wearing a smile in the staging lanes, as the team waited to roll the car into the Winner’s Circle at Famoso Raceway.

“We haven’t been in the Winner’s Circle for so long, our Champagne has aged”, said McLennan jokingly of the win.

The triumph has been a long time coming for the team, who brought the all-new hemi-powered dragster to the March Meet with but a single test run completed only one week before the race. Once at the March Meet the car went quicker and faster with each pass.

Winning the March Meet is the realization of a dream for driver Adam Sorokin, who said he has always wanted to follow on the legendary lines of his own father Mike Sorokin, who took the 1966 March Meet win in The Surfers hemi-powered AA/Fuel dragster.

“It is almost too big of a dream to actually realize”, said Sorokin fresh from the winning charge that brought his longtime dream into reality.

Champion Speed Shop Set to Storm NHRA Hot Rod Reunion

Monday, October 12th, 2009

South San Francisco, CA – After a stout runner up finish in the race for the Governor’s Cup, the Champion Speed Shop is ready to launch the small block Chevrolet powered entry into the 16-car front engine top fuel dragster battle at the 18th Annual California Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California. The 402-cubic inch small block Chevy powered Special clocked its best numbers ever in the State Capitol as the team brought the all-new combination in top fuel drag racing into ever quicker and faster runs down the quarter mile.

“We’ve been trying to get our 60-foot and half-track times down. In Sacramento it started to come around. That’s what we were looking for”, said Bob McLennan of the combination hitting a quick step at Sacramento Raceway.

With the car back at the South San Francisco base after the mid night grab for the Governor’s Cup, data and engine component analysis has yielded a plan to match out of the gate performance with a top end charge for lower elapsed times and higher top speeds from the Chevy-powered digger. Driver Adam Sorokin agrees the potential for maximum velocity is in order for the California Hot Rod Reunion – a fantastic place to witness drag racing history in motion and in the making on the very same weekend.

Sorokin clearly felt the car coming into line at Sacramento, and has confidence the team has learned what it takes to run nitromethane with success through the unprecedented engine setup. While the venerable Chrysler hemi has huffed nitro through thousands upon thousands of runs down the dragstrip, the small block Chevrolet nitromethane formula is the sole provenance of the Champion Speed Shop.

“I really think we have a car that can win. We’ve got some of the best people on the team you can possibly have”, said Sorokin mere days before the season finale of the 2009 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage series points battle finale.

The 18th Annual California Hot Rod Reunion takes place at Famoso Raceway on October Oct. 16-18, 2009. For event information please visit the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion. For race track information visit the Famoso Raceway.

Back to Bakersfield for Dragfest

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

World Record HolderWith the recollection of memories and good times of the Half Moon Bay Dragstrip 50th Reunion just a few days in the past, the Champion Speed Shop is loading up the gear, the nitromethane, and the gang to motor down to the Rod and Kulture Dragfest for some drag racing action at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield. The Champion Speed Shop Special will join top fuel forces with eight nitro-huffing diggers, altereds, and even some funny looking cars for three action-packed days of quarter mile mayhem. Live music, a cacklefest, and a drive-in movie with drag racing features on Saturday night are part of the scheduled events.

MORE: Rod and Kulture Dragfest May 1-3 2009

Attention in the Pits

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

The Champion Speed Shop is ready for second round qualifying with Famoso raceway basking under a Bakersfield sun and cloudless sky. We figured it was a good time to deliver a warmup from yesterday and a preview of today. The launch window for top fuel action is currently scheduled for a 12:30 PM. Click over to the video for a few seconds of the small block Chevy huffing some nitro.