Posts Tagged ‘Bob McLennan’

Sorokin Brings Champion Speed Shop Small Block to 2nd Victory

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
Photo by Steven Justice

Photo by Steven Justice

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.

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



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.

The Real Mad Men

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Back when race cars and association with motor sport worked to sell motor oil and go-fast parts, advertising success hinged on successful creative. Getting the right shot meant doing whatever it takes. In this case a cowboy photo shoot on the streets of San Francisco had Jim McLennan holding onto the brake of an injected version of the Special on a famously steep San Francisco hill. Jim had called upon Gene Icardi just hours before the photo shoot to motor over in his Shelby Mustang. That’s Gene himself blocking traffic between the Champion Special and the cable car. The photographer got the job done almost as quick as the crew appeared for the shoot. Jim and Bob McLennan loaded the dragster back onto the trailer. Gene dumped the clutch and mashed the throttle in his 4-speed pony car and made like Steve McQueen. The cable car clanged its way over the top of the hill. The photographer packed up his gear and took the film off to the lab to produce the shot. The resulting Castrol print advertisement is seen here, even though there might have been a little Valvoline in the crankcase of the small block Chevy. [Click on the smaller image for a larger view, click again to close the image.]

Half Moon Bay Reunion on the Car Guy Channel

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Earlier this year The Champion Speed Shop returned to the Pebble Beach of Drag Racing for a 50th Reunion of the Half Moon Bay Dragstrip as part of the Pacific Coast Dream Machines show. A historical incarnation of the nitromethane powered and supercharged small block Chevy dragster was on deck, and the latest version of the long line of Chevy powered dragsters was fired up for the cheering crowd on the very same ground where Jim McLennan founded the Half Moon Bay dragstrip some 50 years before. The Car Guy Channel caught all the action in this video roundup of the good times at the reunion of old pals. Take a look to get some history on the Champion Speed Shop 1934 Ford pickup, the Smiling Irishman himself, and what is known as the wind.

More: The Car Guy Channel