Posts Tagged ‘drag racing’

Champion Speed Shop Wins 2012 Nightfire Nationals

Monday, August 13th, 2012


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.

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

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.

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.]

Bowling Green or Bust!

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

jim_mclennanThe Champion Speed Shop is fine-tuning the Chevrolet-powered Special in preparation to motor far further south than South San Francisco for the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green Kentucky, June 19-21. Putting together an all-new race car and getting the fresh clutch and tire combination to mesh with almost three thousand horsepower can be a little tricky – especially when races last a mere 5.96 seconds each. Even with two test sessions and two races in the past, the Special has had less than five minutes of actual on-track measured run time. Bowling Green, Kentucky will be the next stop on the road towards quicker and faster quarter mile assaults. The entire crew is geared up for the drag race, and will once again bring a Chevrolet and nitromethane to the lush grounds of Beech Bend Raceway Park.

“It’s like going to Churchill Downs to drag race. Bowling Green is truly beautiful, and unlike any other drag strip. It’s one of my favorite races of the year”, said driver Adam Sorokin.

For more information on the 2009 Holley NHRA Hot Rod Reunion head on over to the NHRA Motorsports Wally Parks Museum. Note: That’s Jim McLennan wearing a suit and tie in the cockpit of the circa-1966 Champion Speed Shop Special in a photo shoot on the streets of San Francisco.

Quickest and Fastest Blast Yet at Famoso Dragfest

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Dragfest Blast

The long haul to the Bakersfield started before sunrise on Friday at the Champion Speed Shop world headquarters in South San Francisco. The Special and trailer were already under way. The Champion Speed Shop 1934 Ford pickup’s blown small block Chevrolet was idling ready. Crew members motored towards Famoso Raceway from all points on the California map. A little over a month after the return of the small block Chevy on nitromethane to the March Meet, the Destination was once again the same. Bakersfield, California. This time it was Dragfest. (more…)