Snively cuts Ford triple crown bid
Reprinted from the Feb. 24, 1967 issue of National DRAGSTER
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (Feb. 19) -- The famed Famoso strip played host to its annual three-day drag racing drama, and this year the plot had a familiar ring. The "Hawaiian", winner of the NHRA Nationals and Winternationals, and every other title that owner Roland Leong has sought, parlayed its unprecedented combination of top performance and good fortune into the 1967 U.S. Championships Top Fuel purse. Driver Mike Snively, no stranger to the winner's circle, hustled on to a 7.29-212.26 final win after Dave Beebe shut off early.
"Goob" Tuller took the consistent "Freight Train" dual Chevy AA/GD to the Top Gas crown, coupling up for an outstanding 7.78-191.88 performance. Walt Rhoades trailed at 8.10-188.
Other Eliminator winners before the 10,000 Sunday fans included Leroy Chaderton – Altered Fuel; Ed Allen – Jr. Fuel; Larry Dixon – Modified Fuel; and Don Nicholson – 2000 lb. Funny Car.
Many of the sport's big names were not present this year. The absence of Winternationals winner Connie Kalitta, Don Garlits, Tommy Ivo, Chris Karamesines, Art Malone, and Danny Ongais disappointed spectators, but left qualifying room for local newcomers. Only two cars from east of Texas made the Top Fuel show.
Pete Robinson's Ford made the semi's, giving rise to the speculation that Ford OHC power might sweep the winter's "big three" championships. But it wasn't to be.
"Sneaky Pete" got anxious against the "Hawaiian," drawing a red beam in an effort to gain an early lead. Dave Beebe did beat the lights for a holeshot win against Sorokin. A 7.33 put down the 1966 Bakersfield champ and a 7.24 to set up the final. Snively pocketed some $3,000 moments later.
The Peters–Tuller "Train" dominated the quickest gas dragster bracket ever assembled. The qualifying break point was 7.91 seconds–the quality of competition proven by Tuller's round-wins over Larry Bowers and others with 7.70's and 80's.
The "Train" hustled by Bill Dunlap in the semifinal round, as Walt Rhoades bumped Steve Carbone in the Beacon Auto entry. Tuller won Top Gas by charging in front all the way, Rhoades close behind in the sevens.
Competition among "funny cars" was no challenge for Nicholson. His ultra-light OHC Merc stormed to 8.34-168 and 8.21-172 clockings in dusting off the 2000 lb. class. A red-light by the "Malfunction" Chevy II and a 9.44 by Ron Runyan's J&D Corvette were little opposition.
The busy 2,400-lb. bracket proved Stone-Woods-Cook's new Chrysler/Mustang as tough as their famous gas coupes. Doug Cook was steady, opening with an 8.46-168 shot over the "Hairy Canary" Chevy. An 8.49 second round was enough to dump Gas Ronda's Mustang, and Al VanderWoude paved the way in the final by crossing up his Dodge. Cook did 8.58-159.