It would be hard to blame the members of Sunnyside's Johnny B Good Racing team if they had a bit of swagger in their gait come next weekend. That's because the local drag racing team will enter a national competition in Seattle the weekend of July 20-22 with three big victories under its belt.
The Lower Yakima Valley team will be going head-to-head against the big boys in Seattle, the guys you can typically find on the tube when ESPN broadcasts NHRA national events. Despite the stiff challenge, the Sunnyside crew hopes to maintain the success it has already found in the 2007 Pacific Northwest Division 6 competitions.
The team's most recent Division 6 win came last weekend at Woodburn, Ore. Wayne Linder Jr., if not the captain then surely the heart and soul of the team, powered his '27 Ford Roadster to a first place finish in the Super Gas classification.
To earn the top finish at one of the Division 6's most heavily attended events of the season, Linder had to get past seven opponents. Early on, it didn't appear as though the wily veteran would even make it out of the first round.
"We've been fighting the car all year," Linder said, ticking off numerous mechanical malfunctions that have hampered the team from the outset of the season. The biggest headache for the team has been the roadster's carburetor.
In the first two rounds at Woodburn, Linder massaged his hot rod to a pair of wins, despite not having the roadster properly dialed in. Basically, he ran full out and backed off the throttle near the finish line to avoid breaking out the dialed-in time of 9.90 seconds. Good guesswork, or shear luck, advanced him into the third single-elimination round.
It was at that point the team installed the borrowed carburetor.
After a bit of tinkering to get the roadster dialed in, Linder proceeded to make his next five passes with clockings that all ranged within two one-hundredth's of a second of the 9.90 breakout time.
Matched against Mike Coltron of Boise, Idaho in the finals, who had won the previous Division 6 Super Gas title the weekend before in Medford, Ore., Linder caught a break when Coltron red-lighted and DQ'd himself.
The second Division 6 win of the season for the Johnny B Good Racing team was notched in Medford the last weekend in June. Competing in the Super Comp classification, which has an index of 8.90 seconds, Michael Dalrymple came away with top honors.
He's the son of team owner John Dalrymple, and is a relative newcomer to the world of roaring down a quarter-mile strip in a time well below 10 seconds.
The younger Dalrymple is piloting the dragster that his father drove last season, but based on his performance in Medford, you'd think he's a well seasoned veteran. Especially when you take into account some of the big hitters the younger Dalrymple disposed of enroute to capturing the Super Comp championship at Medford.
Dalrymple's first big upset at the Division 6 Medford drag racing competition came in the quarter-finals, when he got by the nation's No. 2 rated Super Comp racer. Two rounds later, in the finals, Dalrymple charged past former Super Gas world champion Mike Henderson of Seattle.
Linder credits the younger Dalrymple with excellent starts off the line. That, as well as the team having the dragster dialed in, enabled the newcomer to hit the desired 8.90-second index right on the mark in four of his six passes.
Fittingly, perhaps, the Johnny B Good Racing team's first Division 6 victory of the season came with the team's owner, John Dalrymple, at the wheel.
Competing in a 2003 Corvette roadster that he purchased last October near Palm Springs, Calif., Dalrymple advanced through six rounds to claim top honors at the Division 6 Super Gas competition in Mission, Canada the last weekend in May.
"It was John's first win in Super Gas," said Linder. "Up until this year, he had been competing in the Super Street class in his '67 Camaro."
The first place finish by the team owner in Canada was a bit unexpected, considering it was only his fourth ever competition in the newly purchased Corvette roadster. Dalrymple also had to get by highly regarded Kevin Griffith of Idaho in the finals.
The Sunnyside drag racing team also traveled to compete at the June 15-17 Division 6 competition in Seattle. Those races were suspended after the second round, however, due to weather conditions and the restrictions of a noise ordinance. Linder said the conclusion of that competition will take place the last weekend in August. He, along with the younger Dalrymple and team rookie Jay Fulcher, who competes in the Super Street class with the '67 Camaro the elder Dalrymple drove last season, all made it through the first two rounds and are still alive in that competition.
Next up, though, is the national NHRA event in Seattle the weekend of July 20-22. Granted, the big boys will be there and are the odds-on favorites to take home the hardware, but if you like dark horses, the Johnny B Good racers might just be the sleepers to pull off an upset or two.