The first race of the 2014 NMCA West season brought drag racing back to the Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, CA after a two year hiatus while the track completed construction on the new sound wall. The Hedman Hedders Nostalgia Street Car class saw a full field of 32 competitors make the finals on Sunday, March 30th, 2014 after an intense round of qualifying that ended with Dan Ficher taking the top qualifying spot.
In the first round of eliminations, it was business as usual as some of the biggest names in west coast drag racing claimed their first victories. Number two qualifier Jan Vanderpool and his ’67 Mustang faced off against Fron Aschtgen and his ’68 Cougar in the opening round, clutching the victory thanks to a superb .026 reaction time. 2013 class champion Ron DeHoop demonstrated his machine-like consistency as he piloted his ’67 Chevelle to victory over Bob Zahner’s Nova running a 10.567 on a 10.50 index with a .012 reaction time. Veteran racers Steve Cox and Mike Nordahl also advanced to the second round after defeating their opponents. Newcomer to Nostalgia Street Car Paul Geis also advanced to the second round after his opponent Mark Rapp jumped the start and red lit.
Kicking off the second round was Ron DeHoop who squared off against Jim Losquadro and his ’64 Nova. De Hoop’s consistency once again won him the round, running a 10.511 on his 10.50 index with a .018 reaction. In a battle of first gen Camaros, Steve Cox lined up against Jerry Snow for a heads-up 10.50 index battle. Cox had well over a two-tenths advantage off the line which caused Snow to play catch up and break out, handing the win to Steve Cox. Paul Geis caught a lucky break when his opponent jumped the start handing him the win even though he went a little too fast in his ’52 Chevy pickup and broke out of his 11.000 index. The big upset of the round came when Mike Nordahl, the winner of three different classes in 2012, lost to Brian Griffey’s ’70 Challenger in a close race. Griffey’s 12.000 index let him leave the line first which he did with an .047 reaction. One and a half seconds later Nordahl got the green light and left with a nearly identical reaction time to Griffey of .041. As the two came to the line it was Griffey that crossed first, a scant .009 seconds ahead of Nordahl.
The third round saw the defending champion Ron DeHoop start to falter. Staged against Brian Griffey’s 440-powered Challenger, Ron watched Griffey’s orange Mopar head down the strip for a second and a half before he got his light and leaving with a .056 reaction against Griffey’s .060. As they approached the line both drivers were neck and neck, but it was Griffey who crossed first. Unfortunately Griffey broke out which handed the win to Ron who also broke out, but by much less. Both Steve Cox and Paul Geis caught a break in this round when their opponents both had mechanical issues, advancing them to the next round.
In the semi-finals, number 30 qualifier Paul Geis lined up against Ron DeHoop to see who would be advancing to the finals. Running an 11.00 index, Geis was the first to leave the line which he did with a .034 reaction against DeHoop’s .095. With Geis’ red truck square in his sights, Ron DeHoop asked his Chevelle for every ounce of speed it had and passed Geis just before the line. Unfortunately the defending champ went just a little too quick and broke out, advancing Paul Geis to the finals. In the battle for the second spot of the finals, Steve Cox squared off against the ’55 Chevy of Merle Williams. Running nearly identical times to the pair that ran just before them, Merle took the second spot in the finals after Cox broke out.
In the final round of the evening, it was Paul Geis and his ’52 Chevy Truck lining up against Merle Williams and his ’55 Bel Air. With both racers running the 11.00 index this was a heads-up race to the finish line. Geis got the jump on Williams off the line by over two tenths of a second as the pair of 50s Chevy’s tore down the drag strip. Weary of the fact that he has been running a little fast all night and that he falling air temps were not helping that issue, Geis did a great job of mirror driving towards the end of the track, crossing the line just ahead of Williams. Despite running a near-perfect index, Williams just couldn’t make up for the deficit off the start and Paul Geis took home the Wally.