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Fri, 19 Jan 2018, 15:23 PM

Top Fuel Teams Across the USA Part III
By Steve Reyes
Photo copyright 2018 Steve Reyes

Once again, we venture back to the glory years of the front-engine top fuel car via the Reyes time machine. Starting out in Oklahoma, were two of the Southwest's best of the AA/FD ranks; the team of Graham and Groom with Marvin Graham at the controls, and then there was "The Wizard of Oz" Bennie Osborne, the pride of San Springs, Oklahoma. Marvin "World's Fastest TV Repairman" Graham put the G&G AA/FD in many a local winner's circle. It seemed that if they didn't win, they blew up; henceforth, my knick-name for them was "Bam and Boom!" Now for Osborne, he would forever make his mark in NHRA's top fuel racing by winning the 1967 NHRA Top Fuel World Championship. Bennie ventured to races in Oklahoma, Texas, and the Bakersfield Smoker's event until the cost of racing made him park his race car for good.

In 1970, the Louisiana-based Dave Chenevert put his name forever in the NHRA history book with a top fuel eliminator victory at the first ever NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida. Chenevert was at the controls of Louisiana native Robert Anderson's AA/FD. After his big victory, Chenevert gave up his ride in Anderson's AA/FD for the cockpit of the Shreve Automotive AA/FD. Anderson's AA/FD wasn't vacant very long as Kerry Macinroth filled the void. The Macinroth and Anderson team never jelled and soon California-based Louisiana native Ronnie Martin was in the driver's seat. Both Martin and Chenevert were very spectacular in their AA/FD rides. Martin continued into the rear-engine era with Anderson but Chenevert faded out.

In NYC, there was "Broadway Freddy DeName who was a "one-of-a-kind" character in drag racing. Kind of short, stocky, with bushy red hair, and no front teeth, making him stand out wherever he raced. In 1968, he and his AA/FD showed up at the Bakersfield March Meet and his first pass down the 1320 was about a half-mile that ended with him running over the finish-line lights. After his run, a group of NHRA officials ventured down to the hot car pits to have a discussion about his driving. Arriving at his pit area the officials had to fight through the crowd around DeName's beautiful full-bodied candy red AA/FD. There was Freddy talking to all of his new-found California fans. The officials were puzzled by Freddy's new-found glory, heck, he didn't set low ET or a mph record, he just ran over the lights. The officials stood back and looked at the candy red fueler at a different angle of light. They then realized why DeName had such a crowd around his car. Showing thought the candy red paint were images of nude couples, covering the car from nose to tail. The number on the car was 69, so you can guess what was painted into the number. Needless to say, NHRA decided that Freddy needed to put away his non-family friendly AA/FD and head back to NYC. Yes, there are more tidbits about Mr. DeName and his Bakersfield adventures but this isn't the place for such things…

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My first sighting of the Graham and Groom AA/FD was an exciting one. It was at
Green Valley, Texas, in 1971 while I was shooting parachute photos in the shut-off area.
As I was shooting, a pair of AA/FD's came down the track and the car on my side
popped its chute but the car on the far-side did not. Well, Green Valley had a very
short shut-off area ending in a catch net. The chuteless, wayward AA/FD headed off
the far-side of the track, driving around trees, through a barbed wire fence and then
around the local livestock in the adjoining field.

The duo of Graham and Groom entered the rear-engine revolution briefly before
splitting up. Graham raced his own top fuel car and in 1974, won the top fuel title
at the U.S. Nationals. Not bad for a TV repairman!

In 1967, Bennie Osborn astounded the NHRA top fuel world by winning NHRA's
Top Fuel World Championship. "The Wizard of Oz" took his AA/FD on the road
and raced all over the Southwest and Southern California.

Bennie Osborne (left) with old friend and top fuel foe Vance Hunt (right) at the
2014 NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield, California.

Kerry Macinroth started out 1970 at the controls of Robert Anderson's Louisiana-based AA/FD.
Then in March of 1970, Dave Chenevert had replaced Macinroth. Chenevert went on to win the
first-ever NHRA Gatornationals top fuel title over Jim Paoli. Chenevert put a hole-shot on Paoli,
6.74 to a losing 6.61, for a victory. Chenevert's regular top fuel ride was in the Shreve Automotive AA/FD.

Ronnie Martin took over the duties in Anderson's AA/FD and proved to be spectacular in
the ride. Chenevert could put on an exciting show in the Shreve Automotive AA/FD also!

This is Freddy DeName's driving style at the 1968 Bakersfield March Meet.
The NYC based DeName didn't get to make any more laps because of the
"stylish" paint job that adorned his AA/FD.

NHRA: 10 Most Recent Entries [ top ]

May 27- BOWLING GREEN - Saturday Wrap Up
May 27- BOWLING GREEN - Stock Eliminator Class Eliminations Finals
May 27- BOWLING GREEN - Super Stock Class Eliminations Finals
May 26- BOWLING GREEN - Competition Eliminator Eliminations Ladder
May 26- BOWLING GREEN - Competition Eliminator Qualifying, Saturday Final Order
May 26- BOWLING GREEN - Super Stock Eliminations Ladder
May 26- BOWLING GREEN - Super Stock Qualifying, Saturday Final Order
May 26- BOWLING GREEN - Stock Eliminator Eliminations Ladder
May 26- BOWLING GREEN - Stock Eliminator Qualifying, Saturday Final Order
May 26- BOWLING GREEN - Top Sportsman presented by Eliminations Ladder

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