TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR — 12th annual United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals, June 4-7, Chicago
Manzo fends off hot-handed Harker for 80th win
Frank Manzo, near lane, ran a 5.57 in the
final round to defeat championship rival
Steve Harker, who had a clutch problem
and shook the tires.
by Brad Littlefield With his second win of the
season, Manzo became the
W ords like “domination” come to mind when
thinking about Frank Manzo’s seemingly
annual reign atop the Top Alcohol Funny Car
fourth driver in NHRA history to
score 80 career wins.
standings, though Steve Harker’s increasingly strong Manzo would have been
performance has made Manzo look somewhat incredibly tough to beat in
vulnerable at times. But Harker, who has already eliminations considering that
claimed two national event wins this season, has his four runs ranged between
never beaten the 12-time world champion in head-to- 5.56 and 5.60, and he was
head competition. never really challenged, with
“I tried hard in qualifying, so I have no excuses,” the exception of second-round
Manzo revealed. “My performance advantage right foe Andy Bohl, who ran a
now is gone.” competitive 5.64 against him.
The collision course between the Jegs Allstars Manzo’s 5.60 in his semifinal
victor from New Jersey and the Australian transplant win against Mark Billington
from Georgia was met with many challenges along the was his worst of nine runs
way. Both teams were shorthanded — Manzo was made during the course of
without his youngest crewmember, Scott Siesing, and the weekend, his second
Harker without clutch specialist Joseph Satterfield — worst being a 5.58 during the
during a situation in which all teams had to turn first qualifying session.
their cars around at a rapid pace in order for the Manzo, never one to be
event to be finished after lengthy rain delays. that situation. I came from being a low-bucks racer boisterous about his accomplishments as a driver
“The turnarounds during the Jegs Allstars race on with only one motor, and that’s how I had to race. and tuner, was proud of the job done by his crew of
Saturday were for the over-50,” quipped Manzo. “We “When you stand in the winner’s circle at night, John Glade, Fred Bauer, and Ed Hofmann to allow
were short one crewmember, and, let’s be frank, we’re you look back and realize that NHRA did the right him such consistency.
not all 30 years old in this camp. We all understood thing. [NHRA Vice President-Racing Operations] “That’s what my team represents,” said Manzo.
that there wouldn’t be much time, so I raced my car Graham Light did what he could do to finish the “I’m very lucky to have a crew like I have to make
knowing that I probably couldn’t make the turnaround race in the conditions we were under. When you get this possible. Making sure that everything is put
if we broke a valve spring. It’s a hell of a way to race, in that situation, Graham has to make that call and back together the right way every time is what it’s
but everyone has to do their part to finish a race in rely on a team to finish it.” all about.”
Harker earned lane choice in the final round by posting a strong 5.57 in a semifinal win Manzo advanced to the final by beating Mark Billi