Former drag boat racing champion Eddie Hill, driving a new Dave Uyehara-built top fuel chassis, ran what appeared to be the fastest quarter-mile in Pomona drag racing history Saturday when he powered his 23 1/2-foot dragster down the strip in 5.148 seconds with a speed of 285.89 m.p.h. But a post-run inspection found that his rear rims were too wide, and the run was not allowed.
This moved Larry Minor, the potato magnate from San Jacinto, into the top qualifying berth for today's Chief Auto Parts Winternationals. Minor's morning run of 5.180 seconds elapsed time at 275.22 m.p.h. Minor's time is a Winternationals record, bettering the 5.184 set Friday by former Winston world champion Joe Amato.
Hill, who holds the Pomona track record of 283.91 m.p.h. set last November in the Winston Finals, was dropped to fifth position with an earlier qualifying run of 5.217 seconds and 277.94 m.p.h. Amato's 282.48 m.p.h. remained the top speed after Hill's speed was disallowed.
National Hot Rod Assn. officials said that Hill's rims were three-eights of an inch too wide. The maximum allowed is 16 inches.
Minor's 5.180 was the quickest elapsed time of his career. Curiously, the only other times he has been low qualifier were also at Pomona--in the 1986 Winston Finals and the 1985 Winternationals.
"I think if a driver gets caught cheating, he ought to be thrown out of the event," Minor said.
If both win first round matches today, Minor and Hill will meet in the second round.
Ed (Ace) McCulloch, the funny car driver on Minor's team, took top qualifying honors with a Winternationals record of 5.395 seconds, which bumped three-time world champion Kenny Bernstein back to second position.
McCulloch, 46, is the only active funny car driver in competition from the group who started the popular class in 1969.
It was the first time that Minor had top qualifiers in both top fuel and funny car at the same event.
"We put the car on a diet, and the driver on a diet, to get down to a competitive weight," a slimmed-down McCulloch said. "I lost 35 pounds over the winter, and the crew managed to take another 120 out of the car. I still weigh 200 pounds so we're giving away about 50 pounds when we race against some of the smaller guys like (Mark) Oswald and Bernstein."
Drag racing officials estimate that each 100 pounds in a funny car is worth a tenth of a second.
"Funny cars are getting so competitive, so tight, that we have to think about every little ounce," McCulloch said.
Scott Kalitta, whose father, Connie, won the 1967 Winternationals top fuel championship, ran a meet record 276.24 in his Firenza funny car, but his ET (elapsed time) of 5.483 left him in seventh position.
Ford Thunderbird driver Bob Glidden continued to write pro stock history when he won his 23rd consecutive low qualifying position for an NHRA national championship event. Glidden ran 7.391 seconds last Thursday and none of his 40 competitors could better it in four attempts.
Glidden ran 7.42 Saturday, thus failing to break his own national ET record of 7.352, which he set last year at Ennis, Tex.
The closest anyone came to Glidden was Warren Johnson's 7.413.