Benchmark RV Center’s Mike and Jeanette O’Brien have been involved in auto racing for many years and 2008 turned out to be the best year ever for the Plueger & Austin Nitro Funnycar Team. The team won every major race, setting numerous track records and dominating the funny car class. In the final round of the California Hot Rod Reunion in a Chicago – style shootout, Bucky Austin had low ET of the meet with a 5.74 ET at 244.03 mph. Clinching the first ever NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Championship and winning the Hot Rod Reunion.
The Plueger & Austin Plymouth Arrow is owned by legendary chassis builder Steve Plueger and driven by Hall of Famer, Bucky Austin, AKA “The Northwest Hitter.” The Plymouth Arrow body was prepped and painted at Benchmark RV Center as was the new addition to the Plueger stable, the 1971 Mach 1 Mustang known as Plueger & Gyger Mustang.
2009 March Meet Results:
The Plueger & Austin Funny Car Team began the 2009 Season like they finished 2008, with a dominating victory. In the opening race of the NHRA Nostalgia Funny Car season, 29 race cars tried qualifying for a spot in the legendary Bakersfield March Meet. When it was all over, it was an All Plueger Final, with Bucky Austin beating teammate Garrett Bateman for the win. Bucky also set a new National Record with a stunning 5.72 at 246 mph. The weekend began with cool weather that made for a tricky racetrack. The Bucky Austin Arrow also suffered a parts failure Saturday morning resulting in a missed qualifying run. Going into Saturday’s last qualifying session the 2008 Champion was not qualified.
This team showed its Championship Quality with a run of 5.77 at 245 mph., to the #1 qualifying position. First round of Sunday’s eliminations matched Bucky with Dennis Taylor in the “Future Flash Charger”. Bucky ran a great 5.75 to take the win. Teammate Garrett Bateman beat Chris Krabill 5.82 to a 5.87 after some starting line antics. Round 2 saw both Plueger Cars win and advance to the finals, where Bucky beat Garrett with the record time of 5.72. The Plueger & Austin Race team (PAR) have now won 4 straight here at Bakersfield and set 4 new elapse time records. The Plueger & Austin team celebrated the March Meet victory in the winner’s circle with Bucky Austin saying, “It takes a good car, a great crew & a little luck”. “Hats off to Steve & the whole team”. Look for us in Sacramento on April 24 & 25th and please stop by and say hello.
Racing Schedule 2009 (Tentative)
Northwest Hitter Profile
Plueger & Gyger Profile
Larry Kimble Steve
Leach Sonny Montes
During the 2009 season our team will attempt to defend our Heritage Series Championship, as well as run a total of 12 to 14 races. Please keep up with our team as we try to go back-to-back championships in 2009! Watch for racing results on this website. Special thanks to Darrell Conrad and Pam Schavrien for providing us with the racing car photos.