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Posted by: NHRA.com staff
Funny Car veteran Roger Garten passed away June 28 due to injuries sustained in an on-track incident at Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield Saturday night, June 27. He was 69.

The Fallbrook, Calif., resident drove a series of popular War Horse entries during two distinct periods of growth in the Funny Car class – the match racing heyday of the 1970s and the more recent Nostalgia Funny Car revolution that hearkens back to the cars of the same era.

Garten began his racing career during the height of the Gasser Wars in Southern California with blown and unblown entries that he fielded with partner Dave Braskett. He then teamed with Mike Tocco and Harry Harper to race a blown, nitro-burning big-block Chevy AA/Fuel Altered until building his first Funny Car, the War Horse Mustang, in 1973. Garten had success on the match race trail and at NHRA events, most notably winning the 1975 Division 7 championship. The partners parked the entry in 1976 to concentrate on their businesses and families.

Having discovered their original AA/Fuel Altered in the 1990s, Garten and Tocco decided to restore it and take it to Cacklefest events. This led to the decision to field another competitive entry, so in 2008, they began building another War Horse Funny Car to compete in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series. Notably, Garten won the 2010 event at Sacramento Raceway in his first season back, 35 years after winning a divisional event at the same facility.

Garten was competitive on the racetrack, reaching the final round at the NAPA Ignitor event at Firebird Raceway this season, and universally well-liked among his peers. His excitement about returning to the sport after a 35-year hiatus, which coincided with his retirement from construction work, was reflected in the endless exuberance he displayed at the track.

Garten is survived by wife Carlene, children Rhonda and Dan, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

NHRA extends its condolences to his family and friends.
Posted by: NHRA.com staff
The Eric Medlen Memorial Golf Tournament has grown into one of the top charity events in drag racing, attracting the sport's top stars and raising over $250,000 for children.
 
The seventh annual tournament, which benefits the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent, is slated for Thursday, Sept. 3, this year, just before the U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway. Hosted by Morgan Lucas Racing, the tournament returns to Eagle Creek Golf Course in Indianapolis.
 
Medlen was a very popular NHRA racer before he passed away in an accident during testing in 2007 in Gainesville, Fla. Medlen loved spending time with children, so in his honor Morgan and Katie Lucas founded the tournament in 2009.
 
"Eric not only was a great racer but a truly great man," Morgan Lucas said. "He loved people and had a passion for helping kids. Katie and I and everyone at Morgan Lucas Racing consider it an honor to hold this tournament and raise money for a truly special place in honor of a truly special man."
 
An MRI room in the hospital was dedicated in Medlen's honor last year because of the generous sponsors and supporters of the tournament. All of this year's proceeds will go to the St. Vincent House, which supports families whose children are receiving treatment from Peyton Manning Children's Hospital.
  
The Eric Medlen Memorial Golf Tournament, which benefits the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent, is hosted by Morgan Lucas Racing at Eagle Creek Golf Course in Indianapolis.
Posted by: NHRA.com staff

Former U.S. Nationals Funny Car winner Gary Burgin died May 24 after a long illness. He was 69.

The driver of the Orange Baron Funny Car, who began his career in the A/Gas Supercharged ranks and famously bragged to have never driven anything on the quarter-mile that didn’t have a supercharger atop the engine, won two NHRA national events and finished in the top 10 five times in his career.

No win was bigger for the Southern California racer than his triumph at the 1976 U.S. Nationals, where he defeated Don Prudhomme in the final round to hand “the Snake” his only national event round-loss that season. Burgin finished a career-high second in the points standings the year before behind Prudhomme.

Burgin continued to race into the early 1980s – finishing fifth in 1981 and seventh in 1982 -- and won again at the 1979 Springnationals, but the rising cost of racing eventually forced him from the cockpit. He went on to serve as a crewmember and/or crew chief for the likes of Jody Smart, Al Segrini, and Tom McEwen during 1984-86 and worked with Swedish Top Fuel racer Pelle Lindelow, which led to a burgeoning business in Europe servicing those racers through his business, Gary Burgin Enterprises, which exported complete engine packages and other related car components to racers around the globe.

Burgin is survived by his wife of 45 years, Gerry, daughters Sara and Reina, and four grandchildren.
 

Posted by: NHRA.com staff

Former NHRA Super Gas national champion Tommy Costales died May 8. He was 63.

Costales drove his Corvette to the 1994 NHRA championship and was runner-up at the U.S. Nationals that year as well as in 1995 and 2004. In 1985, Costales was elected to the Car Craft Magazine All-Star Drag Racing Team and went on to win numerous NHRA and IHRA national events. Costales also owned Houston Engine and Balancing Service, a full-service machine shop that specializes in all aspects of performance racing engines.

Costales is survived by his wife, Cindy Costales; sister, Yvonne Harlan; brother, John Costales; sons, Jay and Les Costales (wife Lindsay); daughter, Jennifer Glas; and seven grandchildren.

The service honoring his life will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 14, in the sanctuary of Peace Lutheran Church, 6435 Fairmont Parkway, Pasadena, TX 77505. A viewing will be held at the same location from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Interment will be at South Park Cemetery, 1310 North Main St., Pearland, TX 77581 at 1:30 p.m.
 

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