in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of September 7, 1998
Question of the day: Will money buy you happiness? . . . NO, but it sure as hell will buy a lot of parts! Just ask John Force, who has probably the biggest sponsorship support in all of drag racing, not to mention the numerous ancilliary revenue streams. Collectible model cars, team merchandise, match races, the pocket change that NHRA gives out at national events and the "big pot of gold" at the end of the season from Winston.
The dance ended early for the "singed" Cinderella at the Big Ball at Indianapolis this weekend. Shelly Anderson made a successful physical recovery from the burns received in her Sears Point crash/fire, but the new car just wasn't happy at Indy. Losing three engines in four runs prompted the Anderson team to skip the last qualifying waltz and start preparing for the Keystone Nationals in two weeks.
From the really bad news department: Yesterday at Union Grove, Wisconsin a photographer was killed during the Olympics of Drag Racing at Great Lakes Drag-O-Way. Johnny Rocca's "Iron Horse" Pro Mod car crashed and rolled over the guardrail, rolling over and killing the photographer instantly. Rocca was uninjured in the accident, but his popular Iron Horse car was completely destroyed. Johnny was obviously devatasted by the results and his future plans are undecided at this point. Unfortunately this was another grim reminder about the inherent danger of all auto racing events, for the racers as well as spectators, officials and photographers. Our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the unfortunate victim and to Johnny Rocca.
NHRA has released their FINAL (no substitutions allowed) Rules changes for 1999 today. The only changes (or lack of changes) that concerned me were those affecting the Top Alcohol (F-M) classes. Aside from previously announced engine size and ballast limits, there were NO CHANGES. Division Six Director, Chris Blair has promised to fax me the results of the alcohol discussion group, so maybe I'll have more news soon about why some much-needed radical changes were not implemented, or even hinted at. Another year's experience with the injected nitro combinations will make the fields even more unbalanced than they are now. Maybe by the end of next year, when there are almost no cars left running, NHRA will finally wake up and start rectifying the situation. The cynic in me thinks they are intentionally trying to kill the class by ignoring the very obvious problems.
I spent Saturday at Mission Raceway Park and caught up on some of the local drag racing action. The West Coast Pro Mod Association was featured, and the blown alky (and a couple of nitrous) doorslammers put on their usual great show in front of a rather small crowd. Sunday may have been better attendance-wise but unfortunately, work commitments prevailed and I had to miss eliminations. The Super Quick cars were out (8.70 and quicker), and Brian Barling was up to his usual tricks, with half-track burnouts and some oh-so-close to his tech limit 7.5 runs. Another impressive performer in the class was Oregon's Tiffani Parker in her "Mercedes Shop" B-1 dragster. With a single four-barrel carb and automatic transmission, the car ran 7.59 - 178.00. Rob Murphy continued his license runs in his self-built 1990 Dodge Daytona doorslammer and produced an 8.39 - 168.91. Seems that Rob is getting the hang of things pretty quickly. If only he could put bigger tires under the car, he could really open up the ex-Leo Grocock blown alcohol hemi.
Also out at MRP for testing was the repaired Cousin's Transport Top Alcohol Dragster and Mike Guiliani's "Sorcerer" Funny Car. Instead of owner/driver Ken Rempel in the cockpit of the dragster, crew chief Bob Haffner was handling the driving duties on the day. After their unfortunate "wallbanger" episode last time out, it was decided to have Bob check out the car at speed. Alas, they didn't make a run before I had to leave for work.
Bob Haffner is certainly a busy man these days, as he's currently the crewchief of Rempel's and Guiliani's cars, plus his own car will be running later this month with Bill Edwards Jr. at the wheel and the engine from Bill Sr. and Jr.'s Funny Car between the frame rails. Following the demise of their flopper at the Northwest Nationals last month, the father and son team have been considering their future and have decided to go back to a dragster. With Haffner's own car currently parked (his engine is in Rempel's car), Bob generously offered them the use of his low-mileage Bob Meyer chassis and some tuning assistance. See what I mean about Bob being a busy boy?
Final note for the day: Truth, justice and the American way prevailed at Indianapolis this afternoon as Darren Nicholson defeated the big bad nitro car of Rick Henkelman in the final of the U.S. Nationals. Of course, it took a major holeshot to do it, but still the blown alky brigade prevailed once again. From NHRA's perspective, it must mean things are just about right in the class, but from the racers' perspective the writing is on the wall. Put your blown car on KILL, knock down the tree, and maybe, just maybe you might be able to hold off the injected cars. For full results of the NHRA U.S. Nationals, visit our results page and then check out the updated NHRA points standings on our statistics page.