in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of November 13, 1999
Greg Moore (1975 - 1999) It's been nearly two weeks now since Greg's death at Fontana, California and it's time to turn the page and move on to other subjects. If you've visited this website at anytime in the last twelve days, you will have (obviously) noticed its "static" condition. On the afternoon of Sunday, October 31st, I was sitting here doing an update and listening to the TV broadcast of the the final IndyCar race of the 1999 season. Then I heard the announcer, Paul Page, quietly announce that there had been an "horrific crash" coming out of turn two.
I got up from the keyboard and went into the living room to see what had happened. The picture on the screen showed the remains of a blue car scattered in the vicinity of a retaining wall. My first thoughts were: "...oh, oh... that looks like Player's Racing blue..." Nearly a minute passed while Page informed us of the seriousness of the crash, the need to not speculate on who was involved, or the extent of his injuries... but I knew in my heart that it was Greg in the remains of that car... and that the crash was more than just a serious accident.
Reinforcing that thought was the network's refusal to replay the crash, or to linger on the crash scene. The tone of the broadcast changed too; Page's somber voice almost confirming my worst fears. Then the first announcement by the CART Medical Director, Dr. Steve Olvey, put the "final nail in the coffin" (a very bad similie -- sorry) with his words that ".... resuscitative efforts will continue enroute to the Loma Linda Medical Center....". At that point, it was all over bar the official announcement of Greg's passing, which came nearly an hour later. "At 1:21 p.m. pacific time today, Greg Moore was pronounced dead of massive head and internal injuries...."
Gone... just like that, gone.... I felt all the life being sucked out of me with those words. What is the bloody point of a sport that kills someone so young, so talented, with so much to give to the world? Why does that sort of tragedy have to happen? Does it have to happen at all? Sadness, anger and depression swept over me in waves for the rest of the afternoon. Going to work later that day was an ordeal; everyone wanted to know about the crash, how I felt, how did it happen, why aren't IndyCars safer?, etc. etc.
Tears don't come easily to a "tough" guy like myself, but they did come freely in the week following the crash. Pictures in the local papers, TV shows about the crash, the memorial service on Thursday, November 4 at the Maple Ridge church... they all brought out my emotional side. Compounding the misery that I was feeling, was the announcement later that day of a lockout by my employer in the Port of Vancouver. The bad news just kept on coming....
Now I'm sitting here on a surprisingly sunny Friday afternoon, twelve days after Greg's crash and five days into (temporary -- we hope) unemployment. And I realize that I've got nothing to be really depressed about. I've got my health, I've still got a brand-new race car waiting (patiently, I hope) for me in Australia and I've still got a few dollars in the bank (actually the line of credit -- but that's another story, isn't it?). I realize that it's time to turn the page and get back to the world of the living and the world of drag racing and come up with some "What's New" news.NHRA AAA Finals Yes, it's finally wound down to the last major event of the 1999 drag racing season in North America. Ten months and 21 national events since they started in Pomona, the NHRA travelling circus has returned for the wrap-up to their season. Virtually all of the "world" championships have been clinched already, so the focus this weekend will be on the Big Bud Shootout for Top Fuel cars and the event titles. Qualifying started yesterday and continues today and tomorrow, with final eliminations scheduled for Sunday. I haven't checked out the SoCal weather map yet, but NHRA's weather-plagued season could certainly use a break after the events of the last few months.
Very cold temps and "virtual" snow at Topeka gave way to plain old rain at Memphis, followed by cold temps and rain at Houston. With the season being pushed later into the year by the annual additions of events, it's a small miracle that NHRA has been able to complete every race so far. Let's keep our fingers crossed this weekend. Especially for the literally hundreds of Aussies that have travelled to Pomona for this race.
This annual migration from Australia to California to see some "big-time" drag racing has several additional bonuses for the tourists this year. They've actually got some fellow countrymen to cheer for this time. Montana resident (ex-Brisbanite) David Grubnic and Sydneysider Andrew Cowin represent them in Top Fuel, while Melbournian Peter Russo is entered in (Fuel) Funny Car. On the "sportsman" side, Steve Harker is doing them proud in Top Alcohol (Federal-Mogul) Funny Car. "Doing them proud" is almost an understatement in Harker's case, as last month he finished runner-up at Memphis to Frank Manzo, in an ultra-close encounter, losing with a 5.71 to Manzo's 5.69.
Steve's rapid ascent to the upper levels of NHRA competition has come as quite a surprise to the American racers and fans, but, as someone who has watched his performances in Australia, it's no surprise to me. He's got the best of equipment, lots of experience, is well-funded and is one smart racer and tuner. Altogether, a very tough combination, one that his stateside competition is learning to fear very quickly. As this is being written, Steve is qualified # 6, after one session, with a solid 5.78 at 251 mph. Looks like another successful weekend is in the offing.
Biggest surprise of the meet, so far, is the Canadian (Calgary, Alberta) Top Alcohol Funny Car of Roger Bateman & John Reynolds, with a low qualifying, and career best, 5.66 - 253.66. WOW! That's a tremendous achievement for a pair of low-buck, but dedicated guys from the "north country." Their sponsors, Vancouver-based Mopac Auto Supply must be very pleased. Good luck for the weekend guys, but watch out for that other Canadian car, Ontario's Todd Paton, lurking near the bottom of the qualifying list, with "only" a 5.85 at 243 mph, so far. They've won the U.S. Nationals, among several NHRA national event victories, and were runner-up at Pomona a few years ago.
More World Finals news as it develops over the weekend, including the latest edition of the "Blowed Up Real Good" files, courtesy of Arley Langlo and Doug Herbert... so far. Here's a few sneak previews:
Eddie Hill's "lost" weekend at Houston Raceway Park - October 29-31
Doug Herbert has the "boomer" of the year at Pomona - November 12
Usually a major contender for "moment of the meet", California's Arley Langlo didn't have enough parts or nitro to contend with Doug Herbert this time - November 12