in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of January 16, 2000
Bad pun time, already, Bob?
Hey, I could have done even
worse with the title of
"sump-thing's up" and
used the picture on the right.
NOTE: Click on the pics to
see them full-size.
Okay, let's get down to business, since time is already running out for this very short update today. First item is out of the "National Time Trials" at Phoenix. I might have missed the news, but Melanie Troxel of A/Fuel fame (or is that infamy - no offense, Mel) has switched to Top Fuel for this season. Unfortunately, due to a death in the family at the In-N-Out burger chain, car owner Jerry Darien has lost the major sponsor for the team. They are, however, planning to make at least the first few races of the NHRA national event season while searching for replacement funding.
It's been reported, but not officially confirmed, that Doug Kalitta will be sporting MGM Grand backing this year. Yeah, a casino. Life, and especially life in the fast lane, is a "gamble" isn't it? (Knock off the puns, Bob, you're losing what little audience you had in a hurry). Today is not the day for me to get up on my soapbox and rant and rave about how the only sponsors drag racers can find are those in the "sin" industries (i.e: alcohol, tobacco, firearms, gambling, adult magazines, wrestling, oil additives, etc.). Let's leave that one for another day. Still, it's good to see another sponsor, of any sort, getting involved in drag racing -- even if it is to back a team that could afford to run for another hundred years on their own money.
Back to the (on)track developments: While Troxel was debuting her new scoop as pictured above, Joe Amato (and others) have switched to dry-sump oil systems for 2000. Yeah, thirty (or more) years after coming into favour in almost every other form of motorsport, they're finally putting them on fuel cars. I presume that some people are really serious about keeping the oil in the car and off the track this year. Not to mention not losing those "valuable Winston points" and the monetary fines that go with such infractions.
The horsepower gains in a fuel car (using a dry-sump) are irrelevant, as are the extra costs, and the extra weight can easily be offset in other areas. It looks like we'll be seeing these systems on almost all the fuel cars before too long. Could the alky guys be next? Oh yeah, just what they need, eh? More money, more weight, more trouble. But the oildown rules will almost certainly be applied to other classes (than T/F and F/C) before too long. Get 'em now, before the price goes up, eh?
For more information on what's happening this weekend in Phoenix, check out Drag Race Central. And for pictures of the action, surf on over to NHRA's Action Photo Gallery. One dumb question before we close this segment, though. Is it just me, or does it seem somewhat strange that VP Fuels just happened to have lots (like truckloads) of Nitro "LITE" on hand at Phoenix this weekend? This coming just a few short weeks after NHRA's announcement of the rules changes for fuel cars. Must be a coincidence, right? Yeah, right!
Now it's time to turn our direction slightly further south. We have some good (and unfortunately, some more bad) news from Adelaide, Australia, today. Saturday night's first round of the ANDRA Top Alcohol Championship was completed under very warm conditions. The temp reached a high of 40 degrees C. (104 F) on the day, but the performances on track were just as hot. In a very surprising development, Mark Brew, for the first time ever, was low qualifier, with a career best 5.78 at 240 mph.
He proceeded all the way to the finals, and was stopped short of victory only by a dropped cylinder, losing a close race to Gary Phillips, 5.84 to 5.94. Still, for the first time out with a new car and engine combo, Mark and his very hard working crew, can rightfully be very proud of their efforts. Good on ya, mates! Keep it up at Melbourne's Calder Park for the second round of the championship this coming weekend.
On the down side, comes the news of Steve Harker's crash. It happened during his first qualifying run, when 200 feet off the starting line, the car changed lanes, smacked the far wall -- very hard -- and effectively wrote off the entire car. Steve came through unscathed physically, but is without a race car in Australia at the moment. There's no word of his future plans at this point, of course, but he might be turning his attention to his USA-based car for the balance of the year.
That's all the news we have time to bring you today, but be sure to tune in tomorrow for a wrap-up of the first weekend of 90% fuel racing news. We'll bring you the latest news from Phoenix, all the rumours we can find and maybe start looking at the big picture of where drag racing is headed in 2000 and beyond.
By the way, if you're bored and have a few minutes to waste today, you might want to check out a great article written by Bret Kepner a few years back. It was published in the 30th anniversary edition of Super Stock & Drag Illustrated (R.I.P.) and listed the Ten Biggest Flops in drag racing history. Interesting, entertaining, and most of all, educational. Take a look, then come back tomorrow for all the latest news from the wide, wild, weird, world of drag racing.