in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of May 5, 2000
It's Friday morning, the sun is out -- for the moment -- and the staging lanes are open at Mission Raceway. As this is being written, the first pairs of cars will (hopefully) be going down the track in just a few minutes. I say hopefully, as I'm sitting here nearly 40 miles from the track and with the strange weather we've been experiencing lately, it could be snowing out at Mission for all I know.
Yesterday afternoon I ventured out to the track to secure my media "credentials" -- of my, aren't we getting to be somebody now? as if! Enroute, I drove through several isolated thundershowers, arrived at the track in bright sunshine and ninety minutes later left during yet another downpour. Twenty miles down the road to work, the sun had come out, but an hour later it was pouring again. This is starting to look like it could be one long wet weekend.
While chatting to Track Manager Ron Farmer, as he got the press pass organized (by the way, thanks very much to Ron Farmer, Chris Blair and Mission Raceway for providing me with access -- and yes, that's the one and only "suckup" bit for the year), he admitted that the track won't have the jet drier available this weekend. Say what? Apparently it inhaled a bolt the last time it was run and an inspection of the internals showed all the vane mounting bolts sheared. As it's a rather old unit and no replacement parts are still available off the shelf, the rebuilding will take a while yet.
Being a non-profit society without a large bank balance, Mission is depending on volunteer help to get it running again, so the process is not the standard "whatever it takes" drag racing reaction to breakage. At this point, I'd be willing to bet the MRP staff will certainly wish they had the drier ready for action before this weekend is over.
And if it was ready to run, last year's "track record" of $2500 for fuel (for the points meet weekend) could be in jeapoardy too. Long term options for the drier problem include the possible construction of a propane drier, at no cost, if the technical problems inherent in that design can be worked out. Problem: The drier puts out so much that the asphalt literally melts.
Before the rain (and work commitments) sent me to the exits, I managed to check out the early arrivals (four dragsters and four funny cars) and chat for a while with locals Bob Haffner and Leo Grocock. Their "back to basics" motorhome and tag trailer outfit was positively dwarfed by the semi-trailers that were rapidly filling up the hot car pits. Still, as the old saying goes, when was the last time you went to a truck and trailer race?
Across the road from Leo's pit, was a row of semis belonging to some of the American contingent. I noticed they do things a little differently, as unloading a trailer has become something of a spectator sport. At least when it's not your own rig. I've got to wonder though, do these guys sit on the porch on non-race weekends and just watch the traffic go by, the grass grow and the paint dry?
Like I said earlier, the weather closed in rapidly, as you can see in the next four photos, two of the tower and two of the last pairs of cars in the Media Race. No, I wasn't invited to participate -- they probably thought I'd break one of the borrowed cars -- but our friend Dean Murdoch did make a few laps. No, I won't tell you what he ran, but I did see an .826 come up on the scoreboards on one run -- and that wasn't the 60-foot time!
After taking that cheap shot at Dean, I'd better turn around and thank him, profusely, for publishing/wasting two pages of my ramblings in the latest -- hot off the press -- issue of SpeedZone. Here's the cover of the second issue of 2000, to be distributed free of charge this weekend at Mission. Be sure to get a copy and then check out the Northern Thunder story on page 8-9. There are a few other worthwhile bits in the mag too, like a nice story on Mark Hentges and all the latest news from the world of drag racing.
Just remembered: there's another NHRA drag race this weekend, the Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals at Atlanta, Georgia. Good news for Canadians, the final rounds will be broadcast on TNN at 4:30 pm (pacific and eastern time) on Sunday afternoon, May 7th. Remember to set your VCR. You do know how to program it, don't you?