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The latest update as of June 22, 2010
Here's A News Flash
As reported earlier today on the Drag Race Central website, another track has pulled the plug on the "struggling" American Hot Rod Association. At the rate tracks are leaving or being kicked out, the AHRA will be down to no tracks before the summer is over.
"San Antonio Raceway returns to IHRA sanctioning" is the header of the story and it has nothing but praise for IHRA, while making absolutely no mention of the A-team (AHRA). Just another nail in the coffin for the AHRA, that was supposed to become the good news story of the 2010 season. Instead, it's turning into the biggest bad joke this side of the Evan Knoll implosion.
They were already hurting from the loss of Thunder Road Raceway Park near Shreveport, Louisiana, which cut ties with AHRA only a week before their first scheduled Reunion Tour event, due to non-payment of every invoice in their inbox. Then, the first test event (the Nitro Showdown) at the Midland, Texas Desert Thunder Raceway turned into a major fiasco with another pile of unpaid bills, this time to the racers, among others. While the facility is still listed on the AHRA track roster, it's really quite doubtful that another AHRA-sanctioned event will ever be held here.
So, with San Antonio gone, the track list is down to five, and with two of these being only 1/8-th mile, the options to hold major events are growing ever more limited for this group. Since two of three 1/4-mile tracks on the list are in Canada, it's down to Salem, Ohio's Quaker City Raceway to be the current flagship of their U.S. operations. With 4000 grandstands, pit space for 300 cars and 2000 ft. of braking area, we're not exactly talking Full Throttle series stature now, are we?
Before we leave this continuing tragi-comedy for the day, it should be noted that Toronto has gone ahead on its own and promoter Neil Armstrong has contracted all the feature cars for his Canadian Nitro Nationals on the July 4th weekend. There is still a small AHRA logo at the bottom of the pages on their website, but no mention of the association anywhere in print anywhere on the site. I've got to wonder just how much (if anything) Armstrong is paying the A-team in sanctioning fees for this event.
Finally, we move on to Ashcroft, BC's Eagle Motorplex, where there's still three events planned, starting with a Sportsman Nationals in three weeks time. That's followed with a combination Sportsman Nationals and Reunion Tour event in mid-August and finally another Sportsman Nationals in September. While I'm certain that there will be events on those dates, I've got to think that the AHRA input into their running will be minimal. Anyone want to make a bet on that eventuality? Yeah, I didn't think so.
Some parting thoughts about Calgary (and a few more corrections)
Many thanks to the people who've actually taken the time and made the effort to read the stuff I've been posting and have kindly offered corrections or provided more background information to help me make the changes needed to allow my perceptions to mesh with reality (for a change, eh?).
One of the biggest, and most often repeated, mistakes was to mispell the Calgary Motorsport Council president's name, Rick Francescone. Not only that, but I repeatedly referred to him as the president of the Calgary Drag Racing Association. For the record, the president of that association was Andy Hockin, who recently stepped down from the position over the fallout from the AHRA debacle. (Damn, that A-team is like a toxic octopus with its tentacles dispensing poison in all directions, from Texas, to Ohio, to Calgary and points in between).
After that short digression, back to the latest set of corrections. Okay, we've got the president deal and the name(s) corrected. So what is the Calgary Motorsport Council and what is the Calgary Drag Racing Association and how do the two groups interact? For the answers to those questions, here's what the council presidnet, Rick Francescone wrote:
The Motorsport Council of Calgary was set up to unify all forms of motorsports that use the Race City facility with a larger political voice. This is the only reason we were able to get two more years out of this facility by collectively lobbying our politicians. (Editor's note: The original lease of Race City, held by Art McKenzie, and due to expire in 2025, was rescinded by Calgary city council and replaced with the two-year lease that Rick refers to).
While I know the facility needs remodeling, and we have long term plans for that, we first off need a location, of which the current one is the perfect one. Beside a garbage dump, in an industrial area and right next to the new freeway. We have looked at eight other parcels of land, two of them very closely and it comes back to the current location being the best location.
I was one of the founding members of the CDRA back in 1981 and we set that up to have a voice with the track owner/promoter at that time (Gene McMahon of Sheppard Raceways - the former Calgary track located near the current Race City site). The association is now responsible to put on it's own drag events as Race City has been turned into a rental facility only. Race City does not put on any of their own events as they did in the past because of the (financial? liability?) risk involved in putting on those events.
The Motorsport Council of Calgary has taken over the operation of the Friday Night Secret Street Events. For a couple of reasons. First is to grow the attendance of those Friday events for political reasons. Second is to increase the positive public awareness of what goes on at Race City.
An example: we held the Western Canadian Roller Blading Championships on the Race City road course this year. Nobody knows that. We also used to hold the Road Bike Championships on the road course but will not be holding them this year because of the late lease signing. We are working closer and closer with Art McKenzie to allow him to ease back on his full-time committments to the Race City facility.
While it might have looked like I was in charge, my group along with a member of the CDRA executive were working behind the scenes making preparations if AHRA failed to put on their planned Reunion Tour race. That is why we had a lot done before the CDRA executive even made the decision to put on the race. Art, the council and the CDRA executive knew we could NOT not have a Father's Day Race after working so hard to keep the place alive for a few more years.
And there you have the "short" explanation from the Calgary Motorsport Council's president, Rick Franescone. Thanks very much for taking the time to educate this reporter and give him the background needed to better understand how drag racing has evolved in Calgary over the years. Now all I have to do is go through all my event reports from the weekend and correct every one of those mis-spellings. Good thing it wasn't a certain internet magazine publisher writing it for me. There just wouldn't be enough hours in the day to get all the corrections done.
Just checked out a story in the Calgary Beacon about the Father's Day Funny Car race and it was very positive. Read it here and click on the links on the right side of the page for even more drag racing news from Calgary. Not sure how long the links will last, so check it out soon. Even better: there's some video from the event, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the links. How cool is that?
Imagine how surprised I was when the following message popped into the old inbox after my light-hearted reference to Gordie Bonin initiating a "Senior Dragster" class. It's from Don Dulmage of Ameliasburgh, Ontario and even included a picture of his hot rod. And a Senior Dragster website. Here's the email:
Now wait a dang minute! I invented the senior dragster class several years ago and own the original Senior Dragster. I am also a Canadian and run my short little unit at Shannonville Motorsports park a couple of times a year. Maybe I will bring it to Grand Bend or Toronto Motorsports Park so Gord(ie Bonin) can make a pass in a real Senior Dragster!
Oh, oh, looks like we've started something now. Little did Mr. Bonin know just what could happen when he entertained the idea of getting in Brant's dragster last Sunday at Race City. Anyone want to bet on how many offers he gets to drive another one this coming week in Edmonton? Or get in a real senior dragster like the one that Don Dulmage owns and drives. Thanks for getting the ball rolling Gordie and Don.
So after I sent him a little bit of an apology for making what amounted to a joke about senior dragsters, Don wrote back to say:
Thanks. Not to discourage him (Bonin) though. As we age there comes a time when we kinda know our serious racing is done or maybe should be. Still we want to have some fun. For me I just wanted to feel the wind in my face one more time and have something to tinker with. I am normally a doorslammer guy but this short little rig was a ball to build, cost very little and is fun to drive. It has filled that void for me anyway and I am glad I built it.
There is nothing at all wrong with the idea of Senior Dragsters or a Senior dragster class for that matter. For me I rediscovered the fun part of the sport. I go down on a test and tune night if possible, unload the car, make a few runs, have a burger, stop in the pits to chat with old competitors and load up and get home before I get sleepy. By the way, Vern Christy (event manager at Race City this past weekend) knows the car well. Keep up the great work on your website. I appreciate it.
And in closing, I appreciate the kind comments Don and everyone else who's written in to welcome me back to the net over the past month. Special thanks to everyone in Calgary, Ms. Vicki, Gordie Bonin, the photographers at Mission Raceway, good friends Gerry, Bill and Dean. Thanks everyone; it's really great to be back!
To see previous updates go to the What's Old page