in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of August 23, 1998
Received a very interesting and ultimately humourous e-mail from an un-named (to protect the guilty) source last night. He included a link that led me to a site that just has to be visited, so MOOOO-ve there now. Then come back and finish reading this "latest update".
Drag racing action on three fronts this weekend: locally at Mission Raceway Park, over in Europe at Hockenheim, Germany's Nitro Olympics, and of course, the NHRA Visionaire Northstar Nationals. The weather here is fine, who knows about Germany (the reports from over there are always several days late), but at Brainerd, Minnesota, the rain has been falling off and on all day Saturday.
The Alcohol (F-M for you "purists") fields have been set after two qualifying sessions. The third and final session was cancelled in order to run off the first round of Stock Eliminator. Now before I get flamed by the "door" crowd, I'm not knocking stock, after all this was the First eliminator EVER in drag racing, literally the beginning of the sport. BUT, this is just another slap in the face for the Alcohol racers and yet another indication of the low regard they are held in by NHRA. Does anyone still wonder why I get so steamed about the way things are going in Top Alcohol ?
Now let's take a shot at the local "offenders of the faith(ful)", good old Mission Raceway Park and their operators: The B.C. Custom Car Association. Recently, I've blasted that venerable (is that some kind of anti-social disease, Bob?) institution, Seattle International Raceway, justifiably, in my mind, but now it's time to aim my "howitzer" at a local target. This year has seen much of the goodwill and good feelings developed over the past 6 years dissolved like tire smoke on a windy day.
First, the longtime president of the BCCCA, and one of the prime reasons that the "New" Mission Raceway was even finished, Ron Farmer was removed from his position. Then, Track Manager Wally Duperon was the next to fall, in what was starting to resemble a Politburo purge in Moscow during the cold war era. Both of these moves may prove to be positive ones, but based on 1998 results, the jury is still deliberating.
The season had barely started when the rumour-mill had another loyal long-term pair, Race Director(s) Bill and Joan Wells being shown the gate. Although the rumours (thankfully) proved false, the fact they gained much credibility locally showed just how unsettled things were behind the scenes. As each week goes by, another rumour surfaces about more changes coming at your favourite racing facility. Stay tuned for more installments of this long running soap opera: "as the wheel turns".
Now take a look at your 1998 Mission schedule. Notice the website address: www.missionraceway.com. For a minute or two of boredom, and eventual frustration, click on the link, watch the hourglass do backflips and wait for the inevitable "server down or not responding" message to appear on your monitor. Nearly a year has gone by since the schedule was printed and still no (active) website. What is happening, guys? For an example of how a much smaller (spectator and funds-wise) B.C. track can have an internet presence, visit the Nl'akapxm Eagle Motorplex website. Trust me, it's up and running, and well worth a visit. If Ashcroft can do it, why can't Mission?
On the positive side, Mission Raceway has made (or at least attempted) several progressive moves this year. First up, was the greatly increased advertising, specifically in the Province newspaper, with two-page, colour ads for the major events. I'm really not sure how cost-effective this has proven, as the amount of "free" coverage given the sport by that paper hardly seems to justify the expense of the paid ads. But at least they've gone way past previous years' advertising budget which called for display space so small that even the proofreaders had difficulty finding the ads.
The other major promotional move was the decision to bring in portable lighting for the Federal-Mogul Series event in May and run the final alcohol qualifying sessions under the lights. The track operators admitted that they needed more lights to fill some very dark areas on the track, but overall the experiment was a great success in attracting a very large and appreciative audience on the Saturday night. The only downside to the move was the number of oil-downs by the alcohol cars, in a true display of Murphy's law. (If anything can go wrong... it will) Twenty minute performances by the clean-up crew, interrupted by two minutes of racing is not the best way to "win friends and influence people (positively)".
Hopefully, next year's F-M series race will see more lighting, an even larger audience, and a much better display by the series "stars" : the Top Alcohol Dragsters and Funny Cars. That's assuming that any of those cars can still afford to run next year and that NHRA still has a class for them. Oh no, he's getting wound up about "that" subject again! Sorry folks, I promise I won't say another word about it for at least a month, until we see the "results" of the Rules Committee meetings following the US Nationals at Indianapolis.
That's all for now, stay tuned for more results from Brainerd and the Nitro Olympics, and of course, the latest news as it happens.
Late Update: The results from the Nitro Olympics are now posted, and the final results (barring more rain) from the NHRA Northstar Nationals will be up by 7:00 pm. P.D.T.
Also, congratulations to long-time friend and successful speed shop owner George Duda of MOPAC Performance. His son Jeff, pitched a shutout and hit a grand-slam home run to help his team win the Canadian Little League Championship in Nova Scotia yesterday. Next stop for George and Jeff will be the Little League World Championship at Williamsport, Pennsylvania next week. Quite an achievement for the Langley little leaguers. Go Canada !!