in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of October 27, 1998
Another day, another phone call and even more apologies. This time it was Richardt Scholz, publisher of Street & Strip Motorsports magazine on the line and wondering what he did to deserve all the "mud" thrown his way lately. After a few minutes of friendly conversation, it came out that yet another "hot scoop" turned out be nothing more than a shovelful of dung. No truth, just a story "planted" for whatever reason that the perpetrator(s) had. Also, all of the information reported (in good faith) about destroyed magazine covers and legal threats over their printing and distribution, was completely false. So, from now on, it's back to journalistic basics for this "writer"; check and doublecheck your sources, listen to both sides of the story and then, and only then, publish a balanced story based on your best judgement of the facts.
Let there be no mistake about the following: There is no disagreement between myself and Richardt Scholz. After a short period of reflection and reading my update from last night, he was willing to forgive us our trespasses. But, as Larry Pfister so sagely pointed out several months ago: "screw up once and you can be forgiven, but screw up again and you deserve whatever you get". If only I had remembered that advice recently when I took some untrue and very ill-advised shots at Richardt. Well now, it's two strikes on Wilson, and the umpire is just itching to ring up that third one. I've really got to think twice before I take another swing at that big soft pitch that looks like its coming right down the middle. It could be yet another curveball.
Enough already, let's get back to the world of drag racing. In case you haven't seen the coverage on TNN over the weekend, or seen the results posted elsewhere, then you'd better check out the Top Fuel and Top Alcohol Dragster results from the Revell Nationals, the latest event on the NHRA tour. The beat went on for the Johnson family dragster, with Gary Scelzi not only setting Low ET with a new national record at 4.525 and Top Speed at 320.74, but going on to win the race and take back the points lead. With only two events remaining on the schedule and a 73-point lead, Scelzi looks like a good bet to win the championship for a second consecutive season. The continuing saga of the Johnson family team is truly one of the really great good news stories in all of drag racing.
In Top Alcohol Dragster, another great family team prevailed again over the big bad nitro car in the final round. Rick Santos and family, with the Jack O'Bannon car, beat back the challenge of Rick Henkelman to clinch the NHRA Federal-Mogul Championship. Despite Henkelman's Low ET and Top Speed numbers of 5.434 and 260.49 he fell prey to tire-shake in the final and fell short of victory once again. But one of these days, he is not going to falter in the late going and the car will run so quick and fast that yet another outcry will arise over the unbeatable injected nitro cars. And then the rules change merry-go-round will rev up again and I'll be front and center as usual, whining about the "unfair advantage" those "evil" nitro cars have.
For a different look at how the Top Alcohol Dragster points stack up for the '98 season, check out our UNOFFICIAL alcohol points standings. Other points standings were updated this past weekend, with the running of the final event on the IHRA national schedule. Postponed one week by rain, the IHRA Snap-On World Finals were completed Saturday at the new Red River Raceway, near Shreveport, Louisiana. See how Paul Romine claimed his second consecutive IHRA Top Fuel Championship on our IHRA World Finals results page.
The season-long points leader, Tommy Johnson, Jr. failed to qualify for the finals on the originally scheduled weekend, when persistent rain showers limited qualifying to only two sessions. His first effort went up in smoke, and the final session saw Johnson's car de-tuned to the point where he missed the bump by more than a second. Much better than expected traction at the new track led to many near career bests, and a better than usual bump spot.
One interesting sidelight of last weekend was the attendance at both the NHRA event at Dallas and the IHRA event at Shreveport by no less than three top fuel teams. NHRA regular Doug Herbert was joined at both tracks, by IHRA rookie (and first-time NHRA racer) Don Lampus and the occasional (in both associations) Steve Smith. Quite an achievement for the teams, as they made qualifying laps in Dallas on Friday, competed in eliminations at Shrevport on Saturday, and in Herbert's case, went back to Dallas for eliminations on Sunday. Herbert was the only one of the three to qualify at Dallas, and even went to the second round after defeating an up-in-smoke Kenny Bernstein in the opening round. This was after he ran three rounds on Saturday evening at Shreveport, defeating Don Lampus in the final round. Lampus made two very good qualifying laps at Dallas, but a best effort of "only" 4.752 at 309.38 was just not good enough to make the ultra-tough field. Steve Smith was even "slower" at just 4.809 and 308.74.
With numbers that were front-page news just a year or two ago, those two independent racers fell short of any payday at all in Dallas. Boy, has this game gotten tough, or what? By comparison, the Federal-Mogul Dragster field seemed downright "easy" with the bubble at 5.728 and only 6 (of 14) alternates in the fives. Of course, to make the top half of the field took a 5.56 and a pair of cars ran 5.66 at 250 to only rank 12th and 13th respectively. Let's not even think how much it cost those racers to run that fast, and let's not even consider thinking about what their "return on investment" was. Yes, Australia is looking more inviting all the time . . .
I've got to close now, with our new motto: "All the news that fits, even if we didn't have to make it up". As usual, stay tuned for more developments in the world of drag racing at Northern "No Blunders Tonight" Thunder.