in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of October 31, 1998
Busy week - but aren't they all? Four updates in seven days (only two of them planned) . . . What's happening?? Well, for one, lots of news (most of it bad, unfortunately) from downunder. Some good news arrived in the mail, including my long-awaited copy of the KONICA Winternationals video from Willowbank Raceway (held June 5-7 this year). The other package (after listening for tell-tale ticking sounds) turned out to be my very limited edition Header Flames Nationals Qualifier t-shirt from Mr. Mysterion himself, Jim Sorenson. Yeah, that's the first time I've qualified for anything in quite a few years, and for once I didn't set slow ET and low speed of the meet!
To see the full size logos, click on the thumbnail
Artwork copyright (1998) by Jim Sorenson and Jim Hunnicutt
As the North American drag racing season winds down to its conclusion at the NHRA Winston Finals in Pomona on November 15th, the Australian season is just starting to rev up. Next weekend sees the first round of the 1998-99 Top Fuel Championship run during the ANDRA Springnationals at Adelaide International Raceway. As of this date, the entry list is unknown, but the Sainty Speed Works team from Sydney, for one, won't be competing. The current situation at the two Bob Jane owned tracks (Adelaide Int'l and Calder Park in Melbourne) is so unsettled that the Sainty's didn't want to risk the trip to Adelaide.
Rumours (and you know how much they're worth) have put the purse money in doubt, and with no season points bonus fund to chase, the Sainty's have simply decided to wait and watch. The next round of the championship series, scheduled for Calder Park on December 5th, as part of the "Victorian Championships" should show how many of the top fuel teams are interested in competing under the current conditions. Let's not forget that the entire structure of ANDRA is currently under attack, and the Bob Jane situation is just one part of it. Stay tuned for further news and developments.
Good news, however, continues to flow out of Queensland, in the form of Ken Lowe's Drag Race School Sponsors Report. Plus, some great news that will hopefully be released very soon, concerning a Queensland Top Alcohol Championship series. When it's confirmed, it will be reported here first, complete with sponsorship details, event dates and our plans to contest at least a few of the rounds. It seems that no matter how bad the news is elesewhere in the country, the South Queensland - Willowbank news is always positive. There is certainly more than a few lessons to be learned there by the other areas of Australia and overseas.
Shifting gears, and continents for a minute, let's look at what's happening "deep in the heart of Texas" this weekend. Friday's qualifying results from the NHRA Matco Tools Supernationals held at Baytown (just outside Houston) show the Alan Johnson - Gary Scelzi Team Winston Top Fuel car at the head of the field. A track record 4.549 at 322.23 (best speed ever for the team) has them firmly in the # 1 position after 2 of 4 qualifying sessions. Barring any serious problems, these guys look set to take their second (and what should be the third for the team) consecutive Top Fuel championship. Their late-season charge has seen them setting and re-setting track and national records week after week. Surely, the 4.40's can't be very far away.
Scanning the qualifying lists brought out one very interesting fact: of the 16 cars present - yes, only 16 cars for a 16 car field, hmm . . . only 3 different chassis builders were on the list. The numbers stack up like this: 14 Murf McKinney cars, 1 Johnny Davis (Jim Head's crew chief) car and 1 Brad Hadman car. And you must know what this is leading up to: Yes, the Hadman car is the low qualifier and national record holder. Guess it's just a coincidence ? Guess again. Brad may not build the longest-lasting or prettiest cars, but the proof of their worth is in the performance. And having the quickest car out there has got to be the best advertising possible for Hadman's Progressive Metalcraft shop.
Maybe this winter will see some of the trick-of-the-week guys coming back to Tacoma for their 1999 cars, instead of following the pack to McKinney's. In case you're wondering . . . Yes, I have a Brad Hadman car. From the first time I met Brad in 1992 until the present, my opinion of him has only gotten better. He is one of the nicest, hardest-working, leading-edge type of guys you could ever hope to meet (or do business with). No, he's not cheap, but quality never is. Next time you're in the market for a new chassis, whether it's for Super Comp, Comp, Top Alcohol or Fuel or even (god forbid) a doorslammer or funny car, just give the man a call. (253) 847-3357.
A new drag racing website has popped up this week in the Vancouver area. Local Super Gas racer Bill Evans and his Super Comp brother John can now be found on the web at Evans Racing Enterprises. Bill has promised to hold the "flaming" torch high, and some of the news that "nervous nellies" like myself and Larry P. wouldn't touch with a ten-foot wheelie bar may just find their way on to his page. The site only came to life earlier this week, so all the linked segments aren't up and running yet, but check it out, bookmark it and plan to come back on a regular basis to see yet another slant on "life in the fast lane".
Last bit for this Halloween eve, and it's some downright scary news from Texas. In the final qualifying session for "Top Alcohol", the injected nitro car of Rick Henkelman had "new tires and a different clutch setup". Did it work? "Only" to the tune of 5.402 at 260.94!! Yes, that is the low et and top speed (so far!) of the meet for the "alcohol" dragsters. The first round of eliminations results have just come in, and the other racers must be breathing a large sigh of relief to see Rick slow down to 5.443 at 258.02. Of course, that's only a tenth and a half quicker than the quickest alcohol car in the field, but there's still hope. (Yeah, slim and none - and slim just left town). Good thing that not all the injected nitro guys haven't got on top of their combinations yet, or the alcohol cars would be really sucking wind trying to keep up. At this rate, 1999 looks like more of the same for Top Alcohol dragster. Or is there another rules "revision" in the offing, like next week maybe??
Stay tuned for more of the latest drag racing news and the complete Top Fuel and Top Alcohol results from the Matco Tools Supernationals as they come through today and tomorrow. And as always, when the latest news from the world of drag racing comes in, you'll see it here first.