in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of January 14, 1999
Boy, take a few days "off" and people start to worry whether this site's still alive or what. The first clue that there is actually something happening is at the bottom of the "home" page. The "latest update" date is almost always today's date. While the "What's New" page isn't updated every day, aside from the "Scoreboard", there is always something added or improved somewhere on the site. Most of my efforts this week have been on the Press Clippings index. An improved layout and many more stories have been added in the last few days, with many more coming over the next few weeks.
The scanner has been working overtime too, in preparation for a long planned Dragstrip Directory of Australian tracks. There's still lots of work to do on that section: image maps, layouts, text, etc., but it should be up and running before the end of the month. The other big project at the moment is a story for the next edition of Nitronic Research that is still stuck in the staging lanes.
I've received some suggestions about what they would like, but the best and most entertaining piece I've got is the "saga" from September, 1989. It may be an "oldie" but it's definitely a "goodie". In the space of one month, we managed to completely destroy a borrowed truck, blow up the engine, clutch and transmission in the race car and in the process embarass ourselves in front of a very large audience. For just a small hint of how my "Trip To Hell (and Back ?)" went, take a look at the picture below.
Now for some news from the ever-changing world of drag racing. First, belated congratulations to the Chilliwack, BC Pro Mod team of Dave and Trevor Lowe who finished runner-up to John Scialpi this past weekend at the Super Star Nationals in Wittman, Arizona. Qualifying strongly (4th) in the 9-car field with a 6.654 at 205.98, they despatched their 1st round opponent with an early shutoff 7.266 at only 154.49. The 2nd round saw a bye run, taken at 6.733 - 207.70. A further bye run in the semi-finals saw no time recorded as they shut off early to save the equipment.
The final saw them run their best numbers of the weekend, 6.645 at 209.41, which coupled with a solid .469 reaction, saw them narrowly lose to old pro Scialpi, who also improved to his best run of the meet, a 6.595 at 210.04. Quite a good start to the season for the Lowe family and what should be the first of many final round appearances for them in 1999.
Closer to home comes the news of a "racers only" meeting scheduled for Saturday, January 30th at 2:00 pm. to be held at Cruisers Pit Stop Diner at 21671 Fraser Highway in Langley, BC. I'm not sure who (if anyone) will be chairing the meeting, what the agenda is or whether there even is one. What I'd expect to see would be lots of free-ranging discussions, lots of bench racing and not much accomplished.
Still, with no live drag racing from Pomona on the tube up here in Canada that weekend, what have you got to lose by attending? At the very least, it should be very interesting to see who shows up. Heck, you might even see Larry Pfister (in a trenchcoat and Groucho Marx disguise), Bob "Tundra Thunda" Wilson (in a kangaroo suit?) and who knows who else?
One thing you can be sure of, the "spies" from various organizations and associations will be attending, and that alone should keep the discussions somewhat muted. Forgive me for saying this (if you can), but the average drag racer won't speak his mind in public for fear of repercussions. Notable exceptions are myself and Bill Evans and a few, very few, others. Anyone who feels that they have "something to lose" by being honest and up-front about their feelings will sit and watch and mumble their complaints under their breath. And as this meeting will not be official in any sense, what have you got to lose by getting up and speaking your mind? Surely a few words spoken at an informal gathering cannot "backfire" on you, or can they?
More local news from the B.C. Custom Car Association, as they have held their 1999 election of officers recently. There's been a few changes in the association, starting with a new President and Vice President and changes in the directors' positions. For those not familiar with the BCCCA, they are the owners and operators of the local dragstrip, Mission Raceway Park. These are the people who will be "running the show" in the coming season.
Speaking of which, we're all still waiting for the Mission schedule, aren't we? While their website promised to have it posted by "late December", at last check (an hour ago), it still wasn't up. While it doesn't matter to me personally, any racers looking for sponsors would have liked to have seen the '99 schedule about three months ago. Long-range planning is essential in any business and Mission Raceway is a business, isn't it? Here's the list of this years' and last years' officers.
Change is good, right? Change is part of life, change is moving forward, not stuck in the same old rut. Well, for 1999, the BCCCA has certainly made some changes in key positions. New president, Ray Grossmith of Victoria, has moved up from V-P to President, and new to the board, Rick Farmer, has finally joined his father, Ron, at the officer's table.
It's also interesting to note that the track manager, Aubrey Holmes, was not re-elected to a Director's position. With the recent dismissal of long-term employees, Bill and Joan Wells, the news from the track hasn't been all that positive lately, and the effect of these changes in the executive won't become apparent for several months, at least, but its to be hoped that they have a positive effect on the operation of MRP.
At the risk of being reprimanded for saying so, I'd like to sum up my feelings on the situation thusly: Let's get down to business. Concentrate on what it's really all about - drag racing. Forget the politics and the inside fighting and posturing. Get busy putting together a schedule, setting goals and putting a promotion and marketing plan in place. Surely this has all been done already, but the official silence is deafening.
Mission Raceway is not just the BCCCA; its the racers, the spectators, the officials and the members of that association. In the absence of any "real" information, rumours and hearsay grow in the vacuum created and rapidly displace the facts. Come on guys, let's hear all about the 1999 drag racing season at MRP, starting with some updates on your web site.
Shifting our view to the south, things have been happening rapidly at the Glendora, California headquarters of NHRA recently. Director of Communications, Denny Darnell was fired last month (allegedly due to inappropriate conduct towards a female employee) and has yet to be replaced. A new position of "Director of Ticketing and Customer Service" has been created (and filled) by Don Boudreau, formerly with the Disney Corporation and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks (of hockey fame). With a background like that, he should fit right in at the "NEW" NHRA.
As previously reported, NHRA's television package of live events has been considerably reduced for 1999. Of course, NHRA Today is also history. For the complete story on their TV "troubles", check out Demise of NHRA Today in the NHRA media acrhive. The (soon to be ex?) Vice President of Broadcasting, Brian Tracy, explains how the whole package fell apart in the last few months.
LATE NEWS FLASH: NHRA has just announced an increase of over $1 million in their national event purses for the 1999 season. The bulk of the increase will go to the pro classes, and be mainly directed at the 1st and 2nd round losers. NHRA has finally recognized that not all these racers can exist on sponsorship dollars alone and are finally starting to reimburse (somewhat) the racers for their efforts.
No word on how the numbers break down, but it sounds like a step in the right direction. NHRA also announced a total purse of $114,200 for the sportsman racers at this year's Winston Showdown. Again, we don't have the breakdown, but it sounds like another (small) step in the right direction. Gee, maybe all those current rumours about NHRA going down the toilet in a hurry are just that.... rumours. Stay tuned.
There's not enough time tonight to detail all the reasons the updates on this page have been somewhat infrequent lately, so you'll just have to come back tomorrow to read all the "trials and tribulations" of our attempt to "re-invent the wheel" in the world of Top Alcohol Dragster racing. No matter how much money you spend, no matter how much planning and research you do, things just don't always work out the way you'd planned. More on that subject tomorrow.