in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of September 3, 1999
While last weekend was a very busy one for racers and fans, with five (not four as reported here -- more on this later) major events, this weekend sees three major races -- two of them right here in the Vancouver area. The biggest, most prestigious event on the NHRA national event circuit has already been running for two days at Indianapolis Raceway Park. The US Nationals has been held every Labor Day weekend for 45 years now and this year's running has the unenviable task of trying to top some truly memorable past editions of this great race. Will history be made, new stars born, fairytales come true, underdogs triumph... Stay tuned and we'll see.Speedvision Network Before we get into this weekend's action, I'd like to take a paragraph to whine about my first look at a Speedvision broadcast of an NHRA national event (the Colonel's Truck Accessories Nationals from Brainerd, Minnesota). While I missed the original (live) telecast, the show repeated earlier this week, on Monday evening. What a waste of videotape. Lame... doesn't even come close to describing it. Admittedly, the rain delay before the semi-finals ruined the show, but prior to that: Eli Gold (a fat, stupid tub of goo) did his "best" to destroy the broadcast. Pit reporting by Gary Gerould's son, Bobby, was pathetic and the only person worth watching/listening to was old standby Steve Evans. In the entire broadcast, I saw maybe ten minutes of action worth watching. Hey what a "gift"... we got to see the "bicycles" run twice. If this was an example of Speedvision's state of the art coverage of drag racing, then I'll only tape the shows and keep my thumb close to the fast forward button. The US NATIONALS (Click on the logo for all the Top Fuel and "Top Alcohol" results). For television viewers in Canada, there is some good news this weekend. TNN will be broadcasting a total of five and a half hours of partially live drag racing from the US Nationals. First up is the Big Bud Shootout and the Pro Stock Bike Dash (for dimes) on Sunday (September 5) at 1:30 - 3:00 pm (Pacific Daylight Time). Then on Monday (September 6), they'll show the first round of eliminations -- LIVE -- from 9:00 - 11:00 am (PDT). Later in the day, the final rounds will be shown from 2:00 - 4:00 pm (PDT). For those people with something better to do on Sunday afternoon (or no VCR), the Bud Shootout will be repeated at 9:00 pm. According to my TV guide there won't be any repeats of Monday's eliminations, so you'll just have to sacrifice the time or program the VCR. Broadcast.Com For those who really have to hear what's going on as it happens at Indy, (or for those of you who don't have any life whatsoever...) there is a LIVE audio broadcast of the PA system from Indianapolis available from broadcast.com. Click on the logo to tune in, starting Sunday and Monday at 8:00 am (PDT). Based on past experience, you'd better hope for a complete lack of oil-downs, crashes, etc. as the filler "entertainment" can charitably be described as absolutely brutal. The Nashville Network In other broadcasting news, the big announcement yesterday concerned the signing of a contract between TNN and IHRA to broadcast twelve IHRA National Events next year. Initial reactions from the public have been very positive, but reading the media release carefully reveals a few disappointing factors. First and most irritating to me is the delay factor. The series of telecasts will debut on Sunday, August 6, 2000 and run every Sunday through October 22nd.
Problem is though, the first event broadcast (August 6) will be the Winter Nationals, scheduled for March 9-11. A five month tape delay... are they kidding, or what??? Even in the bad old days of televised drag racing, we only had to wait one to three months to see a heavily edited one hour version of an event. But five months, what the heck is going on here; who is kidding whom? In all fairness though, by the end of the broadcast schedule, the delay will have been reduced to only one week (the season-ending event will run the weekend previous to its telecast).
The other major sticking point is the length of the telecasts: one hour, and in those approximately 48 minutes (after subtracting commercial time) they are going to feature five classes. Okay, they've only got 8-car fields in Top Fuel dragster and Top Fuel Harley, but the other three categories have 16-car fields. How much action are we actually going to see in these short broadcasts. My personal jury is still out on this one, but I guess the bottom line is (for the time being) that something is better than nothing. Not much better mind you, but at least I'll get to see some IHRA racing for the first time in nearly.... oh, about seven years here in Vancouver. The full text of the media release follows.
TNN and the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) have signed a multi-year agreement for exclusive telecast of the IHRA Snap-on Tools Championship Drag Racing Series on TNN, beginning in 2000. TNN's telecasts will showcase five classes of IHRA Drag Racing: Top Fuel Dragsters that thunder down the quarter-mile drag strip at speeds over 300 mph; Screamin' Eagle Nitro Harley Motorcycles, which compete at speeds in excess of 200 mph; (Alcohol) Funny Car, Pro Modified; and Pro Stock classes. A 12-event schedule, including races in all five classes, will be telecast on consecutive Sundays (10:30-11:30 PM, ET/PT) beginning August 6 and continuing to October 22.
"The IHRA is a welcome addition to TNN's popular motorsports lineup, which is viewed by almost 35 million homes each quarter," says David Hall, President, TNN. "We believe TNN can attract a new and larger audience to the excitement and diversity of IHRA events, while at the same time bringing this sports organization the greater national recognition it deserves."
"This is a great opportunity for the IHRA with the multi-year commitment from TNN to televise our national event races," says Bill Bader, President, IHRA. "For the IHRA to continue to grow, it is important to have a national platform like the one we are announcing today with TNN. The future of the IHRA looks very bright."
TNN Motorsports will bring viewers IHRA national events from Darlington, SC; Rockingham, NC; Cordova, IL; Leicester, NY; Stanton, Mich.; Norwalk, OH; Epping, NH; Budd's Creek, MD; Shreveport, LA; and a new race in Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada.
I mentioned at the top of this update that there would be three major events this weekend; OK, we've mentioned the US Nationals, but the next one is much closer to (my) home; Mission Raceway Park. The annual Canadian Drag Bike Series Finals are running, starting tomorrow and finishing on Sunday. Feature attractions are the Nitro Harleys, with some very quick and fast local riders racing against the always tough American competitors. While bikes are not my style, for those who like their action on two wheels, then Mission is the place to be this weekend. For full details on the scheduled action, check out the CMDRA website or call: (604) 882-1009.
Finally we get to the motorsport event that will attract the most media coverage, money and spectators; the 10th annual Molson Indy CART race through the streets of Vancouver on Sunday, September 5th. Again, I'm not a great fan of this series, but with a local hero to cheer for (Maple Ridge's Greg Moore) and two other Canadians in the field (Patrick Carpentier and Paul Tracy), my television will be tuned to the local Canadian Broadcasting Corporation channel on Sunday afternoon, starting at 1:00 pm (PDT). (Yeah, I know the Big Bud Shootout starts at 1:30, but that's why I have a VCR). The Vancouver Indy race has seen some exciting moments over the years, including a tragic accident at the first event, but for the most part, the racers are quite restricted on the tight, narrow, bumpy course. Hope springs eternal though, and maybe this year's revamped layout will give us the excitement and action we've always been promised.Top Fuel Tour Sweden Now to catch up on the event I missed mentioning last weekend. With so many major events happening at once, unfortunately one was forgotten in the crush. The final round (of three events) on this year's inaugural Top Fuel Tour Sweden was held at Malmo, Sweden's Thulin Dragway. The four car field was limited to racing over an eighth-mile due to the short braking area at Thulin, but the show provided the usual close racing between tour champion Peter Lantz and runner-up Monica Oberg. For more background on the series, including all the results, click on the logo. Or visit the tour's website, at Top Fuel Tour Sweden. Here's the first report on the highlights of that final event. Lantz wins Top Fuel Tour
30th August: Peter Lantz has become the Swedish Top Fuel Tour Champion with victory in the last TFT date at Thulin Dragway in Malmo, Sweden. "We ran over the eighth mile because the track is too short for Top Fuellers to run the quarter. We had a close final against Monica Oberg again, we ran 3.42 in the final to Monica's 3.45, and I had the better reaction time".
Monica was top qualifier with a 3.41; in eliminations, Peter got a bye run in round one when Kent Persson's car shut off after the burnout. Monica also had a bye in round one when Pelle Lindelow broke in qualifying.
Peter and the crew extrapolated his eighth-mile time in the final to a low 5.11. We are expecting an announcement from Peter Lantz Motorsports in the next day or two; stay tuned for details.
That's all we've got time for today, but tune in regularly over the weekend to see the latest updates on the racing at Indy and Vancouver and as always, for the latest news from the world of drag racing, watch this space.