in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of September 5, 1999
The US NATIONALS (Click on the logo for all the Top Fuel and "Top Alcohol" results). The latest news -- as of 2:00 pm (Pacific Daylight Time) is that I've screwed up again. The TV schedule I listed on Friday was wrong.... The CORRECT TV schedule for the US Nationals broadcasts, on TNN, is as follows:
4:30 pm -- 6:00 pm - Big Bud Shootout
Midnight -- 2:00 am - repeat (expanded coverage?)
MONDAY, September 6:
Noon -- 2:00 pm - First round of eliminations
5:00 pm -- 7:00 pm - Final round of eliminations
Now back to the action that's already happened at Indianapolis. A very large gathering of fast cars has descended on IRP, leading to a near all-time record bubble in Top Fuel -- currently the bump spot is 4.719 and the lowest ever is 4.697. In (Nitro) Funny Car, the bump is down into the 5.0's already, with one more qualifying session left. Despite the very quick numbers posted by the nitro cars, in the alcohol pits the results don't look nearly as impressive. The car count is there (thank goodness!), with 27 "Top Alcohol" dragsters and 24 funny cars. But the ET's just aren't there. Sure, Rick Santos is # 1 and a first round winner with a best (so far) of 5.511... but he's run much quicker elsewhere. Even the injected nitro cars are not lighting up the scoreboards, with Keith Stark's 5.55 the best for the weekend.
This afternoon will feature the final qualifying session for the fuel cars and some of the major "hitters" are barely qualified, while a few others are still not in the show. In Top Fuel, Kenny "Bud King" Bernstein is on the bubble (at 4.719), while Larry "Miller Lite" Dixon is only fifth alternate at 4.817. And in a big (personal) disappointment, the "Aussie Raiders" (Graeme and Andrew Cowin), have fallen from a first session placing of 6th down to first alternate, failing to improve on their opening 4.726. It's really tough trying to play with the big boys, but here's hoping the Sydneysiders pick up the needed few hundreths later today.
Next item on the newsdesk today concerns the just-released NHRA National Event Schedule 2000. "For the first time since 1998"... (gee, what a long gap....) "NHRA has added an additional event to the schedule". (That's a quote from the media release, by the way). The new event will be held on April 6-9 at the recently built, Bruton Smith-owned, Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Sure didn't take 'ol Bruton very long to get a national event at his latest motorsports stadium, did it? Trust me, it's only the beginning, and if the latest buzz can be believed, in future years he will getting a few more events.... mainly at the expense of some current races on the schedule. Any guesses as to which locations will be dropped to make room for Mr. Smith's facilities? Let's try the following: Seattle, Brainerd and one of the two events at Dallas. Stay tuned for more info.
While entering the details on the schedule page, one thing really struck me; the number of title sponsor changes from the 1999 schedule. In fact, some of the titles had even changed on this year's schedule, since its release late last year. Yes, I know, there are very valid reasons for many of these changes: repositioning, reallocating, etc.etc.... but the bottom line is that not too many events have been able to keep the same title sponsor for more than a few years. And with every change, the average fan or racer has even more difficulty in putting a "face" on the events. It makes one wish for the "good 'ol days" of event titles, doesn't it? The Winternationals, Springnationals, Summernationals, Fallnationals, etc.etc. Unfortunately, we'll never be able to turn back the clock and go back to those titles, but for the true diehards that have been involved in this sport for more than a few years, it is sad.
Last item for this afternoon concerns the weather and racing conditions in Vancouver this weekend. While yesterday was a mix of sun and cloud, the rain started overnight and at this point, still hasn't stopped. Presumably, the Bike Drags at Mission Raceway have been washed out and the Molson Indy in downtown Vancouver is still in progess... in absolutely abominable conditions. After many successful, sunny, dry races in its 10-year run, this year's "Indy" will go down as one of the worst on record. The crashes (rather predictable given the wet, very wet, surface), the slow speeds, the lack of passing have conspired to ruin the spectacle. And for the millions of worldwide TV viewers, the weather just reinforces Vancouver's terrible reputation for year-round rain.
More news from the US Nationals tomorrow morning and afternoon, and for the latest results, keep checking our Results page. It has the final qualifying results in Top Fuel and Alcohol, plus the first round of Alcohol eliminations. And it will be updated throughout the day tomorrow. Stay tuned.