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in the world of drag racing

Black Bar

The latest update as of August 10, 2000

Not enough time to go in-depth on anything today, so we'll just have some headlines and brief comments on a few subjects. At least it should be enough to get your blood pressure up and give you something to think about today.

Yes, We're Guilty:   ....of not getting the Seattle stuff done yet. What can I say in my defence? That my real job is burning me to the ground? That I'm getting old? (Nope, already used that one last week). So what's the real story there? Have you gone soft in your old age, Bob? Did NHRA buy you off? Did Chris Blair promise to let you run your car whenever and wherever you wanted next year for free (in exchange for not throwing any more rocks at the association)?

The answer's not quite that simple. Yes, the job and the current spell of summer weather are wearing me down, starting at 5:30 AM (SHARP!) each day, but the bottom line is mainly this: Did you ever wonder where the PRO in procrastinator came from? Yes, that's me: Professional Crastinator if there ever was one. What I need is someone sitting here with a gun to my head and then there's no problem getting it done. When the word deadline really means.... DEADline, then the creative juices start flowing like an overdriven Waterman pump.

Too much racing?   And I thought last weekend was busy, with the NHRA Autolite Nationals down in Sonoma, the IHRA Carquest Northern Nationals over in Michigan, and the Drag Challenge at Gardermoen, Norway. But this weekend is going to be just as busy. In fact, it's gotten busy already, with the rescheduled Edmonton (Alberta) National Open going off last night. Then tomorrow the Calgary National Open kicks off. A little further south, the annual nitro extravaganza at Boise, Idaho's Firebird Raceway, the Nightfire Nationals, is running. Even further south, Woodburn, Oregon is hosting a nostalgia event, while my local track, Mission Raceway, is presenting the BC OldTime Drags. Whew, what a series of choices.

Hopefully, our contacts in Alberta will be able to provide us with details of the two national opens; the Firebird Raceway website will have all the results from the Nightfires and we'll do our best to keep you informed about all the action at Mission Raceway. Yes, it's going to be one busy, busy weekend.

So what about last weekend?   The biggest stories to emerge from NHRA's nitro-fest in Sonoma were the first round losses of Pat Austin and Gary Scelzi; the runner-up performance -- in his first drive in Mike Johnson's car -- of Gary Ormsby, Jr; the non-qualifying effort of Jerry Toliver; and the continued good showing by the Aussie Invaders: Peter and Helen Russo and company. Good on ya' mates -- and more about this team soon. Yes, we haven't even got their "Nitro Skippy 2000 Tour" t-shirt logo scanned and posted yet.

Over in Michigan, the story was dominated by the weather and yet another of what looks like a continuing series of strange pronouncements by IHRA czar, Bill Bader. And he might just be getting started.... Let's look at all that he's "accomplished" so far this year:

  •    Radical changes to Top Fuel rules
  •    Changes to Pro Mod rules
  •    Lifetime suspension of 12 sportsman racers
  •    more changes to Pro Mod rules
  •    even more changes to Pro Mod rules
  •    Dropping of Pro Outlaw eliminator (for 2001)
  •    Debut of IHRA television broadcasts on TNN

So I've just got to ask: is this guy dumb like a fox?.... or just plain dumb? We're now nearly two years into his reign as owner/president/dictator of the IHRA and it's well past time to start taking a critical look at his methods of doing business. But like I said at the top of today's installment, there's only enough time to do the headlines and make some brief comments, so an in-depth look at "Darth Bader" will just have to wait a little longer. In the meantime, here's a pic sent to me anonymously that indicates at least one racer's feelings about how he's handling the "other association."

It's clear to see who's pit area this effigy was hung in, and for the life of me I can't understand why Mr. P.R. would dare make such a public display of his feelings. Possibly, someone's done this with PhotoShop and are setting me up for a nasty e-mail or three... but that wouldn't be the first time, would it? And aren't burning bridges the specialty of the house at Northern Thunder?

Bader must die!

Still flogging that deceased equine?   If you've tuned in to this page already this week, you've seen my comments on the debut broadcast of IHRA's drag racing show on The Nashville Network. (Their newest motto: "All shlock... all the time!"). So far, to my utter amazement, there's been hardly a peep on the internet about the complete failure of the broadcast to even remotely impress or entertain the viewers. And I've got to assume that I'm not the only sucker who sat still for that hour of wasted time.

So what's happening out there in cyber-space? Is everyone still so shocked and dismayed by what they saw that they've been struck dumb? Or are we all just trying to write it off mentally as a failed experiment and move on? If you haven't seen my opinion of the show yet, check out the What's New posting for Monday, August 7th. Then fire off an opinion of what you saw and what I wrote and then we can compare notes.

Safety Safari on holidays in Europe?   Unfortunately for the racers at Gardermoen (Norway) last weekend, the answer is NO. Have you ever heard of a major event cancelled because the track crew couldn't clean up an oil-down? (The "clean-up" of the oildown was reported to have taken three hours!) And after they thought they'd cleaned it up, watched several pairs of cars skate down the slick lane, until one of them crashed -- AND took out the car in the other lane?

No, I'm not making this up; and I wish I didn't have to even report on this travesty of the sport of drag racing. When a track is hosting an official round of the FIA (world governing body of motorsports) European Championship event, with Top Fuel, Top Methanol, Pro Mod and Pro Stock cars, plus a full complement of fast Sportsman cars, track conditions are of utmost importance to the safe and fair running of an event. The crash mentioned earlier, was between a pair of Pro Stock cars, who were attempting to re-run a quarterfinal round (after the previous attempt was aborted due to the lack of proper cleanup).

Yes, it can be a very difficult task to clean up some of the synthetic oils that are in use these days, but if a track lacks the equipment, supplies and personnel to safely remove an oildown, then it doesn't deserve to host an event of the stature of the Drag Challenge. At this point, I can't even guess what effect the cancellation (after the first round) of eliminations will have on the European Championships, with only one round of the series remaining (at Santa Pod, England, next month).

All in all, it was a very sad and frustrating end to what was shaping up to be a very successful race. All five Top Methanol dragsters in attendance qualified in the 5's, with a 5.77 best by Great Britain's Dave Wilson, so the expectations for race day were great indeed. Then it all went down the dumper in a such a hurry. We'll have more on this drag disaster as soon as the reports come in from Europe.

Australian Drag Racers Protest:   The dung is certainly hitting the propeller blades this week in Sydney, Australia. The racers in the largest city downunder have been without a proper dragstrip for nearly three years now, with the closure of Eastern Creek Raceway to everything except "street meets." The racers have been busy for the past two years trying to get the state government to release an unused block of land across the road from Eastern Creek for the construction of a dedicated dragstrip: the Western Sydney Motorplex.

The stalling by the politicians has been relentless, the obstacles constructed in the racers' path have been numerous and the delays in resolving the situation have been endless. Now the situation has finally reached the boiling-over stage and today the first major public demonstration by the racers occurred in the central business district of Sydney. Right in front of the Parliament buildings on McQuarie street as a matter of fact. We're still waiting to see the results and feedback from today's action, but we'll bring you the news as soon as we can.

If you haven't been following the Motorplex saga as it's "progressed" since early last year, check out our Motorplex page for links to all the press clippings on the proposal.

That's all for now:   The clock has ticked down to departure time (for work) so I'll stop here. There's more, lot's more, to report, but the items will just have to wait until tomorrow. Topics include: the NHRA national event schedule for 2001 (16 events in a 23 week stretch at one point, including races three weeks in a row... three times during that marathon); a preview of this weekend's BC OldTime Drags at Mission Raceway; and the first installment of the latest "Debacle in Seattle".

PS:   The latest Backfire items have been posted. Pictures and words for your amusement and edification. What more could you want?

Black Bar
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