Pretty Fly For An Old Guy
Beginning of the New Year Stuff
By Roger Richards
I hate the end of the racing year. I always miss going and getting dirty beside the track. I miss my friends. I miss the food in the pits. SO, from this point on, for me I will not have the end of the year. Monday after Pomona is officially, in the column, the first day of the 2005 racing season - there will not be an off season. Now, some stuff about the new season that is already 4 days old. But first, I got to get into a silly mood to write this column...about two more cups of coffee and some chocolate bars and a piece of rum fruitcake will get me there.
Love the new AMS/TLR Pro Mod rules. The only issue that I see cropping up is this: (and this is coming from a technically illiterate photographer) Most of the nitrous entries will have difficulty making the new lower weights. The new rules allow for the following:
The current minimum weight for a nitrous car is 2,375 pounds. That has been reduced to 2,300 pounds for anything 1973 or newer. Anything 1972 or older will be required to weigh 2,200 pounds with the exception of 1963 Ė 1967 Corvettes which will be required to weigh 2,250 pounds.
That sounds like a big weight reduction for the nitrous cars but with the current rules, many of the cars canít eliminate enough weight to even get to the 2,375 pound minimum. This could even be more difficult if the team opts to use the heavier 815 cubic-inch motor that will also be allowed. This weight includes the driver, so I suspect there will be a lot of crash diets during the off season among the nitrous car drivers. At this point, I see Jim Halsey with a distinct advantage and I will tag him as the front-runner in the early part of next year. Halsey has a fast car but my prediction is based on the fact the Jim has the slightest build (politically correct wording) of any of the current teams.
Now, if even Jim has problems tying to reach the new weight minimum, will we see some of the team owners running over the Churchill Downs in Kentucky and kidnapping jockeys to train to drive their cars? But then there is the new problem: how much do 4 pillows weigh to put under the 4í 11" driver? I can just see the first roll-over crash now: "Ladies and Gentlemen, the driver is fine and out of the car but there will be an hour delay while the emergency crew vacuums up the goose feathers from the track"
See? I try to make a truly serious comment on the weight issue and it degenerates into goose feathers. I think I need help. But then, the people in my head know me and I like it here.
Speaking of Don Schumacher, I think he will have a new problem this year that he should address. Mr. Schumacher has a habit of walking down the side of the track to about 200 feet or more to watch his cars run. I suppose this is because his teams have told him to get out of the way because he makes them nervous staring at the back of their heads while they send the car down the track.
He always provides a great photo op while beside the track. He is either walking sullenly back to the start line or dancing jubilantly, depending on the carís performance. Unfortunately for the rest of the teams, I have more pics of him with a large smile than pouting. Now, back to the real problem that I see for Schumacher this year. He has 1 Top Fuel car with a possible 2nd dragster this year. Also, he has two Funny cars and two Pro Stock bikes and now two Pro Stock cars that he has to cheer for beside the track. That is a total 7 different sponsors, since the two bikes have the same one. He has in the past put on a couple of different teamís shirts and peeled one of to reveal the next one as that team runs. After the team makes the pass, Schumacher returns to the pits. That procedure will have to undergo some modifications this year due to the fact that he has multiple teams in each class.
I suspect that NHRA should place a chair similar to a life guard stand at the 250 foot mark to be designated as the Schumacher Seat or Donís Domain. At the beginning of the round, Schumacher will look like the Michelin man as he waddles out to his domain wearing 8 team uniforms in the order in which the team will appear. As he refines his procedure, I also suspect that NHRA will enclose the bottom of the life guard chair and let it become the dressing room for the occasions when one of the cars are shuffled in the staging lanes and he will have to duck beneath his chair and switch to the proper uniform. I can just see his crews now giving him the wrong info about the line up just to see him dressing in front of 20,000 fans. Perish the thought that comes to mind when he gets all messed up and ends up in his high chair with nothing on but his olive drab US ARMY boxers.
My apologies to Mr. Schumacher and to my readers for subjecting you to this mental image.
Las Vegas was a wonderful side trip to the race held there. As a
photographer, there are unlimited sights and lights at which to aim a
camera. I think I saw more cleavage in a short period of time than should
be allowed for an old guy. Just walking the boulevards and streets
enjoying the city, I met a lot of unusual folks. The happy winners at the
tables and the sullen losers also. Families on vacation and some rather
odd people who were struggling to make a living at gambling. One of the
folks that fit into the last category approached me as I passed the
Flamingo one evening. "Hey there", he cried, "can you loan
me $500.00? My wife needs to get some medicine for her condition." I
was kind of surprised to be approached in such a manner and just looked
goofy for a minute or so before I responded: "I am not in the habit
of giving money to strangers. And what proof do I have that you would not
take the money straight into the casino and gamble it away instead of
giving it to your wife?" Replied the stranger: "OHÖ.I have
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