:::::: Editorials ::::::

BOBBY BENNETT: DOES FIREBIRD HAVE TO GO?

02_24_2009_nhra_phoenix If Firebird International Raceway were home to a professional football or baseball team, the team wouldn’t have walked out in the middle of the night. They would walk out in broad daylight for a better deal. Children play in sand boxes, not professionals.

If conditions are that bad, and they are, why does the Firebird International Raceway event remain on the NHRA Full Throttle tour?

Market. Nothing more. Nothing less.

THE ADVENTURES OF THE PIT PET: INSIDE THE R2B2 COMPOUND

02_16_2009_pitpetI’ve been fortunate enough to attend several drag races this year and I have such a great time that I like to write about my experiences.  I’m definitely not enough of a motorhead to be able to report on the technical aspects of racing, but I do like sharing the interesting things I see and hear while hanging out with the teams.  I was very surprised to learn that many of the teams don’t know each other very well unless they’ve been racing together for years.  They recognize the other drivers’ names and their cars and they wave as they pass in the staging lanes, but often that’s as far as it goes.  After spending time with various teams, I understand how that happens.  There is a lot to focus on throughout the day to ensure that your car makes it down the track in the manner that you expect and walking next door to see if your neighbor likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain is not part of it.  So we’ve decided it’s time to devote a corner of the web to getting to know the teams!  And since the teams do such a great job of taking care of me, giving me water, and patting me on the head, my dad has started referring to me as the Pit Pet.

DRAGS, DOLLARS AND SENSE - THE NATIONAL TIME TRIALS DAYS HAVE COME AND GONE

02_05_2009_michael_knightGo ahead and put the National Time Trials on the endangered list. Right there alongside the African wild dog, polar ice cap, and NASCAR’s rear wing.

Honestly, that’s where it belongs. Thanks to Firebird International Raceway’s tin-ear management and NHRA’s hands-off attitude toward the traditional pre-Pomona test and tune session.

The Trials used to be a useful chance to catch-up, tune-up and warm-up in the Chandler, Arizona sun after a cold winter’s break in Brownsburg, Indiana. But its worthiness pretty much was all wet even before January rain storms of historic proportions washed-out opening day.

UP FRONT: IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT

02_03_2009_up_front Whether or not we’ll admit it, we live in a world of transition, and that certainly includes our little niche of drag racing.  But, to see and read the vitriol, angst and woe-is-me rants that are flying around the Internet you would think that everything we know and cherish is about to come to an end, all because of the mutual announcement from NHRA and zMax Dragway that their March race will feature qualifying and eliminations racing in all four lanes of the showplace facility.

Regardless of what happens in North Carolina on Sunday, March 28th, drag racing will survive, and for all we know now, the concept of four-lane racing might actually help the sport grow.

We need to consider a little history before we start collectively slitting our wrists, because if you think this is the first time some have suggested drag racing was headed into the abyss, you’re sadly mistaken.

DRAGS, DOLLARS AND SENSE - A NEW COLUMN

01_07_2010_michael_knightMay I please begin the New Year – and my new column – with this most-respectful observation:

You can’t be a good race fan without knowing about the Business of Racing.

Fortunately, for me, editor Bobby Bennett must agree. Thus, his kind invitation to join the nitro-powerful Attitude's Competition Plus.com team.

I don’t claim to be any more than a drop of Valvoline in the CP.com news machine. But, straight off the line, you’re entitled to an introduction – at least 1,320 feet of my 500-mile saga.

FROM THE GRANDSTANDS: OF SENSORY OVERLOAD

01_01_2010_grandstandsOne does not need to have all their senses intact to enjoy an afternoon at the drags.

Sergeant Doug Evanston attended the 2009 NHRA Auto Club World Finals but couldn’t see the race due to blindness. Spend some time with him and you’ll find that his fan experience was not hindered by what some would consider a handicap. If anything, he says, it was enhanced.

Doug’s last visual experience at the drag races occurred on ‘Thunder Mountain’ in 1989, when he saw Joe Amato, Bruce Larson and Bob Glidden capture professional category victories at the Mopar Mile High Nationals in Morrison, Colo. One week later, he entered basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, SC. The honorably discharged United States Marine and Purple Heart recipient from Madison, Wis., lost his vision after an Improvised Explosive Devise (IED) exploded 10 feet away from him during Operation Desert Storm in 1992.

STAN CREEKMORE: TIME TO TINKER WITH THE NHRA'S COUNTDOWN?

12_15_09_stan_creekmoreIs it just me or is there an inherent flaw in holding a playoff during the regular season?

Twelve drivers vie for the Sprint Cup Series championship in a ten race run that just happens to include 31 other drivers at the same time. Likewise, 10 drivers vie for the NHRA Full Throttle Championship with six additional drivers in the mix.

It just doesn't seem to make much sense. Yes, the format generates excitement, but can you imagine the uproar from baseball, football, basketball and hockey fans if a similar format was instituted in their sports? It would be pandemonium.

BOBBY BENNETT: IT USED TO BE MY PLAYGROUND

12_02_09_playgroundThe fences still remain, as do dilapidated buildings, a reminder that a once proud drag strip occupied the land.

To the drag racing community, Spartanburg Dragway was just another drag strip that fell victim to a new neighborhood where the neighbors created a community around the strip and then realized that drag strips are loud.

Spartanburg Dragway wasn’t purchased for a real estate investment. It was purchased to be silenced.

THE ADVENTURES OF THE PIT PET, EPISODE 2

11_07_pitpetI’ve been fortunate enough to attend several drag races this year and I have such a great time that I like to write about my experiences.  I’m definitely not enough of a motorhead to be able to report on the technical aspects of racing, but I do like sharing the interesting things I see and hear while hanging out with the teams.  I was very surprised to learn that many of the teams don’t know each other very well unless they’ve been racing together for years.  They recognize the other drivers’ names and their cars and they wave as they pass in the staging lanes, but often that’s as far as it goes.  After spending time with various teams, I understand how that happens.  There is a lot to focus on throughout the day to ensure that your car makes it down the track in the manner that you expect and walking next door to see if your neighbor likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain is not part of it.  So we’ve decided it’s time to devote a corner of the web to getting to know the teams!  And since the teams do such a great job of taking care of me, giving me water, and patting me on the head, my dad has started referring to me as the Pit Pet.

BOBBY BENNETT: FRIDAY WASN’T GOOD FOR THE IHRA

10-20-09bobbyonIHRAAn old drag racing friend died Friday, October 16, 2009.

This friend didn’t die of natural causes, it was a slow and painful death; the result of poisoning caused by poor management and arrogance.

With the announcement that its professional show would adopt the equivalent of a Chicago Style format with a winner on each day of a two-day show, for all intents and purposes, the IHRA as a legitimate sanctioning body ceased to exist.

It should come as no surprise since the death knell for the sanctioning body started last year.

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