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

FROM THE GRANDSTANDS: KICK THE TIRES AND LIGHT THE FIRES?

2_5_2008_grandstands.jpgOne of my favorite parts of working on the starting line at the Mile
High Nationals is when "race master" Gary Ross stands between the first
pair of Top Fuel dragsters on a bright Sunday morning, looks at both
crew chiefs and says, "Are you guys ready? Okay guys...fire 'em up!"

I get chills thinking about it. If you love NHRA drag racing like I do,
I'm sure you just got goose bumps, too. Traditionally, I get those same
feelings as the season opens up in Pomona, Calif.

However, as the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series begins, for
some strange reason, I just do not have that same level of excitement
and anticipation that I have had for the past 30 years.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

AS WE SEE IT - TIME TO COUNT RECORDS

2_2_2008_1000_records.jpgWith the season-opening
NHRA Winternationals about to begin it’s time for the NHRA to stop considering
the records and points situation and make the
changes necessary
to level the
playing field for every professional competitor.
 
First, for those of you
who are still complaining about 1,000 foot drag racing, please note that our
sources within the NHRA have told us numerous times that they are continuing to
investigate ways of slowing the cars and returning to full quarter mile
racing.  The organization wants
that, the fans and media certainly want it and, under the right, safe
circumstances, so do the majority of the 
competitors.  The problem is
in putting together a reasonable plan that will result in safe competition
without putting a severe dent in the pockets of the team owners.  Despite the announcement that all of
this year’s races will be run to 1,000 feet, give the NHRA a break, and assume
that we’ll return to full quarter mile racing as soon as possible, and let’s
further hope that’s at the Winternationals in 2010.

UP FRONT: DO THE MATH

Right at the outset, let’s silence those critics of the National Hot Rod Association who appear to be blaming the sanctioning

1_21_2009_asher.jpg

body for the nation’s current financial situation. It is neither the
fault or responsibility of drag racing’s leading organization. The NHRA
had nothing to do with the meltdown on Wall Street or the horror show
that has become the real estate/mortgage industry, nor is it their
responsibility to solve the problems of lost or financially reduced
sponsorships.
 
Some of the suggestions I’ve been hearing for solving these problems
have been amazingly naïve, and point to a somewhat surprising lack of
understanding of the business side of drag racing. Individuals who have
proven to be ahead of the curve when it comes to tuning cars and
running race teams are way behind it when it comes to understanding
drag racing’s overall place in America. The harsh reality is that as
big as we’d like to think we are, we live in a nation of more than 305
million people. For the vast majority of them the term “drag racing”
stirs only vague thoughts, often negative in nature. In a private
conversation one of the sport’s most honored individuals put it
succinctly when he said, “Drag racing is only an essential activity to
those of us who make our livings from it.”

TIM CHARLET: FROM THE GRANDSTANDS

 PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Tim Charlet, a.k.a. TIMMAH, will begin a
monthly column today discussing life from the grandstands, the
not-so-cheap seats in today's drag racing. He speaks from a race fan's
perspective, a side often displaced in many commentaries not to mention
investigative articles. Charlet will bring ideas as he sees them, from
the average race fan's standpoint.
- Bobby Bennett

 

Have you ever been given a present that you will always remember?

Whether it was your ‘Red Rider BB gun’ or the puppy you always wanted,
there is always that one gift, for whatever reason, that is more
special than the others.

On Christmas day in 1988, I received the best present ever from my Dad.
It was my very own (National Hot Rod Association) NHRA membership card.
I was 15 years old, and was eagerly awaiting my 16th birthday the
following May. As I opened up the box, I did a quick inventory of the
items inside:

BOBBY BENNETT: PLEASE, SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING

12-29_editorial.jpg Does anyone else wonder if the NHRA management has any clue that we are in a financial crisis at this very moment?

I wonder if they’ve noticed more than a handful of professional teams have fallen by the wayside since the season ending event at Pomona. If they have, they sure haven't reported anything in their propaganda machines.

Drag racing has lost at least two 24-race touring operations in two weeks.

At the risk of sounding like another e-zine on the web, one can’t help but wonder when the NHRA is going to become proactive to the situation. Is there any justification for purported raises to the upper series management when the supporting cast is on the verge of going under?

BOBBY BENNETT: IS FORD POISED TO TAKE OVER PRO STOCK?

At least one of America's “Big Three” automotive manufacturers appears to be making the right moves, in and out racing.

12-10ford.jpg
Ford, a manufacturer who declined to be involved in a factory backed
effort for almost the entire last decade, could leapfrog its way to the
front of the pack in both the Pro Stock and Funny car divisions of the
NHRA within two seasons.

Strong words given the history of the Blue Oval's financial involvement
in the NHRA. Strong words backed up by all which has transpired inside
the automotive industry in the past few months.

If the current automotive “bailout” is any indication, Ford has shown
itself to be the strongest and best prepared to move forward in tough
economic times.

UP FRONT: FACING A HARSH FUTURE

11-21upfront_asher_harsh.jpgIn late 1972 the
publisher of Car Craft Magazine

offered me a staff position.  It was the
fifth such offer I’d received, and since I didn’t figure they’d ask again, I
accepted.  It turned out to be a
life-saver, although I didn’t know it until about six months later, when the
first nationwide gas crunch hit and the bottom fell out of the
economy.

 
With Americans sitting
in gas station lines that stretched for blocks, and new car sales in the dumper,
the number of jobs lost began to increase exponentially.  I’m not sure of the number 35 years distant,
but I think something like one in six Americans worked in jobs related to
Detroit’s OEM manufacturers.

FAITH IN THE FAST LANE – CAN'T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

Appearances ...sm_faithinthefastlane480x240.jpg

They certainly can be deceiving. No doubt we have all heard stories
about people or things that were not what they appeared to be. We’ve
even coined a special phrase for such situations: “Don’t judge a book
by its cover.”
    
Perhaps you have known some unassuming person who turned out to be far
more famous or accomplished than you ever imagined. For example, if you
had met Bill Gates 30 years ago, would you ever suspect that such a
geeky-looking guy would become one of the wealthiest people in the
world? Who would have guessed?
    
As a newcomer to the wild and furious world of championship drag
racing, would you ever guess that a cute little girl named Angelle
would become the winningest female in our sport’s history? Or if you
were being introduced to Bob Frey for the first time, would you ever
suspect … well, I’ll let you create your own scenario on that one.

ROGER RICHARDS - THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE BUCKET LIST

1-2-07-prettyflycover.jpgI want to report on a couple of things in the column this time. One of
them makes me feel really good about people and the other makes me feel
rather bad about people. I guess it depends on where I find those
people and what they are made of.

The thing that makes me feel really good about people is the
unbelievable response to my plea to help a fellow drag racer. In my
last column I told of Kathy Fisher’s minor need of a few dollars so she
could attend the last event on the IHRA schedule in Rockingham, N.C. As
I reported, she needed just $1000.00 to be able to meet the budget to
attend. While she and I were talking, it occurred to me that if only 20
of her friends would donate $50 each, she would have enough to make the
last race.

ROGER RICHARDS - HELPING A FRIEND

1-2-07-prettyflycover.jpgYou know, the greatest thing I have found in my retirement years are
the people I meet at the races. A tremendous number of those people I
have met I now call my friends.

I have also been fortunate enough to meet a great number of the racers competing today and a lot of the legends from the past.

These are two examples of why I always consider myself to be one of t
he luckiest people in the world.

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