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

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

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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.

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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.

GUEST COMMENTARY - BOB VANDERGRIFF DELIVERS

7-16-08vandergriff.jpgI am writing about a topic that has been a discussion piece for a long
time but due to some recent developments and numerous questions about
what my opinion is on the subject I have been prodded into sharing
them. In doing so I want to remind everyone that this is my opinion, it
always irks me when people are asked for their opinion and when giving
it get barbequed for it. You don’t have to agree with it that’s why
they call it an opinion and not fact.

The recent “rivalry” that has developed between Tony Schumacher and Hot
Rod Fuller, in my opinion, is a great and needed addition to our sport.

In Denver, Hot Rod had a shirt made that while I thought was hilarious
evidently infuriated quite a few people. I am not sure how or why
someone or a group of people would find this so offensive, in fact Hot
Rod pretty much made fun of himself on the front of the shirt and made
no actual derogatory reference to Team Schumacher, he left it there for
everyone to connect the dots.

LITTLE ROCK ROLLS by Roger Richards

1-2-07-prettyflycover.jpgLittle Rock, my travel van named in honor of Eric Medlen after his
favorite cutting horse, just keeps on rolling. Little Rock fell right
into the routine of hitting the road almost every weekend and heading
to a racetrack somewhere. He has thrown a shoe (flat tire/blowout) on a
couple of occasions (he is the proud owner of 4 new Goodyear shoes now)
and has gotten a burr under his saddle once or twice (alternator and
water pump failures) but he has proven to be a valiant steed and seems
anxious to get back on the road when we are back home at the Double R
ranch in Greer, SC. In the short time he and I have been partners, we
have traveled close to 50,000 miles on the trail. Roll on Little Rock.
God Bless Eric.

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