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

MICHAEL KNIGHT: ANYONE UP FOR A DRAG RACING DOUBLE-HEADER?

 

MKhead12

Let’s play two.

Make that, let’s RACE two.

The NHRA Mello Yello series needs a boost. Something different and exciting that will get people talking. A change that might inject a dose of much-needed interest and enthusiasm into the media and public-at-large.

Honestly, can anyone disagree with that?

Bruton Smith brought us four-wide. Now let’s look to other sports for ideas that have proven successful. And then work to adapt them to fit drag racing’s special needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUEST EDITORIAL - YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY LADIES!

10003298 10202043618114156 362426882 nThe very early days of NASCAR (1949) had names such as Louise Smith and Ethel Mobley. In 1965, Shirley Muldowney was the first woman licensed by NHRA to drive a gasoline-burning dragster capable of speeds over 150 mph in the quarter-mile. In 1977 Janet Guthrie was the first woman to earn a starting spot in the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500 (where she was top rookie). Ladies have been making their mark in the Motorsports industry for decades.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Carolyn Melendy. (Read about Carolyn Melendy here: www.competitionplus.com She is considered the first lady of Pro Modified racing, having been involved in the class since the 1990s. At the time it was male dominated, and she recalled that no one wanted to line up next to her to race. The issue to her male counterparts was that  they felt she did not have the skill to drive a Pro Mod car.  

Finally, Bill Kuhlmann (a pioneer in the Pro Mod movement), decided to line up next to her, thinking he would have her by many car lengths. The conclusion was that he was sadly mistaken. Although Carolyn did not win the race, she was right with him all the way. It was there that she began to legitimize herself in the Pro Mod world and consequently open the door for women like me. I’m thankful for that. And on a side note, I would like to mention Annette Summer and Carol Long, two ladies in Pro Mod that I also feel may not get the recognition they deserve. Or even Bunny Burkett (IHRA Funny Car Driver and World Champion) for that matter. Ladies much like me that work hard at their craft without the accolades. True racers. And at the heart of it, that is what we are; racers, drivers and competitors.

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: THE BOYS (AND GIRLS) OF SUMMER … KINDA SORTA

 

MKhead12

I don’t know what percentage of drag racing fans also like baseball. But I do.

Sure, I realize the leisurely pace of the national pastime is an extreme opposite of the straight-line sport’s lightning speed, sound and fury. What can I tell you? Both are winners with me.  

Back in the day, during my time at the Philadelphia Daily News, I wrote about the stick-and-ball contests some (a great memory is covering part of Pete Rose’s historic 44-game hitting streak in 1978) and carried a Baseball Writers Association of America card. That granted me automatic media access to any regular-season game, anywhere. Believe me, that organization has a lot of horsepower -- we can only wish it were that way in motorsports -- even though I’m sure most members never got a whiff of nitro.

Summer, of course, is prime time on the baseball calendar. Basketball and hockey are over. Football has yet to begin. Golf remains Tiger-less. NASCAR is in the middle of its marathon. Indy and sports cars are pretty much just making laps, not waves, in terms of press and public attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUSAN WADE: TOM COMPTON’S SPEECH THAT WASN’T . . . BUT SHOULD BE (2)

susan_01.jpg

"Breaking News: This is an ESPN Special Report. We pre-empt the regional volleyball game to bring you this special presentation.

"We're in Glendora, California, this evening for a State of the Sport Address. We're here before a joint session of Professional and Sportsman Racers. The National Hot Rod Association Board of Directors – drag racing's 'Supreme Court,' if you will, has been seated. The NHRA department heads are in place. And now we'll hear from Graham Light, the NHRA's senior vice-president of racing operations, who serves as the NHRA's Sergeant at Arms, and he'll introduce Tom Compton.”

Light enters and in the customary loud announcement, calls out, "Mister Speaker, the President of the National Hot Rod Association!"

The doors swing open and Tom Compton strides in, shaking hands with team owners and racers as he makes his way to the stage. Once the applause fades, he greets his distinguished guests and begins to lay out his agenda for the sanctioning body.

 

 

 

 

 

SUSAN WADE: TOM COMPTON’S SPEECH THAT WASN’T . . . BUT SHOULD BE

susan_01.jpg

"Breaking News: This is an ESPN Special Report. We pre-empt the regional volleyball game to bring you this special presentation.

"We're in Glendora, California, this evening for a State of the Sport Address. We're here before a joint session of Professional and Sportsman Racers. The National Hot Rod Association Board of Directors – drag racing's 'Supreme Court,' if you will, has been seated. The NHRA department heads are in place. And now we'll hear from Graham Light, the NHRA's senior vice-president of racing operations, who serves as the NHRA's Sergeant at Arms, and he'll introduce Tom Compton.”

Light enters and in the customary loud announcement, calls out, "Mister Speaker, the President of the National Hot Rod Association!"

The doors swing open and Tom Compton strides in, shaking hands with team owners and racers as he makes his way to the stage. Once the applause fades, he greets his distinguished guests and begins to lay out his agenda for the sanctioning body.

 

 

 

 

 

SUSAN WADE: THEY'RE RACERS, NO OTHER LABELS NEEDED

susan_01.jpg

In some twisted and tasteless way, Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens might have received the ultimate compliment at Las Vegas. NHRA fans emptied the grandstands before the K&N Horsepower Challenge and SummitRacing.com Nationals winner completed her $100,000 weekend Sunday.

She was treated as a racer, not some novelty "girl racer" used to satisfy an "I was there when she won" neediness.

Maybe Enders-Stevens' amazing feat was not that she won the Horsepower Challenge, doubled up with the Sunday victory, and took home more single-event prize money than any other female drag racer. (She earned a payout bigger than Shirley Muldowney's Top Fuel or Angelle Sampey's Pro Stock Motorcycle series championships.) 

 

 

 

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: IS SHE THE NEXT BIG THING FOR CELEBRITY-OBSESSED SOCIETY?

 

MKhead12

It’s a journalism axiom: Never bury the lead. Meaning don’t place the most important or interesting information deep within a story. With that in mind, before getting into the substance of my column, here’s the news headline from my conversation with John Force at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in late February:

JOHN FORCE SAYS NO MORE RACY PHOTOS FOR COURTNEY

“When she did the ESPN (The Magazine body issue cover), we really didn’t want to do that,” said Force. “The first year they offered it she turned it down. ESPN offered it again. In the world, 50 (percent) love you and 50 hate you. Maybe 75 love me because I work hard keeping friends. ESPN is our TV partner so how could we turn them down?

“That’s not the way she wants to go or the way she wants to be known. We’re not doing that (again.) Courtney and I agreed: That’s done. That ain’t where my family’s going to. We want to be able to walk into the Catholic church and look that priest in the face and never feel bad.” 

 

 

 

 

 

WHIT BAZEMORE: LET'S FIX IT NOW!

bazemoreCOMPETITION PLUS CONTRIBUTOR WHIT BAZEMORE began making a living from drag racing when he was 16 years old, which qualifies him to offer keen analysis of the current state of the sport. Bazemore, a two-time U.S. Nationals winner and still the fifth-fastest Funny Car driver ever at 333.25 MPH, is currently heading up a fine art coffee table book project chronicling famed team owner Paul Candies’ racing career. After attending this year’s Winternationals, Bazemore offered his thoughts on what would help drag racing return to its glory years, or if it is even possible. This is what we got:

MICHAEL KNIGHT: A SPECIAL CONVERSATION WITH LINDA VAUGHN

 

MKhead12Linda Vaughn gets the credit (or, some would say, the blame) for introducing me to drag racing.

I was a sportswriter at the Philadelphia Daily News in the mid-and-late 1970s, and while Linda’s home was in California, Hurst Performance Inc. (and her boss, Jack Duffy, a great PR man) was near me in the suburb of Warminster Township. So I’d see Miss Hurst Golden Shifter pretty often, at the Indianapolis and Daytona 500s, races at Pocono and Trenton and Watkins Glen, car shows, awards dinners and cocktail parties.

“Michael, when are you coming to a drag race?” Linda often asked me. Atco was the second racetrack I’d visited as a kid (Langhorne was first -- A.J. Foyt won) but I’d never been to an NHRA national event. So, at Linda’s urging, I headed to Englishtown in 1979. Linda told me I’d find her at the Hurst display adjacent to the pits, but she would have been impossible to miss in a breathtakingly bright red top and shorts, adding heat to an already sunshiny afternoon. Linda immediately began to introduce me to every racer in sight. Including some guy named Wally Parks.

 

 

 

 

 

GUEST EDITORIAL FROM DART - BEWARE OF COPIES OFF-SHORE AND DOMESTIC

maskinCylinder head suppliers, many of them copiers, are fighting over you. Copies are almost always cheaper. But the originals are constantly evolving—always on the cutting edge while the copies have to wait. Here is what some of our industry leaders have to say.

“Back in 1970,” says David Reher “we anxiously awaited the latest port-flowed cylinder heads to be released by the Detroit car makers. Today the CNC-machining center has transformed the machining process and revolutionized the production of racing parts.”

But as Reher, co-founder of Reher-Morrison Racing Engines, suggested during his recent PRI presentation in Indianapolis, it is easy to be beguiled by gleaming, perfect-looking CNC components. “If the parts are produced by people who understand racing engines the results can be spectacular.” However, judging by some of the parts he saw at the PRI show, he concluded that merit was sadly lacking. “Their allure proved nothing more than the machining feed rate and tool speed was correct: pretty parts with impressive air-flow numbers caught the eye but most were without substance. If you are unsure of the proper throat size, the optimum short turn radius and a dozen other crucial characteristics then you are just making chips. Some copies are adequate but most have obvious flaws. It’s always advisable to go with an original like Dart.”

 

Pages