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ENCORE - RELIVING ASHER'S FAMOUS BYLINE: I DROVE A FUNNY CAR ON FIRE

05_05-2011_asher_fireOne of the greatest and best-remembered stories in all of dragdom was Jon Asher's 1972 series for Super Stock & Drag Illustrated magazine about his exploits in Cecil Lankford and David Sien's Brand-X Funny Car.

Asher, who had absolutely zero qualifications to get behind the wheel of a fuel-burning Funny Car other than being one of the best to ever photograph or write about them, made seven laps, earned his license, and, famously, caught the car on fire on his final run. "People still ask me about it every once in a while," said Asher, who was Editor of Car Craft in that magazine's best years and today is a Senior Editor at Competition Plus.

It all started at a 1971 AHRA Grand American race in Colorado when Lankford told Asher to get in his car for the warm-up. "When we were done and I shut it off, he told me, 'You ought to drive this thing sometime' " Asher said. A few months later, the day after the Manufacturers Race at Orange County International Raceway in November 1971, he did.

"The first thing I noticed was the incredible noise," said Asher, who was 29 at the time. "You're in the car, all strapped in and ready to go, and when you step on that accelerator, your first inclination is to take your foot out of it because it's shocking. I still remember the first couple of burnouts. I was waiting for this huge cloud of smoke to envelop me, and it was more like the exhale from a cigarette puff. It was embarrassing. When the car launched, it really set me back in the seat. You're trying to mentally process everything, but you suddenly realize that everything's happening a lot faster than you ever thought it would."

WHAT I AM THANKFUL FOR WITH BOBBY LAGANA JR

 

To know Bobby Lagana Jr. is to know he's a glass-half-full kind of person.

Lagana epitomizes what is good with drag racing. He's passionate, competitive, and, most of all, kind-hearted. The son of drag racer Bobby Lagana Sr. has endured the highest of highs behind the wheel of a race car and the lowest of lows when injured in a life-changing accident. He then took his talents in tuning to work in conjunction with Richard Hogan at Steve Torrence Racing on a three-time championship run.

This year has been a tough one for Lagana, but he sees the bright spots amid adversity. In our annual tradition, Lagana steps up to deliver a list of the things he's grateful for in this year's What I'm Thankful For Series.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

The staff of Competition Plus would like to take this opportunity to wish our readers a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

In these troubled times it’s vitally important that we all stop and reflect upon the blessings we receive each and every day. Often, as we deal with the complexities of modern life we overlook many of the things that should be most important to us, the things that really matter.

INTERVIEW: HOW WILL MARCUS LEMONIS' BUSINESS EXPERIENCE INFLUENCE NHRA?

 

The Camping World Era of NHRA Drag Racing began in October, but it’s generating even more excitement as business mogul Marcus Lemonis opens up about his decision to become the series sponsor and what kind of an impact he hopes to make in the sport. Lemonis spoke November 23 with CompetitionPlus.com Senior Writer Susan Wade and shared some of his insights about what’s meaningful to him:

SUSAN WADE: What intrigued you about the NHRA and drag racing that made it an attractive property?

MARCUS LEMONIS: Motorsports has been a pretty good investment for our company – actually, very good investment for about 10 years now. We’ve had the truck series for just shy of 10 years now. And what I really started to notice is that out of all sports sponsorships – we do a lot – the highest conversion rate of familiarity with our brand and loyalty to our brand comes in the motorsport space. NASCAR has been an amazing partner, but I’ve always studied NHRA from a distance and really tried to understand how it works . . . because obviously the size of the attendance at the races was always different from what NASCAR had, at least back in the day, huge crowds. And what I didn’t realize was that NHRA gets the same thing. It just gets it over a series of days.

STEVIE FAST MIGHT BE SUPERCHARGED, BUT HE'S NITROUS AT HEART

 

The beginning of the road to earning the nickname "Fast" for two-time NHRA Pro Modified champion Steve Jackson started with a 383 stroker engine in a pick-up truck.

Jackson is best known for his exploits behind the wheel of supercharged combinations, but isn't primarily known is his background with nitrous-injected engines and what led to him becoming presently one of the top nitrous tuners in the game despite not driving one.

To tell the story, we must go back to the 1990s. Then 16 years old and working at a gas station, Jackson got a hankering to put nitrous oxide on his Chevy truck. so he went to his manager at the Tim Taylor Service Station with an exciting proposition.

RECORD-SETTING PERFORMANCES HIGHLIGHT MAN CUP FUEL TECH WORLD FINALS 2020

 

In Top Fuel Motorcycle, Larry “Spiderman” McBride, of Newport News VA, saved the best for the last of the event, putting a 5.678, 265.95 up on the scoreboard to win the event. His booming MPH is a new national record with the sanction, eclipsing the old mark of 263.10 set last year. In a post-race interview, when asked what it’s like to run that kind of speed on a motorcycle in the quarter-mile, Larry replied “Like Elmer used to say, it feels Goooood! It’s awesome, really; there’s no way to put it into words.” 

Other new national record marks were set at the event in:

AUTO SHOCKER RENEWS WITH JUSTIN ASHLEY RACING

Continuing a busy off-season of marketing partnership additions and renewals, 2020 NHRA Rookie of the Year Justin Ashley announced today that Auto Shocker™, Biocide Systems’™ best odor eliminator on the market, has renewed their associate sponsor agreement on the Strutmasters.com Top Fuel team for the 2021 NHRA Camping World NHRA Drag Racing Series. Auto Shocker has been aligned with Justin Ashley since the end of the 2019 season and was prominently featured on his Top Fuel dragster during all 12 national events in 2020. Moving into the 2021 NHRA season, Auto Shocker and Justin Ashley Racing have a number of consumer promotions as well as social media programs in the planning stages.
 
“I’m proud to represent Auto Shocker and Biocide Systems’ line of odor eliminating products,” Ashley said. “They have the most effective odor eliminators on the market. Last season we had success introducing these products to the NHRA community and its audience. In 2021, we’re going to expand upon that and use all of our resources to show the world how great these products are. I couldn’t be more excited to continue our marketing partnership next season.”

WATCH THE COMPETITIONPLUS.COM POWER HOUR

JASON RUPERT BEGINS THE BIG SHOW LICENSING PROCESS

 

Second-generation Funny Car racer Jason Rupert knew one-hundred percent he wanted to go NHRA Fuel Funny Car racing in the Big Show, and wasn't the least bit intimidated. That is until he looked in the box.

"The Box," as many refer to as the black box, includes many wiring and timers that control a fuel car's engine management program.

"I look in that thing, and I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, what is all that stuff?" Rupert recalled, with a chuckle.

REVIEW OF ‘RACER’: TOP FUEL RACING PLAYED SMALL, QUIRKY ROLE IN ANDRETTI’S FULL, ADVENTUROUS LIFE

 

Deep in the heart of Texas, John Andretti had a feeling deep in his own heart that he might have made a really poor decision.

There he sat in Major League Baseball All-Star Jack Clark’s NHRA Top Fuel dragster for an engine warm-up, beginning to wonder why he had agreed to such an enterprise. After all, Andretti swore he truly didn’t have a clue about this unique type of race car, except that it had four wheels, a steering wheel, and an engine. And he hadn’t gotten any pointers from anyone about how to drive this thing.

“I climbed in with the rear wheels jacked up off the ground, and they started the engine. I couldn’t hear anything! And I certainly didn’t know they initially start the car using a (relatively mild) alcohol-based fuel.” He said, “‘This thing doesn’t seem that sporty,’ I thought.”  

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