:::::: Feature Stories ::::::

WILL WE EVER REALLY KNOW WHAT HAPPENED AT FIREBIRD?

3-10-10whathappenedinphoenixFirebird International Raceway operator Charlie Allen said he has lost five pounds this month and might lose another $250,000, as well, to repave his dragstrip.
 
Pro Stock drivers Gordie Rivera and Vinnie Deceglie each have lost race cars that cost six figures apiece.
 
P.J. Harvey lost control of what happened with the traction compound he manufactures and distributes.
 
And the NHRA, already reeling from an unrelated Top Fuel crash after which a spectator lost her life, is at a loss to explain exactly what happened to force postponement of the Feb. 21 Arizona Nationals Pro Stock eliminations until this weekend at Gainesville, Fla.

KALITTA MOTORSPORTS: A NECESSARY REEMERGENCE

03_10_2010_kalittaExcellence is something the Kalitta Motorsports team expects every time it competes in an NHRA event.

Since 1959, with drag racing legend and team owner Connie Kalitta at the helm, Kalitta Motorsports has won five world championships and over 50 national event titles while drag racing under five different sanctioning banners. Kalitta Motorsports is based in Ypsilanti, Mich.

From 2007-2009, however, the team’s Top Fuel dragster driven by Doug Kalitta struggled to get on track.

The perennial championship contender only won two races in that span, posting a best finish of eighth in the point standings, last season.

ROBBY VANDERGRIFF: WHEN RACING WAS BUT A DREAM …

One of the early Pro Modified racers, Robby Vandergriff recently  walked through, Sunshine Home, a group boarding home, and much to his surprise he

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saw a familiar model car, assembled and prominently displayed.

The model - the 1957 Chevy he drove during the pioneering days of the Pro Modified movement. On the door was his first and only major sponsor, Soffseal. Seeing the logo of the automobile restoration accessories company brought forth a groundswell of memories.

The model car reminded Vandergriff of both his happiest and saddest day.

DONNIE COUCH HAS REMAINED TRUE TO HIS ART

02_18_2009_counchFor nearly his entire life, there has been one constant for Donnie Couch – racing.

When Couch was in high school, he started going to races and working as a crew member for professional teams.

“My grandfather raced in the 1930s and 40s and my dad raced in the 50s, 60s and 70s,” the 53-year-old Couch said. “Then toward the end, my dad was working with Don Prudhomme as a mechanic. All through high school, if I got good grades and didn’t get in trouble, I got to go all summer with Prudhomme and Tom McEwen. I basically worked on McEwen’s car for 10 years, from the time I was a freshman in high school.”

Now, 40 years later, Couch has found another niche in the sport, his West Coast Funny Car Factory in Whittier, Calif., just south of Los Angeles which specializes in Nostalgia Funny Cars.

NEFF: OF BUCKET LISTS AND HIS ROLE AT JFR

02_17_2009_neff_aWhen you’re 43 years old, a bucket list is about the last thing on your mind, unless your name happens to be Mike Neff.

“That was a huge bucket list item,” said Neff, of his experience in driving and winning with a Funny Car. “If I hadn’t won and then we had to park it; that would have bothered me. That would have haunted me. Getting that win checked that item off of the list. I could say to myself, ‘I’m good with this now. No matter what happens I’m fine with this now.”

“If I never drive again, I can always say that the last race I raced – I won. That would be the perfect ending for me.”

But as Neff sees it, he doesn’t believe his driving days are finished. If they are, he can live with that reality. And in an off-season of uncertainty, the assurance of job security went a long way towards confidence in 2010, regardless of the role he would play.

ONE LAST LOOK - THE 50TH WINTERS

Force_ShowerWhat’d we tell you?  “We are expecting…someone named Force playing a major role in the event’s outcome.”  Can we pick ‘em or can we pick em?

In retrospect every pick seems easy, but there was just something about the way the entire Force gang was acting this weekend that let anyone who was paying attention know that this year is going to be different.  As we wrote yesterday, Force appears more energized than he has in the last couple of years.  That’s one factor, and the other is, without question, the addition of Mike Neff to the operation.  Make no mistake about it, Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly are still the primary guys, but Neff provides the physical ability to check every nut and bolt on the car, and that’s been lacking.  He goes over every inch of the car to make sure things are right – and they couldn’t have been much “righter” than they were on Parker Avenue on Sunday afternoon.

We also wrote that Ron Capps was on the way up, and he sure was.  He did a great job of reaching the finale, but let’s face it, this was a race that was destined to be Force’s.  We can’t explain it, but you just knew that Force was not to be denied.

WHIT BAZEMORE: SPEAKING FROM THE HEART

02_10_2009_bazemoreWhit Bazemore hasn't been behind the wheel of a Funny Car since 2007. It is difficult to believe a 20-time winner, including two U.S. Nationals titles still finds himself on the sidelines.

Fortunately, Whit takes the situation in stride. The time away hasn't dampened his love of the sport or his desire to see the sport grow even further beyond its humble beginnings. The helmet is ready, the heart is ready and so too is the frank manner which made Whit Bazemore a real fan favorite.
 
Attitude's CompetitionPlus.com took the time to listen to Bazemore's take on the current status of the sport of drag racing and the NHRA

2010 CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTIONS

02_10_2009_predictionsEvery season, since 2000, Attitude’s CompetitionPlus.com has attempted to predict the champions in each professional division. While we’re not going to quit our day jobs to become psychics or anything, we do try to use logic in predicted those who we feel will be the champions for the upcoming season.

Last year we fell short of our mark in every category but a good break here and a good break there, and we could be bragging right now.

'NITRO TRAIL' LURES FULLER TO NEW ADVENTURE

02_06_2009_fullerMore than five centuries ago, explorers brave, bold, and battle-ready sailed into uncharted seas and lands in search of silk, spices, and “The New World.” They had no idea what they would discover, but the quest for a conquest was overwhelming.
 
Today a 5-foot-5 former football player with a Masters degree from the University of Arkansas, a 39-year-old man who loves shopping and exotic cars when he isn't buffing up at the gym, is embarking on a grand expedition in the other direction. Just as on their journeys Christopher Columbus carried the flag of Spain's King Ferdinand to the Western world, “Hot Rod” Fuller will be representing the National Hot Rod Association and “the nation of drag racing” in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.

MATUSEK LOOKING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Aeromotive_ProMod_RenderTo say Steve Matusek, President of Aeromotive, is excited about the upcoming 2010 NHRA season would be an understatement. Matusek envisions a very successful future brought about by a unique collaboration.

When his new Larry Larson built, 2010 Ford Mustang, destined for the GSA NHRA Pro Mod series, rolls onto the track with Roush-Yates Racing Engines emblazoned on the door panels, Matusek believes it will definitely turn heads.

Packed between the fenders will be an engine Matusek believes will be the most potent he’s ever had in his career. And, it will be chock full of NASCAR technology, aimed at taking the newest NHRA professional division, Pro Modified, to the next level and then some.

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