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

KURT BUSCH GOES STRAIGHT-LINE RACING

12_08_09_kurtbuschNASCAR veteran Kurt Busch expects Greg Anderson to be equally generous with his ride.

Anderson, the three-time NHRA Pro Stock champion, approached Busch on opening night at zMax Dragway in 2007 about making a few runs down the quarter-mile in Busch's Dodge Viper.

Busch obliged.

Some may call it professional racer courtesy but Busch, driver of the No. 2 Dodge Charger on the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, calls it enticement.

That night the driver who makes a living racing in circles became highly interested in straight line racing.

THE NEXT CHAPTER IN CRUZ PEDREGON’S DRAG RACING CAREER?

11_11_09_cruzCruz Pedregon is thankful for his time machine.

For a few weekends out of the year, Pedregon, the two-time NHRA Funny Car champion from Brownsburg, Ind., can strap into this time machine and forget about the pressures of signing a major sponsor and the challenges that accompany the overwhelming demand.

Pedregon’s time machine is a throwback to a time when Funny Cars actually resembled the machines they claimed to be.

Pedregon isn’t just a Funny Car driver. He’s a Nostalgia Nitro Funny Car driver and he admits, his 1977 Plymouth Arrow is the escape he’s needed for a long time.

WHAT I’M THANKFUL FOR with JACK BECKMAN

11_25_09_beckmanTraditions help fuel the blessings of Thanksgiving and for CompetitionPlus.com, we’re embarking on a new tradition. Here at the magazine we consider ourselves traditional, a big family if you will. We share many hours together in labor and miles together on the road in our efforts to produce a top-notch drag racing publication.

The time together on the road enables us to focus on the different facets of our life for which we are most thankful.

In following the Thanksgiving tradition, CompetitionPlus.com each year will select one driver or drag racing industry figure to share with our readers what they are most thankful for.

Our first installment comes from Jack Beckman, driver of the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger Funny Car.

GASPARRELLI: THERE WAS NOTHING I COULD DO INSIDE THE CAR

gasparrelli_3Top Alcohol Funny Car racer Steve Gasparrelli admits during his first round race at the NHRA Auto Club Finals that he didn’t have a clue what was going on when his Mustang flopper crashed suddenly and unexpectedly.

The West Covina, Ca.-based racer was along for the ride when his entry broke an oil line and abruptly turned right into the opposite lane taking out an ESPN2 camera before striking the guardwall and coming to a stop with the throttle hung open and the car upside down.

“When the car took off, it was just like a normal run and then all of a sudden the ass-end came around,” Gasparrelli explained. “I was out of the throttle as soon as it came around and I figured the car had broken something. I had never experienced a car turning right that quickly before.”

NEW PRO BOARD MEMBERS SEE PRO IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT

11_18_09_proThe Professional Racers Owners Association, PRO, has gotten a facelift. A fresh new look but not a change in direction.

What many believe has been a owner's organization is making sure the constituency knows it is a “racer's organization” and not specifically an owner's organization.

“When PRO was first formed most of the racers were owners,” explained board member Bill Miller. “They were owners and racers at the same time. Now, they are just owners and no longer racers.”

Truthfully, they are still racers at heart. They just don't strap into a race car. What they stopped being is drivers.

FORCE AND HADDOCK: THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY

10-8-09forceandhaddockWhen John Force looks at Terry Haddock, he’s reminded of himself thirty years ago.

Those were the days when he didn’t have two nickels to rub together and accepted free hamburgers as a sponsorship just so the crew could eat. Yet he found a way to race.

Force sees in Haddock the same qualities that helped him to become one of the most streetwise and successful team owners in the nitro pits.

Today, Force is on the other end of the scale.

LARRY MORGAN’S DRIVING PERFORMANCE SECRET

11_18_09_morganLarry Morgan knows what makes every part on his Pro Stock Dodge work.

However, the one-inch in diameter, silver patch he’s been wearing on his shoulder for the past few weeks remains a mystery. Morgan has suffered with a rotator cuff issue for years and now it feels new.

“I’m not exactly sure what’s in it and what it does, but I do know it takes the pain away,” said Morgan, who two weeks ago at the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals won his first Pro Stock event in seven years.

The 17-time national event winner said he drove at Vegas for the time first time without pain. He wasn’t skeptical of trying it either.

THE CHAMPIONS: FOUR STORIES OF DETERMINATION

11_18_09_championsCompetitionPlus.com believes that every champion has a story to tell. This past weekend, the NHRA crowned four Full Throttle Drag Racing champions during the NHRA Auto Club Finals and in doing so wrote four incredible scripts.

RICK STIVERS: THE UNTOLD STORIES OF HIS CRASH

10_30_2009_stiversRick Stivers believes it’s the injuries you can’t see that can hurt most.

The veteran Pro Modified racer from Lexington, Ky., endured a devastating accident during the NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. He emerged from the crash with no apparent injuries and was moving and speaking coherently as soon as he exited his significantly damaged Dodge Stratus.

Stivers, a racer in the Get Screened America NHRA Pro Modified Challenge, had experienced accidents before – but this one was different. Not only did his car strike the opposite lane retaining wall head on, but it also vaulted into the air and slammed down onto the track.

Stivers will attest that once a car begins a crash, the driver is usually just along for the ride, and that was the case in this accident.

BROWN FINDS STABILITY IN NEW DSR HOME

11_08_09_antronTop Fuel driver Antron Brown can only hope his Matco Tools has finally found a stable home. The former Pro Stock Motorcycle standout who made the jump to Top Fuel prior to 2008, has taken a rollercoaster ride of uncertainty for last two seasons and with Don Schumacher’s purchase of Mike Ashley Racing’s assets, he’s on his fourth team owner.
 
Brown said this kind of movement comes with the territory of a professional athlete, but even he admits four times is a bit much.
 
“Drag racing team members are like professional stick and ball sports players, one year he could be here and the next he could be traded,” Brown explained. “That’s the same way out here. Now I feel like we are at home.”

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