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

GREG ANDERSON: A CLASS ACT

11_07_andersonAsk any racer, and those that are honest will admit that while drag racing may be addictive, winning makes it even more so.  Guys like Summit Racing Equipment Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson, who has a house full of NHRA national event trophies interspersed with the occasional POWERade Series championship gold, know what it’s like to win.  With winning comes losing.  It’s just the natural order of things.  But, it’s how you handle those losses that will ultimately determine your reputation.  Throwing your helmet, for example, is not the way you ingratiate yourself to your fans and sponsors.

Anderson has had, by almost any standards, a very good season in 2009.  He’s won some races – and that’s more than a lot of other drivers can say – but he’s lost some, too.

DICKIE VENABLES: TRADING ONE COMFORT ZONE FOR ANOTHER

10-16-09dickievenables2Within days of parting company with Tony Pedregon, Dickie Venables could have gone to work for John Force, Don Schumacher, Kenny Bernstein and a couple others.

Instead of jumping at the first opportunity, Venables picked up his fishing pole and headed to the lake to catch his breath and a big one or two. When he was done fishing, Venables decided to go to school.

For the two-time championship tuner, the lure of learning from who many have proclaimed as the best drag racing tuner in the business, Alan Johnson, was an attraction to hard to resist.

CORY MAC: A LIFE AFTER DRAG RACING

10-16-09corymacTop Fuel drag racer Cory McClenathan remains firm on one aspect of his drag racing career. The veteran driver of the Fram Top Fuel dragster has given himself until his 50th birthday to win a championship and then, win or lose, he plans to embark on a new life outside of the cockpit.

Currently McClenathan stands third in a three-way championship battle with Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher and Al-Anabi driver Larry Dixon. Newly announced DSR teammate Antron Brown is fourth.

At 68 points out of first, McClenathan’s chances are remote, but not impossible, with eight possible rounds of completion remaining. Last year he finished third in the championship points behind the same two drivers.

THE IHRA COMMUNITY WEIGHS IN ON THE 2010 RACE FORMAT

Three days after the IHRA’s announcement of a major format overhaul, their contingent of racers, 10-20-09ihra2010track operators and race fans are digesting the news that the IHRA, for the first time since its 1971 debut, will run without qualifying and a traditional eliminations format.

Friday afternoon, the Norwalk, Ohio-based sanctioning body issued a release stating their 2010 format will essentially be based on a Chicago Style format where each professional eliminator will make two runs during a two-day Nitro Jam event and the final pair of the second session each day will represent the final round.

The IHRA events will no longer carry the designation of Nationals and will be limited to a three-hour window to complete the professional portion of the event.

BECKMAN'S CAPITOL OFFENSIVE

Read Morebekcman_missouriHow many of us can remember sixth grade geography and having to memorize all 50 Capitals?

Richmond, Des Moines, Raleigh, Columbia, Tallahassee, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City and the list goes on and on. Jack Beckman, driver of the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Funny Car is going one step past memorizing the Capitals. Beckman, along with his wife, Jenna and two year old son Jason, is attempting to visit all fifty state Capitals and the nation's Capital, Washington, D.C.

To date the Beckman clan have visited 30 of the 50 Capitals, and one of them twice because they forgot they had been there previously.

DRAG RACING FILM HAS DEVELOPED CULT-LIKE FOLLOWING IN 30 YEARS

10-16-09americannitroSome might argue that it’s nearly impossible to capture the full intensity of drag racing through a camera. Others might agree that attempting to capture the fever of nitro racing and channeling it into a major motion picture might be even tougher.

Aspiring filmmaker Bill Kimberlin, who along with a talented team of youthful film school graduates, met those challenges and produced a drag racing documentary which has developed a cult-like following over the years.
 

AREND PAYS IT FORWARD

10-7-09jeffarendSometimes the placing of a hat in the ring can yield large dividends.

Funny Car driver Jeff Arend will testify that there couldn’t be a truer statement. After winning the NHRA Midsouth Nationals in Memphis, Tenn., Monday afternoon, he’s counting his blessings that he took that chance.

Arend hand-delivered a trophy to a Kalitta team who had suffered so much in the last year. Winning was his way of paying it forward.

UPDATED: NO QUICK ANSWERS AFTER D-WILK’S CRASH

Two days after Daniel Wilkerson’s horrific crash at the NHRA Midsouth Nationals in Memphis, Tenn., 10-7-09danwilkersonmore questions are prevalent than answers. There’s a strong likelihood the cause of the second-generation drag racer’s crash might not be determined for several weeks, if at all.

Tim Wilkerson, Daniel's father and owner of the Funny Car, said he’s in the dark about what caused the crash and after watching the video and looking over the car, still wonders about his son’s first round accident while racing against veteran Ron Capps.

“I really don’t have an idea,” said Wilkerson, who was working Wednesday afternoon in preparation for this weekend’s NHRA Virginia Nationals. “With these back to back races, I barely have time to do anything. I have already talked to Stange, and he wants the wheels and the hubs.

JOHNSON GRADE FOR ARMY TEAM: "A"

For the first time this season, Top Fuel team owner Alan Johnson gave high marks to the 10-7-09alanjohnsonoverhauled U.S. Army team.
 
It is the team he left last November but remains linked to for his guidance in five of Tony Schumacher's six championships. The soldier-sponsored team is marching on toward a seventh series title with an entire new crew -- his seasoned troops followed General Johnson to the Al-Anabi Racing team with driver Larry Dixon.
 
Johnson indicated the Army team is building on his five years of performance development at Don Schumacher Racing and isn't squandering any of the advantages.

CAPPS' TOUGHEST CHALLENGE: WIGGLES TICKETS

Richard Petty once said that the only autograph he ever sought out was one for his son, Kyle Petty, who was 12 at the time.
10_01_2009_cappswiggles
Ron Capps has a daughter, consequently autographs are not all the big. Little girls want to meet their idols and in Capps case that meant just about going to the ends of the Rock and Roll world to get backstage to meet a children's group called “The Wiggles”.

Capps himself is a collector of special memorabilia. Guitars, football helmets and stuff like that. But, when his daughter wanted to go backstage to meet “The Wiggles” the challenge was almost more than Capps could pull off.

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