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

MIKE ASHLEY: I MISSED DRIVING

Mike Ashley is the boss of his race team but when his team speaks he will yield to their demands.
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That’s not because Ashley is weak in leadership. It’s just the opposite.

He’s such a confident leader, and habitual assembler of a successful
nucleus, that when his people provide instruction, the New York
mortgage banker from Long Island knows they speak with his best
interests in mind.

That’s why when Ashley proclaimed that he was planning a return to
nitro racing this fall, his crew chiefs and supporting cast would only
give their blessings for a dragster. 

BILL DONER: DRAG RACING’S PROMOTER

What in the world possessed Don Prudhomme to pick up the telephone on Super Bowl Sunday this February and call Bill Doner?
07_29_2009_doner.jpg 
That's what Bill Doner wanted to know.
 
"You're a cool guy. I like you," Prudhomme told the memorable race promoter from Orange County, Irwindale, Fremont, Portland, Seattle, and other fabled drag strips.
 
"I said, 'OK,'” Doner remembered, still puzzled.
 
Then Prudhomme said, "Now, here's the deal: I'm going to unveil a  new Shelby car, over at Pomona. We're going to have a dinner and stuff, and I want you to come over there."

COURTNEY FORCE FOLLOWS FAMILY TRADITION

07_29_2009_cforce.jpgSeldom does life, let alone drag racing, go according to plan. In Courtney Force's case, it didn't.
 

However, the 21-year-old daughter of  14-time Funny Car champion John
Force and youngest sister of class contender Ashley Force, isn't
complaining.
 
Now that she has earned her first National Hot Rod Association victory,
beating fellow Los Angeles-area resident Chris Demke in the final round
of the sportsman-level Top Alcohol Dragster class at last Sunday's
Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways, Courtney Force has an even
stronger craving for the sport.

EXTREME SPENDING FOR 10.5 RACING

The idea was impressive.
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Steel bodied cars with unlimited engines, running as quick and fast as they could with the real limitations being a stock front suspension and the great equalizer – a 10.5-inch tire.

The costs were reasonable.

That was then, this is now.

Outlaw
10.5 racing has grown far beyond its local backwoods origins and now
races as sanctioned categories, the largest and most organized being
under the ADRL guidance.

DID THE SAFETY DEVICE FAIL?

Matt Hagan never made it past the staging lanes during the second qualifying session for the NHRA 

07_21_2009_device.jpgNorthwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways on Friday because his parachutes suddenly dropped to the ground.

The next day, crew chief Tommy DeLago said the problem, the best he
could tell, was centered in the automatic shut-off system mandated by
the NHRA. DeLago is quick to admit the system definitely adds to the
safety of the race car. He just doesn't know what else would have
caused the chutes to deploy other than a fault with the system.

“It’s a spec system only available from one company,” explained Graham
Light, NHRA Vice President of Competition. “It senses the manifold
burst panel. When the panel opens up, it breaks the wire connection
sending a signal to the device and it simultaneously deploys the
parachutes and shuts the fuel and ignition off.”

SEATTLE REFURBISHMENT YEARS AWAY

Jason Fiorito, President of Pacific Raceways, is surprisingly candid, as track operators go.

07_21_2009_seattle.jpgHe admits what once was a premier facility, originally constructed by
Dan Fiorito, Jr. and his brother Joe, does not currently come close to
being called premier. However, he firmly believes that in time, and
that doesn't mean tomorrow or even next year, Pacific Raceways has the
potential to become not just a premier drag racing facility, but a
premier motorsports facility with two drag strips, a road race course,
a karting track and a 5/16th's mile short track.

As is the case with most track operators, the money spent on a facility
isn't always apparent. Fiorito says his family has spent three million
dollars in improvements, of which only $750,000 can be quickly noted by
those in attendance – the new permanent grandstands. The remainder of
the money was spent on the current track surface to meet NHRA standards.

DENVER, 1000-FT., A YEAR LATER

Many fans have probably already forgotten what happened during the 29th Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
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That event, however, is one of the most memorable of all time.

For the first time, the National Hot Rod Association had both the Top
Fuel Dragster and Top Fuel Funny Cars race to 1000-feet, instead of the
traditional quarter-mile (1,320 feet).

The two classes having been racing to 1,000 feet ever since.

NHRA's actions were brought about as a result of the on-track death of
Scott Kalitta, a two-time NHRA world champion on June 21.

NEW TITLE, NEW CHALLENGES AHEAD FOR LEE BEARD

07_13_2009_beard.jpgThis season is Lee Beard's 33rd in the NHRA, 32 of which he served as a crew chief for a variety of teams.
 
Presently, he is taking on a new role as a team manager in his second
stint with Don Schumacher Racing. He's responsible for all five Top
Fuel Dragster and Funny Car teams under the DSR umbrella.

His main project right now for DSR is happening during the week.

DALE PULDE: THRILL FAR FROM GONE

Getting thrilled is nothing new for Dale Pulde.
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The
Funny Car legend described being thrilled last month as he was inducted
by Bristol Dragway into their Wall of Fame. Pulde joined drag racing
icons Larry Carrier, Wally Parks, Don Garlits, Sox & Martin and
Rickie Smith in the prestigious perch high atop the strip located in
eastern Tennessee.

Pulde used to run hard in Bristol. Come to
think of it, there weren’t many places where the  International Drag
Racing Hall of Fame inductee left anything on the table.

Pulde’s
heart demands that same ethic as he balances his time between doing
custom motorcycle work and driving a nostalgia nitro Funny Car honoring
his legendary War Eagle Funny Car even as he watches the world of drag
racing constantly changing all around him.

MIKE KLOEBER'S NITRO UNIVERSITY - COURSE 4, FUEL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

4_15_2009_kloeber_university_3.jpgThe purpose of this series is to bring a fuller understanding of the
major components of Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars with an insider’s
perspective. We will touch on many items in detail and how the
components and various systems are interrelated along with a few side
notes and an occasional story along the way.

The list of subjects covered will be vast and detailed to the degree
necessary for the above average fan and simple enough for the average
fan to come away with a better appreciation of the intricacies of the
modern “Nitro” car.

Today's lesson focuses on the Fuel Management Systems, the various components and how it all works.

 

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