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


sm_10-17-06-steveo.jpgSteve Torrence has no delusions of grandeur.

He understands that success in NHRA POWERade Series drag racing doesn't happen overnight,
but he also knows he's aligned himself with a very talented racing team.

The reigning Lucas Oil Series Top Alcohol Dragster champion, who made his Top Fuel debut at last
weekend's Torco Racing Fuels Nationals near Richmond, Va., is driving a second car
for Dexter Tuttle Motorsports.
The team, with driver Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future
finalist J.R. Todd, has become one of the more consistent units on the POWERade circuit, winning three national events en
route to challenging for a top-ten finish in points.


sm_10-16-06-eddiepauley.jpgMay 26 had started out as a pretty good day for IHRA
sportsman racer Eddie Pauley. Journeying from his home in Shelby,
NC, he had gotten on the road a day early to
make the Mr. Gasket Pro-Am Tour Race in Douglas,
GA, an IHRA Division 9 points
meet. “When you plan to do something and it gets to be time to do it, something
always goes wrong,” he said. “I’m always running late, I’m always in a frenzy
to get somewhere, but this time I went by myself. I left in plenty of time to
get there, it was a beautiful day, and I was thinking, ’man, things are
actually going good!’ And then--ka-blooey.” 



10-11-06-rahn.jpgLife for Rahn Tobler right now is great.  My professional life
couldn’t be better.  My personal life - my relationship with my wife is
strong as it ever has been. We’ve been together for going on 26 years
and that’s been great. My home life is great. Obviously the opportunity
here with Kalitta Motorsports has been a terrific deal for us.  There’s
no place that I’d rather be. I don’t aspire to do anything else but
work here at Kalitta Motorsports.  I feel so fortunate every day to be
able to do what I do


10-10-06-raymond.jpgIt was about a year ago that Pro Mod racer Raymond Commisso was lying in a hospital bed recuperating from his second consecutive crash, a shoulder separated and two vertebra in his neck bruised. His confidence was shaken, his resources were rattled, and Commisso’s brand-new ’63 Vette was so badly damaged he’d have to start over virtually from scratch. But with a little help from a lot of friends, one year later this Canadian restaurateur has pulled off the nearly impossible--in two consecutive weekends his ‘67 Camaro rocked the Pro Mod world in both NHRA and IHRA.

After running three seasons in the Torco’s CompetitionPlus.com Pro Modified class without so much as qualifying for an IHRA national event, Commisso won the Skull Shine World Nationals, August 28 at Norwalk Raceway Park, when he beat Mike Janis with a solid 6.126, 232.35-effort. Then at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis the following weekend, Commisso wowed NHRA crowds by qualifying No.1 with a 6.016, 236.80 right off the trailer, backing it up with a 6.02, then going all the way to the final before losing to Joshua Hernandez, 6.10 to 6.04.

Talk about comebacks.


Patrick Bowen depends on his dad Ricky to help him when he
races.  That’s not unusual. Many sons
depend on pop to get them dialed in, set just so in the water box, even on the
starting line. Ricky Bowen goes several steps further, though: he literally
lifts son Patrick into and out of his dragster each and every time he goes down
the track. Once in the cockpit, though, Patrick is on his own, and he can quite
capably go rounds --- he so impressed “Million Dollar Man” and racing promoter
George Howard by going five rounds at a 2002 B&M race at Huntsville Dragway
that he got free entry into the Twin 20s at the Million Dollar Drag Race in
Memphis later that year.

Patrick, 28, is confined to a wheelchair. He has been since
he was a child. He is fully paralyzed from the waist down. He was born with
spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal cord is not connected. He went
through several recent operations to fuse his spine, but twice the operations
failed. The rods the doctors placed in his back held on the last one.

SHELLY PAYNE - Back in the saddle

10-8-06-shelly.jpg Shelly Payne, above all the hype of being a woman
competing in a male-dominated sport, has always shown the incredible
knack and skill to drive a drag racing machine.The former Shelly
Anderson, who is married to longtime alcohol competitor Jay Payne,
showed it while being one of the more popular Top Fuel drivers in the
1990s, and she's again proving it today while competing in AMS Pro Mod

She's also done it while twice coming back from horrific crashes,
including rebounding with a solid 2006 campaign after experiencing a
spectacular roll-over accident during a qualifying run at the Sears
Craftsman Nationals near St. Louis in June, 2005. And yet Payne keeps
coming back for more.

Why, some ask? The answer is simple and to the point.


10-4-06-northwind.jpgIn Part 1, I discussed the history of the Top Fuel car that put the Northwest on the map in the sport of drag racing.

In the 50s and 60s, hot-rodding was at a fever pitch in the Northwest.
Hot rod shows and rallies were very popular, with events taking place
nearly every weekend in the Portland-Vancouver area. Drag strips,
mainly just airstrips, ran events every weekend in places like
McMinnville, Aurora, Madras, Eugene, Woodburn, Scappoose, and Delta

Those tracks were just in Oregon. In Washington there were tracks in
Puyallup, Shelton, Kent, Bremerton, Deer Park, and Arlington.
“Gearheads” could attend or compete in several events every weekend
during the spring, summer and fall months. Madras, Oregon, would start
up the season in February, well before the tracks on the wetter side of
the state.


10-3-06-ericaenders.jpgThere are more plans, more work to be done for Erica Enders and her
evolving Pro Stock race team as she closes out a topsy-turvy 2006 NHRA
season and refuels for a more concentrated drive next year.

“We’re all competitive,” said Enders, a 22-year-old driver from Houston
competing in her second full season in the NHRA pro ranks. “We want to
win and we’re working our butts off to get there.”

Getting there has been a challenging trip. A change in teams, a series
of DNQs – did not qualify – and a new sponsorship package have followed
Enders and her crew on an up-and-down adventure through the Pro Stock
fast lane.


sm_10-2-06-backinblack-color.jpgIs driving a Pro Stock car, kind of like riding a bike, where it's just one
of those things that once you learn how to master it, you just don't ever


Jr. will attempt to prove the theory this weekend.
The three-time NHRA champion, who announced last November that he was
taking a leave of absence from Pro Stock
racing, returns to the factory hotrod division after nearly an 11-month sabbatical, beginning with this weekend's Torco Racing
Fuels NHRA Nationals near Richmond, Va.

IHRA TORCO PRESIDENT'S CUP NATS - Torco's CompetitionPlus.com Pro Stock Showdown

cp_prostock-logo5_edited-1.jpgPATRICK WINS TORCO BUCKS - Robert
Patrick started coming to Maryland International Raceway when he was
barely tall enough to watch the races over the spectator fence. He
remembered Pro Stock icons “Dyno” Don Nicholson, Bill Jenkins and
Ronnie Sox drawing admiration from the thousands of fans packed along
the same fence line. Tonight Patrick was the admired one.