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

THE DAY RACING BECAME UNIMPORTANT

September 11, 2001 and the impact

it made
on racing

It began like an ordinary day, just another busy
Tuesday in the lives of countless millions.

CROSSING PATHS - Blaine Johnson & Tony Schumacher

On one weekend the careers of Blaine Johnson and Tony Schumacher

intersected...

 

REMEMBERING INDY

Remembering the only REAL Nationals...

 

TONY SCHUMACHER & BLAINE JOHNSON - CROSSING PATHS

Many
drivers look back on the first elimination-round passes of their
professional careers as a bit surreal. But nothing could come close to
the emotional swing that Tony Schumacher experienced in his first race
in a Top Fuel dragster.

It
promised to be intimidating enough for Schumacher because it came at
the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, the National Hot Rod Association's
oldest and most prominent race.


But 10 years ago, that first quarter-mile ride, which should have taken about 4.7 seconds, seemed to take an eternity.

Schumacher was the No. 16 qualifier. As such, he was paired against No.
1. But this time the No. 1 qualifier didn't pull up to the starting
line. He had died two days before of massive head injuries from a
top-end accident during qualifying.

NORWALK'S SWITCH TO NHRA

Many of us remember the important dates in our lives –
a wedding anniversary, our children’s birthdays, the usual.  For Bill Bader, Jr.
CEO of Norwalk Raceway Park in northern Ohio, one of those dates is June 20,
2004.  That’s when he first picked up the phone to call NHRA president Tom
Compton to ask if there might be a full fledged POWERade Series national event
in the track’s future.  Two years, two months and two days later that first
conversation has become a reality with today’s announcement that the home of the
IHRA World Nationals will next July 4th weekend host an NHRA POWERade Series
national event.

WHY NORWALK RACEWAY PARK?

Tradition means a great deal when it comes to
certain activities.  That first pitch by a celebrity or politician at a baseball
game.  The coin toss before a football game.  The grand entry parade at a
rodeo.  In drag racing it’s the firing of the first pair of fuelers following
the national anthem, among other things.

NORWALK SIDEBAR - Tom Compton

NHRA PRESIDENT TOM COMPTON ON

NATIONAL TRAILRACEWAY, NORWALK

RACEWAY PARK AND THE FUTURE

 

COMPPLUS:  What precipitated the decision to go from National Trail,
an NHRA owned facility, to one owned by a third party?

BOB GILBERTSON

Wikipedia describes persistence as the act of refusing
to give up. Bob Gilbertson's career in NHRA POWERade Series drag racing fits the
description to a tee. Twice, due to business concerns, he stepped away from drag
racing only to come back for more. Eventually, his determination paid off and
Gilbertson is living out his dream of competing in the sport he loves fulltime.

NORWALK'S 1ST NATIONALS

norwalkcover2.jpgA little over two decades ago an
enterprising drag strip owner wanted a national event, but there was a problem –
no one was really interested in granting him one. He took his dream to the
National Hot Rod Association and the powers that be in that organization flatly
told him that they saw no reason to put an event in the Cleveland area when
successful events in nearby Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis were already on the
schedule.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MIKE KLOEBER

kloebercover.jpg

In the immortal words of Don Prudhomme, you should let the painter
paint and the welder weld. I don’t think the sanctioning body has a
place to mandate exactly how you should build your race car. I think
race cars should be built like airplanes. When you build an airplane
you take your plans to the FAA and prove to them this works. Then they
allow you to keep doing what you say you are going to do. They keep an
eye on you and watch you that way. I think that would be a better
format.

Actually, to get to the underlying current of this whole chassis
heat-treating thing, I think in a short period of time we’ll have a
very comprehensive study done on the chassis and the load that it’s
actually seeing going down the track. Then we can build race cars that
withstand the loads we create and we’ll learn how to make them go down
the race track even if we make a car that makes us want to stick our
tongue out now. We’ll learn how to make them go down the track and
they’ll run quick and they’ll run fast. It will be the same for
everybody. 

Pages