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

THE NHRA FINALS AS REPORTED BY ASHER

11-20-10asherpomonaOne of drag racing's most seasoned journalists provides an inside view of the final event of the 2010 Full Throttle tour.

Jon Asher provides the stories in the pits and expert insight to one of drag racing's most exciting events.

Asher provides a daily recap of all four days.

JIM ROCKSTAD REMEMBERS: SEATTLE'S 64 FUNNY CARS, PT 3


Russ9Bill Doner had brought in a front-line field of funny cars just to see how the race fans would respond back in 1972 at the Seafair Funny Car Championships.

He had a plan to give the patrons more nitro cars in one exciting evening than they had ever seen anywhere. He could see that this “growing program” was gaining momentum and that it had a bright future. He wanted to establish its future right here, right now, on this very day. It was the big test of “give them what they want and lots of it”.

The whole extravaganza was a huge risk, but if it all worked the future for SIR would be bright. No question, he was putting it all on the line that night.

JON ASHER'S NHRA VEGAS NATS DIARY

11-4-10ashervegasIt’s all a matter of timing and attitude.  Now is the time, and if you’ve got the wrong attitude, Buddy, there’s no need to wait for the Finals in Pomona in two weeks.  Your season is going to end right here in Las Vegas on Sunday.  Or maybe even Saturday if you botch qualifying.  You’d better be positive and upbeat in your every action, or you’re going to be history.

Sounds harsh, doesn’t it?  You love drag racing, don’t you?  Well, we do too, but as much as we love it we know this endeavor to be one of the cruelest known to man.  In no other sport can you go from hero to zero quicker than along the quarter mile.  (Somehow, wording it as “along the 1,000 foot track” doesn’t have the same ring to it as does “quarter mile.”)  Anyway, you know what we’re talking about.  Today’s Number 1 qualifier is tomorrow’s DNQ.  Conversely, the guy who didn’t make the cut last week could very well be this week’s winner.  That’s just how it goes in this most vibrant of sports.

FROM HEIRESS TO NITRO: DEJORIA TAKING HER TIME

10_12_2010_dejoriaAlexis DeJoria needed to experience nitro before she would discuss her plans with anyone. That’s why she refused to speak publicly or on the record before making her first runs in a nitro-burning Funny Car on September 27 at the Texas Motorplex located outside of Dallas, Texas.

There were no press releases – not even an ESPN interview. Requests for interviews to her publicist were met with, “She’ll talk about anything but nitro.”

Then DeJoria, heir to billion dollar hair care company Paul Mitchell Systems, experienced her first nitro cackle and life will never be the same.

“Launching [the car] wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought it was going to be,” De Joria explained in her first interview which she granted to Attitude’s Competitionplus.com. “I could see a lot clearer leaving the starting line. Leaving the line in my alcohol car can sometimes be more violent. With that car, you leave the line at 7,000 rpm, so there’s a lot more vibration.

AN EMOTIONAL FORCE FACES TOUGH DECISION

At 61 years of age, John Force is in the toughest fight of his racing career as he battles for a 15th career NHRA Funny Car title.
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Force assures he is up to the challenge inside the race car, but in his mind there is an equally tough battle raging on. In order to hoist the 15th trophy of his career, Force must best his daughter, his son-in-law, and in his own words, “two of the nicest guys; Beckman and Hagan. Just the best guys!”

While Force shows a softer side of his competitive spirit, it doesn't take much to jolt him back into a “killer” mode.

“I have to keep my mind right,” admits Force, who agrees he has to keep his objectives in focus. “You have to stay focused. You have to keep in that fighting mode.

JIM ROCKSTAD REMEMBERS: SEATTLE'S 64 FUNNY CARS, PT 2.

ed_mccullochWith the 1971 event a huge success it was time to expand the format, bring in more cars and really get after it in 1972.

In 1972 Doner stepped up the program from 16 nitro funny cars to the next logical
step at 32 of the fan favorites. Not only did he include 16 alcohol cars-mostly from California, organized by Jerry Malicoat, but also added in some more long-distance nitro stars. They included Dave Beebe driving for Art Whipple in the Fresno-based Mr. Ed Car; Pisano and Matsubara; The Coca Cola Cavalcade of Funny Cars, an 8-car traveling show including Raymond Beadle driving for Don Schumacher; Harry Schmidt’s Blue Max with Richard Tharp aboard; a young Canadian named Gordie Bonin in the Gordon Jenner-tuned Vega and several other teams.

This was a stellar field of nitro cars for this early 70’s event.

A DAY ON THE FARM WITH RON CAPPS

Capps_Hagan_FarmRon Capps loves a good adventure.

Capps exited his Southwestern Virginia hotel on a Thursday morning decked out in his best “farmer” attire. Matt Ilas, with ESPN, along to film the adventure was floored.

“The best part was, I landed on Wednesday night, ran down to a Wal-Mart looking for some overalls. I found these ugly brown farmer looking overalls and a wrangler shirt, which I pictured Matt wearing on his farm, and they actually looked good together. I came bee-bopping down the stairs and the ESPN guy about fell over backwards. I got dressed for the part. I was serious. When I first talked to Matt about it, I said I really wanted to spend a day on the farm. I wanted to get up at the crack of dawn; no bs.”

NHRA’S COMPTON EYES MARKETS AND GETS THEM

09-17-10_comptonIf NHRA President Tom Compton covets a market, chances are he gets it.

First there was Charlotte and Bruton Smith followed suit with the Bellagio of drag strips. And now, after years of making his desires known, Compton has added the Boston market to NHRA's reach with the addition of New England Dragway [Epping, NH] to the list of NHRA member tracks. Intentions are for the track to host a national event either in 2011 or 2012.

“We've been working with the folks at New England Dragway for many, many years now,” revealed Compton. “And, as you know, it's family ownership – there are a lot of people involved. Basically, they've got a group there that really wants to become part of the NHRA system and they've agreed to be sanctioned by NHRA beginning in January. We're going to put our full slate of sportsman programs in New England, including the Lucas Oil Series.

“What we are extra excited about is bringing in a national event. When I say that, people always ask, 'When?' We're going to bring it as soon as we possibly can. That could be as early as this summer. We don't have it on the schedule right now because there's a lot of things we have to do first. If we are able to pull it off, we'll do that, otherwise we're hoping to be there no later than the summer of 2012.

NHRA’S COMPTON EYES MARKETS AND GETS THEM

09-17-10_comptonIf NHRA President Tom Compton covets a market, chances are he gets it.

First there was Charlotte and Bruton Smith followed suit with the Bellagio of drag strips. And now, after years of making his desires known, Compton has added the Boston market to NHRA's reach with the addition of New England Dragway [Epping, NH] to the list of NHRA member tracks. Intentions are for the track to host a national event either in 2011 or 2012.

“We've been working with the folks at New England Dragway for many, many years now,” revealed Compton. “And, as you know, it's family ownership – there are a lot of people involved. Basically, they've got a group there that really wants to become part of the NHRA system and they've agreed to be sanctioned by NHRA beginning in January. We're going to put our full slate of sportsman programs in New England, including the Lucas Oil Series.

“What we are extra excited about is bringing in a national event. When I say that, people always ask, 'When?' We're going to bring it as soon as we possibly can. That could be as early as this summer. We don't have it on the schedule right now because there's a lot of things we have to do first. If we are able to pull it off, we'll do that, otherwise we're hoping to be there no later than the summer of 2012.

THE NEW TREND: NITRO TUNERS TO DOORSLAMMERS

Three of drag racing’s well-known nitro tuners are writing a new chapter in their racing career.

 The tuning duo of Tim and Kim Richards along with Rob Flynn have found the most unlikeliest of homes – tuning 2500 horsepower, suspended chassis race cars within the ADRL’s Pro Extreme division.

“I think this is where the future is,” said Alex Hossler, one of the ADRL’s leading Pro Extreme racers. “I think a lot of people see that and they want to jump on the bandwagon. Not knocking NHRA, but who knows where NHRA is going to be five years from now. Who knows where ADRL is going to be five years from now? This is the fastest growing motorsport that I know of and I think these guys all want to be a part of it.”

Hossler recently added Flynn as his tuner following the lead of the Al Anabi Racing team of Sheikh K.H. Al Thani who hired the Richards to cover for Frank Manzo, on the weekends when he races in the NHRA’s Top Alcohol Funny Car division.

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