Wally Parks, my beloved old boss, thought those days would last forever and was constantly looking for anything that might spark Detroit’s re-entry into the stock drag racing high performance corner of the world. For W.P, the 1963-1967 timespan lived on another 40 years. Those days never returned but Wally’s bruised knees had a constant sheen that indicated that he’d go to any lengths (or damn near) to get Detroit back into the game. No chance.

In my days at National DRAGSTER (1975-1998), we had to keep tabs on the Manufacturers Cup Points Chase. Basically, the association had a competition that the factories competed in based on round-wins from Comp to Super Gas, national-event wins, I don’t know… it was a pain in the ass for staffers. Ford, GM, Chrysler had this as #10 on their 10-point Christmas wish list: to be the NHRA Manufacturers Cup champion. If I had to bet on it, I’d say Oldsmobile was the big winner dominating the 1980s and 1990s.

In some respects, the Cup competition resembled a bribe. At the beginning of the year, NHRA headquarters types, division directors, and select racers all showed up with Oldsmobiles. Those years, where Warren Johnson started ripping up in Pro Stock were years when he wheeled Oldsmobiles. Now maybe those Olds boys showered “W.J.” with more money than a show dog can jump over, but  I doubt it. Certainly, he got a car and all the help he needed with parts and that coupled with his innate abilities as a racer really got him on his way to a very deserved rep as one of the sport’s great ones.

That’s one.

I personally had no use for these parasitic Detroit profit-leaches. I always thought of them as overrated. Every year that Olds or one of the factories put their weight behind a racer that racer usually won. Not always, but most of the time. They were here to milk what little exposure NHRA could get for them and, of course, got their picture in National DRAGSTER as the Manufacturer’s Cup winner. Usually at that point the GM (or whoever) execs went into a king hell party mode drinking everything that wasn’t brake fluid or snorting anything that wasn’t Drano for a week. The big boys enjoying their toys.

Now, the Big 3 or the Big 2 1/2 (GM, Ford, and Chrysler) are getting their exposure soaked in blood. Bloated overpaid execs, gutless union leadership and zero interest in their products indicate they’ve shot their bolt. As Bob Dylan once sang, ”They’re strapped to a tree with roots ‘cuz they ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

They’re reduced to beggars: "We’ve got to have $25 billion by December 31 or we’re history."

These are the same guys that have shipped factory after factory overseas and laid off tens of thousands of workers in this country. These are the same guys who fought tooth and nail to knock down pensions, cut back medical aid, smash the environmental laws, lower salaries for workers but not management, build high-mileage losers, and work overtime to muffle anything that represented an intelligent approach to a sane energy policy.

My attitude is, hit the bricks, punk. We aren’t paying a penny to guys who made a practice of making us suckers. For decades, the car salesman was a synonym for clever patter and ye olde rip-off. Stand-up comics of the 1960s and 1970s used the car salesman as a butt of their jokes as often as they did the mother-in-law. Although it looks like the Japanese and Koreans, to a degree are giving you the ass-kicking you deserve.
Whew. With that off my chest and on to more pleasant subjects than the thousand-foot move and the death of the Detroiters, I certainly would say that the performance of Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher rates as the big story of 2008. As good as Schumacher was, his fortunes could change dramatically without the services of my Racer of the Year, his crew chief Alan Johnson next year. In 2008, Johnson became the Austin Coil of the 2000’s, The Army dragster simply was too consistently strong and slapped the shit out of the competition. No matter where he goes in 2009, Alan Johnson will be the one you have to beat in the pits.

As for me, I’m out of rehab as of December 1. I went to a personal low of only one drag race this year, so in 2009 it appears I’ll be the one I have to beat in the pits. As you can tell, I’ve been out of it awhile, so I’m anxious to make the '09 George Ray’s Wildcat Hot Rod Dragstrip grand opener.