DRO: It became
CC: It became
high maintenance. Header Flames begins, at first
just a Letters to the Editor kind of thing.
It's like this weird magazine where nobody reads
the features, everybody reads the Letters to
the Editor. You know if you pick up a magazine
on the stand and you read, "Secrets of the Dead
Sea Scrolls Unveiled," you don't even look at
that feature, you just look at the letter section,
and so that was a pretty interesting phenomenon
DRO: It also became
a rallying point for the nostalgia dragster
world, to call people out.
CC: Yeah, just
letting people know what the new rules were
or what time is. You know, Top Fuel on Friday
or whatever it is. Header Flames was really
very close to modern in the sense that you've
got all these graveyards and first wave, second
wave, drag racers who can barely figure out
how to check their email using this thing as
a sense of community, using this weird undefined
thing as a sense of community. So you've got
somewhere it's Lions drag strip set in Blade
Runner on some weird virtual lake. It's like
the bleacher bums of Lions drag strip sitting
and kibitzing, but they can't meet at Lion's
anymore, it doesn't exist. And you know people
were from Kuwait that were ripping with people
of Hawaii that were ripping with people of Florida.
I'll never forget there was a California Hot
Rod Reunion and all those people went to the
California Hot Rod Reunion, they've never seen
each other but they all knew each other. I remember
pointing out to Dave Wallace in the pits at
Bakersfield, "Hey that guy's from Hawaii, that
guy's from Florida. They've never met," and
they're just laughing and slapping each other
and having a grand time and Wallace said, "Spare
me, it's a goddamn Star Trek convention."
DRO: What ultimately
soured you on it or made you want go in another
CC: As I said
before, life is about progress, life is about
change. The irony of the Nitronic Research phenomenon
is that people who had gotten away from drag
racing, kind of like I did, kind of came back
right at the time the internet happened. So
there is an arc and a curve there and people's
lives do change and people come together, but
you know maybe it's a time that people go apart
again. I made so many connections and friendships
based on this Internet phenomenon, this drag
racing Internet phenomenon -
DRO: That's how
you and I met.
CC: Exactly! And
there are friendships that I wouldn't trade
for anything, but if they're real friendships
they will endure beyond the drag racing person
on the Internet. I am personally at a phase
in my life where I'm not that interested in
drag racing again; I mean the spectacle has
got such a great whole that you can't ignore
that, I mean Fuel cars are one of the greatest
things that happened.
DRO: Whether they're
front-motored or back-motored?
CC: It matters
not to me at this point in my life. But my point
is that this sport, I don't know, again maybe
it's a reflection of the economy, you know,
car counts are down. Everybody is really struggling
to maintain what they have and when people struggle
to maintain what they have they get very conservative
and I don't mean that in the physical sense
or the political sense, I mean just in like,
"How can I keep my job?" And the last thing
you want to do is go off or be interesting.
That's what drag racing always was - people
that just went off, there were these weirdo
individualists. So, we're in another phase where
the weirdos are on the fringe again and that's
in the nostalgia scene and that's in the big
show. There's no room for nut cases and drag
racing has always been about nut cases for me,
so when you're in a period where there's fewer
nuts, I'm just a little less interested.
DRO: There have
been a lot of the nuts out there that have predicted
that Nitronic is coming back.
CC: You mean the
Internet Moonies - the Nitronic Internet Moonies?
DRO: Yes, that
you're gonna put the Nitronic Research.com or
Nitronic.com on Ebay to sell - what's the future
CC: It's mothballed,
it's dead, it's an experiment that failed. Just
let there be a monument and I have no desire
to sell it to anybody. I have no desire to resurrect
it. I'll probably maintain the domain name for
a few more years and just keep the epitaph on
the gravestone, and I think that's enough.
There's life beyond Nitronic for many of us.
If not... man.... whoa! So that's it. You know,
it's really weird because it's not something
tangible like Super Stock or the original Drag
Racing USA or whatever -- like wow, I've got
the 1973 version with Gil Fredrick's Rocket
Car on the cover with a stunning model and you
can hold it in your hand or take it to the bathroom
or sell it or do whatever you want with it.
So, that's the great irony. Nitronic you can't
hold in your hand, which is kind of great about
it -- it's truly ephemeral, it's truly transitory,
it's truly gone.