Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 11, Page

  Since you left as an NHRA announcer what are you doing for work?

DM:  Master of Ceremonies work, voice overs, commercials. I do a lot of other things.  I do a huge number of car shows.  A lot of work for charities and stuff like that, some for money, sometimes it's for something I support.  I'm chairman of the board of Racers for Christ and have been for the last seven or eight years.  I've been on the board for almost 14 years for that organization.  Strongly support it, psychologically, physically and financially.  I am a strong supporter of DRAW and did a huge amount of work for them during the years that I was active on the circuit, doing their auctions and things like that. I feel that both groups fill a very definite need in the world of drag racing and would encourage anybody to be a supporter of them, particularly financially because both of them operate solely from a donation standpoint. 

I keep current on things.  I read Drag Racing Online religiously, sometimes throw bricks at Jeff Burk, but that's alright. I commend Jeff for his editorial on the countdown to the championship.  I think he took the proper approach and that is, let's wait and see what happens and if it's a totally bad thing, we can go back.  You can't sit here today and tell me it's going to be a failure.  If you don't have the guts to try, then you need to go find a day job.  If you don't have the courage of challenges, to face them, then you need to do something else.

  Let’s talk a bit about your thoughts on drag racing in the late Sixities and Seventies and drag racing as it is today.

DM: I think one thing that needs to be examined when you're talking about the transition of drag racing from the '60s to today is the decline of match racing.  I think there are a lot of reasons for that, it's not just a sanctioning body's call or anything along those lines.  I think probably, the sanctioning body has less to do with it than anything, except for the

expansion of the national event series, now at 23 races, and I think there will eventually  be more.

Several issues have contributed to the decline of match races.  Number one is the decline of the number of race tracks; two, the more rapid decline of the number of racers that were capable of and financially able to afford match racing as the cost of match racing logically progressed.  To get the named drivers, to get the superstars that you hope to attract the audience -- and I'm coming from the promoter's point of view -- you really have to be kind of careful because you can price the program right out of the potential return and you aren't there to lose money.  It's the nature of the beast; I don't think the average racer has a clue to the costs of running a race or a race track. I've always said, having been on both sides of the fence, that before one could be a track operator, he should be a racer and before one should be a racer, you should be a track operator. 

  Technologically, what do you think had the greatest impact in changing drag racing?  Was it the return of nitro after the ban back in the Sixties?

DM:  Yeah, that had something to do with it, but I think technologically the  advances have come in the clutch department, the tire department and the fuel delivery department.  Now, in relation to that is there have been technological advances in camshaft development and cylinder head developments, but those are the key things that have helped nitro cars go quicker and faster.

Were you a big fan of the multi-engined cars of the Fifties and Sixties, and which one was the most impressive car in your opinion? 

DM: They were all the rage, but then the mass was getting too great and those were still the days of Armco barriers and they could go right through those.  Now, what's the most impressive car I've ever seen?  I can pinpoint that in a second.

It was the Carroll Brothers dragster out of Dallas, Texas, with Buddy Cortines  at the wheel.  It was a twin-engined, early model, front motored, nitro-burning Top Fuel car with a movable wing.  They had an extra pedal in the cockpit for the driver, and when he wanted to apply more down pressure, he would hit the that pedal and adjust the wing.  He ran that car at the race track I was running in the late Sixties.  I was at about half track on a golf cart when he made a pass.  Now bear in mind the car is a front motored Top Fuel car with two cast iron Hemi’s  in it.  He got down to half track, he stomped the pedal, the wing changed, and the front wheels came up three feet off the ground. Cortines never lifted, just drove straight on through. It was very shortly after that that the movable wing was no more. Probably it worked to the advantage of every driver out there that they outlawed it.

At that time an ADRL official stuck his head in the room as the race was about to begin and as the Grand Marshal for Dragstock III McClelland’s presence was needed. DRO turned the tape recorder off and McClelland got up, put on his signature straw hat and, like an old fire horse, was ready to perform when he heard the  bell. Some things never change. 

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