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What is that sound you hear across the nation on Sunday nights? It’s the sound of TV sets clicking off all over the globe because the NHRA/ESPN2 show has become so trite and formulized that it is unwatchable except by those of us with a TIVO digital video recorder.
It is clear to me that if you are not part of the NHRA good old boys country club elite, your pro team will get the bum’s rush on TV, being abruptly dismissed as a novelty act to make time for even more trivial stunts from the rich and famous of drag racing royalty.
With this kind of treatment from ESPN2, what’s a team to glean except to be treated as cannon fodder until all the other good old boys return to the NHRA Full Throttle tour with lavish sponsorship, if they ever do.
Team tattoos, Force family feng shui, Force’s scooter mileage, the Force girls and their gasping mom, on the road with team Force’s RV, Dixon’s adjustment to an even more famous Top Fuel team owner, and so many lame stories have helped to trivialize our entire sport.
Covering NHRA drag racing’s elite has become the story and if an ESPN2 reporter can insert himself into the story, even better. Walter Cronkite be damned; we’re all rock stars. Maybe the ESPN2 staff has run out of ideas. They should be reporting the action, all the action and all the teams, not just the ones with a full-time PR staff and easy, pap-filled bull.
Hey Paul Page… can you explain why you think it is so “GREAT” to see J.R. Todd back in action at the wheel of David Baca’s dragster? Great? Isn’t it just as great or greater to see privateer Steve Chrisman qualifying at multiple NHRA Full Throttle events this season? Isn’t the Chrisman family part of drag racing royalty? As Bob Frey says, “Did You Know” – that Steve Chrisman drove the first Donovan-powered Funny Car to dip into the 5’s at the wheel of the Plueger Brothers & Chrisman Dodge Omni at the ’83 Winternationals?
Jerry the “King” Ruth joined Page and Dunn in the ESPN2 booth in Seattle, but did anybody think to ask him how he got the nickname “King”? In Los Angeles there’s a mattress selling TV geek who calls himself the King.
Note to ESPN2: there are other stories out there. We have now seen everything there is to learn of the Force family, drivers and pets.
Who is Todd Simpson, #14 Top Fuel qualifier at Denver? Isn’t his father a longtime Funny Car racer from Texas? How about looking deeper into what Denver and Seattle Funny Car qualifier Grant Downing is doing on a daily basis for the Al-Anabi team and Del Worsham?
Look, I know they are not among the NHRA anointed, but you guys at ESPN2 have got break out of your elitist shackles. Is it an edict from Glendora to sell more Ashley Force and Simba the cat T-shirts at the Nitro Mall so as to entice a new PETCO sponsorship in a lagging economy? John Force’s motorbike mileage, how dare you!
Did you notice a couple of nostalgia nitro funny cars coming out of a commercial break on Saturday’s Seattle qualifying show? Ol’ PP made a snappy comment like, “Well, there’s something Mike Dunn loves,” between plugs for kristamarie.net. Why would NHRA even bother with exhibition runs of a relatively slow (compared to the Big Show funny cars) novelty act? Why would ESPN2 bother to show nostalgia nitro funny cars and do no story about them? Mike Dunn and PP fawn, “Oh man, that’s what I’m talking about, Nostalgia Funny Cars!”
But as Bob Frey says, “Did You Know?” The two funny cars we saw doing burnouts were the “Mr. Explosive” Nova and the “Jolly Rogers” Camaro. The Big Show snobs might say they are “simply toys.” But there is a story with these cars. The little Nitro Nova is tuned by Jake Sanders, a 19-year-old Washington native, and on that pass netted a very quick 5.89/241.00 MPH. That yellow Camaro in the other lane belongs to Canadian Todd Lesenko and is tuned by veteran Twig Zeigler – of the match racing “Pizza Haven” funny car Zeigler family. What’s the speedometer reading on Force’s scooter now, Zippy?