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Credit where credit is due:
Saturday, January 10, was a good day for NHRA and the Full Throttle series.
I told that to Tom Compton.
On the morning of the 39th American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association’s All-America Team ceremony, presented by A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, an NHRA provided bus pulled in front of the Hilton in Ontario, Calif. Close to 40 AARWBA media members (plus NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Benson!) climbed aboard for a trip to John Force Racing. It was the start of a pro-active, aggressive effort by NHRA to generate pre-and-early season publicity and a greater awareness for the straight-line sport.
As soon as mainstream journalists like Mike Harris of the Associated Press, and Man-of-Many-Media Lewis Franck took their seats, I knew it was a success.
Force greeted guests in the lobby of his truly amazing facility. He and Robert Hight led the tour. Every door was open. (I spotted a copy of The Purpose Driven Life in John’s office.) During breakfast, John put on a show, the way only John can. He and Robert answered questions in group and one-on-one settings. What a showcase for NHRA, Full Throttle, Ford, Castrol, Auto Club and the rest of Force’s sponsors!
More than two hours later, the group headed to Pomona, for an afternoon of media drag racing in Pontiacs. Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger Funny Car driver Jack Beckman taught Drag Racing 101. Accomplished photographer Ron Lewis won the AARWBA Nationals.
That evening, Tony Schumacher was announced as winner of the Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy – AARWBA’s Driver of the Year – as the top vote-getter on the All-America Team. It was Schumacher’s second Titus in three years. Legendary broadcaster/announcer Dave McClelland, the MC, was the surprised recipient of the Pioneer In Racing Award, and Judy Stroupus, of Don Schumacher Racing, was honored as 2008 winner of the Jim Chapman Award for excellence in motorsports public relations.