THIS TIME THE MONKEES OPEN FOR JIMI HENDRIX
This saddle sore inebriate has no bitches
About the last NHRA pro national event
… or not many anyway.
Initially, I had no intention of attending the 43rd Annual NHRA/POWERade/Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) Auto Club/Nudist Life World Finals at Pomona Raceway. I’m not going to spend a lot of time as to why. Anyone who has waded through this screed in the recent past knows how I feel about corporate drag racing and why. Somewhat succinctly: virtually all sporting activities that mainline “corporate” are bleached, sanitized, and emasculated to a point of comparison that rivals the most mismatched marquee in rock n’ roll history. In 1968, the Jimi Hendrix Experience OPENED for the Monkees at the Hollywood Bowl!!!!! The 1965 Hell’s Angels jammed into Hart-Schaffner-Marx “After Six” formalwear. I could never relate to my once wild, wooly, unpredictable, talent-loaded super-competitive sport being reduced to a cocktail weenie.
Here we have ostensibly the last NHRA Pro Show in history going out like the lamb in winter… a race with a wonderful traditional approaching the end of the sentence with period in hand. Sure they’re quicker and faster now, but… aw screw it, I’m not going to belabor the point. Drag racing and damn near every other sport (except for the ultimate fighting monsters) was one helluva lot more fun than it is now.
Think about it. NHRA, love ‘em or hate ‘em, was Monty Hall’s “Big Deal” of the day when it pitched its tent stakes at the local drag strip. NHRA national events from roughly 1975 (and even a little before despite the Don Garlits detour in 1972 Tulsa) to the present were “da’ bomb” in drag racing. Poor little IHRA, the gutty little train now from the Midwest, wasn’t within Hubbell telescope distance in size and scope of the big boppers from Grimdora.
After this race, that fact ain’t no more. Hell, for IHRA, that little train that couldn’t just might get a last laugh of sorts.
I’ve heard all kinds of speculation about 2008. Maybe the National Hartenstein Racing Association will augment their show with the NHRA sportsman cars and the national event schedule as it is now will remain intact, but as the majority of responders to my beer-drowned questions put it, “I dunna know.”
But whatever … to all those who saw some of the men and women in the starched, pressed, blue POWERade shirts as a wee bit arrogant and power-deluded, you just might get the ball-tickling enjoyment of someone you didn’t like get told next year, ”Hey, it’s our dog now, get your ass over to the General Admission line with all the rest of the wage slaves, Chester.”
Trizzle, trazzle, truzzle, trone … I didn’t really feel like watching the old gal break a heel and tumble head-first into the mud, blood, and the beer at the Fairgrounds.
The Burkster convinced me otherwise. “Martin, you’ve been coming here since 19-damn-63. You mean to tell me that you aren’t even a little bit motivated to say sayonara to something that provided you with so much fun, and let’s face it, a film frame of respectability, you worthless, irresponsible, self-centered reprobate! And besides, this is a special race and you might just find yourself getting a real lift out of this. You’re the so-called historian. GOOOO!!!!”
And by golly, I did and I was goosed into giddiness sorta. The lift came a little slowly, but there was a boost if not lunar trajectory as we approached the latter half of the afternoon.
I mean it wasn’t like bandages being peeled off, but the first session on Saturday wasn’t much. Admittedly, I’ve never failed to be moved by the first big ass, side-by-side charge by nitro burners and that was a pleasant jolt. But after I saw that it was only going to get as good as mid- to high-4.5s at anywhere between 318 to 323 mph, it was yawn-yawn/snore-snore. I’ve been here before and the drinks are weaker than tap water and the white stuff is hand soap.
And so I wandered about the grounds, back throbbing in pain, and brain screaming at you … Moron! You just paid $8.00!!!!!! for a 16-ounce beer … $15 !!!!!!!!!!!!!! for a margarita.