Well, that certainly got people’s attention

My last column, with the suggestions of what our sport needs, elicited a barrage of opinion and emotion. They could be divided into three distinct categories.

The first one could be titled You Suck. The typical quote included “How dare you make suggestions to change the sport after you ruined it.” Then there was my favorite. “Why Jeff lets you write in DRO is beyond me. You destroyed Pro Stock and Pro Mod and now you are trying to win the Dumb Ass Triple Crown by taking down DRO.”

If I win the Dumb Ass Triple Crown I can only assume that I will be put out to stud and live a glorious life trying to destroy every facet of the sport.

The next group could be titled the But Group. Every letter starts the same way. “I agree with a lot of what you say, but…” I love this group because they usually have some great ideas in between some not so good ones. For example: “All Nitro racing should be done at night (good) but have 32-car fields (bad). Pro racers should be required to spend 30 minutes per hour with fans (good) but charge for autographs (very bad).

The third group doesn’t count because they believe I have genius quality and their last name happens to be spelled P-O-L-B-U-R-N. God love them. Thanks to all for playing.

I was watching a documentary on Arnold Palmer and he said something that really hit home. When asked what was the most important part of creating and maintaining a fan base, his answer was profound. His secret was to make sure you answer every letter and when you sign an autograph make it personal and above all make it legible. It takes a few seconds to create a fan or lose a fan. Use your time wisely and show that you care.

Hands down that would have to be the Angel family that operates Houston Raceway Park. At their NHRA national event this year they were able to do what few tracks have ever done. That was hanging a sign that said SOLD OUT. If their phone lines and e-mail accounts weren’t buzzing with questions from other promoters on what they did that escaped most events so far this year, I would be shocked. There is no Holy Grail, but perhaps this moment was the game-changer we have been seeking. And maybe the Angel family can star in a very cool beer commercial.

I CAN'T DRIVE 55 IN 2003
Sammy Hagar sang the song. I just happened to get caught. There are two things you need to understand. I don’t drive fast and my rental car had about 52 horsepower. But somehow on State Route 1 going to Rockingham, a North Carolina State Patrolman got me going 81 in a 65. And he didn’t have Compulink.

It was the Saturday of the event and I had to be at the track by 1 p.m. or Bill Bader was going to announce. Trying to save the eardrums of thousands of Carolina drag racing fans I may have been a wee bit over the limit. So here I was in my IHRA uniform acting like Speed Racer and I was caught big time.

As the patrolman got to the driver side window he saw the uniform and started to laugh. He probably had dreams about issuing this ticket.

Patrolman: Going to the Rock?
AP: Yes sir.
Patrolman: I got you at 81.
AP: Wow, I had no idea.
Patrolman: You didn’t have any idea? You were slowing from 85. Now could you tell me why you were going so fast?
AP: Good air.
Patrolman: (really laughing) That may be the best answer I ever received. Slow down and have a nice day.

Would a fly without wings be called a walk?