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Remember that song from the Five Man Electrical Band? It seems NHRA has adopted that song and changed it to IHRA Signs. When I heard that they made racers take down or cover up the IHRA logos and IHRA references at the California Hot Rod Reunion I truly laughed out loud. I would think for a company of that size with the issues they have that covering up IHRA logos would be so far down the priority line that no one would care. I was wrong. But it did remind me of a story of similar nature when I first became President of IHRA.
There was no question that NHRA was going to do whatever it took to rid race cars, race trailers and uniforms of the IHRA logo. It got to a point where racers like Clay Millican and Bruce Litton had to buy two sets of uniforms with one set having the IHRA logo and one set with the NHRA logo. It was actually funny to see a racer who supported both organizations with duck tape covering the IHRA logo on their driving suit. I thought it was bush league but it did lead to one of the great "gotcha's" in IHRA history.
At the time IHRA was owned by Clear Channel. Clear Channel was the largest billboard owner in the U.S. but I was interested in just one. That would be the 70-foot billboard just outside the gate at Pomona. On the Thursday of the NHRA Winternationals we unveiled a 70-foot billboard that said “CONGRATULATIONS TO IHRA WORLD CHAMPION CLAY MILLICAN” and featured a giant graphic of the Werner Top Fuel Car. I am sure the NHRA brass was not amused but it was fun knowing that we poked the bear and the bear couldn't poke back.
Mexican Gran Prix
If you didn't see it on TV it was one of the most awe inspiring motorsports events I had seen in years. The crowds were epic. There was actually a portion of the track that appeared to run through a stadium and every seat was taken. There was signage everywhere. If I were a part of the NHRA or IHRA in charge of event marketing I would have my butt down there to find out how they did it. I believe this was a return to Mexico after a three-year absence which supports my theory that you have to keep the carrot attractive to the donkey. Regardless, it was a job well done. I could care less about F-1 racing but I would buy a ticket to be a part of this international happening.
This is going to be interesting to see the new NHRA Pro Stocks. I know it has renewed my interest in the class and I hope the general race fan feels the same way. I applaud NHRA for the move. Now if they would just take away the wheelie bars and not prep the track you would really have something. :)
A lot has been said about how much this is going to costs the teams. Excuse me but the cost of Pro Stock racing has been out of control for nearly a decade. Why stop the spending now? I remember the late Greg Moser giving me a lesson in Pro Stock racing. He said, "Aaron, we are all rich and we have big egos. If you remember that you will know how to deal with us." It was great advice.
Tim and Beth
There have been a lot of people I have been proud of during my drag racing career but on the top of the list would have to be Tim and Beth Hyatt. The duo from Hyatt Racing Services are probably some of the most respected people in drag racing. They have created a business model based on quality, customer service, customer service, and more customer service. If they say it, they do it. The number of racers they have bailed out number in the thousands. So, how do I know Tim? I grew up with him. I was in all of his weddings. He was a year behind me in school at a school called Ledgemont. I think both of our graduating classes were 48. He was my starter at Thompson Drag Raceway.
So to counter balance all the good Tim and Beth have done, here are a few things you might not know. Tim is an accomplished disco dancer. He once made a transfer from his car to mine while driving down State Route 528. He is a charter member of the Bees Hive Hall of Fame. The Bees Hive was the required stop for most racers after an event at Thompson Drag Raceway. As you might deduce this was the country bar that put a premium on sleaze and we did nothing to hurt its reputation. We played alcohol induced baseball after the bar was closed where you hit the ball then ran the bases with your car. If you could hit the car with the baseball before you completed the bases you were out.
Guys have a wingman. Tim had a wing angel. No matter how stupid we got Beth was the voice of common sense. If you think about it she has maintained that admirable trait all her life. Thank God because she probably saved our lives or at least jail time on countless occasions.
Drag racing has a lot of good people. Tim and Beth are great people and I am proud to say they are my friends forever.