Keeping a Cheery Outlook
Hey, everyone! So how is your early summer shaping up? For me, I'm a little sore, not used to paddling about on a nine-foot long board. And a little sunburned. Great. Melanoma, here we come. And I'm also pretty down about not racing and the recent events at the big show. With that on my mind, I want to try something.
Let us be positive this month, shall we? Sure, it will be hard and I know full well I have been a Gloomy-Gus with all of the depressing news we have had lately. But, I'll try if you will.
What can you say about the recently completed sixth edition of the Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion? How about it was a resounding success? Well, it was! With a record 460 entrants and a substantial spectator showing, it took the NHRA and Steve Gibbs by surprise -- in a good way, mind you. This year, the reunion moved back to Bowling Green, Kentucky, after being held at National Trail Raceway near Columbus, Ohio, in 2007. The racers really stepped up and welcomed the return to Beech Bend Raceway Park this year with that stellar showing amidst all the doom and gloom regarding our economy. That's positive news, right?
Next, on to Cordova Dragway Park in Cordova, Illinois, for the ACDelco Nostalgiafest. This event was billed as a "NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series Affiliate Event." Uh, okay. Whatever it was, by all reports it too was a big success with reported record spectator attendance amid the sketchy weather they endured the weekend of the event. I haven't seen a car count, but by all of the class breakdowns, it looks like the Midwest racers have been starving for a cool event to run at and supported this one as well as the Beech Bend shindig.
A little shout-out to one of my favorites, the Frantic Fueler team! They ran a 5.81 against the always tough "Children of the Corn" (Orange Crate for you newbies) in the final of Top Fuel. I know the Frantic boys run their deal a lot differently than the West Coast legal-beagles but still, congrats guys! I'm calling this more positive news.
The Nostalgia Eliminator Racing Association (NERA) just ran their second annual Nostalgia Summer Nightz event ("z" at the end of nights, how eighties!) at Barona Dragstrip. This eighth-mile race plant is located just outside of San Diego, Calif., on reservation land, so you also get a world-class Indian Casino with great restaurants, top-notch entertainment, free beer (I made that up) within staggering distance of the dragstrip.
For this event, the prize money was upped and some cool trophies were hand built by my longtime buddy, Stormy Byrd. Not to mention the professional pipes of Mike English on the P.A. system. All of it made this event a great time! One more positive feather in our cap, I would say. Wait a second, I was just told that at this event there were lots of mysterious red-lights in the left lane. Well, keeping in my positive theme I'll say "Better Red Than..." uh, I don't even want to type that last word. Hmm. Why is it when I typed that I thought of Chris Martin? And then Jack Harris? And then the Peter Kuran-directed film "Trinity and Beyond"? The magazine "The Nation"? The Mars Rover? Why am I playing word association? Heh, I'm still smiling so it must be good. Congrats NERA.
Moving on to the next clam-bake and boy, was it a hot one. (insert rim-shot here). The American Nostalgia Racing Association (ANRA) just ran their Spring Nationals on the hottest first weekend of summer on record. This event was held at famed Auto Club Famoso Raceway outside of Bakersfield. With temps everywhere in Southern California in the hundred-teens, Butch Hedrick and his high-falutin’ henchmen (I'm amusing myself again) pulled this off without a hitch, except for the heat. They have even included the Jr. Dragsters in their program to bring an even more family friendly feel to the already tight-knit group. Don't get me wrong; unlike trying to surf some secret spot on a great day where you get major stink-eye when you paddle out and are welcomed to flat tires on your car when you come in, they welcome all newcomers.
While surfing (heh) the ANRA message board I came across a thread regarding a benefit raffle and auction to be held at their Spring Nationals to help a racer with his hospital bills. It turns out they raised $4,340 with more folks wanting to send in some contributions. As part of that auction, Butch's Jr. Dragster racing grandson, Josh (I'm grooming this kid as a future AA/FC pilot), went to the highest bidder to be a gofer to another racer. That lucky winner was a former competitor of Josh's in the Jr. ranks, Ms. Kayla Thomas, who is now driving in the Sportsman ranks. She ponied up the rather exorbitant amount of ten dollars and five cents to make Josh's life a living hell at the next event. How fun is that?! I love it! I'm sure by now Josh has gotten the talk from his grandpappy or some of the other boys that, if it wears a skirt or has wheels, it's trouble. This young lady has both. Be ready, Josh!
Another great thing about this event was that there were numerous families running the Junior cars along with the big cars. One such group was my buddy "Dragster Jeff" Crider and his tribe: Bedrock Racing, they call themselves. Jeff went to the semis in NE2, his daughter Jewel runner-upped in the Junior's and his other daughter, Krista, won SPM with a hurt motor! Not a bad family weekend in my book.
Congratulations to the ANRA and all of the families that make this Sportsman group so successful. And Jeff, I won't mention to anyone the Vintage Fuel pit party at Las Vegas, hanging with Eric Christianson at the Cabo-Wabo tequila booth… Now, how about that Bedrock Racing decal for the Funny Car to cash in on that team mojo?
This last bit is not all that positive but I feel it needs to be said. Of course we all know about Scott Kalitta's recent passing. My heart goes out to his family, friends and everyone who was touched by this tragic circumstance.
The positive in this is that the investigation will be much more public than others in the past. I have spoken with Don Long, and again the heat-treated chassis debacle has reared its ugly head. I believe the investigation will determine if it was a factor or not. Godspeed, Scott Kalitta.