:::::: Editorials ::::::

FROM THE GRANDSTANDS: INDY THROUGH THE EYES OF A ROOKIE

10_01_2009_charletIndy is truly an event you must experience at least once in your life. 

My colleague at Competitionplus.com Jon Asher said it best, “If you come to one U.S. Nationals, you’ll be coming back year after year.”  And, after attending my first ‘Big Go’, this novice writer now realizes why thousands of die hard drag racing fans religiously make the annual Labor Day pilgrimage to Clermont, Ind.

As fellow Competitionplus.com reporter Tracy Renck and I arrived at the Indianapolis airport, we were greeted by Mitch Johnson, Tampa Bay, Fla., who was attending his 42nd ‘Big Go’. Johnson has experienced a mired of emotions during his tenure as an Indy fan. He laughed as Don Garlits shaved his beard in 1967 and shed a tear when Blaine Johnson and Elmer Trett lost their lives during the 1996 event.

FROM THE GRANDSTANDS: DRAG RACING STILL THE BEST MEDICINE

08_28_2009_charlet.jpgA
powerful dose of drag racing can be ‘chicken soup for the soul’ for
those who are in need of a remedy. And, you don’t have to be at the
races for the medication to take effect.

While laying in the emergency room a few weeks ago, I crossed paths with a nurse
who opened my eyes with her own heartbreaking story. Much to my
surprise, her story led us both down a path of healing.

After checking into the emergency room at North Suburban Hospital in
Thornton, Colo., doctors found my body lost four-units of blood, due to
internal bleeding caused by a peptic ulcer.

According to the attending physician, years of ingesting aspirin and
ibuprofen for headaches and eating late night carne asada burrito’s
finally caught up with me.

UP FRONT: THE MESS THAT IS THE NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION

UPDATED 08-28-2009 - As they say in football, upon further review it turns out that John
Force Racing did nothing wrong in their recent testing and car swaps
08_24_2009_asher_upfront.jpgprior to the race in Reading.  I regret having accused the NHRA of
appearing to show favoritism to Force, but the fault for my error lies
directly with the sanctioning organization itself.

The wording of the rule as issued by Graham Light’s Competition
Department varies slightly from the wording in the press release
regarding the test ban policy which was disseminated by the Media
Department.  Light has apparently accepted the responsibility for this
error, which resulted in a media-wide assault on the organization.

Despite the hours we spend digging to get the truth for our articles
there are numerous instances in which we’re forced by circumstances to
accept the word of the sanctioning organization as expressed in the
press releases they distribute.  One such circumstance is obviously
technical areas regarding rules, points and record procedures and how
races are conducted.  We assume that the information we receive through
formal channels, and that which appears on NHRA official sites, to be
accurate and the final word on those topics.  The wording of the
release as distributed by the sanctioning organization resulted in many
of us believing that some sort of behind-the-scenes maneuvering took
place to allow the JFR testing, and that now appears to be untrue.

MY TAKE WITH STAN CREEKMORE

This is 'My Take'. My feelings, my observations and most importantly my opinions which are being shared with you, the reader.
08_18_2009_creekmore.jpg
After twenty six years as a journalist covering the NASCAR circuit I
have spent the better part of this year splitting time between NASCAR
and NHRA events. It has been the best year. There is excitement at an
NHRA event which doesn't exist in the NASCAR world, at this time, at
least for me.

What does exist at both events are fans, rabid fans who love their
sport but also love to complain about their sport. Complaining can be
good, when there is something to complain about.

For example, some fans like to complain that John Force and his teams
get too much attention. Yes, they get a lot of attention, at least John
and Ashley always seem to be in the spotlight. What do you expect?  One
is a 14-time National champion with over 1000 round wins while the
other is, at least when in a race car, a chip off the old block.

AS WE SEE IT: THE ADRL AND ITS GROWING PAINS

If the ADRL is to play on the same level as it aspires to be with the
NHRA and where the IHRA 7-29-2008_adrl_pains.jpgused to be, then a measure of the Mom & Pop
mentality that helped propel the group is going to have to be brushed
aside.

It was impressive to watch the multitude of spectators come and go in
multiple waves at the recent event in Dinwiddie (Va). When the ADRL
says the crowd was the largest that has ever been at Virginia
Motorsports Park that’s not propaganda. It’s the truth.

Having been at the very first ADRL event, even before it was an
official series, and watching the excitement of their first event, it’s
impressive to see how far the group has come. An even though the lead
man, Kenny Nowling, can work a microphone into submission, he was and
will always be the right man for the job of leading the ADRL.

SUSAN WADE: DRAG RACING NEEDS A PROMOTER IN A BAD WAY

07_29_2009_promoters.jpgNational Speed Sport News Editor Chris Economaki gave a short but profound answer to Michael Knight, host of VoiceAmerica.com's The Race Reporters radio show June 24 on the Internet's Power Up Channel.
 
Knight asked Economaki whether the Indianapolis 500 or the Daytona 500 is America's premier race. Replied Economaki, "The Daytona 500 is important because it is heavily promoted. The Indianapolis 500, unfortunately, is not heavily promoted. It's presented and managed well, but it isn't promoted well. That is the big difference. You have to beat the drums for your event, and the Indianapolis 500 doesn't have a drum-beater."
 
Neither does drag racing.
 

ROGER RICHARDS - HIJACKING THE GEEZER'S COLUMN

1-2-07-prettyflycover.jpgHello again, Race Fans!  I found myself with another opportunity to
highjack the Geezer’s column.  Since my first introduction into drag
racing at the 2007 IHRA World Finals in Rockingham, NC, I’ve been able
to attend a few other IHRA and NHRA events.  However, I haven’t been
able to get my schedule to jibe with that of the ADRL.  With big thanks
to the McDonald family, that streak ended and I was able to hitch a
ride with them to the Hardee’s Independence Drags in Topeka, KS where I
was able to attend my first ADRL race, witness Bennie Mac’s return
after his stroke, and take part in the racing weekend alongside a true
racing family.

FROM THE GRANDSTANDS: TWO TRACK OWNERS WHO GET IT

07_08_2009_grandstands.jpgWe all love walking into a race track where the owners 'get it'.

'It' is an intangible, which separates the great from the good.
It also helps many consumers chose to frequent a business based off of
one simple criteria, am I comfortable spending my money here?

There are two families, the Bader and Bandimere families, who understand what “it” is and it shows in their facilities.

Bill Bader Sr. and his family have been providing racers and fans with
The Norwalk Experience since April 1974.  Their goal is simple, to
ensure a positive experience for both the racer and the fans.  They
accomplish this by staying true to their mission statement of providing
a customer service driven, customer friendly facility that makes good
sense and focuses on value.

FROM THE GRANDSTANDS: HONORING THE BIG DADDIES

There’s no doubt the most recognizable nick-name in drag racing is “Big Daddy”.
6_14_2009_charlet.jpg
Case in point, when the NHRA announced their  top 50 drag racers of all
time, as voted on by the media,  Don “Big Daddy” Garlits took the top
prize largely on the basis of his valuable contributions to the sport
and secondly because of his success in winning 144 major drag racing
events and a score of world championships.

The name Big Daddy truly fit his reputation.

I was introduced to drag racing by a Big Daddy whose first name
ironically was also Don. This Don didn’t race a Top Fuel car and didn’t
shave his beard at the 1967 US Nationals. In actuality, I looked up to
this Big Daddy Don from San Jacinto, CA more than the iconic drag racer
from Ocala, FA.

This Don is Don Charlet, Jr., my father.

SHIRLEY SAYS: ON DRIVERS AND DRIVING

I’ve had a truly wonderful driving career, and even if I could go back and change a few things, I doubt if I would.  It’s not that I’ve 6_10_2009_shirley.jpggotten
philosophical as the years have gone by, but I guess that when you get
right down to it, you live your life the best you can, and take the
good times with the bad.

Everyone’s heard the stories of how difficult it was for me to become a
driver, so I won’t bother repeating those yet again.  I will admit,
however, that I do appreciate it when women drivers acknowledge me as
having paved the way for them.  I’d love to say that I’m glad I did it,
but in all honesty, when I was going through it I never considered the
long term picture.  You never see yourself as a “pioneer,” and that
certainly wasn’t my intention at the time.  All I wanted to do was
drive a race car without being hassled because I was a woman.  Now,
looking back on it all, I’m glad that I went through all of the crap
just so today’s women drivers don’t have to.  Well, maybe “glad” wasn’t
the right word.  I went through it so others don’t have to, but from
the conversations I’ve had with some of the younger drivers out there I
get the feeling that some of them have been subjected to additional
scrutiny just because they’re girls.

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