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


sm_faithinthefastlane480x240.jpgBe patient; stand firm;
wait. Easily said—not so easily done. Patience is a virtue desired by all. And
yes, we all want it right now! But life doesn’t always operate according to our
time frame or our demands. 

I was very impressed by
John Force’s interview following his (first-for-the-year) Bristol victory—a race that itself had to be
scheduled a second time. John didn’t merely win a race. He learned a huge
lesson regarding patience and attitude. 

Patience is a difficult
issue as it relates to our fast-paced sport of championship drag racing.
Although it is a virtue highly regarded by many, it is still difficult to
relate to patience in our “pedal to the metal” approach to life. “You snooze,
you lose!” Every race fan knows that. 

One of the quotes that
has greatly tempered my anxiousness over the years is a statement by the late
Mahalia Jackson, who once said …"Lord, you may not always come when I call
you, but I know you'll always be on time!" Right on, Miss Mahalia. That quote has always spoken volumes to me
during my moments of impatience. 

Think about a farmer.
Farming requires a tremendous amount of patience. But have you ever noticed how
a farmer learns to wait. Does the farmer sit around doing nothing until it’s
time for harvest? No. Waiting to a farmer means actively tending to business
and constantly maintaining his fields and crops. There is an ongoing
preparation for the coming harvest. To a farmer, waiting with patience is by no
means passive. 


8-19-07asherupfront.jpgSome years ago, when the
NHRA national event schedule was such that the Brainerd race came right before
Indy, Connie Kalitta found himself face-to-face with an ESPN television camera
and reporter.  It was, if memory serves me on this, just prior to the
semifinal round, where Doug Kalitta was slated to face Connie’s son,
Scott.  The reporter wanted to know who was going to win the race.
“Who do ya think’s gonna win it?” Conrad rhetorically asked, rather
incredulously.  “Doug’s going for the championship, and Scott’s just out
here havin’ a good time.”
Okay, stop with the slings and arrows if we didn’t get the quote exactly right,
but those were the gist of Connie’s words.  In effect he was publicly
announcing that Scott was going in the tank, and Doug was going to the next
round.  Connie hadn’t been making light of his son’s efforts, but had
merely been pointing out that Scott had only competed in a few races that
season, and was certainly no factor in the championship chase, while Doug was a
serious player.
Switch the scene to the Gatornationals a few years later, where Connie was
again being asked the same question because team driver David Grubnic was to
face Doug Kalitta in the semifinal round.


tribute_05_edited-1.jpgI miss him so much.

My dad never drag raced -- never tuned a car,

But he held a crucial role in the sport. He
inspired me. But I will get back to him later in this article.

One would have to be totally blind to not see the
impact that fathers make on their children. The drag strip provides the perfect
opportunity for that union.

Proud fathers walk to the starting line to
witness their sons’ and daughters' heroics and vice versa. It’s a union that if I have to
explain it, you just wouldn’t understand it.

FATHER REVISITED by Roger Richards

1-2-07-prettyflycover.jpgThe lights on the Christmas tree seemed to sparkle with a greater luminance
and the gifts were piled higher around it. The bubbling giggles of the great
grandchildren and the glow of the lights were only eclipsed by the laughter of
my Dad and the glint in his 77-year-old eyes.

Samuel J. Richards was having one of the best Christmas celebrations we
could remember in recent years. All of his family rejoiced in his energy and
enthusiasm that surrounded him. The heart condition that had sapped his
strength and vitality for the last several years seemed to have been forgotten
as the presents were opened and the kids exploded into kisses for the grand old
man surrounded by the love from which he drew strength.


sm_faithinthefastlane480x240.jpgThere is an important
axiom in life that goes something like this: “As selfish behavior increases,
individual rights and freedoms diminish.” Allow me to explain.
often hear people reminisce about the “good old days” when you didn’t have to
lock your front door at night and you were never afraid of going for a walk in
the park on a warm summer evening.
The sad reality is that when a
few people become increasingly selfish in their disregard for the law and
personal rights of others, the individual freedoms of the whole are lessened. In
other words, as selfishness increases throughout a society of people, it
eventually affects the freedoms and rights of everybody. Let’s examine a
practical illustration of this principle.
I’m sure racers would
prefer to participate in race events where no fuel checks or engine teardowns
were imposed—where participants were trusted to be honest and to abide by the
rules of the sport. Reality might suggest, however, that I have been sniffing
too much nitro to think that such an occurrence could ever be possible. But the
point still remains.


1-2-07-prettyflycover.jpgI routinely mention that I consider myself as one of the lucky people in the world. One of the things that makes me lucky is that I am able to list Bret Kepner as one of the people I know and consider a friend. I stand in amazement at the depth of his memory of not only drag racing facts but of all things in general.
Recently I celebrated a birthday (57th in case you really care to know) and on one of the message boards, Kepner wished me a “Happy Birthday” from him and Thrush mufflers. I laughed so hard that I embarrassed people around me. Again, the amazing memory was apparent.
Quite some time ago, just after having become friends with Kepner, he and I were standing by the side of a track somewhere. You will have to ask him where and when…. I have no clue. As we stood there a car with a Clay Cams logo on the side came by. The logo is of Woody Woodpecker and I mentioned to Kepner that every time I see that logo I think of Viet Nam.
Kepner’s eyes glazed over for a bit and he just stared at me waiting for an explanation. So for the next several minutes I tried to explain the connection of that logo and Viet Nam.


On February 22, 1979, my
life changed forever.

That was as far as she
always got. Maybe a few sentences further each attempt, but the effort always
ended in the same fruitless result. She always aspired to be a writer but
things never materialized. Robbie Elizabeth, as my grandparents named her in
February of 1935, was the second oldest among four children. I just knew her as

That fateful date she
continually referenced provided a memory that affected more than just her life.
It changed mine, my sisters Deborah and Karen and most certainly my Dad’s –
Bobby, Sr., as well as our entire family Momma was diagnosed with an aggressive
growth that began as ovarian cancer. By the time the physicians performed a
“look-and-see” operation, the growth had swollen to the size of a football.

The doctors basically gave
Momma a month or two to live, tops. Of course, they didn’t know her resolve to
succeed against all odds. They certainly didn’t understand her mission from
God. Her assignment was to touch as many lives as she could in the short time
she had left. Momma’s illness came at a time when cancer research and
treatments were in the formative stage and essentially rocket science to the
medical community. In those days, you just didn’t beat the disease.


11-19-06-jeffwolf_2.jpgIf divine intervention,
fairy tales, or fate isn’t on your list of beliefs, then it’s time to think
about reconsidering your position. The SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend was one of the most
memorable events in the sport’s history.

And it’s because of Eric

Eric’s teammate, Robert
Hight, wins the Funny Car title with a weak 5.126-second run because a blower
belt slipped off the engine of Ron Capps, who has won 11 straight rounds of

Eric’s best friend Brandon
Bernstein had one of his most consistent weekends to win the Top Fuel title.

Each gave their trophy to
a member of Eric’s family.


sm_faithinthefastlane480x240.jpgAs our nation gears up for a new round of presidential elections
next year, there is much talk among the major parties and their candidates
about values; family values, social values, economic values, spiritual values,
etc. Being the certified political junkie that I am, I am always intrigued by
the various perspectives that people and political parties have on this
important subject. Some people want more values; some want less. What one group
embraces as relevant, another rejects as overbearing.
People may say that it’s not my business as a columnist to persuade you or
convert you to my personal value system (it doesn’t mean you can’t ask), but I
do want to make it my business to encourage you to at least think about your
personal values.
But what’s the big deal, anyway? Why are absolutes important in the first
place? Can’t a person simply decide to live without being ruled by values and
absolutes? Fair question. 


was going to write about what a great and dramatic start this has been to the
2007 drag racing season.

was going to say a bit about the drama of the finish of last year in Pomona and about the
excitement of John Force and Ashley Force fighting for a qualifying spot in the
first race of this year.

was going to write something about the great turnout at the Torco’s CompetionPlus.com
Eastern Spring Testing Nationals at South
Georgia Motorsports Park.

addition, I was going to talk about the first IHRA event in San Antonio and how the IHRA made a brave
decision to turn the event into an eighth-mile national event.