Rumor Mill

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

SUSAN WADE: THEY'RE RACERS, NO OTHER LABELS NEEDED

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In some twisted and tasteless way, Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens might have received the ultimate compliment at Las Vegas. NHRA fans emptied the grandstands before the K&N Horsepower Challenge and SummitRacing.com Nationals winner completed her $100,000 weekend Sunday.

She was treated as a racer, not some novelty "girl racer" used to satisfy an "I was there when she won" neediness.

Maybe Enders-Stevens' amazing feat was not that she won the Horsepower Challenge, doubled up with the Sunday victory, and took home more single-event prize money than any other female drag racer. (She earned a payout bigger than Shirley Muldowney's Top Fuel or Angelle Sampey's Pro Stock Motorcycle series championships.) 

 

 

 

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: IS SHE THE NEXT BIG THING FOR CELEBRITY-OBSESSED SOCIETY?

 

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It’s a journalism axiom: Never bury the lead. Meaning don’t place the most important or interesting information deep within a story. With that in mind, before getting into the substance of my column, here’s the news headline from my conversation with John Force at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in late February:

JOHN FORCE SAYS NO MORE RACY PHOTOS FOR COURTNEY

“When she did the ESPN (The Magazine body issue cover), we really didn’t want to do that,” said Force. “The first year they offered it she turned it down. ESPN offered it again. In the world, 50 (percent) love you and 50 hate you. Maybe 75 love me because I work hard keeping friends. ESPN is our TV partner so how could we turn them down?

“That’s not the way she wants to go or the way she wants to be known. We’re not doing that (again.) Courtney and I agreed: That’s done. That ain’t where my family’s going to. We want to be able to walk into the Catholic church and look that priest in the face and never feel bad.” 

 

 

 

 

 

WHIT BAZEMORE: LET'S FIX IT NOW!

bazemoreCOMPETITION PLUS CONTRIBUTOR WHIT BAZEMORE began making a living from drag racing when he was 16 years old, which qualifies him to offer keen analysis of the current state of the sport. Bazemore, a two-time U.S. Nationals winner and still the fifth-fastest Funny Car driver ever at 333.25 MPH, is currently heading up a fine art coffee table book project chronicling famed team owner Paul Candies’ racing career. After attending this year’s Winternationals, Bazemore offered his thoughts on what would help drag racing return to its glory years, or if it is even possible. This is what we got:

MICHAEL KNIGHT: A SPECIAL CONVERSATION WITH LINDA VAUGHN

 

MKhead12Linda Vaughn gets the credit (or, some would say, the blame) for introducing me to drag racing.

I was a sportswriter at the Philadelphia Daily News in the mid-and-late 1970s, and while Linda’s home was in California, Hurst Performance Inc. (and her boss, Jack Duffy, a great PR man) was near me in the suburb of Warminster Township. So I’d see Miss Hurst Golden Shifter pretty often, at the Indianapolis and Daytona 500s, races at Pocono and Trenton and Watkins Glen, car shows, awards dinners and cocktail parties.

“Michael, when are you coming to a drag race?” Linda often asked me. Atco was the second racetrack I’d visited as a kid (Langhorne was first -- A.J. Foyt won) but I’d never been to an NHRA national event. So, at Linda’s urging, I headed to Englishtown in 1979. Linda told me I’d find her at the Hurst display adjacent to the pits, but she would have been impossible to miss in a breathtakingly bright red top and shorts, adding heat to an already sunshiny afternoon. Linda immediately began to introduce me to every racer in sight. Including some guy named Wally Parks.

 

 

 

 

 

GUEST EDITORIAL FROM DART - BEWARE OF COPIES OFF-SHORE AND DOMESTIC

maskinCylinder head suppliers, many of them copiers, are fighting over you. Copies are almost always cheaper. But the originals are constantly evolving—always on the cutting edge while the copies have to wait. Here is what some of our industry leaders have to say.

“Back in 1970,” says David Reher “we anxiously awaited the latest port-flowed cylinder heads to be released by the Detroit car makers. Today the CNC-machining center has transformed the machining process and revolutionized the production of racing parts.”

But as Reher, co-founder of Reher-Morrison Racing Engines, suggested during his recent PRI presentation in Indianapolis, it is easy to be beguiled by gleaming, perfect-looking CNC components. “If the parts are produced by people who understand racing engines the results can be spectacular.” However, judging by some of the parts he saw at the PRI show, he concluded that merit was sadly lacking. “Their allure proved nothing more than the machining feed rate and tool speed was correct: pretty parts with impressive air-flow numbers caught the eye but most were without substance. If you are unsure of the proper throat size, the optimum short turn radius and a dozen other crucial characteristics then you are just making chips. Some copies are adequate but most have obvious flaws. It’s always advisable to go with an original like Dart.”

 

BOBBY BENNETT: WHAT’S OUR SPORT’S CHARACTER WORTH?

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Drag racing has an identity crisis.

And, as long as those who sanction and promote professional drag races allow the sport to be aimlessly insulted in a sea of misinformed media, the sport's true identity is never going to be known by all.

Two recent high profile incidents where illegal street racing has been labeled as drag racing has been met with no response from those who promote drag racing in this country.

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: LOOKING BACK ON A YEAR OF MIXED RESULTS

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Turn out the lights. The party’s over.

Almost.

Officially, those words from a Willie Nelson song (but sung most famously by Don Meredith on Monday Night Football), are true: The 2013 NHRA Mello Yello drag racing series is in the history books. Congratulations to the winners and champions.

Unofficially, though, there’s one more thing to be done: This column’s listing of the year’s Top 10 stories in the Business and Politics of Drag Racing. Buckle up.
 

 

 

 

 

UP FRONT: A NOTE TO OUR “CRITICS”

 

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Since the conclusion of the NHRA AAA Finals in Pomona the management of CompetitionPlus.com has received a number of complaints and accusations from some of our readers regarding our coverage of that event. While I’m aware of the fact that Editor/Publisher Bobby Bennett has personally responded to a number of those missives, I think it’s time we clear the air on this topic, and state our position once and for all.

The complaints and accusations surround a suspicion on the part of some readers that one of the pro teams may have actively worked to tip the competitive scales in favor of the ultimate Funny Car champion, Matt Hagan. What’s most bothersome about this situation is the direction these complaints have taken, which is to accuse CompetitionPlus.com of covering up what took place on the track. Not only were these accusations directed at those journalists who filled our Pomona Notebook with exceptional, detailed reportage, but were also directed at my Asher’s Pomona Insider feature stories, so let’s be crystal clear right from the start. At no point did anyone working for CompetitionPlus.com cover up anything that took place at the Finals. If we knew about it, and could prove it, we reported about it.

What those readers who complained fail to realize is exactly what our responsibilities are as reporters, and they’re really quite simple. If we can’t confirm a rumor, we don’t write about it, and “confirmation” can’t come from someone who says he was walking by So-And-So’s pits and heard them say they were going to do this or that in the next round. That is anything but confirmation from a reliable source.

 

 

 

UP FRONT: IT'S ABOUT FIXING THE SHOW

 

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Before we begin, the importance of this topic resulted in our consulting a half dozen others, seeking their input on these topics. The people who provided that input are anything but in complete agreement with everything, and we’re good with that. Even though this is an editorial, seeking wide-ranging opinions has helped set the tone while also helping to clarify our own thoughts.

After our last editorial (http://www.competitionplus.com/drag-racing/editorials/26057-up-front-racing-is-killing-drag-racing1) we were overwhelmed by the support it received. In addition to e-mails and calls, the number of Facebook and on-site “Likes” topped 4,500, while the “Didn’t Likes” numbered less than one percent of the total respondents, or less than 50. During a recent national event we heard a number of strong supporting comments, some from surprising sources, which included NHRA executives, race team owners, track operators, corporate sponsors, mechanics and drivers. The only conclusion we can draw is there’s widespread belief that the current “show” aspects of NHRA Drag Racing are sadly lacking, and something must be done about it to not only attract new fans, but keep the ones we already have.

 

 

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: PUTTING EINSTEIN TO THE TEST

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Albert Einstein is widely credited with observing that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

NHRA and ESPN might be about to put Einstein’s theory to the test.

That is, if they continue in 2014 with a TV model that is as broken as an exploded nitro engine. It’s leaking oil. Big time.
 

 

 

 

 

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