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

BOBBY BENNETT: IT SHOULDN'T BE THIS TOUGH

One would think after 40 years, one would get over the boohooing. 

On August 5, it will be 40 years since I lost my everything.

Here we are on another Mother's Day, and the struggle to get through without shedding a tear is still very real. 

As men, we are trained to be tough, macho, and everything manly men are expected to be. And there were some of us whose Moms demanded a measure of toughness, as mine did but on the same token gave an object lesson of compassion. 

THE TOD MACK MEMOIRS: THE WILD BUNCH — HOW IT HAPPENED…

While thinking back at some of my accomplishments while in the drag racing industry, one of my favorites immediately comes to mind — the creation of The Wild Bunch. For several reasons: It had a significant impact on the sport; It was fun; I made many lifelong friends; It was profitable for us, the members of The Wild Bunch and the race tracks that hosted the events; and it was the right promotion at the right time during the growth of the sport. For those who don’t already know, The Wild Bunch was a rag-tag group of car owners who liked to go fast, thought out of the box, and stuffed big, loud, supercharged motors in very unlikely cars at the time. The forerunner to today’s very popular Pro Modified class

DRAG RAGS OF JULY-DEC. 1964: ZOOMIES PUSH THROUGH THE 200-MPH BARRIER


A.J. Routt Photo

The second half of this season started with a most-memorable July. A single Sunday served up two of the biggest milestones in drag racing’s history: the first believable, officially-backed-up 200s and the debt of blown, nitro-burning “stockers,” both on July 12.  

Interestingly, Garlits was not the favorite to break the double-century barrier first, given the flurry of 198s and 199s coming from California cars this year. No, smart money had either Frank Cannon or Paul Sutherland blasting through first in the revolutionary "Flexy-Flyers" from Woody Gilmore's Race Car Engineering (where none other than Sutherland welded up Woody's first set of Chrysler zoomies for the Dave Zeuschel 392 in Cannon’s fueler). Both SoCal favorites were beaten to the punch by two weeks by Garlits, who punctured the barrier repeatedly and convincingly. [Historical footnote: While it’s true that one-off clockings of 200-plus had been reported — and promoted — even before the Greek’s controversial 204.54 in 1960 (when other hitters were barely cracking 180), it would be another four years before double-century speeds were universally accepted.]       

DRAG RAGS OF JAN.-JUNE 1964: INNOVATION WITHOUT LIMITATION

This first full season free from fuel restrictions since 1956 opened like none before. Imagine five major meets in six weeks, starting with the inaugural United Drag Racers Association Championships at Lions Associated Drag Strip. The racer-run show was surprisingly success-ful, somewhat upstaging the next two week-ends' traditional openers, the AHRA Winter Na-tionals and NHRA Winternationals, respectively. After one week off, the action resumed with back-to-back biggies at Bakersfield and Fremont, Calif. — all before the middle of March, only in the west.

The race to convincingly reach 200 miles per hour — backed up within the then-customary two percent — carried over from late 1963, when the Chrysler-powered kings of the sport seemed stuck in the mid-190s with their con-ventional “weedburner” pipes and lightweight “shorty” bodies. Slingshots expensively rebod-ied into swoopy aluminum streamliners specifi-cally to break the barrier were proving both heavy and spooky. No, the hot, trick setup for those few elusive miles per hour would be far simpler and cheaper: basically inverting a set of 392 headers. Frank Cannon’s resultant 199 on Lions’ trusted clocks effectively ended the Streamliner Era in a single pass. 

ENCORE: BOBBY BENNETT: IT USED TO BE MY PLAYGROUND

12_02_09_playgroundThe fences still remain, as do dilapidated buildings, a reminder that a once proud drag strip occupied the land.

To the drag racing community, Spartanburg Dragway was just another drag strip that fell victim to a new neighborhood where the neighbors created a community around the strip and then realized that drag strips are loud.

Spartanburg Dragway wasn’t purchased for a real estate investment. It was purchased to be silenced.

THE TOD MACK MEMOIRS: SCOTT SHAFIROFF - THE UNKNOWN STREET RACER

 

I am often asked what my favorite promotion was out of the many hundreds of crazy events I put together in my decades of owning and promoting drag races. I loved the challenge of the Monday night US Pro Stock Open races and, of course, the infamous “Dragzacta” parimutuel betting events in the 1970s at Maryland International Raceway in Budds Creek, MD. My all-time favorite idea, however, was “The Unknown Street Racer”

SUSAN WADE: FORCE'S STATEMENT TRIGGERS QUESTIONS ABOUT NHRA'S INTENTIONS

THE TOD MACK MEMOIRS: NASCAR PT. 2, REMEMBERING THE EXPERIENCE

BOBBY BENNETT: NHRA GOT THE RESTART RIGHT

 

The NHRA's effort last weekend reminded me a lot of something which took place in United States history. 

On April 18, 1942, roughly 132 days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,  Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle led 16 B-25B Mitchell medium bombers in a raid on Japan's mainland. It served as initial retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor and provided an essential boost to American morale. The raid itself didn't win the war, but it sent a strong message. 

The NHRA staged its own Doolittle raid against the pandemic while in Indianapolis last weekend. 

After major-league drag racing shut down a little over 120 days ago, it was important NHRA made a return for its community, which in itself wouldn't save the whole season financially. Still, it would go along way toward a morale boost. 

SUSAN WADE: KING COUNTY, YOU HAVE LOTS OF NERVE

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With its Thursday announcement that it has canceled the July 31–Aug. 2 Flav-R-Pac Northwest Nationals near Seattle, the NHRA is yet another casualty – not of coronavirus restrictions, as it appears, but of Washington State’s and Seattle’s incredible hypocrisy.

The Glendora, Calif.-based sanctioning body said in its prepared statement that the event at Pacific Raceways is off the 2020 schedule “due to COVID-19 restrictions in Washington state and King County that would not allow fans to attend the event.  . . .  For the event to proceed with fans in attendance, King County, where the track is located, would need to reach Phase 4 of Washington’s reopening plan. As of today, King County is still in Phase 2 and with the time required before moving into subsequent phases, it would be very unlikely, if not impossible, to arrive at Phase 4 in time for the rescheduled 2020 event.”

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