VOLUME XX,  NUMBER 2 - FEBRUARY,  2018

getting nostalgic w/Brian Losness

End of the Season

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For the past nine years I have had the pleasure to write this column, and it might be the final one for the year, it might even be the final one ever, I just wanted to thank those of you who have taken the time to read it. I really need to thank those seven loyal readers, who I know read it. So, thanks Dave, David, Tim Jr., Adam, Pete, Jerry, and of course Mrs. Burk. She reads it (only because she has to -- still a loyal reader nonetheless.)

 

Now since this is a column about nostalgia racing, I would first be remiss if I did not send out congratulations to those who won the NHRA Heritage Series Championships this year in the nitro categories, Mr. Jim Murphy in Front Engine Top Fuel and Mr. Ryan Hodgson in Funny Car.

 

Murphy willed his way to the victory, overcoming both racing issues and life issues to take the title. He, Daniel Wilkerson, and crew chief Roland Leong, along with the rest of the WWII crew had a dog fight with both Mendy Fry and Adam Sorokin for the title. Murphy’s life challenge were based on the fires that ravaged the Santa Rosa, California, area in October.

 

The Murphys were evacuated due to the fires spread and location to their house, but in the end they were spared any damage. The fires did destroy many homes that Murphy build for clients, and for friends, and that took a toll on him as a person.

 

Ryan Hodgson from the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, area has been making waves in funny car since bringing out his “Aero” Camaro. However, Hodgson’s secret weapon is not that body, but it is the tuner of that car, Bob Papernick. I have said this before and I will continue to say it: If Bob Papernick had been from the US and not Canada, he would be in that elite group of tuners like the Hall of Famer Roland Leong. He has forgotten more about tuning a fuel car than a lot of people know. He just does his deal and doesn’t look for the attention.

 

Well a piece of sage advice: start paying attention to Mr. Papernick. And here’s a call out to Mr. Garlits: sir, Bob Papernick deserves to be in your Hall of Fame.

 

As a trained observer, I am pleased to say I feel nostalgia racing is still going strong. I must give a huge atta boy to those in the FETF class. A few years ago there were some who were making very rude comments about the class, and about the cars in general. About being racing oil derricks, or something like that.

 

Well, for the betterment of the class many people went to work on the oil leaking problem, and it has gone 180 degrees. In Q1 at the CHRR it took just about 10 minutes to run that first round of qualifying. Yes, there were just 10 cars, however there were still no oil downs or clean ups. I do not believe any trucks rolled for oil in Top Fuel.

 

However, in Funny Car there were four oil downs and one fire bottle clean up in Q1. It was well over two hours to run that first qualifying session. Tables have kinda turned, huh kids?

 

On another subject, that of up and coming driving talent, we would be remiss if we didn’t give a huge shout out to Bobby Cottrell and the job he did at the wheel of Bucky Austin and Mike O’Brien’s ride. After jumping into that deal after Bakersfield and pulling off the performance that he did, he should be given a Rookie of the Year award.

 

Two more drivers I would love to see move up into the fuel car ranks in either Top Fuel or Funny Car are Drew Austin and Elly Stafford. Both of these young people have proven themselves as being very capable racecar drivers in nostalgia racing and are proven winners. I hope they can make progress to this front just based on their talent, and not the size of their checkbooks.

 

One more young driver who has proven herself to be very capable and has the entire package is Tera Graves. She proved herself at the wheel of John Hale’s “One Bad Texan” at Tulsa, and would be a wonderful addition to nitro nostalgia racing. It would be nice to see here in a more full-time effort.

 

I mentioned these three young people because I know in my heart of hearts they could follow the path set by Leah Pritchett and be in a Big Show ride someday and truly be successful.

 

Speaking of Mr. Hale (who by the way has some excellent BBQ sauce so please try it), he has partnered with some other racers including Paul Romine to put together a Funny Car series with some amended rules, most notably a larger pump and a modern magneto. It will be geared more towards the Midwest-based teams. My suggestion to racers in the area is support this thing, go to their events; don’t hang these guys out to dry like some of you did Jeff Burk and the DRO series.

 

A Funny Car series established in the west is the United Nitro Funny Car series facilitated by Bill Doner and underwritten by Bucky Austin. The series has gained a great deal of traction, having built a very loyal membership among those racers on the West Coast. Having a produced a couple of shows in Austin’s home state of Washington in 2017 that were successful, it will be hard not to think that the UNFC will continue to expand their footprint some more in 2018.

 

In the interest of fair reporting, a few months back we talked about whether or not Rocky Mountain Raceway would be around for another year or not. Well to paraphrase the great Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) news of RMR’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated. According to the NHRA schedule the facility does have two dates for LODRS events for Division 7, Aug. 23-24 and then again on Aug. 25-26 for 2018, so that is good news for those of us in the Intermountain West.

In closing, I truly hope that a few things will transpire before teams start heading to Bakersfield for the March Meet.

 

One, I honestly wish that more Top Fuel cars start to make their way back to the racetracks. It was this class that was the beginning of nostalgia racing, and I just don’t want to see the class go away. There are many cars just sitting around, so it is time to bring them back out again. There I go, spending other people’s money.

Two, Nitro Funny Cars: don’t fracture under the weight of your own success.

 

Three, for the love of God, I hope the NHRA either starts treating nostalgia racing better than a “red headed step child” or allows someone or some company to come along and give it the love it deserves and needs.

 

Thanks again to those loyal seven, and to those of you who took the time on occasion to read this, even more so those who took the time to send emails about my writing.

 

Oh, and to answer the most popular question put forth by so many of you who did write in … yes, my parents were in fact married.  

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