Chicago Jon Reviews March Meet Dragstrip Rumble

NOTE: Cole Coonce’s Dragstrip Rumble on this year’s March Meet is available at https://youtu.be/3er1a6bflEE and below.


So, I've been granted the opportunity to return to my primordial roots and write a review. In this case, we are talking about the coverage of the 60th edition of the Top Fuel racing at Bakersfield, available online as DRAGSTRIP RUMBLE. And honestly, when I realized who all was involved with this production, I was MORE than a little intimidated. During my telecon with The Burkster, I had scribbled down what I THOUGHT was the producer/directors name, which turned out to NOT be "Colt Peach" but rather COLE COONCE. Some of you out there may need to Google that, but the majority of us will not. Cole is an institution WITHIN this 'institution of ours', aka Drag Racing. Immediately, I feared that I'd end up doing what NOBODY wants to do, which is churn out a "puff piece". (Ironically, there is a Google result for THAT phrase as well, and it's not pleasant.) Aerosmith once did a song called 'Let The Music Do The Talking', so I decided to just sit down, shut up and watch the production unfold.


And guess what, race fans? These people have a pretty darn good idea of what they are doing. Are there things I would do differently? Well, of course. When the ink was still wet on the first CHICAGO JON business cards, my goal was to make racing movies, which I did at Great Lakes Dragway for six years. So, when you wear these shoes, it's only natural to be thinking, "I'd lose that, expand on the other, what was THAT THING all about", but the show as a whole is well done, entertaining and tightly paced. Even though I was viewing it on the internet, it seemed to have the timing and pacing of a hoped-for agenda of being a syndicated broadcast show.


Cole has forgotten more racing knowledge than many television and journalism people in this sport have, so there is no problem there. (There is a line about one of his many books, where his style is described as "Imagine Dennis Hopper from Apocalypse Now writing a history of the Land Speed Record" -- that line was enough in its own right to make me order a copy of that book.) Along for the ride we have a pit reporter by the name of Paige Murtaugh. Paige does her job well and is FAR more attractive than Harry Hains (sidebar: Paige was in a 2015 short film called MOON PEOPLE, and IMDB manages to screw up EVERY photo of her on the site, calling her Harry Hains instead.) The producers also randomly give her 'wacky titles' on the bottom of the screen, which I found a tad distracting. Most were 'word-play', but one mystified me to the point I looked it up, and got some wedding-accessories site, so maybe the old adage of "less is more" would apply. Speaking of that, I also thought that some of the runs suffered at the hands of technology (a complaint I've made about big show races as well.) Having a Top Fuel pass in the mid 5-second range, jumbled through seven or eight edits is too much, too fast, and TOO much to ingest, but hey, that's just me.


Color commentary is handled by former photographer and big show racer Whit Bazemore. Overall, he does his job well, but at one point -- and I LITERALLY had to back the show up, asking myself "did he REALLY just say that?” and yes -- after Brett Williamson has a vicious fire, Bazemore says "some guys are still dumb enough to sit behind the motor". File that under "things that could/SHOULD be edited out". About the only other thing I'd suggest they tone back on would be the use of the 'green screen' (for those scratching their heads, think about your TV weatherman standing in front of ever-morphing images.)


But, overall Cole and his team have assembled a fine program and if I saw copies of this in the video bin at the local car show, I'd snap one up. The young people, they want to watch things on their phone, ME? That giant screen TV and home-theater sound system in the living room was made for big and LOUD!


Chicago Jon gives DRAGSTRIP RUMBLE four stars, and I hope they get their hands on the rights to more races out there. They've done a fine job here, and bringing more races to the masses would be a grand thing.  



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