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These are the good old days


My dad was a fighter pilot during WWII and the Korean War. Among other things one of his great pleasures in life, aside from a fast airplane, was a glass of fine Canadian Whiskey and Coke and a nice dark bar. When he got older and I was taking care of him, he needed a place close to his house to have a drink. The local VFW hall was close so I took him to the place and he and I showed them our DD-214 discharge papers and they let us join. I put a $20 dollar bill in Dad’s hand and went to run a few errands while he was having a cocktail.

I was gone about 45 minutes and when I came back I found Dad standing outside of the bar and he looked none too happy. As he got in the car I asked him what was wrong. He looked at me and said, “Get me out of here. Those guys don’t want to drink and have a good time; they’re too damn busy still fighting the f***ing war and talking about the good old days. I have no time for that s**t! Let’s go find a bar with some pretty women.”

Then he looked me in the eye and said, “Son, today is the good old days and you ought to enjoy them.” Somewhere along the line I seemed to have forgotten that bit of sage advice.

Too many of us long for the “Good Old Days” of nitro racing, but I suspect that those good old days weren’t always as great as they are remembered to be. In fact, I’m not entirely convinced that nitro racing today, if you look at the “big picture”, isn’t as good or better than it was back in the day. Sure, the track is shorter (1,000 feet) but the fuel cars are still burning rubber, blowing up and hauling ass, and they are about as fast as they ever were.

The fact is that today’s fans and, ahem, we pontificating media types, have spoiled memories.

Most of the information I can dig up by reading the voluminous race records that the late historian Chris Martin left with me seems to indicate that in the supposed “good old days” they oiled the track as much as, if not more than, today’s nitro cars do, and they didn’t know about engine diapers and other containment devices in those days.

So really, what is so bad about going to an NHRA or IHRA or Friday night nitro show for a $40 ticket and watching 35 or 40 good nitro cars make a couple of qualifying sessions? Give me an adult beverage and a seat at the 1,000-foot mark and I’m good to go.

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