A Career Begins with a Trip to Darlington

“Let me make sure I’ve got you right, you need a picture…of ME?” So went the conversation between myself and a left-coast editor, as a deal was being finalized that would have the first printed piece to appear from legendary writer Chicago Jon. But you see, this is all happening in 1994, and other than ‘look-at-ME’ letters to the editors of various nature, I had never done, let alone CONSIDERED doing any writing, after all, I am…(dramatic music and an overly inflated sense of one’s self HERE) a FILMAKER! A PHOTOGRAPHER! An…O.K., at that moment, to be accurate, I was an unemployed dreamer, whose company, CHICAGO JON, was running out of time and money…so we have to back up a tad and set the stage here.

After several years of pounding the beat at all the area tracks and, well, basically making expenses and a tad more to grow the business, it was becoming obvious that what I’d heard for years was indeed the truth, that NOBODY makes money in this sport. (Outside of Bernstein, lol.) I needed a big score, and I mean yesterday, so I set my sights on something gigantic, and went all-in on an alley-oop of a trip to the IHRA WinterNationals, at the behest of one of my biggest supporters from the UDRA, one ‘Diamond’ Jim Crownheart. Some friends fronted me the airline ticket, UDRA Pro Stocker Doug Mills said I could crash in his hauler, I fabricated a flight case to hold everything, bounced (seriously) a check for $20.00 for meal money, and boarded the Friendly Skies of United, praying that Diamond Jim’s hunch would pay off. (Spoiler-alert: it didn’t.)

The first song off of ELO’s classic album ‘Out Of The Blue’ was TURN TO STONE, and it would have been the perfect soundtrack for the weekend, as it seemed that everything I touched, indeed, turned to stone. The flight, uneventful in the real plane, gets interesting when I get to the Carolinas, where I find that getting to Darlington involves squeezing into this thing that looked like a Pinto with wings, which I re-christen the “Chitty-Chitty-Dash-8”.

The legendary Ronnie Sox at the unglamorous part of drag racing.