VOLUME XX, NUMBER 9 - SEPTEMBER, 2018
DRAGRACINGOnline will be published on or around the 8th of each month and will be updated throughout the month.
DRAGRACINGOnline owes allegiance to no sanctioning body and will call 'em as we see 'em. We strive for truth,integrity, irreverence and the betterment of drag racing. We have no agenda other than providing the drag racing public with unbiased information and view points they can't get in any other drag racing publication.
Editor & Publisher, CEO Jeff Burk
Managing Editor, COO Kay Burk
Editor at Large, Bret Kepner
Editor at Large, Emeritus Chris Martin
Bracket Racing Editor, Jok Nicholson
Motorcycle Editor, Tom McCarthy
Nostalgia Editor, Brian Losness
Contributing Writers, Jim Baker, Steven Bunker, Aaron Polburn, Matt Strong
Australian Correspondent, Jon Van Daal
European Correspondent, Ivan Sansom
Poet Laureate, Bob Fisher
Cartoonists, Jeff DeGrandis, Kenny Youngblood
Senior Photographer - Ron Lewis
Contributing Photographers - Aaron Anderson, Scott Bessee, Donna Bistran, Steven Bunker, Pam Conrad, Adam Cranmer, James Drew, Don Eckert, Steve Embling, Mike Garland, Joel Gelfand, Steve Gruenwald, Chris Haverly, Rose Hughes, Bob Johnson, Bret Kepner, "Bad" Brad Klaassen, Jon LeMoine, Eddie Maloney, Tim Marshall, Matt Mothershed, Richard Muir, Joe McHugh, Dennis Mothershed, Ivan Sansom, Paul Schmitz, Dave Stoltz, Jon Van Daal
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Director: Casey Araiza
Director: Dave Ferrato
Webmonkey: Axel G.
Production Monkey: Axel G.
Racing Net Source LLC
607 Seib Drive
O'Fallon, MO 63366
Editor & Publisher
CEO Jeff Burk
COO Kay Burk
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Director: Casey Araiza
Director: Dave Ferrato
Contact: Casey Araiza
Hight comes through ...
Jeremy Ray raced to his first career victory during the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA ...
Hight proves that where there’s ...
Just the fact that Robert Hight was in the Lone Star State and racing his ...
Hale brings the sauce to ...
John Hale will take some time off from driving his “One Bad Texan” AA/Funny ...
PDRA releases 2019 schedule as ...
The final events for the 2018 PDRA season will be Oct. 4-6 at Darlington Dragway and ...
Breaking News: Team Vesco goes 493.5 ...
Word was received by DRO Motorcycle Editor Tom McCarthy that today (Oct. 2) ...
Records set at Australia’s ...
Racing at Maple Grove Raceway has seemed to always bring out the best in ...
CHRR to crown champions, honor ...
The NHRA Motorsports Museum’s 27th annual California Hot Rod Reunion® ...
NMCA wraps up 2018 season at Indy
The final NMCA Muscle Cars Nationals of the year, the 17th Annual ...
ET DRAG RACING
The Nitro Joint w / "Chicago Jon" Hoffman
“It was 20 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.”
- The Beatles,
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Well, at this writing Indy is a week in the rear view mirror. My 'Indy tan' is snaking away, and I've finally gotten the gear cleaned and put away. Last week’s 95+ degree heat has mellowed to a "fall-adjacent" 64 degrees, and I am still processing another amazing Indy Nationals, which I began attending in 1972. And while the Lads from Liverpool sang about "20 years ago", this year’s event was a week-long love letter to the iconic Tom 'Mongoo$e' McEwen, who won this race FORTY years ago, almost to the day (one off). We are going to talk about that in a bit, but first and foremost, the biggest drag race in the History of the Planet will take center stage, and rightly so.
I had high hopes for my local friends TJ Zizzo and family with their Rustoleum Top Fuel dragster. Earlier this year at the Joliet race, they displayed an uncanny knack to lay down 3.85s, with consistency and no breakage. At Indy, the 'song remained the same', only better. The previously mentioned heat had the track a fickle beast, greasy and unyielding. Yet, my favorite Dago ever always laid down good numbers, even in that previously mentioned sauna. They rolled out the 'rock-star/red-carpet' every time I came by, and if you'd told me 40 years ago I'd spend Sunday morning at the Nationals behind the ropes bull-spitting with Kenny Youngblood -- well, I'd have said 'pass some of that over HERE', because I'd have been convinced you were WASTED! Their luck would disappear at the worst time during round one, but I feel their day is coming soon.
Benevolence, thy name is "Mugs". I mentioned my old campground friend in last year’s opus, and he bears mentioning again. Once again, his immaculate Hot Rod 'The Zookeeper', an absolutely BEAUTIFUL 1941 Willys, placed in the show at Bowling Green, earning him the right to display on the concourse at Indy. But he emailed me, asking if I'd like his "old pix & stuff". While it's been a brutal year fiscally, there is ALWAYS something under the "mattress", so when we met up and he gifted me with several milk-crates of vintage "schwag", I reached for my wallet. The phrase "Southern Hospitality" came home to roost, as Jim said "Chicago, I don't want any money...you're the only one I know who is still crazy as ever about this stuff. I've had my fun with it, now it's your turn." A truly amazing gesture, from a man who personifies "Southern Gentleman." Mugs, the world could use more men like you.
I had an amazing time at the DSR Open house, which raises much needed dollars for the Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University. Once I GOT there, anyway. I got waved into a field, and no, I don't mean a level, mowed field, I mean "shades of the Oregon TRAIL field"! Didn't break an axle in any of the wagon wheel ruts, but once I shut the car off, I could have SWORN I heard banjo music....
So, I'm schleping over to the sportsman pits, and I see what I think is a beautiful girl in a Papa John’s shirt heading my way on a moped. I suck in my gut and smile away. SHE smiles, and waves! As she goes by, I realize it wasn't A... 'hot pizza chick', it was THEE...Hot Pizza Chick!! Drag Racing’s own personal 'Mary Tyler Moore', turning the world on with her smile. Thanks, Leah Pritchett!
How cool was it for Terry McMillen to cue up some DOORS, and 'Break On Through, to the Other Side'. I've always rooted for that cat, and a guy that got his start at good old U.S. 30 ("Where the great ones...RUN, Run, run!!") is nothing but good for the sport in this reporter’s opinion. Congratulations, Gator-Man!
Which brings us back to The Mongoo$e. I've had the honor and privilege of encountering the man so many times through the years. The celebrated 'publicity-grab' I pulled off at Indy 2011 has been written about in several magazines, and led to a telecon I had with the Goo$e, where he counseled me with the advice, "Jon, stop giving the store away. Hold firm, and get your due." Said event was how I came to know and become friends with Peter J. Ward, editor at DRAG RACER and 'friend and wingman' to Tom. Talking with Pete at the race this year, well, Ray Charles could see that losing Tom has been tough for Mr. Ward. I think the outpouring of love was a good tonic for Pete. Everywhere, people had busted out their old or purchased new McEwen stuff.
Better yet, both the nitro teams of Shawn Langdon and Mike Salinas rolled out tribute cars, showing the silver & black scheme of Tom’s 1978 English Leather Corvette. Personal choice? While Tom’s win was with a funny car, I thought the Salinas car captured the look better, that it was number-one qualifier was just the icing on the...no, wait, SCREW icing & cake, it was the "Foster Grants" strategically placed, yeah, THAT'S the ticket! When the old crew was brought out to the line, and the original car was towed down track, EVERYBODY stood, and the applause was true and wonderful. There were no problems with rain on this particular Indy Nationals, but during those moments, there were more than a few small droplets of water falling downward…I know I had to wipe some off my face. Leave it to Don “The Snake” Prudhomme to break the tension, with a typical "Snake comment". When asked by Alan Reinhart if he was happy that Tom beat him in that 1978 final, Snake quipped, "Nah, I'm still pissed off about it!" The placed busted a collective gut.
BACK TO TOP