The Nitro Joint w / "Chicago Jon" Hoffman

The 3rd Annual OLIAS Awards

“To Howard Bracket, from Greenleaf, Indiana...and he's GAY!”

- Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon), accepting an award in the film IN & OUT, 1997

Awards shows, what could go wrong, right? Well, here at the Third Annual OLIAS awards presentations, we promise there will be no snafus. There won't be Marie Louise Cruz showing up in a rented buckskin to reject Brando’s trophy, TV won't kick The Chairman Of The Board, Frank Friggin SINATRA off the stage so we can crowbar in an extra Toyota commercial (and God BLESS Billy Joel for going to bat for Frank, sticking it up CBS’s rump, 'without butter' -- HEY, another Brando reference!) No, it's all peace, harmony, and dishing out some trophies! We couldn't secure the Dolby Theater, which used to be the KODAK Theater. Hell, you can't even secure Kodak FILM anymore! But the good folks at the local BURGER KING agreed to let us have the ceremony there, as long as we were out of the ball-pit by 11 a.m., so let the party BEGIN!! We've got food, and DRINKS, so let’s get this joint STARTED!


The "Sure you can SPARE it?" OLIAS goes to DSR Racing, who pitched in and gave Dale Creasy Jr. a spare body at the Big Show race at Brainerd. I love The Shoe, always have and always will, but at their awesome Open House during The Big Go last year, it became obvious that they have more bodies than I have SOX! Helping out fellow racers is what it's all about though, and one of the many things that makes this sport great.


A 'Back In The Saddle' OLIAS goes to the old cowboy, Mark Pawuk who returned to the quarter mile this year in the SAM Tech NHRA Factory Stock Showdown Series. It's great to have that proud son of Ohio back!


Speaking of Factory Showdown, you may have noticed The OLIAS is rocking a Sombrero this year, as we salute Leah Pritchett for taking that series championship! Leah, not only are you "real purdy!", but you're “purdy versatile”, to jump into another beast altogether and win a championship.


If fifty is the new thirty, then Pro Mod is the new Rodney Dangerfield, so we give a tie-tugging OLIAS to the house that was built by nitrous shoeboxes. People love them, you'll get over thirty cars showing up for a 16-car field, and yet Big Show treats them like a bunch of schmucks. The winner of Pro Mod doesn't even get to be a part of the regular trophy ceremony, and at the banquet, they probably get the table next to the kitchen.


SPEAKING of 'many cars', a special "Way to go, IDAHO" OLIAS to Firebird Raceway, who puts together a field of the Funny Cars that didn't qualify for the NIGHTFIRE NATIONALS, sponsored by well, apparently their own pockets (I thought "tater-baker" was an actual company, lol.) It would be cool though if someone with 'righteous bucks' could do this for Pro Mod at Indy, I know a race-within-a-race on Sunday evening would be awesome in MY book!


The limited-edition “Bill Engvall/you had ONE job!” Olias goes to the guy who hung the E3 banners at Indy this year...Here's your upside-down sign.


Everyone loves an underdog, but since the ZIP CODE Top Fueler is but a distant memory, then Top Fuel’s Ron Smith is the new Arley Langlo. (Well, without all the explosions and stuff.) I love this guy, for pulling his car out of mothballs and getting to the track whenever he can. And on his OWN DIME, which is pretty damn hard to do in the modern era.


Speaking of Top Fuel, my main man from Ohio, Pat Dakin garners his SECOND OLIAS for making a semifinal finish this year in St. Louis. It seems like it was 'just yesterday' I saw that guy bombing around the pits at Indy, in a golf cart. A POLICE DEPARTMENT golf cart! And NO, the 5-0 wasn't riding shotgun, they were probably LOOKING for the damn thing, WITH a shotgun!


Irwindale Dragstrip is the recipient of the special “Rise, Lazarus” OLIAS, which is sponsored this year by Happy Pussy Cat Chow. Because really, does that place have nine lives, or what? Exactly how many times has that track clawed its way back from the dead anyway? Who knows, I lost count. I DO know that California needs as many drag strips as possible, just to stick it to their current governor, "Mister Potato Head.”


The “Is that a wand in your hand or are you just happy to see me” OLIAS goes to the security team at Joliet last year. MAN, was getting in the track a pain in the neck: "put your keys in the dish", yadda-yadda. And I have all manner of junk implanted in my body, not in a cool Lee Majors way, where I can lift cars while the music goes FUUU-VUUUH-VUUUH-VAAAA, just nuts, bolts and a bunch of other junk that sets this security crap off. Yeeessshh....

The polar-opposite of that is the good old boy who was the de facto security chief of the cornfield parking lot at Indy. (Where they dump high profile celebrities like ME.) What a wonderful fella, who was always amazed by my daily transformations. (I start the day all pretty, in my uniform shirt and "court pants" so I can hang out with the media folks. After a couple hours of kissing hands and shaking babies, I morph back into someone at a dragstrip, shorts, bandanna, a gallon of Hawaiian Tropic, etc.) The heat was brutal last year, and he saw me limping and lagging back from the track one afternoon. "Hey, you need you some water, c'mon over here!" and he dishes one up out of his cooler. It's great to see there are still some good people left in the world. Speaking of good people...


The Burger King manager is giving me the stink-eye, so we'll wrap this up with a special Lifetime Achievement OLIAS for my main man in Vegas, none other than Peter J. Ward. Former wing man of Jim Kelly’s, good friend of Tom “The Mongoo$e” McEwen, and a first-rate gentleman in a sport that could use a few more like him. Peter brought DRAG RACER magazine back from sliding down a slippery slope and made it back into a first-rate book. Alas, it was not enough, as print media continues to be clubbed like a government mule and this month the final issue will hit the newsstand. Peter, you done good, and I'm proud to have you as a friend.


Well, that about wraps things up for the Third Annual OLIAS Awards. Before I go, I'd like to thank all the LITTLE people who got me here, my agent Tiny, my manager Shorty, my make-up gal 'Fun Size', hey...Hey...HEY!!! Why is the band playing? What do you MEAN, get off the stage?


Oh well, I AM Chicago Jon, time to say C-YAAaaaa!!  



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