getting nostalgic w/Brian Losness

Before the CHRR: Looking Toward the End of the Season

So, it has been a very long time since my last installment of Getting Nostalgic (although DRO editor Jeff Burk has been putting some of my reports in that space so you won’t forget me). For many of you, that might have been a good thing. For the devoted seven of you, more than likely a better thing!


Nevertheless, it has been an interesting year in our little ecosystem of drag racing we love to call Nostalgia.


There have been a great many highs this year, however, these highs have been tempered by some very dramatic lows. Nevertheless, the sun rises tomorrow, and it becomes a new day in our world.


As of the writing of this it is just a few days from the beginning of the California Hot Rod Reunion, held at Famoso Dragway outside of Bakersfield, California. But you all already know that. It goes to context.


This year there has been and continues to be some shifting of the tide in cars in the nitro categories.


The Bowens and Dan Horan are changing from Funny Cars to Top Fuel for next year. Dusty Green is bringing out his new owned and operated car. There are rumors of other new cars being built, none of which can be substantiated at this time.


Word has it there are fourteen cars pre-entered for the Reunion. This is an eight-car show so it should be one helluva deal. The long-range weather forecast for the area is mid to upper eighties and zero chance of rain. The likelihood of PG&E initiating rolling blackouts, unknown. A chance they are gonna have to bear.


The championship is already be decided as the self-proclaimed Nitro Cougar (‘cause she passed the Big 50) once again has taken the title in the High Speed Motorsports dragster. The team wanting to finish the job they had started in order to pay tribute to their fallen leader.


Team High Speed was on a roll: Dominated the race in Boise, and then the next weekend ventured north to Spokane, Washington, and again dominated to take the win again.


This meant that all they had to do was win one round at the next event in Tulsa and the title would be theirs again. However, the team’s whole world came crashing to a halt when on the week following the race a Spokane, team owner, leader, and mentor Tom Shelar suddenly passed away. His death not only touched the family, friends, and teammates, it touched the entirety of the drag racing community. Tributes came from all corners of our world.


This gave the team, I believe, a real push to move forward and win the title and remaining races for Tom. I wouldn’t want to bet against them.


The flopper guys for the Reunion is going to be the story. There are three drivers within 28 points who could win the title. Jeff Arend for Don Nelson in the “California Hustler.” Dan Horan, who is slated to move to Top Fuel next year, and Bobby Cottrell, at the wheel of Uncle Bucky Austin’s Camaro.


This can and should be a dog fight for the title. Horan, who is a former champion with crew chief Ron Swearingen, is a veteran at this sort of deal. Horan has a very able crew and plenty of resources to accomplish the task at hand. To be honest, the real wild card is going to be Horan himself and his starting line driving. He can be inconsistent and that has burned him in the past.


Cottrell is the defending champion in Funny Car and is lurking in third place well within striking distance.


The guy on the top of the heap is journeyman big show driver Jeff Arend. The transplanted Canadian is leading the points and has an old hand at the controls of the tune up.


Swearingen is in line for his second title as a crew chief. This would just elevate his status, which is already bordering on legendary.


Needless to say, it’s going to be a nail biter at the Patch in a couple of days. There is no room for any kind of error with the show being a sixteen-car show and there are at least eight other teams that have a legitimate shot at winning the event. Which could upset the apple cart of one or two of the three championship contenders.


The usual suspects such as Ryan Hodgson and Steven Densham, both past champions and race winners. Jerry Espeseth who is driving the old Jason Rupert car, which Rupert and right-hand man Brad Littlefield will be tuning. Hollywood Kris Krabill, Tony Jurado, and Billy Morris have all shown to have big power. The silent ninja in the corner is last year’s runner up, Rian Konno. If that car gets on a roll, look the heck out.


Nevertheless, whomever comes out on top of the Funny Car conflict will have had to fight their way through a very tough field.


As a whole, nostalgia racing seems to be flourishing. It has to be admitted that outside of the NHRA Heritage Series, the UNFC has continued to have a solid showing.


The Good Vibrations Motorsports UNFC Series is a series which is based in the western U.S. and Canada. Running on the Heritage Series-based rules and premise. Eight car shows, and two-day races.


Another series that is securing a bridge head in the world of drag racing is the Funny Car Chaos which is operated by Chris and Tera Graves. Chris took opportunity and with a truck load of intestinal fortitude has created and administered basically a “run what you brung and hope you brung enough” series for the floppers.


Racing on eighth mile allows this series to visit smaller demographic tracks which is an advantage for the series as they can for one weekend become the big fish in the little pond, so to say.


With the help of John Hale and his Best of Texas Barbecue Sauce as a primary marketing partner it has allowed Graves and his team to get the ball rolling.


This is the perfect series for the center of the country and to give those people with unique combinations in their Funny Cars a place to race and have a good time.


What both of these series have in common is the fact that they run a two-day show on Friday and Saturday. This seems to be the wave of this type of racing. While I know the argument from the track owners is that it takes a day away from them (not running on Sunday) the tradeoff is the increased probability that more racers will attend a two-day show; more in the back gate means an increased measure at the front gate. On a personal note, I think this is something that many facilities should consider.


On a closing note, I am going to become more engaged about this column. It is a wonderful outlet, and I am very blessed that Mr. and Mrs. Burk allow me to speak my mind. Somewhat incoherently at time, however still giving me a platform. I do appreciate it.


For those attending the Reunion, attempt to look past the drivel put out by the overlords and enjoy the racing and the history on hand at venue. If you are a drag racer or a fanatic this is a place to see and feel the past of this truly American enterprise. Travel safe and may God Bless.  


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