Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 9, Page

Back on track, and talking NERA


Jeff Burk Photo

just got home from Boise, Idaho, home of the Night Fire Nationals held at Firebird Raceway. My second trip; the first was as a crew guy on the Hansen and Kuhns NTF car in 2000.This time I was driving Mark Stuckey’s Nitro Charger Funny Car. How did we do? DNQ. No reflection on the parties involved, they did great. Mark and Linda Stuckey, Pete Jensen, big Mark, Rex Hutchinson, Mickey and his son and my trusted sidekick Bill Sweeney made me proud. Bad luck and mechanical gremlins won out this time.  Out of all the things that happened at the track, the throttle stop that I forgot was still on (I’m the driver so I should have caught it), the thrashing to miss a session. Being shut off on the line in the last session because of a fuel leak. The frustration. The drama. What is my most vivid memory of the weekend?

The self-serve fruit stand. That’s right, a self-serve fruit stand. Being born and raised in southern California, this strikes me as very strange. We have self-serve gas stations but you pay first. Self-serve car washes, you pay first. It may imply self-serve but there is still an attendant with a .357 under the counter lurking about. I guess from the look of the fruit stand you just amble up, pick your produce, put your cash in the shoebox and go on your merry way. No iron-packin’ attendant to be seen.

In southern California the stand, its contents, and that box of cash wouldn’t last past the owner turning his or her back on the operation. None of that kept me from riffin’ to Sweeney who was piloting the rental-racer (I never knew a Buick Le Saber could take a 35 mph on-ramp at 80 plus. however, he did make a note on the paper work when he returned it that it had a god-awful push) that all the for-sale cars and trucks along the road probably had the keys in the ignition with a note saying “Take her for a spin, park it where you found it, and need be, gas her up for the next shopper please, there’s a five spot in the glove.”

What’s that got to do with nostalgia drag racing? For me, my whole trip to Boise was a reminder of a simpler time. When people actually trusted each other, gas was 48 cents a gallon (that’s as early as I remember, buying it for my Taco mini-bike). Traffic was two cars ahead of you at a light. You let your kids climb the neighbor’s trees without the attorney’s phone number on speed dial. You know, the good old days. Sorry if this is starting to read like one of those corny “remember when” emails.

And that’s exactly how it felt at Boise with its old-school feel. I had a great time. A nice facility, good track prep, visible management, cordial tech people, enthusiastic (and sometimes drunken) fans. What more do you need? There are some who would argue that the payouts are old school as well. I’m on the fence with that one.

Last time we were talking about the sportsman racers taking the bull by the horns and either starting associations or promoting races on their own for the nostalgia sportsman classes. We talked about the NPCA in the Midwest and their successes. Now we go to the West Coast to hear from Joel Gruzen, a long time Goodguys NE1 owner and racer who is starting the Nostalgia Eliminator Racing Association.

As usual with these associations, they start with a few people discussing (okay, complaining about) their current situation and wishing for ways to remedy it. Gruzen, Dale Taros and Jake Jacobs put their heads together and came up with the Nostalgia Eliminator Racing Association. The rules are pretty simple and are patterned after the Goodguys /VRA nostalgia eliminator rules. No electronics at all except for trans brakes. Front engine, center steer dragsters, altereds (must have body, no body-less Funny Cars), and Funny Cars (‘79 or earlier body). Any fuel except nitrous oxide. Any size motor. All safety equipment is the standard 7.50 NHRA requirements. If you plan on running blown nitro you’d better be sticker’d up for that. The index is 7.60 for quarter-mile tracks and 4.85 for the eighth-mile venues. They are also working on free entry for car and driver and three crewmembers with a buy-in for the purse. There’s more but it’s the fine print kind of stuff that makes my eyes glaze over so you can contact Joel at gruzenracing@aol.com for that.

They didn’t envision having an event as soon as 2006 but lo and behold they got one. Saturday, September the 23rd at Barona 1/8 Mile Drags just outside of San Diego, California, the inaugural “Night of Nostalgia and Fox Hunt” will be happening, brought to you by NERA and Bob Meyer Race Cars.  Fox hunt? All women admitted free? Oh, they are also encouraging you to bring out your VRA nitro funny for a little pre-Hot Rod Reunion test session. Let me check my calendar. Barona is a fairly new eighth-mile facility with an Indian casino just a stone’s throw from the action. The track also features new, permanent rest rooms with running water, and a new restaurant. Check ‘em out here www.baronadrags.com

Hey! Next time we should have dates for 2007 from the Goodguys / VRA to talk about and I’ll try to dig up some more nostalgia action, maybe from the deep south.




Getting Nostalgic [8/8/06]
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