Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 2, Page

Our Mission
DRAG RACING Online will be published monthly with new stories and features. Some columns will be updated throughout the month.
owes allegiance to no sanctioning body and will call 'em like 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.

Jeff Burk
Managing Editor
Kay Burk
Senior Editor
Ian Tocher
Matt Schramel
Asst. Managing Editor
Marissa Gaither
Bracket Racing
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Cole Coonce
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Darr Hawthorne

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Jeff Leonard

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Bret Kepner
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Tech Contributors

Dave Koehler
Jay Roeder
Jim Salemi
Wayne Scraba
Mike Stewart

European Correspondent
Ivan Sansom
Jon Van Daal
Poet Laureate
Bob Fisher
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Casey Araiza
Editor at Large Emeritus
Chris Martin
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Matt Schramel

Notes scribbled on the Burkster’s napkin from Honey Bear’s Bar-B-Que and beer joint, downtown Phoenix, AZ.


Art by Star Pixel Graphics

This item will probably get DRO banned from the Firebird Raceway premises, but, at least for me, Charlie Allen’s “Cheap Charlie” act is wearing thin. At the CSK Nationals their track was so dark due to lack of lighting that many racers mentioned it in their post-qualifying interviews. Many of the photographers (myself included) standing on the starting line could tell that the track was significantly darker than in previous years. It was so dark on the starting line that Ray Alley was using a seriously powerful halogen light to check the fuel cars on the starting line.

Also, did you happen to notice that Funny Cars (at least) were driving on a dirt road to exit the top end racing surface! I always thought that NHRA national event tracks were supposed to be drag racing's premier facilities in every respect. Then again, I suppose it is foolish of me to think a track operator that both drove and owned his own fuel Funny car and knows what it like to race would spend a lot of his money to improve his track for just one NHRA race and one test session a year.

* * *

Racers I spoke with weren’t happy that NHRA are apparently going to mandate that nitro teams switch over to the new Goodyear tire, which would require most teams to develop a new tune-up for that tire, which would also mean a lot of money being spent for testing, not to mention the parts attrition that generally results from developing a tune-up. About 90 percent of the fuel teams, by my count, were running at Phoenix on the “old” tires and evidently the old tires are still available. I was told that the main difference between the new fuel tire and the old tire is where they blister. The old tire blisters on the sides and the new tire blisters in the center. I was also told that the new tire has about a 15-inch contact patch compared to 16 inches for the old tire. I hear there was an impromptu PRO meeting at the Monday testing at Phoenix to discuss the matter.

* * *

Judging from the qualifying speeds, the rev-limiter developed by the folks at MSD at the direction of the NHRA is doing a fine job of keeping top speeds to a maximum of 330 mph. The only problem now is that the crew chiefs are running their engines and clutch programs much more aggressively to the 1,000-ft mark to get the ET’s they need. Apparently 1,000 feet is about where the rev-limiters start causing the engines to lose fire in multiple cylinders and explode. Melanie Troxel’s “boomer” and big fire in her Top Fueler on Sunday was blamed on the rev-limiter. Several tuners and drivers went on TV and placed the blame for blown or damaged engines on the rev-limiter. 

* * *

I heard from one of my nitro team sources that Ray Alley requested that the MSD folks to build a couple of new rev-limiters that would “soften” the hit when the engine activates the rev-limiter. I was told that various engine builders were solicited for their input on what needed to be done and that several crew chiefs, including Alan Johnson, submitted ideas. I’ll bet the crew chiefs that can’t get within a half-tenth of Johnson’s ET’s with JATO assist would rather Mr. Johnson wasn’t involved.

* * *

Forgetting for a moment the conditions the racers dealt with, I have to congratulate the NHRA and Charlie Allen’s staff. I saw the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen at Firebird on Friday night and the Sunday TV broadcast showed a full house. Also a tip of the Burkster’s hat to the anonymous food crew from one of the concession stands. After the last cars had gone down track on Friday and all of the concession stands had shuttered I saw some kids getting free hot dogs that were probably just going to get pitched. The smiles on the faces of the kids and parents that got those dogs got the track good will that can’t be bought.

* * *

It hasn’t rained for almost 130 straight days in the Phoenix area; that must have been the reason that it cost the Burkster just a dollar more for a large cup of beer than it did for a bottle of water. Needless to say, the Burkster went for the Barley malt.

* * *

Don Prudhomme was a no-show at Phoenix and missed being with his driver Tommy Johnson and tuner Mike Green in the winners circle after they beat Force in the final. The rumor (stress the word rumor) for Prudhomme not attending was that instead he went to the NASCAR race at the California Speedway because he was still PO’d big time at NHRA over the Spywear fiasco. I was going to start a rumor that Prudhomme was at the NASCAR race to buy a Nextel Cup team and it would be sponsored by Spywear, but starting a rumor like that would just be wrong. . .wouldn’t it?

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* * *

While perusing the Phoenix newspapers during the weekend I was disappointed to see that the NHRA coverage in the Friday, Saturday and Sunday papers never got closer to the front of the sports section than page 10. I also noted that the lead sportswriter for the Arizona Republic devoted his entire column in the Sunday paper to his trip to the Daytona 500 the previous weekend. Not one mention that I saw in his column the entire weekend about the drags. Yet they filled Firebird Raceway’s stands with spectators on Sunday. Who goofed? I’ve got to know.




Burk's Blast "the publisher's corner" [2-20-06]
Millions, Mad Dog, Meatheads and the “Mater”