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Dale Wilson is a bracket racing "retiree" who was editor of Bracket Racing USA from 1991 to its demise in 1998. His latest dream is to return to racing in either a front-engine dragster, a slow motorcycle or the family Mazda wagon. Everything else he has is for sale.


By Dale Wilson

I'm gonna talk some stream-of-consciousness stuff, so bear with me, there's a point to all this at the end.

A couple of weeks ago, I'm heading west on Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell, five miles from home, and I've just dropped off some rolls of film from my latest trip to The Strip in Las Vegas for the B&M Racer Appreciation Series go in May, three days, lots of wind, hot, desert, $10,000 to the Pro winner each day, there should have been more cars there for a $150-for-three-day entry but there wasn't, so ... Sadie and Charlie the dogs are in the back and I'm heading home, listening to a Grateful Dead CD with the windows rolled up 'cause it's hot outside, when up beside me pulls this kid in a black Honda four-speed, and I think, That's funny, 'cause usually it's the other way around, the kids are the ones with the stereos blastin', not some old guy with a touch of gray fast approaching 60 years old.

He must have seen my sticker on the back window of our 2002 Mazda Protégé 5, "Little Zoom-Zoom," the one that reads "Bracket Racing USA," my old magazine that was killed awhile back, 'cause he's kind of grinning at me like we're brothers, you know, racing brothers, and here he is, choosin' me on Holcomb Bridge in Roswell, Georgia like it's gonna be a good, close race.

He revs up his Honda and I ignore him. Instead, I look in my rear view mirror and off to each side, lookin' for cops and seeing none, and Mr. Honda and I are at the red light, the next to go and there's no one in front of us and we're waiting for the light to change. I switch off the A/C and take the trans out of overdrive and I wait until the left turn lane light changes, and about now I put the gas pedal to the floor and the engine is sitting there against some kind of built-in rev limiter 'cause the tachometer always reads 2,200 rpm about this time -- that was a trick I learned about when I first raced Zoom-Zoom at Atlanta Dragway last year, that you could put it to the metal and the converter would stall itself at 2,200 rpm, so I left like the car was a stick shift, just slide my left foot off the brake; heck, my right foot was to the floor, so there was one less motion to deal with at the starting line, and I ended up going four rounds at Atlanta in Zoom-Zoom ...

... so Mr. Honda and I are at the red light, waiting, and I'm to the floor and suddenly the light turns green and I'm off, a half a car on him and he's coming on strong, they call it a hole shot on TV (what do they know on TV anyway; you ever see the way those fuel guys stage?), and by the time he hits second gear I'm wound out, 6,000 rpm, and the race is over at 150 feet. I lift. Discretion is the better part of drag racing valor. Why risk a ticket? And yeah, street racing is for fools, but I'm only doing 50 mph or so. Mr. Honda goes on ahead and disappears into the traffic the next light away. Hooray; he won.

The point of all this? Being a semi-retired bracket racer, I still get my practice in wherever I can. Lots of times, I'll pull up to a red light, set an imaginary trans brake button and Pow! flip it off at the first flash of green. Lots of times, I'll be driving around, doing the speed limit and I'll play like that mail box or telephone pole up there is the last cone and I'll have to make it as close as I can, then dump the brakes just before I cross in front of an imaginary opponent. I'll even pull up to a red light and bump, bump, bump Zoom Zoom in to an imaginary staging light.

Practice. Frank Hawley said each race is a practice session plus a learning session. Well, there are lots of ways to practice the bracket racing game besides in the right lane of your favorite drag strip on a Friday night. Those are just some of the ways that I do it all the time. You can do the same. Just be cool about it and don't be a fool and go speeding around city streets. Watch out for the police, stray dogs, little kids and little old ladies with shopping bags. And do like me -- don't do more than 50 in a 45-mph zone. But keep up that practice, bro's. Especially against hot Hondas.

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