Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 6, Page



ample dialogue once overheard in a grandstand, Anytown Raceway, USA:

“Hey man, can I bum a choke?”

“Well, I’d like to lend you one, but I can’t because we both smoke the same brand of cigarettes – O.P.’s.”


“Other People’s.”

It began plaintively enough a couple of Saturday’s ago with a post on “Nitroland,” an online drag racing bulletin board. It seems “aj,” a possibly pseudononymous poster wrote that:  “I would love to be able to go back into the old Header Flames’ Archives and read again, that post by the late Cole Coonce one more time regarding opm. It was the only post by Mr. Coonce I ever understood and then only after it was explained to me...................

“Opm” is not a phrase I coined. I am not sure who explained to “aj” that the abbreviation “opm” is an abbreviation for “Other People’s Money.” But Chris Martin, DRO’s editor-at-large emeritus and a man who drinks more O.P.s than anybody, will tell you that the language is malleable and can twist, bend and flex like the chassis of a Top Fuel car with too much front wing, and that “opm” now stands for “Don Schumacher Racing.” Or Something.

On the good ol’ internet, the language grows more distorted than even in meatspace, excepting maybe John Force trying to pronounce “PowerAde” with a mouthful of crackers, or new ESPN talking head Paul Page trying to pronounce the silent “c” in “Gary Scelzi.” Which is to say that on the Nitroland forum, ‘aj’ was experiencing pronoun trouble and subject/adjective agreement when he referred to “Cole Coonce” as being late. (For the record: This column is late. I am alive. And even after having missed a reasonable deadline.)

What “aj” meant was that the Header Flames forum was “late,” or more accurately defunct. Because Header Flames degenerated from a reasonable resource of racing knowledge circa 1995 into a cesspool of disinformation and a sleeper cell of personal attacks by the craven keyboard Attas of the internet circa 2003, it was mothballed. By me.

When I read about my own death on a drag racing forum, I felt vindicated in shuttering the old Header Flames forum. Nothing proves a point, like reading about your own death, I reckon...

Anyway, the next comment in this thread about my death was posted anonymously and read: cole coonce is worm food now?  since when?”

And the game was *on*. E-mails began trickling in, enquiring about my health and the eternal dirt nap. The phone rang and rang and I changed my outgoing message to: “I’m too busy being dead to come to the phone right now, but if you’d like to leave a message...”

It rang again and I picked up. It was Wrenchski. He asked me what it was like pushing up daisies on the internet, and I told him it was kind of an out-of-body-experience, but that there was no brilliant white light, just the same blue glow off of the computer screen. But I did tell him that dying in cyberspace is kind of neat, because you get to see who your friends are, and if anybody has anything nice to say about you, you get to hear it. He mentioned that maybe I would want to stop the rumors, but I responded that I only write on the internet if there is OPM involved. So I said that he could quell the rumors if he wanted or he could go ahead and write an obit, if he felt like it.

So he did. It reads as follows:

SUBJECT: Semi-famous author/scenester dies in mulholland rally...
DATE:  - Saturday, May 27, 2006 at 14:31:00 (EDT)

NEWSFLASH-- Noted author/musician/raconteur COLE COONCE died in a fiery wreck during the running of yesterday's Mulholland Rally... navigating for slightly more famous author Mickey Spillane, Team Hyundai's lead driver. Coonce's last words were rumored to be: “NOOOOOO... DUUUUUUDE... YOUR *OTHER* LEFT.”


Bruce Springsteen once sang that it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive. Mark Twain once wrote that the news of his death as being greatly exaggerated. Noted pianist/hypochondriac Oscar Levant’s tombstone reads, “I told you I was sick.”  I kinda’ know how they all feel...

But when I do take the dirt nap, please mark my gravestone with an epitaph liberated from the internet: “Cole Coonce is wormfood.” And the Reverend Wrenchski can read, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, binary code to binary code...”

(Cole Coonce is the author of INFINITY OVER ZERO, as well as the forthcoming TOP FUEL WORMHOLE...)

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