getting nostalgic w/Brian Losness

Sadly, all good things come to an end

[Editor’s Note: DRO founders, Jeff and Kay Burk, have announced that after over 43 years in the business they will be retiring at the end of February.]


A wise person once wrote that all good things do come to an end. As many of you already know that, this is what is happening to the best outlets of news in our small ecosystem of drag racing not only here in the states, but around the world. Dragracingonline.com will be closing down shortly.


Jeff and Kay (as I call her with much respect, Mrs. Burk) have been chasing the adventure of covering our sport for twenty years with DRO. They have done yeoman’s work in building a brand, and building a following to make this platform run, and to tell the story of drag racing.


For many of us, DRO is the first or second thing we look at in the morning. And knowing that you were getting an unbiased look into our sport was something to look forward to.


The one thing I can say about Jeff Burk is that he isn’t afraid to voice his opinion, and right, wrong or indifferent he was going to give it to you from his honest perspective. Jeff has and never will kiss anybody’s ass, but he will be fair with you.


I can say that because for the past eleven years I worked under Jeff. He gave a guy who always had a love of the sport, with limited resources and, fair enough to say, limited talent, a chance to be a contributor. For a few years I wrote here and there and submitted images. Then I was asked to cover Nostalgia Drag Racing and did so with enthusiasm.


It was easy to see why people came to the nostalgia nitro events with such fervor. Patrons to these events were living their youth again or showing their kids or grands kids the side of the sport that they themselves had grown to love.


Nostalgia drag racing is how the sport used to be before complete immersion by corporate America. People getting together to race and have a good time. Relive the past and look forward to the future.


Burk was astute enough to see this as well and decided to make the very tough decision to cross the line of demarcation of being a journalist and step into the arena of being a promoter.


Burk created the DRO AA/FC Challenge. Burk’s premise was to bring good funny car racing to the Midwest. Racers like Shawn Bowen, Marc White, Del Worsham, Bazz Young, Paul Romine, and John Hale, all made the AA/FC Challenge a premier place to race.


Many of these racers found this to be a place to show their wares and put on a quality show for the fans.


What Jeff had done for racers in the Midwest was incredible, stated multi-time champion John Hale. He put on good races and brought in good competition and people loved it, Hale added. This was echoed by Paul Romine’s crew chief and industry insider Michael Cavalieri. “Some people thought Burk was doing this to make money… hardly. Hell, he would share a room with me to keep the expenses down” stated Cavalieri forcefully. He did the series for the racers and for the fans; Jeff Burk was the last to get paid if ever, Cavalieri continued.


The DRO series ran for approximately nine years. Which brought pleasure to many fans and racers alike throughout the Midwest.


Being located in the intermountain west of Boise, Idaho, I was honored to cover races for DRO throughout the western part of the United States. One of the things that Jeff and Kay allowed me to do was to cover events at the small out of the way race tracks and events that are in this area.


Places like Yakima, Washington, Anaconda and Billings, Montana, Idaho Falls, Idaho, and so forth. This is grassroots racing and going into these down-home all-American towns to cover their events, well, it was a breath of fresh air. Readers seemed to like it, the track owners loved to be spotlighted for even a brief moment, and honestly it was cool to write about new places and new people.


Speaking of the readers, I would love to say a whole hearted thank you to my loyal seven readers who took the time to read the articles and the monthly columns I wrote under the heading of “Getting Nostalgic.” Gave me feedback, gave me news tips, or just plain ol’ gave me grief. I enjoyed it and would like to thank those seven: Dave Schwartz, Dave Yonemura, Tim Wallace Jr., Steve Brooks, the late Joseph Karnes, John Hale, Jim Murphy, occasionally Adam Sorokin (which is technically eight, however I only count Sorokin as half…)


What I loved about this is that these people were both fans and established racers. This meant I was hearing from those on the outside and the inside. It was awesome to be cruising the pits and have Dave Yonemura shove the big bald head into the golf cart and say hello! Joseph before he passed would see me at either the drags or a circle track race and ask, “When is your next column coming out?” I hope it brought him some comfort in his final days. Or to have racers compliment me on a write up. That was a huge ego boost. Or even to disagree with what I had written… At least they read it.


I would also be remiss if I didn’t thank the track owners and promoters who allowed me to come there and cover their events. For the most part all were happy with what I reported. Those that where not, all I can say is I told the truth as I saw and or heard it.


That is the reason I wrote this column and ventured to the various racetracks around the west -- to bring the story to those who could not be there. To show others another slice of our sport, which we all love so very much.


I can not thank Jeff and Mrs. Burk enough, for their support and their loyalty. I can only grant them the sailor’s wish of “fair winds and following seas” as they also step forth into their new life adventure. I will start finding a way to do something about sharing my adventures and travels with you all. As I plan to continue to reach out and tell more stories about nostalgia drag racing here in the west.


Thanks again, Jeff and Mrs. Burk. I love you guys. 


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