Sunday, January 19, 2014

In Loving and Faithful Memory of Jeff Byrd

By Becky White


There are a few people in this world whose foresight rises above all
obstacles, they just know there is a greater good with some things
when other people cannot see that good. Jeff Byrd was always one of
those people. I have wanted to write this memorial to Jeff since we
lost him. I didn't do it sooner because I wanted to see if anyone else
would but I have not seen one. In my personal opinion, Jeff did more
for drag racing than any other single person in the history of our
sport for many years and I know there are others who feel the same
way. His efforts were far reaching…as one person, he probably touched
more people in drag racing than anyone else ever has.

Jeff got his start in our sport when he became THE WINSTON DRAG RACING
MAN! Jeff worked for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in Winston-Salem
and was instrumental in Winston Sports Marketing…he truly became a
legend. He probably educated more people about the ins and outs of the
business end of drag racing than anyone…he somehow had this inane
knowledge of how things 'should' be. Even though he never ran a track
until he became president of Bristol Motor Speedway in 1998, he KNEW
how a track should be run. I don't mean he knew how to run a race or
he knew how to tech in a car, he knew how people should be treated.

Of Jeff, Bill Bader said, "Jeff was one of the smartest men I knew. He
taught me the phrase 'creature comfort features.' He knew about
'marketing' and marketing above all else can make or break any
businesses but most especially drag racing. People interested and
involved in drag racing were spread all over this country and even
other parts of the world and he knew marketing and advertising were
the only true ways for a track and our sport to succeed.

Second was the way he treated people. I never saw nor have I ever
heard of Jeff treating a Pro racer differently than a little guy
racer, whether it be sportsman racers or bracket racers. I never saw
nor heard of Jeff treating any national event track owner or operator
any differently than any small weekly track owner and operator he
dealt with.

"He even put the powers that be at NHRA and IHRA or any other
association on a level playing field. He did not discriminate between
bosses and employees, no matter whether he dealt with the tech guy or
the guy who cleaned the trash at the end of the weekend. To him,
everyone was equal. That is a quality you seldom ever find in this
world. Jeff's 'creature comfort features' included everyone. As for
teaching track operators the importance of marketing, advertising and
how to treat people, Bill said, "When we signed Norwalk Raceway Park
with IHRA in 1981 and Winston was the series sponsor, I didn't think
'World' Nationals was a good title for our first ever national event.
We were an 'unknown' in drag racing at that time."

IHRA owner, Larry Carrier said, "We'll call it the Winston World
Nationals" and Bill agreed with that title because he felt that was a
good title since it changed the whole perspective. The fact Jeff was
such a good guy and being a softie didn't mean he couldn't tell where
he thought they were going wrong…with not only your operations, but
also the way you projected yourself to the public, your employees,
your racers or the business people with whom you dealt. Bill said Jeff
sent them 100 gallon of paint…50 red, 50 white! Bill got busy painting
barrels. Jeff called and when the person who answered the phone said,
"He's out painting barrels," it did not set well with Jeff.

Bill called him back and Jeff said, "What are you doing?" Bill said,
"I was painting barrels." In a very condescending tone of voice, Jeff
said, "Really? Do you think we give you money, presents, sponsor
signage money and paint so YOU can paint barrels? If that reflects
your management style, then maybe we should be working with someone
else! You should be worried about selling tickets and working at
putting butts in the seats? You should be worried about 'creature
comfort features!" Bill said it made him mad that Jeff had talked to
him that way and he told his secretary, "Don't EVER tell anyone I'm
out painting barrels again!"

Bill continued, "But Jeff's words haunted me. I found every time I
turned my back on the office it cost me money! I am a 'hands-on' guy,
I LIKE painting barrels, I like putting up fence, I like erecting
grandstands…any kind of physical work. Jeff focused me in the right
direction. He taught me marketing and how to prioritize what I did
with my time, the difference between marketing related versus
operations related. He taught me that phrase, 'creature comfort
features' and to focus on your sponsors…the guy who pays to sell his
wares to the market created by the racers and fans; your customers…the
racers who pays to race and your fan…who pays to watch the racer."

"He included the 'suitcase' promoter in with the customers…the
promoter who travels from coast to coast putting on events such as
Super Chevy, Fun Ford and all the others. Jeff, his wife Claudia and I
became closer friends," explained Bill. "I could call the 'Byrd Man'
on the phone and ask him a question about anything." But Jeff was that
way with ALL track owner/operators…media people, too. I know…for I
sure did call him quite often! He helped me more than any other single
person I ever met in drag racing.

When I started publishing Quick Times Racing News, the only
experiences I had ever had doing anything like that was watching the
girls at my local newspaper put together ads plus…I loved to write and
I loved drag racing. Jeff taught me more about advertising, marketing,
publishing and how to relate to people other than the racer (which was
always my priority). But I had to deal with all those other people and
he taught me how.

He was always forthcoming with his advice and he answered every
question I ever asked. Had it not been for the wisdom he imparted to
me, I don't think I would have made it when I went out on my own! He
not only shared his knowledge with me…as I have said before, there
were times he literally lifted me out of the depths of despair. He
refused to allow me to have the doubts which could have made me quit.

He was my greatest champion because he knew my publication was
important to the people who really keep drag racing alive and well…the
little guy racers. The first thing he did was have RJR buy the back
page of my paper and the check always came at the beginning of each
year. Had it not been for that, I would NOT have made it through those
long winters with very little other revenue!

Jeff was out of drag racing for many years after the government
mandate to take cigarette advertising out of sports. But drag racing
was always his favorite…he loved drag racing. His love of drag racing
was the only thing which stood between Bristol Dragway and the heavy
'destruction' equipment…he single handedly saved that track. He saved
it at what 'could have been' a great cost to him but he loved our
sport so much, he was willing to take that chance. He believed in this
sport and its people…ALL its people! True…he was the President of
Bristol Motor Speedway and both tracks were his work, but he worked so
hard to save the drag strip, you wouldn't believe it even if you knew
the whole story.

The first time I went to see Jeff after he took over operations in
'Thunder Valley,' he was in a trailer on the left side of the drive
going into the facility. This was a little trailer which had been used
for many purposes over the years…'will call' office, tech info
headquarters…many of you have had to go in that little trailer to get
your tech cards, etc. At the time Jeff took the job, it was the ticket
sales office…with several people doing nothing but selling race
tickets by phone…mostly for the speedway. I kind of crinkled up my
nose and thought, "Jeff's office is in HERE?" I asked for him and he
heard my voice.

He didn't wait for someone to tell him I was there, he came right out
and got me! He seemed SO happy to see me! He took me back to his
little bitty office in the back of that trailer and you know what was
hanging on the wall? Not a photo of Dale Earnhart, not Adam or Richard
Petty or Mark Martin or any NASCAR racer! There was a wall size poster
of John Force doing a burn out! In all the years he had been gone from
drag racing, he had not lost his love for it! Force was just getting
started in the Pro ranks when Jeff became the Winston Drag Racing Man.
They hit it off right away and remained great friends through all
those years.

When John learned I was writing this memorial, he didn't mind getting
on the phone with me while he was in the staging lanes at Norwalk
Raceway getting ready to make a qualifying run! He talked to me until
he had to get in the car to make his run! He did this because he had
such high regard for Jeff! "You know I raced with Jeff from his
Winston Drag Racing days and he always treated us like family. He was
a great guy and he did a great job because he spent money at times
when there no money to promote the races to make sure the crowd came
in. He always treated you fair," said John.

"There were a few times I got mad over stuff. I would run to the tower
and cry to him and he would take me outside. He would laugh and I
would say, 'How can you laugh when I'm in this crisis?' Jeff would say
to me, 'Because Force, you are in crisis ALL the time! The reason I
put up with you is because I know how much you love the sport and how
much you want to be good at this!' I was terrible in the early days
when I met him and he would just laugh and say, 'You'll get there
someday, you'll win someday!'"

I said, "He would calm you down, wouldn't he?" He replied, "That's the
truth! I would say, 'Why are you laughing?' And he would say, 'You're
not really mad, you just want to come off like you're mad and you're a
tiger.' You are always fair, you look at both sides of a situation.'
And he would always calm me down. And I won the biggest race of all
right there with him at Bristol…a quarter million dollars! I beat the
dragsters…it was like he was just amazed." Jeff said, "You just pull
things out of a bag no one else can." "I won all the Invitationals! In
fact, I almost won New England but my daughter beat me in the final.
At least a Force won it!" and he laughed.

When Jeff became the general manager of the Bristol racing complex,
there were NO plans for a drag strip there! Thunder Valley was going
under the 'dozers! Jeff is the ONLY reason we still have a Bristol
Dragway. He saved it because he loved it and our sport. When he got to
Bristol, Bill Bader, one of the owners of IHRA, went down there and
talked to Jeff. Jeff was the person who advised Bill to go NHRA!!! An
IHRA owner with an NHRA track! What a combination!

"One of the reasons I respected him,' says Bill, "was because he would
tell you what was right for YOU! He knew if he didn't tell you the
truth, he would lose a friend. He ALWAYS told me what was right for me
and to how to fit that very properly into the relationship with him,
with IHRA, NHRA or whatever! Jeff was very loyal. He was no nonsense,
he was definitive in his thoughts and immediate in his responses. He
worried less about peoples' feelings and just told them the truth and
he understood they would understand that."

I don't like to say 'No' to someone, I don't like to hurt peoples'
feelings, but IHRA taught me I had to be more direct," Bill continued.
"Jeff taught me and others, how to handle really BAD situations and I
have had a few. Jeff NEVER turned me down on any question I ever asked
him and I don't guess he did anyone else, either. He was the only NHRA
track operator who called me and welcomed me into NHRA and
congratulated me. Some others may have talked to Billy but Jeff is the
only person who ever talked to me about joining NHRA!"

Jeff invited Bill to come to Bristol so he could show Bill some of the
things they made mistakes with in re-building Bristol so Bill could
avoid making the same mistakes. He said, "Get yourself on a plane and
get down here!" Bill took Bill, Jr. and their contractor and flew to
Bristol. Jeff not only had Bill talk to Bristol staff members, he gave
Bill their drawings and the blueprints for skyboxes, showed him and
explained to him why "you will NOT be happy with pre-fab sky boxes."
He showed Bill the pre-fab boxes, then the built-in-place buildings
and how much nicer they were.

He laid the drawings out, said "Do this," and "Don't do this." He had
Bill talk to his management team on their philosophies of how they
took care of their customers, their fans and any other guests,
including sponsors. Bill loved Jeff's idea about hiring a manager
whose salary was tied to the profits…even to put him on a percentage
basis. Bill added even more to that when he got back to Norwalk and
they now have the Bader Family Guarantee. He told me, "If you are
unhappy at Norwalk Raceway for ANY reason, we give you your money
back, no questions asked!"

Jeff did it one better…he had his employees carry their personal check
books with them at all times and if someone complained, if they were
unhappy and wanted their money back, the employee would write you a
check on the spot and he would reimburse the employee later! Bill
remarked, "That does two things...it gives a person confidence and a
comfort level knowing their problems are going to be resolved and
taken care of immediately. No one had to worry about jumping through
hoops, filling out forms, sending in a written complaint and all that
crap to get satisfaction!"

"Second, it demonstrated a commitment on the behalf of the employee so
the person who was receiving the refund would say, "Wow, this person
is going to pay me out of their money and they have the ability to
make those decisions. When I heard that, I said, "You S.O.B., you
outdid me!" I had NEVER thought of doing that…it never occurred to me.
HE told ALL employees to resolve problems on the spot!" Bader has had
his Bader Family Guarantee since 1985 but Jeff carried it even
farther.

Red Whitmore, who worked under Jeff at Bristol said basically the same
things about Jeff as everyone else has except he did say Jeff was a
great politician, "It takes a great politician to be able to make
everyone happy, but Jeff was more than that. In all his dealings, no
matter who it was, he was honest, caring and understanding. Ralph
Seagraves…the original Director of Sports Marketing as well as T.
Wayne Robertson who held that position for many, many years, both
looked up to Jeff and felt very lucky to have him working on the
Winston team."

"He would help racers…even to the point of helping push their cars! He
would even came out and helped cook for the employees at Bristol's big
races! I know Jeff loved doing things like that…in that respect, he
and Bill Bader are a lot alike! Everything with Jeff was one on one."
Tod Mack told Red, "You are SO lucky to have Jeff here!" Jeff cared
about every person who came through those gates no matter who they
were. Jeff understood it was important for a track to cater to the
grass roots racer in order to survive.

I wrote in an editorial one time if a person really wanted to be
successful in the sport of drag racing, they had to listen to 100% of
everything everyone wanted to tell them. Then they could take 98% of
what they heard and trash it. The 2% left is what is really important.
But you have to listen the 98% because those people are always
complaining and telling you how to run your business. The 2% are the
ones who seldom speak but when they do, they have something important
to say. Jeff KNEW that to be true, he practiced it every day and it
made him one of the greatest successes of any single person in drag
racing.

Bruton Smith started Speedway Children' 'Charities in 1982 and every
track he owns has to have events each year specifically to raise money
for the children's charities. Every track is allowed to run their
Children' 'Charities and events the way they see fit. Jeff's wife
Claudia told me, "Jeff was SO passionate about the Childrens'
Charities…he loved giving back to the community and especially to
children. We do all our own fund raising and every penny goes to
Childrens' Charities." Claudia is still running the Bristol Motor
Speedway and Bristol Dragway Childrens' Charities…it is her passion as
well.

Even though all Bruton's tracks are involved in Childrens' Charities,
Jeff is the person who came up with the Christmas light show at
Bristol which has been such a huge hit. Now they all put on a
Christmas light show each year. Bristol Motor Speedways' Childrens'
Charities support non-profit childrens' organizations within the
community around the speedway in 16 counties in northeastern Tennessee
and southwestern Virginia. For information on the 2014 Speedway
Children' Charities events and schedule; go to
www.speedwaycharities.org.

As far as this writer is concerned, Jeff Byrd's legacy in drag racing
will never be surpassed. He loved racing and drag racing in
particular. He LOVE being the president of Bristol, he always loved
interacting with people…ALL people. He was full of great ideas and
loved sharing them with anyone who would listen and especially those
who put his ideas into practice. And he loved listening to YOUR ideas,
he always knew he could learn something, too. Jeff is gone from us too
soon, but we can keep his legacy alive by practicing what HE taught us
and by supporting Bristol Dragway AND Speedway Childrens' Charities in
any way we can. We can keep Jeff's memory alive and honor him by
following his lead and being the kind of person he taught us to be.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Truth About the Death of the Sportsman Class Racers Association

The TRUTH About the Death of the Sportsman Class Racers Association

For YEARS, I wondered why some racers who had called me 'friend' for
many years just stopped speaking to me and gave me glances like they
really disliked me! I just did not understand. I went through it once
again recently at the 6th Annual MJ Printing & Graphics Chicken Stew
at Mark Joyce's printing shop in Kernersville, NC on December 8, 2012!
How can someone 'be' your friend for many years, then just stop? How
can they just act as if they don't even know you? Well, well…something
happened at the 1st Annual Farmington Dragway Legends Race in October,
2010…which I was VERY proud to be asked to attend as one of their
'Legends.'

I was always told I was a legend in my own mind, now I know I'm a
legend to others as well! HA! Anyway, at that race, I FINALLY got a
clue about this thing which had happened I had not been able figure
out! A racer I met (think '57 and red), probably at the first race I
ever worked at Farmington Dragway in 1979, came into the game
room…where Mark had set me up with tables and chairs. They looked at
the stuff I had and didn't even speak to me! I took all my Farmington
Dragway scrapbooks with all the articles I had written which were
printed in the Davie County Enterprise and I took lots more things for
people to look at and reminisce about.

I always tried to re-arrange those articles to send to the winners and
runners up's local papers… highlighting their accomplishments. I also
had the last set of photos I had taken at the track in 2003 before my
wreck. There were so many people who came in to look at all this stuff
and talk to me…I had been out of 'physical' drag racing at that time
for seven whole years! The game room was literally packed at times! It
was a great weekend and I hope to be able to do this again many times.
On Saturday, one particular long time Super Stock racer came in and
was looking at the books…at all his photos I'd had published along
with articles about his wins.

This is someone who has been racing almost all his life, is VERY well
liked and WELL respected, not only in IHRA circles, but he is well
known in NHRA as well. If I were to give you one little hint, you
would know who he is he…he, along with his wheelstanding wagon…are
ALWAYS a crowd favorite (there's the hint!)! I'm not sure, but I
'think' he won more IHRA Super Stock championships than anyone else
ever has. He and I were just talking and he mentioned he wished he
still had all his scrapbooks but a 'so-called' friend of his had
borrowed them many years ago and never returned them.

This racer also mentioned he wished the S.C.R.A. could have continued
because that first year, everyone had such a great time. Just in the
very first year, the races were SO successful, the S.C.R.A. was SO
WELL accepted and was praised as being THE best thing to happen to
class racing in MANY years! He said he was sorry Dick Moroso had
decided to quit sponsoring the association. We continued to talk, then
he went on his way and the game room kind of filled with people and
everyone was talking and laughing and having a great time. But this
racer's comments stayed with me…they just wouldn't go away. When I got
to my room that night, I could hardly sleep for thinking about what he
had said.

It finally dawned on me…"This racer does NOT know what happened with
the S.C.R.A. and he doesn't know WHY Mr. Moroso pulled out his
support. And I bet the others do not know either!" Then I realized why
many of those class racers had quit speaking to me! All day Sunday, I
kept watching this person and as soon as he lost and was loading his
car, I hobbled over to his rig and I said, "You don't know WHY Mr.
Moroso pulled his money out of S.C.R.A., do you?" He said that was all
he had heard. I stood there and TOLD him what happened and he was
amazed. He said he had never heard the reasons WHY Mr. Moroso had
pulled out his money and his support!

Now I am telling all of you the REAL truth about why Dick Moroso did
not sponsor the Sportsman Class Racers Association for the third year
and why it went belly up…this is the fault of approximately three
individuals. Oh yes, they had lots of help, but they were the 'big
three' who caused ALL this to happen…they literally murdered the
S.C.R.A. and all the hard work all those people…including Dick
Moroso…did for that group of racers. As I tell you what happened, you
will realize EGO is a person's worst enemy and the EGOs of these three
racers caused them to be the murderers.

As EVERYONE who was involved in S.C.R.A. KNOWS…I was instrumental in
bringing about this association…if you want to get right down to the
nitty gritty, had it not been for me, they would never have had the
meetings with Dick Moroso! I was the person who, at the first meeting,
suggested contacting Dick and asking him to be our major sponsor! None
of them knew him, but I did and I told them I would call him and see
what he had to say. He listened to everything I said, told me he would
be in Charlotte several more days and asked me when I could bring the
group down to have a meeting with him! Yes, that is right! I was the
person who set up the meeting with Mr. Moroso.

I took the group to Dick Moroso's shop in Charlotte for that meeting.
I had already explained to him on the phone what we were trying to do.
Dick Moroso was a diehard class racer. He was until the day he passed
away. He loved class racing…especially Modified. He listened to
everything I said on the phone and everything I said at the meeting.
He asked a lot of questions which were answered by either me or the
people who went to the meeting. I don't remember everyone who
went…both Wayne and Brenda Dollyhigh of Mt. Airy went…both these
people were INSTRUMENTAL in forming this association and keeping it
running, especially Brenda.

Kenny Melton was there…he had held the first meeting of racers at his
house where the association was formed (we tried to pick central
locations so more people could attend). Let me stop right here and
tell you how instrumental Brenda and Wayne Dollyhigh were in making
this association a reality. They put in hundreds of hours of work,
calling people and talking to people in person, Brenda was elected
treasurer. She not only did a LOT to recruit new members as well as
doing her secretarial job, she helped mail out over 600 letters at one
time…to every class racer we could find an address for! That is just
ONE of the hundreds of jobs she did.

She and I probably talked on the phone a hundred or more hours just
during the first few months of getting this thing together! She and I
are the people who got the first bunch of racers together even though
the meeting was held at Melton's. Now I will get back to Dick Moroso.
He grilled us for well over an hour and the main thing he wanted to
know was, "WHAT WILL I GET out of my involvement? How do I and my
company benefit? If I become your major sponsor, give you money for a
championship and pay contingencies, what do I get in return?" Dick
Moroso was FIRST…a businessman!

Businessmen do NOT just GIVE AWAY money…they want something in
return…how many times did you read that in Quick Times Racing News? If
a business person in racing is going to hand money over to you, they
want to know they are going to get THEIR money's worth of SOMETHING!
He wanted to know what that 'something' would be. The MAIN thing he
asked me was…was I and Quick Times Racing News going to remain
involved with the association and could he count on me to deliver the
advertising he KNEW I could…in return for his money. Now what kind of
advertising would he be buying for his $15,000-plus? Read that line
again.

Yes…that $15,000-plus would be buying advertising for Moroso
Performance so he could sell more parts to get his $15,000-plus
contingency money back! Then it was MY turn to speak. Moroso
Performance had been advertising with me for several years. Dick would
call me a couple times a year just to ask me how racing was doing in
the south and if there was more he could be doing to get his company
more involved and making more money in the south. He called me because
he trusted me, he KNEW I would answer his questions whether I thought
he would like the answers or not.

He ALWAYS wanted to know how he could reach out to the 'little guy'
racers, especially bracket racers because many were buying cheap parts
which didn't last. I gave him several suggestions and he followed
every one of them…put Moroso Performance items out on the shelves so
racers could pick them up and look at them…don't just have them in the
stock room or on a wall behind the counter or not have them in the
stores at all so racers would have to order them. When a racer WANTS a
part…he wants to go in his local speed shop and pick up that part,
look at it and study it. He wants to be able take it to the counter,
ask questions about it, pay for it, take it home and put it on his
car!

That was when you started seeing Moroso Performance Parts on displays
in small high performance stores where they had had to order them
before. I will say this…Dick Moroso was the smartest man I ever met in
my life! I never met another person in my life who could sit in a
corner of a room where a meeting was going on and be working out
something in his mind, then immediately answer a question about
something completely different! I was always straight up honest with
him and that is why he continued to listen to me and call me for
advice on southern racing.

When I told him Quick Times Racing News would carry his banner on
EVERY ad for every race, on every story on every race AND in as many
other ways as I could, he KNEW he would get the advertising he was
paying for with his $15,000 and contingencies! His banner would also
be on everything the S.C.R.A. printed…from tech cards to letterheads
to envelopes and everything else… especially t-shirts! He NEVER had a
moment's doubt about that. He was sure he would be getting his money's
worth! Any of you who were around in 1988, especially class racers
involved in the S.C.R.A., knew what a helluva year that association
had.

All the class racers put on a bang up show at every track where they
raced. I wrote about the races and everything I printed had MOROSO
S.C.R.A. on it. Dick Moroso was VERY pleased…we didn't even have to
ask for his money the second year…he came to our banquet to OFFER that
money again! In October, 1988, we had our banquet AND a meeting to
elect officers for 1989. I was never an office holder, I just agreed
to be the Public Information Officer for the S.C.R.A. through Quick
Times Racing News. And I did my job VERY WELL!

At the meetings before the banquet that year, I was nominated for Vice
President. My exact words were, "I am afraid I have to decline this
nomination! I'm sorry, I don't have a choice." When asked why, I just
explained I was stretched so thin already, there was no way I could
take on anything else! Not only was I publishing Quick Times, I was
working on opening a print shop in Lincolnton, we were doing the
Southeastern Drag Strip Directories," racer calendars, I can't even
begin to tell you all the stuff I was involved in. Not to mention the
fact I STILL had a family! I just could not do it. Everyone seemed to
be okay with that, including Dick Moroso.

He, too, had been stretched thin all his life so he knew exactly where
I was coming from. I will tell you this…if it had not been for Brenda
Dollyhigh, I don't think I could have done what I did with the
S.C.R.A. that year anyway! We had our banquet and I even won an
award!!! The 1988 S.C.R.A. Ace Reporter award! I don't remember if we
had a meeting in early 1989 or if someone just came over to me at the
first race and told me I was no longer needed! The reason being…they
were going to publish their own paper! Well, they already had Moroso's
money so I guess they actually thought they really did not need a
major publication! WRONG!

I do have a copy of the first…and only (I think)…paper they published!
Someone sent it to me so I could see what a crappy job they did! But
as far as I know they never published a second one! After I was told
they didn't need me any longer, I bowed out and stayed away. I did not
go to their races that year and there was nothing in my paper about
them because they never sent me anything. I did call Dick and told him
what they had done and he told me that was okay…for me not to worry
about it. He would see how it went…there was nothing else he could
do…they already had his money! They also did not get to go back to
River Cities Raceway or to the New Atlanta Raceway to race in '89
because of their decision!

So, to put it plainly…Mr. Moroso did NOT get what he paid for that
second year…they cheated him a whole lot more than they cheated me…at
least all I had involved was time and gas, motels and eats. Since he
did not get what he paid for the second year, there WAS NO THIRD YEAR.
And all this was the fault of Kenny Melton, Ben Trammell and Ronnie
Smith! Sometime between the banquet in October, 1988 and the time I
was told I was no longer needed, Ronnie Smith called me at my home one
evening. Ronnie and I had worked together several times before on a
couple projects, etc. and had always (I thought) been friends. But
evidently, his ego got the best of him as well.

He started listening to the wrong people and believed their lies and
innuendos! I could not believe the things he said to me that night!
And everything he said was a lie! He had heard I had said this and
heard I had said that. I said, "Ronnie, where did you get these lies?
I have never even THOUGHT these things, how could I have said them if
I never even THOUGHT them?" He just kept on and on and I finally hung
up on him…there's no need in arguing with someone who 'thinks' they
know it ALL! Somehow he felt sure the things he had been told were
true because the people who told him were 'supposed' to be his
friends! I wonder how long it took Ronnie to realize he HAD no
friends?

All they did was use him for a patsy. They stirred up his ego and
instigated him to do the calling so the conversation would be blamed
on him and not on them. This was one of the ugliest conversations I've
ever been witness to on my own phone! That conversation and one which
occurred in early '89 prompted me to put a recorder on my phone! I
wasn't taking any more chances! I wonder how long it took Ronnie to
realize everything he had been told were lies? He kept saying, "Well
Ben told me…" or "Kenny said…" I just could NOT make him understand.

I will tell you this though…most class races NEVER supported QTRN!
They felt a 'bracket racing' publication or a publication for 'little
guys' was beneath them! So why did I go to bat for them? Who the hell
knows! I just knew what Billy Meyer was doing was WRONG and I wanted
to do something to help make it right. During the entire 25 years I
published the print version of Quick Times Racing News, the ONLY time
I EVER got any support from class racers was during 1988…when I was
involved with the S.C.R.A. and reporting all their events. I also went
to most of the S.C.R.A. events and I can tell you this…there are
several tracks which would NEVER have had S.C.R.A. races had it not
been for me.

One of them is River Cities Raceway Park, another was the New Atlanta
Dragway! I got those races for S.C.R.A. along with a couple others.
One more thing before I close…when I first started Quick Times Racing
News, Kenny Melton had won some IHRA Modified World Championships. I
was told by several people he had actually 'bought' those
championships and I absolutely refused to believe it. Do I believe it
now? What do you think? It was just public knowledge in class racing
circles, draw Melton and make money…get paid to lose! I wouldn't put
anything past him. He was and probably still is a snake in the grass
and he always seemed to have a lot of followers. I never understood
that but as you know, I have never been a 'follower' anyway!

The following letter is from the October, 1988 Issue of Quick Times
Racing News (Volume 8, No.7)

Dear Becky,

Thank you for attending the inaugural Budweiser Kudzu Nationals held
last month at our facility. Having you present added credibility to
our fine Pro Stock and Sportsman Class Racers Association show.

The S.C.R.A. show was, by far, the finest sportsman presentation we
have held at the New Atlanta Dragway. Never have we seen so many
quality cars that produced such outstanding performances. Every car in
the S.C.R.A. could pass as a show car.

The personnel were great to work with and conducted their events in a
most professional manner. The S.C.R.A. is welcomed to run with us as
often as possible during the 1989 season. I sincerely hope they are
able to maintain the successful program they have administered in
1988.

Keep up the good work and visit us soon.

Kindest regards,
Steve Earwood
Vice President/General Manager
The New Atlanta Dragway
Commerce, GA

But the S.C.R.A. was NOT "able to maintain the successful program they
administered in 1988." Why? Because of a few egotistical individuals
who thought they were better than everyone else involved in the
association. This just goes to prove…an overactive ego not only can,
but WILL, destroy everything. And they were NOT included when the 1989
Kudzu Nationals rolled around at the New Atlanta Dragway! They were
replaced by the first ever Heads Up, No Breakout Quick 16 Doorslammer
race at an NHRA track. When you cease to listen to people in the know,
the people who have helped you the most because you think you 'know it
all,' this is what happens.

And it caused the destruction of an organization which worked! The
bulk of the racers were there from the beginning…even those who had
many doubts about whether the whole thing would work or not. It worked
ONLY because of the many individuals who worked so hard…together…for
its success…those who really CARED about the association and not just
about themselves and their egos. The Sportsman Class Racers
Association was an 'anomaly.' An anomaly is an abnormality, something
inconsistent or odd. It was formed so quickly and run so well and was
so successful in only its first year, people had a hard time believing
it. Things like that just don't normally happen! Then it died almost
as quickly as it started… it was an anomaly.

It struggled a little to survive, but not much. An association which
could garner this kind of praise from a facility such as the New
Atlanta Dragway and had such an unheard of successful FIRST year,
should have been destined to do great things. But no, the minority of
the people involved quit working together for the good of the entire
group. They were selfish and only worked for the good of their own
egos, therefore destroying everything everyone had worked so hard to
build. When Billy Meyer sold IHRA in late 1988 to Jim Ruth and Jim
brought back the guys who had so successfully run IHRA for so many
years, class racing was re-instated and racers deserted S.C.R.A. as
quickly as they had joined up.

Why? Because without Quick Times Racing News to give them the
recognition and praise they had had the year before (praise they
deserved), they no longer needed the S.C.R.A. At least, with the Drag
Review, they could get a little write-up and get their photo
printed…once Quick Times Racing News had been run out of S.C.R.A.,
they were getting NO recognition at all! Why pay to join an
association if it isn't going to do you any good? I know NOTHING of
the S.C.R.A. in its second year. I don't know if they even had a
banquet. I don't even know if they ever handed out the money Dick
Moroso had given them. Did they even finish the year? Did they have
any champions?

What DID happen to that money? I wish I had some way of finding out.
If anyone knows, I would love to get that info! I don't even know who
their treasurer was the second year…or any other officers either! But
since it seems as if everyone involved thought Mr. Moroso and,
therefore, I were the reasons it shut down, they don't seem to want to
talk to me. Mr. Moroso for not giving them more money for nothing and
me for 'deserting' them…which I did not do. Man, drag racers sure can
hold grudges for a LONG time! Even for NO reason! If anyone could give
me that information I would greatly appreciate it! And I am sure there
are lots of others who would appreciate knowing the same things!

Now YOU KNOW everything I know concerning the TRUTH about the MURDER
of the Sportsman Class Racers Association! I don't even know who the
officers were the second year. I'm sure they could tell you what
happened to it. I would have done this story years ago if I had known
people were upset with me and blamed me for the death of the S.C.R.A.
Becky White

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fourth Annual Shirl Greer Memorial Birthday Bash; Charlotte's Speed Street; National Speedway Directory

Fourth Annual Shirl Greer Memorial Birthday Bash, Charlotte's Speed
Street, National Speedway Directory

On May 18 this year (2013) I was proud to be invited and happy to
attend the Fourth Annual Shirl Greer Memorial Birthday Bash in
Kingsport, TN. This was the first one of these I have attended and I
had a blast along with every other person who was there. The weather
was crap, but everyone had a good time despite the bad weather! Van
Greer and Brian Greer, Shirl's sons. are the guys who put this on.
They have a beautiful cake made with the photo of the original
championship funny car on one half…with white cake underneath and the
last funny car Shirl raced on the other half…with chocolate under it.
EVERYONE got their favorite flavor! NEAT cake!

This event is held each year at the Bloomingdale Pike garage in
Kingsport, TN where Shirl worked for many years and also where he
lived…upstairs over the shop. Brian cooked up burgers and fries for
anyone who came hungry, there were several guitars and people to 'pick
and grin.' The BIG deal, as always, is when they crank that funny car!
Normally, they sell dollar raffle tickets to help cover the cost of
the party and the person who wins the raffle gets to sit in the funny
car while they crank it and let it run a few minutes. They didn't do
that this year because of the weather and the car more or less has to
be outside when it is cranked.

They did have a tarp over the car but there wasn't a single person
there who didn't mind standing out in the drizzle to be able to see
and hear this. While they were priming the car and getting it ready to
crank and Brian was making his speech, he mentioned the fact Shirl
didn't ALWAYS race funny cars. He turned and looked at Dee, Van's mom
and Shirl's partner in racing crime for many, many years and asked her
what Shirl's first 'funny' car was and she popped right out with it….a
1962 Dodge with a 413 Hemi .040" over! His first ever race car was a
'32 Ford 5-window coupe with an Olds engine!

The little lady got a huge round of applause and quite a few cheers
herself. (Dee said the fastest time she ever ran was at A&H (Asheville
Henderson) Dragstrip in western N.C. when she was seven months
pregnant with Van. She said, "It isn't any wonder he loves drag
racing!") This party is a ceremony everyone has come to love and look
forward to over the past four years…someone makes a speech…this year
it was Brian. Then the car gets fired up…what a sound! A sound I
personally have not heard since the last national event I attended in
2003! It WAS beautiful! After letting it run and warm up, they gave it
several 'wa-pows' (one of my daughters can do that and it sounds just
like whatever she's imitating!) to cheers and tears!

Cheers to the man who won the first EVER Funny Car Championship in the
world. A lot of champions have come and gone since then, but no one
will ever be the FIRST again! Cheers to the years of hard work and the
love Shirl had of racing. Tears for the loss of an icon, the man who
worked so hard for so long to make all that happen. The weekend Shirl
won the first ever funny car world championship was a hard one for
this bunch. Shirl had a bad wreck and fire on Saturday. He was taken
to the hospital with severe burns on his hands, neck and face…even his
hair was singed around his helmet.

When they pulled off his racing gloves, the skin from his hands came
off with them! The crew and friends took the car to a shop in Modesto
and worked on it all night…Shirl told them if they got it fixed, he
WOULD be there to drive it. And he was. A doctor even went to the
track with him when he left the hospital that day! He could not even
get the racing gloves on. He and Don Prudhome were the two drivers in
contention for the championship. Don just happened to have some
'gardening' gloves in his trailer and he gave them to Shirl to wear!
Shirl HAD to make a trial run to make sure the car was track ready and
he did…finishing up that run in a ball of fire! But he was bound and
determined to run that race.

While they were in the pits thrashing on the car, Prudhome and Dale
Pulde had to run each other and when they heard them announce Pulde
had won that round, there was jubilation and celebration in the
'Tension' pits! Shirl became the world champion at that moment and,
thankfully, he did NOT have to make that run! He truly should NOT have
been driving anyway! That was a championship which was as hard fought
for and as hard won as any championship ever has been…maybe more!

Back inside and getting dried out…music was made…you would have
thought George Jones was with us! Brian made up a song dedicated to
Shirl with Van and Dee on either side of him and other friends did
some of that old timey pickin' and grinnin' and even a few got up and
did a bit of dancing! Brian even got me up and made ME dance!!! I
haven't done that since I got hurt and dancing was ALWAYS one of my
favorite things to do! All in all, everyone had a blast…and let me
tell you this…that Van Greer makes the absolute BEST iced tea I have
EVER had in my life! (And, no, it was not scotched!) The food was
good, the company was great and the memories are wonderful!

The guys had worked hard to get lots of Shirl's memorabilia put on
display for everyone to see…photos, newspaper clippings along with
clippings from National Dragster and Drag Review, car parts…body
panels, pistons, cranks and other pieces too numerous to mention.
Again…I saw SO many people I have not seen since early 2003 and I
enjoyed it immensely for many reasons…this was one of them. Memories
abound when you get groups of racers together for they are all so
diverse and come from so many walks of life. These are just some of
the reasons I did what I did for so many years.

Thanks again, folks…for inviting me to this annual event. I hope you
continue to have this party in Shirl's honor for many years to come
and I hope to attend every one (got to go back for that tea not to
mention listening to that funny car run…there's nothing like it!).
_____________________________________________________

Charlotte's Speed Street

I wonder how many of you remember just exactly WHO started Charlotte's
Speed Street? It is now a kick off for the Memorial Day weekend races
at Charlotte Motor Speedway but that isn't what it started out to be!
Way back when…when Shuffletown Dragway was still in operation…the
Shuffletown racing family got together to try to educate the public
about drag racing. Eddie Knox was the Mayor of Charlotte and we got
him to declare one day a year as race day! We started out having drag
cars on the streets in Charlotte on a Friday so we could talk to the
public and hopefully get more people interested in drag racing.

Charles Carpenter nearly got put in jail for doing a burnout right
smack in the middle of downtown Charlotte! Talk about windows
rattling! Everyone involved had such a good time during Charlotte's
Official Race Day and we DID educate a lot of folks. Oh…by the way,
the round track racers were invited to bring their cars and put them
on display as well, but they declined. Now they take the credit for
Speed Street but had it not been for everyone involved with
Shuffletown Dragway, it may never have happened!

They took what we had already started and made it bigger…it is now one
of the biggest events during race week in May and one of the biggest
events Charlotte has in town every year! I just wanted to clear the
air about that one. Give thanks to the drag racers for one of the
LARGEST racing events in downtown Charlotte every year!
____________________________________________________________________

National Speedway Directory

I was surprised when the new issue of the National Speedway Directory
showed up in my mailbox recently! I used to receive one every year
from the publisher and in return, I gave them quite a bit of coverage
in Quick Times Racing News and helped them sell their book every year.
This book is a HUGE undertaking…I can't even imagine what these folks
go through to get this book ready for print every year! I published
the Southeastern Drag Strip Directory for several years and a couple
years, published an Eastern Drag Strip Directory (BEFORE I ever even
knew about this national book) and just doing those was an immense
undertaking!

This book covers every big AND little racing facility, not only in
this entire country, they cover Canada as well! It is unreal. If YOU
want any information about ANY track…straight, round AND road courses
as well as ALL sanctioning bodies, museums AND other publications…this
is the book YOU need to get! They also have racing schedules! This is
their 34th edition of this book!!! You can order the book by sending a
check or money order to 909 Seneca Road, Wilmette, IL, 60091. You can
also call 847-853-0294 to order by credit card.

You can order by going to their website www.speedwaysonline.com or
emailing them at orders@speedwaysonline.com. If you would like to SELL
this book, you can do that, too. Just call and talk to them about to
learn all the particulars about becoming a dealer. Timothy and Margo
Frost are the books publishers; Allan and Nancy Brown are the editors.
I always dealt with Allan and I would thank them all for sending me
the current edition. There is some VERY interesting reading in this
book!

Everything inside its covers is updated EVERY year…no 'old' news in
this one. Even though they make a diligent effort to make sure
everything is as accurate as possible…as they say, "It is a constantly
moving target!" From the time the book is finished and goes to the
printer, something can change…I learned that when I was publishing my
own directories! They are doing everything they possibly can to make
sure all their information is current and correct. Order YOUR National
Speedway Directory TODAY so you will have all the current information
in your hand and you won't have to go to hundreds of websites to find
what you're looking for!

Fourth Annual Shirl Greer Memorial Birthday Bash; Charlotte's Speed Street; National Speedway Directory

Monday, April 22, 2013

2013 North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame

2013 North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame

Written by Becky White on February 3, 2013

Today my heart hurts. No, I'm not having a heart attack although I saw
at least a couple people yesterday who would be happy if I did and I
would just be out of their 'business!' I just don't go away, do I? I'm
sure there were several people who rejoiced when I quit publishing
Quick Times Racing News because instead of accepting Quick Times
Racing News as it was intended and published, they looked on it as a
problem and me as a thorn in their sides when all I EVER intended or
wanted to do was to help make drag racing better for everyone! And did
that!

My heart is hurting because it is sad, disappointed, frustrated and
disgusted over something which happened yesterday at the 2013 North
Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. It bothered me
SO much, I HAD to get it off my chest and writing is how I do that. It
makes me wonder why this was even started! I am sure Jim Turner had a
million GREAT reasons for doing this but it seems it has now become
more of a pain in the tuckus to him instead of a dream come true!

I know most everyone in drag racing who ever read Quick Times Racing
News thought I wrote everything I felt and never held anything back
but they would be WRONG! I kept my mouth shut too many times and I am
tired of it. I wonder how they will feel if (and when) I finally TELL
ALL? When the North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame was first
started in 2007, I had a lot of racers call me and ask me why I wasn't
at the ceremonies! My answer, "I did not know anything about it!" "Why
not?" they asked. "Of all the people in the world in drag racing, you
should be!" Well, I wasn't!

All at once, when I got hurt, it was if I had died! I didn't. I don't
feel any differently about dag racing now than I did all those years
of working for the sport! When I FINALLY received my FIRST phone call
from ANYONE involved in the organization, it was September, 2011…well
over four years later! Danny Dunn called to tell me I had been
selected for an award from the North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of
Fame. Would you like to know what the FIRST thought in my mind was
right at that minute? My FIRST thought was, "What took you so long?"
But I did not say it.

Danny could not even tell me the name of the award, he just said he
didn't know exactly what it was going to be because they were making
some changes…it had previously been an 'achievement' award. The FIRST
thing I did was type up my thanks. When I get something on my mind
(like yesterday and today), I HAVE to write it right then or it won't
be what I want. (My psychologist taught me that way back in the late
'70s when I was going through severe depression. Yes, I went through
all that and went to a psychologist and learned a lot about myself.

I will tell you this…I stopped going to him when I got into drag
racing! Drag racing probably saved my life!) Anyway, putting things on
paper makes things make more sense…sometimes. (Yes, B.M., I AM an
emotional reporter!) So I wrote my thanks…not knowing the name of the
award. Danny said they would like me to attend the ceremony so the
award could be presented to me. Between that day and Thanksgiving,
with the ceremonies coming up in early January, I had had a blood clot
in my spinal column which had completely paralyzed me from my sternum
down, spent six days in the hospital and a couple weeks in rehab to
learn how to walk (and do everything else) again!

I missed the 2nd annual Legends Race at Farmington Dragway and I had
also decided NOT to attend the Hall of Fame ceremony…it was just too
hard getting around! This board…or committee…was (is) comprised of
several people. I did not know at that time exactly who, but I did
know most of them gave me the most hassle and problems of ANY track
operators I worked with during my 25 years of publishing Quick Times
Racing News! Yes, my 'home boys,' the track operators I had to work
the closest with all those years, the ones right here in good old
North Carolina…home!

I had more problems with 'some' of my North Carolina track operators
than I did any other track operators in the entire United
States…including Puerto Rico! They were hard to work with, didn't care
enough about their racers to send in race results and would not get
their ads in on time even though they DID know my ads worked better
than anything else they did. I really thought it would be in MY best
interest to just stay home that day.

I was NOT interested in getting back into drag racing and I didn't
think getting caught up in all the activities would help emotionally
after the three months of hell I had just been through…not to mention
the past eight years. I didn't know if I was up to the trip anyway!
BUT…in December I received my tickets. I think I called Jim Turner to
see if he could tell me the actual NAME of the award. When he said,
"Oh, it is going to be the JEFF BYRD Memorial Lifetime Achievement
Award" I nearly fainted! What a shock! I had to get off the phone
because I could not even talk!

The fact this award was going to be named for the GREATEST person I
EVER met in drag racing completely changed my attitude AND my
decision. In the speech I had written, way back in September, after
that first phone call, the FIRST person I thanked was Jeff
Byrd…because if it had not been for Jeff, there probably would never
have ever been a Quick Times Racing News! Anyway, I went to the
ceremony, got my plaque and made my speech.

I got a program and it had the names of all the inductees over the
years and I was shocked at a couple of people who HAVE been inducted.
As all of you know, I believe in doing things the RIGHT way and if you
aren't going to do that, don't do it at all. IF you are going to call
this the NORTH CAROLINA Drag Racing Hall of Fame, then the ONLY people
you should induct to REPRESENT the state of North Carolina should be
honest, hard working, outstanding representatives, not only of the
state of North Carolina but the sport of drag racing as well and you
should NOT induct crooks, thieves and drug dealers!

It bothered me SO much, I called Jim Turner and I ASKED him if I could
be on the board. I felt if I could get on the board, maybe, just
maybe, I could keep that from happening again! That is the ONLY REASON
I wanted to do this. So yes, I did go to the board meeting last
year…at which it was decided the 2013 inductees and lifetime
achievement recipient. ALL wonderful people who have dedicated most of
their lives to drag racing in some way.

And that brings me to why my heart hurts today and why this bothers me
SO much. I could NOT get it off my mind so I HAD to write it
down…yesterday was the 2013 North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame
award ceremonies. At our meeting last year, I was asked to write a
short story on Linwood Craft for the Hall of Fame website and I
offered to do the one on the Heintz brothers as well, both of which I
did.

I never did like stories written by people who did PHONE
interviews…they always seemed like the one before and the one before,
etc. Most people who do phone interviews have a standard list of
questions which mostly seem all the same. If you've read one of those
stories, you've read them all and they are all dull and boring with a
standard list of facts you can find out from any racer just by talking
to them at any race. I always felt that did a dis-service to the
racers themselves. There is so much MORE to the PEOPLE and that is
what I wrote MY stories about…people. I asked the tough
questions…questions other interviewers would never ask…what makes a
drag racer drag race? What is the story behind the car, the man, the
woman? What holds it all together?

I think that is what made my publication so popular…getting down to
the nitty gritty and finding out what makes the whole thing click! My
stories were always about the PEOPLE! So…instead of calling Linwood, I
went to his shop in Roanoke, VA and did a personal interview. And
although I've know the Heintz brothers since 1979, I went to
Statesville and interviewed them, too. I got those stories done and
sent to Jim Turner for the Hall of Fame website. I called Jim and
asked him if I could do the introduction for Linwood at the ceremony
and he said, "Sure!" I'm sure that was one job he was glad to have off
his shoulders.

Linwood made the trip to Greensboro but what went wrong? Well, what
went wrong was ME! The starter on my car quit that week and I had to
bum a ride. Jeannie, my chauffer, already had something she HAD to do
early that morning but we still hit I-40 off Exit 138 at 11 am…that
gave us time to get there with 30 minutes to spare. But traffic did
not co-operate and I was late. What was going on inside? Well,
definitely NOT any thinking! They KNEW I was coming! I had called NO
ONE to tell them I would not be there!

I would NEVER have expected them to wait on me, however, couldn't they
have just juggled things around a bit to give me just a few minutes?
That is all it would have taken. I wasn't THAT late! Did ANYONE offer
to change any of the program around, just enough to give me those few
minutes? Wouldn't that have been just TOO easy? And, yes, there WERE a
couple things they could have done a little differently. An
announcement was made at the END of the ceremony… an announcement
which should have been made at the beginning…which I would have done
if I'd had any say in it.

The announcement was about a possible permanent, physical home for the
North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame… something I know Jim has been
working on for a while. I would have thought making that announcement
at the beginning of the ceremony would have gotten people all pumped
up and excited about the whole thing and even more interested in the
day's ceremony and the future of the Hall of Fame. That should NOT
have been left for a finale! It should have opened the festivities!

Not only that, Linwood was the first inductee…his name being first in
line in the alphabet. What would have been wrong with doing the others
first? Just to see if really was going to show up? Doesn't anyone
THINK any more? So many possibilities and none of them even
considered. Did this thing HAVE to be rushed so fast? What was the
hurry? I would NEVER expect them to say, "Uh, we're going to wait on
Becky White!" All they had to do was say, "The person who is going to
introduce Linwood isn't here yet so we will do the others first to
give them a few more minutes!" How SIMPLE! HOW EASY!

That aside, they evidently just wanted the whole deed done so they
could get rid of everyone and get the room ready for the next group!
Last year, I was told I could have four minutes to speak, this year,
people were given three minutes. What's the point? If they didn't
really want to spend any time on this, why didn't they just walk
around and hand everyone their plaque when they came in the door? Or
just MAIL it to them? This is a celebration, people! It is IMPORTANT
to the racers themselves whether it is to anyone else or not!

I don't know what these people are trying to accomplish if they aren't
going to take the time to do this RIGHT. I can tell you what this
means to the racers. Well, maybe I can't…but this is the culmination
of years and years of hard work, thousands of hours of hard time and
blood, sweat and tears! Not to mention dollars! And I do mean
tears…how many heart aches and heart breaks have these people been
through to get to this point?

I have idolized Linwood Craft since even before I got into drag
racing…back then from reading magazines and later, by watching him. I
don't know what he has been through in his life but I DO know he has
dedicated his life to this sport! I was happy to vote for him to be in
the North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame because he has conducted
his life in this sport in such a way, he definitely deserves this
recognition. I have never heard of any controversy surrounding him, he
has always raced, always supported this sport, wasn't loud and didn't
argue and cause problems anywhere he has ever raced.

He took his lumps, loved his chosen sport and at the end of the day or
weekend, as the case might be, he went home and worked to get ready
for the next race. But I feel Linwood got cheated on February 2, 2013
even though he did get inducted into the North Carolina Drag Racing
Hall of Fame and received his plaque and jacket. But since NO ONE
other than me had prepared an introduction for him, they basically
just called out his name!!! I had a GREAT intro for him. And intro
which reflects a little something of his personality. But, no, instead
of even TRYING, they just went ahead and called him up FIRST!

Then someone had to scramble to come up with an intro for him! Duh!
Every single one of those people involved KNEW I would be there. If I
wasn't going to be, I would have called! It isn't like those people
don't KNOW me! Even though Linwood seldom shows any emotion, when I
went to his shop, I could tell he was pleased he had been chosen and
excited about the event. I also KNOW he was disappointed because I was
NOT there to do the great intro I had prepared for him…an intro I had
read to him on the phone! I did that to make sure I had not written
anything he did not like!

I did everything I possible could to get there on time…I WAS trying my
damndest! Why wasn't anyone else trying? I have been, as I said, SO
upset over this…I KNOW it was my fault and I am so mad at myself I
can't even explain it! I KNOW I disappointed Linwood. But just a tiny
bit of brain work on the part of a couple other people could have made
this turn out right. I am upset ONLY for Linwood…he DESERVED better
from the people he has supported for years. As for me, I am not upset
for me (just mad AT me)…this is just another instance in a long line
of instances concerning the way things have gone for well over 30
years so I am NOT surprised.

I learned a long time ago to NOT expect anything better! Hell, even
Ted Jones gave me a glowing report at the East Coast Drag Time Hall of
Fame… which I never expected but the people I worked so hard for for
so long are the people who have continually treated me the worst so I
am NOT surprised. What surprises me is they don't mind hurting someone
else to bug me. I can NOT understand why they want to get this
ceremony over with SO quickly anyway. If it is just a way to pump up
the car show, find another way. If you don't want to spend the time to
do this thing right, just do away with it. Why go to all this trouble
just to screw it up?

I went to the first car show in 2003 and really enjoyed it. I was hurt
in October that year and have not been able to go back and if it had
not been for Frank and Debbie Teague and a wheelchair, I'm not sure I
could have even made it to get my own award. When Steve Earwood was
introducing me last year, he said two things pertinent. The first was,
"She made more heroes out of more guys who had never gotten any
publicity in our sport!" Nice compliment, right? Later, he said, "She
was never stingy about her opinion about how race tracks should be
operated or how they should race or how NHRA or IHRA should be run!"

The only thing about that last statement which was wrong was ALL OF
IT! I NEVER told ANY track operator or NHRA or IHRA how to run their
businesses! What I did…beginning with the SECOND issue was try to give
track owners/operators/ promoters ideas about how to make more money
so they could have more racers at more races and pay more
money…therefore making more money for themselves! I started doing that
with the SECOND editorial I ever wrote in Quick Times Racing News! I
am putting that SECOND editorial on this blog so you can see what I
mean. All I EVER wanted or tried for was for EVERYONE to
succeed…tracks AND racers!

I wanted OUR sport to be better and healthier and that was ALWAYS my
main objective! And instead of taking any of this in the spirit in
which it was intended, as you can see, they were offended many times
because in their small minds, they considered that as "telling them
how to run their tracks!" My business was drag racing, just as theirs
was, why in the world would ANYONE EVER think I would do anything
wrong or harmful in drag racing? EVERY track operator who ever tried
my suggestions were quite happy with their results.

I never came up with this stuff all on my own...I talked to track
operators all over this country to find out what worked and what did
not work for them. If there was something I learned I thought would
work for other track operators, I passed it on. I might pass it on in
a conversation or I might write about it in an editorial. I NEVER gave
anyone a single piece of bad advice…and I have all the back issues to
prove it!

After writing this, I will probably get kicked off the board of the
North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame but let me give some folks a
piece of advice: I am NOT dead yet and if YOU give me enough rope, I
will HANG you all! Over the past six months, I HAVE begun to get
involved in drag racing again and it has not even been by my choice!
However, circumstances have occurred which have seemingly been
designed to drag me back, albeit kicking and screaming! IF I am going
to be involved in this sport again, I can tell you I will be NO
different than I was before!

I worked SO HARD for SO MANY YEARS to learn all the things I learned
and to use that knowledge to help the sport I loved so much! I ate,
lived, slept, breathed, studied and worked drag racing to have the
knowledge it took to put together that publication and to offer
everyone from racers to advertisers to track operators the knowledge I
amassed to be used for THEIR BENEFIT! Does anyone think ANY of these
guys will read this and think or say, "You know…she's right! We could
have done it a little differently to make it better!"

Have they EVER read ANYTHING I ever wrote and said, "You know…she's
right." Absolutely not. Oh, I can just hear their thoughts now! But I
can't put them on paper! I can't even begin to imagine the names I've
been called when track operators read my suggestions and ideas and I
can just hear this, "Well, who the hell does SHE think SHE is? Trying
to tell US how to run OUR tracks? Just WHO does she think she is?"
Well now, maybe, just maybe, it is time for me to return some
not-so-favorable favors and start telling a few things I HAVE kept to
myself for a LOT of years. And don't forget…there are things I can
tell which can either curl your hair OR make it fall out…it is ALL up
to you! DON'T PUSH ME into doing that!

Linwood, I truly apologize to you and I will forever be trying to make
up for the screw up I caused on February 2, 2013. I hope you will
forgive me…you are STILL one of my heroes! Steve Earwood also said at
the 2012 ceremony… "This gal will be hard to put away!" Truer words
were NEVER spoken!

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right
thing. Theodore Roosevelt
************************************************************************************

The following is the introduction I wrote for Linwood Craft at the
2013 North Carolina Drag Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony:

When I was looking through the second issue of Quick Times Racing News
(May, 1981) for information on the Heintz Brothers…guess who I also
found? On page 8, entitled 'Craft is 'The Man' in Street Rod,' there
is a photo of Linwood Craft in his Dodge Colt at the IHRA Winter
Nationals. He not only took the top qualifying spot, he won that
race…just another win of many over the years. I asked Linwood if he
knew how many races he has won in his long career…he doesn't. Or if he
does, he didn't want to brag! Linwood is the only Pro Stock racer who
has ever taken his racing career on into bracket racing. Not only
that, he took his former Pro Stock car into the brackets with him!
That tells you how much he loves drag racing…you could probably say it
has always been his first love.

Linwood has been racing almost his entire life…56 years! Don Garlits
has NOTHING on him! He was actually one of the first ever 'funny car'
racers in drag racing history and although he did not compete with his
funny car on a national level, his car was so popular at the time, he
had NO lack of bookings for funny car match races. He was number 1 in
the south winning match races one of those years! I also asked him how
many tracks he's raced on…he doesn't know, but he has raced all over
the country. He was also one of the first racers to ever use a Lenco
transmission. When it came to innovation, he was always interested in
doing whatever it took to win a race. Ask him about his Super Stock
468 cubic inch engine which checked out at either a 427 or 428 every
time it was ever CC'd!

He started out in Chevys, went to Fords when they were popular then
switched to Mopars when he got beat by one! He like them so well, he
stuck with them. I asked Reid Whisnant one time why he chose to run a
Mopar versus a Chevy and he said, "Hell, anyone can run a Chevy…you
can buy parts for Chevys at K-Mart! It takes a special person to know
their Mopar well enough to get it to do what they want it to do and be
competitive." I have heard Clyde Hodges say the same thing more than
once. Both could have been describing Linwood Craft. He seemed to be
able to get his Dodges to do things other people couldn't even get
their Chevys to do! He gives a lot of credit to Richard Petty…says he
learned a lot sitting around the 'chew fat' bench with the Pettys in
the evenings.

Linwood is being inducted into the North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of
Fame because of his influences in drag racing, not just where he
lives, but all over the country and especially here in North Carolina.
Congratulations, Linwood.
************************************************************************************************
Please continue reading as I wrote a story on Linwood for the North
Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame. They could not put the whole thing
on their website so I am putting here. I am also STILL trying to get
it printed in a newspaper somewhere near Linwood's home town of
Roanoke, VA.
************************************************************************************************

Linwood Craft...One of the Original Heroes of Drag Racing

Linwood Craft of Roanoke, VA…One of the Original Heroes of Drag Racing

By Becky White

How can you write just one page about Linwood Craft? It would take a
hundred pages just to get started on his long, illustrious career in
drag racing. One of the original Pro Stock AND Funny Car racers of the
'60s, he is the only Pro Stock racer (we can find) who stopped racing
Pro Stock and actually turned his Pro Stock car into a bracket car! "I
think I raced it in every bracket class anyone came up with," he said.
"Everywhere I went, they had a different name for brackets at
different tracks and I don't think we missed any of them including Top
Sportsman."

Linwood actually started racing in 1956…in a Chevy…at the young age of
17! There was no such thing as bracket racing then… everything was
class racing until the '70s. You had tech and classification at every
race…even if you raced mom's grocery getter, it had to be
'classified'…meaning it had to be put in a class specified by the NHRA
rule book! He switched over to a '54 Ford for a while, then went back
to a Chevy for a couple years. His next car was one of those
'streamlined' 1960 Ford Starliners…Fords were the BIG deal at that
time…Fred Lorenzen was killing all the other makes on the circle
circuit and everyone was buying Fords. He raced that car for
approximately six years and won a lot of races with it at many
different tracks.

One way to get Linwood to switch car makes was to beat him in his
current car! He was working at T&G Speed Shop when he and his Ford got
outrun by a one of his co-workers racing a 1962 Dodge Dart factory
race car. He sold his Ford and ordered a 1963 Plymouth Ramcharger
factory race car and he was hooked. He raced MOPARS from then on. Even
the dragster he has now is equipped with a Hemi! He won a lot of races
right out of the box with the '63 but a few weeks after he got it,
they started making aluminum front ends for those cars. He ordered one
and put it on the car while hiding it at a friend's garage...to keep
anyone from knowing how much lighter the car was going to be!

He also owned a '68 Hemi Dodge Dart factory race car and had a blast
with both those cars. Racers everywhere dreaded to see him pulling
into the track on race day and still do! During those 'off' years of
Pro Stock, he raced a 1974 Duster in Super Stock…also equipped with a
Hemi and to his credit, he was the first racer in our area to ever use
a Lenco transmission! It helped make the Duster a winner since all you
had to was shift. He said they left the clutch in the car and he had
to remember to put his left foot up under the clutch to remind him he
did NOT have to smash it down to change gears! If there ever was a
bounty put on him, it would have been at Roanoke drag strip in 1963 or
maybe even several years later at Piedmont Dragway when he had his '74
Duster and won 21 races in a row!

He also had a '64 Mustang 'funny car' during that time…when Funny Car
was just 'being born' so Don Garlits has NOTHING on Linwood! He had a
good time racing it, too, but that one was just for fun. There were a
couple other guys around that area who had 'funny cars' and they were
the big thing when it came to the tracks drawing in spectators…which
they did a lot of back then. Best two of three match races was
something nearly every track operator did back then on a regular basis
for the fans. He ran it off and on for two years and it was 'flying'
at that time running 8.60s at 181 mph in a quarter mile! Of course it,
too, had a Hemi power plant…purchased from Richard Petty! Linwood was
number 1 in the South in match racing in either '63 or '64…he won more
match races than anyone during that time.

Clyde Curtis from Hudson, NC would come up and match race against him
most any time they called him… Linwood and Clyde were good friends and
had a good time at those match races. Hank Hankins in Virginia was
another of his match race competitors. Linwood described this racing
as, "Just having fun!" This only lasted for two years, then Linwood
got serious about his Pro Stock racing. This was during the heyday of
P/S racing, when they ran Pro Stock for several years then some idiots
at NHRA…who knew NOTHING of cars and engines…started changing rules
and made it impossible to even have a Pro Stock class!

NHRA fell out of favor with the car makers because of these dumb rules
decisions and the factory guys just would not sponsor any races OR
help anyone run in that class although they did continue research,
development and testing. Someone asked Linwood if he ever 'cheated' in
Super Stock. His answer, "Cheating was the name of the game! Everyone
cheated. It was more fun to cheat, beat your competition…who was also
cheating… and see how long you could get away with it! I never knew
anyone who didn't cheat…that was as much a part of the competition as
anything else! I ran a 468 cubic inch engine which checked out 427-428
during all the years I ran Super Stock in the Pro Stock cars!"

There was NO Pro Stock racing for three years until NHRA woke up and
changed the rules back…mainly because they were losing SO much money
because of losing the factory sponsorships! Linwood raced in P/S for
three years and the following 'Super Stock' classes for those next
three years, then P/S again for the next six years. Some of the racers
he competed against during those days were: Don Carlton, Ronnie Sox,
Harold Denton, Lee Edwards, Don Nicholson, Billy Stepp, Bob Glidden,
Bill Jenkins, Wayne Gapp and Jack Roush, Peewee Wallace, Malcolm
Durham as well as Dick Landy and all the Ramchargers drivers. Linwood
has raced all over the country.

I wrote about Linwood buying an engine from Richard Petty and he told
me learned a LOT from Richard. He went to the Pettys many, many
evenings and sat around in the 'chew fat' seats listening to them talk
about racing and engines, especially Chrysler engines and he always
had questions to ask. They were always forthcoming with answers to any
question he had. He gives them a lot of credit for the knowledge he
learned which helped him become successful racing Mopars.

Chrysler Corp. never did 'officially' sponsor Linwood but they helped
him out in lots of ways… mostly with parts…which they were VERY
generous in handing out! He said he came home from a race one time
with so many parts loaded in the trailer, on the truck and in the
truck, he barely had room to drive! He had actually gone to Chrysler
Corp. to pick up a car for someone else when he saw a Dodge Colt
setting high up on a shelf. He tried to buy it but they told him it
was being scrapped! He told Clyde Hodges right then he wanted one of
those cars if he could ever get one.

After Don Carlton passed away in 1977, Clyde was at Piedmont Dragway
and he told a friend of Linwood's to tell him there was something at
his shop he wanted. As soon as Linwood got that message, he called and
Clyde told him what he had…it was that very same Colt Chrysler Corp.
had intended to junk. It was rumored Don Carlton had bought it for
$1.00!!! Linwood went to Lenoir, NC as quickly as he could get away.
When he went into Clyde's garage, Clyde said, "Go look in the back
corner." Clyde made him a price and asked him if he wanted it! Of
course he said, "YES," and the rest is pretty much history. Linwood
took the Colt back to Roanoke that very day! If you knew what he paid
for it, you would probably faint…especially if you could learn the
value of it today! He paid Clyde $6,000!

It IS the only one of three Dodge Colts Don Carlton owned still in
existence today…two were actually built specifically for Don even
though this one was not! Don did race this car until Chrysler built
the others. Linwood said, "It is STILL in just as good shape today as
it was when I bought it 35 years ago!" He said, "I was on the way back
home with that car when I heard on the radio Elvis had passed away so
there is no forgetting the date I bought it! He bracket raced the Colt
for nine years before selling it to Durwood Edwards. Durwood raced it
a year, sold it back to Linwood and got a dragster.

Several years later, Linwood sold the car to Mike Belcher who also
raced it for many years. Mike passed away a few years ago, but the car
is still in his family. Before Mike's wife also passed away, Linwood
offered her a LOT of money for the car in hopes of getting it back,
but she wanted to hang onto it! Mike and Linwood raced together and
were best friends for over 30 years until Mike passed away. Linwood
really misses Mike, the racing and the traveling they did together.
And they had a LOT of fun!

Durwood Edwards had a heart attack and couldn't race for a while, so
he sold his dragster to Linwood who LOVED it! He said, "That is ONE
heck of a ride!" He also said he enjoyed it better than a full bodied
car but it was really hard to get used to because he could not hear
the engine. He is from the 'old school' and depended on listening to
what was going on in the engine to know if something was wrong or even
starting to go wrong! Linwood says he has absolutely NO idea how many
races he has won in 56 years of drag racing and if he did know, he
isn't the kind of guy who would brag about it! He also can't tell us
how many tracks he has raced on, but he's raced all over the United
States! He was runner up at the IHRA Bracket Finals for three years in
a row in the Colt.

He won't brag but he WILL tell you about racing from Virginia to Texas
and back through Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina and back
into Virginia in nine days and he has so many of those stories, it
would take a lot more pages than I can put here to write about those
escapades! About the hundreds of wins Linwood has had in his long and
illustrious racing career, he says, "It was just luck more than
anything else. I did have good reflexes, but I was mostly just lucky!"
Linwood had heart surgery the first of December, 2012 but plans on
coming back strong during 2013. Congratulations to Linwood Craft on
his induction into the North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2012 East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame Racing Weekend and My 'Thank You' Speech

2012 East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame Racing Weekend and My 'Thank You' Speech

I recently had a 'drag racing' weekend such as I have never had
before. Since it meant so much to me, I want to share it with all of
you. In October, 2003, I was inducted into the East Coast Drag Times
Hall of Fame only I didn't get to participate in any of the
ceremonies. I couldn't even go receive my award…it was eventually
mailed to me! That was when I had my wreck…just about ten days before
that year's events. Nancy Wilson, who heads up all this, told me any
time I could get a chance to come to the event, they would include me
in the awards ceremony just like I would have been in 2003 had I
gotten to go. I have never had the chance to go, but it has ALWAYS
been in the back of my mind.

Knowing I was IN the Hall of Fame and having the plaque hanging on my
wall was a wonderful thing, but something was always missing. It
didn't seem real…no one handed me the award, I didn't get to be a part
of the ceremonies…it just didn't seem real. In the early part of this
year, when I learned Frank Teague was going to be inducted, I worked
at trying to figure a way to get TO that event! I didn't really think
about my own award, I just wanted to go see Frank receive his since he
and his wonderful wife Debbie have been such good friends to me and
actually took me to Greensboro in January (2012) to receive my Jeff
Byrd Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Carolina Drag
Racing Hall of Fame.

Dave and Susie Koffel…Koffel's Place…have attended the East Coast
events for many years, they and many of the racers affiliated with
them are in the Hall of Fame and I knew they would especially be there
this year for Frank, whom they have sponsored…and become close friends
with…for many years. There were other special reasons they were
planning to be there this year, too…I will get to that later. I wanted
to see them, too…they advertised with me and supported Quick Times
Racing News for MANY years and I truly appreciate their business, but
more than that, I have appreciated their friendship all those years as
well. And they ARE TRUE FRIENDS like Frank and Debbie. They showed me
a wonderful time when I went to Norwalk in 1997.

But just TWO WEEKS before the awards ceremonies and other events, I
learned the 'Carlton' cars were going to be there and I absolutely HAD
to figure out some way to get there. I still had not even thought
about my own award, I just HAD to go if for no other reasons than
these I have just written about. A racing friend of ours who lost her
husband over 20 years ago also wanted to go to see Frank be inducted.
We discussed it, discussed our finances…or LACK OF…and finally decided
we wanted to go to this thing bad enough to do without groceries or
something equally important!! I happened to mention to Jeannie I had
never officially been presented with my plaque and at that moment I
remembered Nancy telling me…nine years ago…she would include me in the
ceremonies if I ever got the chance to attend.

I called Nancy and she said, "That will be great! We will include you
just as we would have in 2003!" We discussed it and she seemed to
really be glad to get the chance to include me. Jeannie and I could
only pay for one room for one night so we left EARLY on Saturday
morning and hit the highway to Henderson, NC…I-40 all the way! For
those of you who have never attended this event, you HAVE to go! I had
NO idea it is as huge as it is. I was amazed. When Nancy Wilson says
it takes her all year to get this thing together, I am here to tell
you this: I am surprised she does it in one year! When we got there,
of course, we knew nothing about any of it so we parked on the 'wrong'
end of town.

Luckily, true to Nancy's word, there were several golf carts roving
the streets and we caught a ride. That was a good thing because I was
on crutches!!! I could never have made it otherwise! The entire
community of Henderson, NC works together for this event and they shut
down an entire MILE of Garner Street…one of the oldest streets in a
town which was founded in 1841. From one end to the other, on both
sides of the street, there were CARS. Cars of every shape and size and
make including plenty of homemade ones! They weren't just ON the
street, they were in every parking lot on both sides of that whole
mile, too. As hard as it was for me to put together a drag car show in
a shopping mall, I cannot imagine what these people go through to make
this entire 3-day weekend one of the MOST successful drag racing
events I have EVER attended!

As soon as we got to the 'racing' end of town…we started out on the
'car show' end, but after catching a ride to the 'racing' end of the
five blocks, the first thing we saw were the 'Carlton' cars. The theme
of the 2012 event was The Evolution of Chrysler's Pro Stock Missile
Cars…Dodge Challenger to the Plymouth Duster 'Wire Car.' Don Carlton
was always my HERO…I idolized him for as long as I can remember. If
you know anything of racing history, you know something of Don, the
fact I got to meet him one time (and only one time) just added to my
hero worship of him because I learned he really was the man I had read
about and lived up to all the good things people said and wrote about
him.

When I saw those cars, tears welled up in my eyes. I don't know how
many times I went by to tell those guys, "Thank You, Thank You, Thank
You," for restoring the cars and bringing them back to us. I don't
think they ever got tired of hearing that! I cannot tell you how much
I enjoyed talking to the current owners, the ORIGINAL builders and the
restorers. They have poured their hearts and souls…as we say 'blood,
sweat AND tears'…not to mention fortunes and years…into the
restoration of these cars. I won't even mention finances because I'm
sure it has a cost a large fortune! I don't know if you remember or
not, but Betty Sigmon owned and drove one of those cars for many
years. Betty and her husband Ray found our house for us in Vale, NC in
1982 and we were their neighbors for several years…being 'just around
the curve!'

But from our back door to their back door was just a very short
walking distance. Betty has had some health problems over the past few
years but her son made sure she got to come down to see her former
Carlton race car…'The Wire Car'…totally restored. And it was a GREAT
day for her. She even gave the guys a couple pieces of pertinent
information about the car and so did Frank…he actually raced that car
a few times, too. Betty was in her element standing with her former
car talking to all the fans. Her son, Jeep, said it was a very good
day for her. She didn't get to stay overnight but she enjoyed talking
to a lot of people she had not seen in a long, long time.

Dave Koffel was project manager at Chrysler part of the time during
those wonderful and amazing years…I cannot imagine what it must have
been like to work on a project as large in scope as was the original
design and building of all those factory race cars. Susie and Dave had
a nice area set up with their 1937 Dodge humpback panel truck with
seats for everyone and a table for Frank's memorabilia. That's a big
thing down there, everyone is expected to bring their 'stuff' to show
it off!

By the way, Dave and Susie DROVE the '37 Dodge from Huron (way
northern ), Ohio to Henderson and back…they actually still use it in
their Koffel's Place business for deliveries! They were practically
stopping traffic on the interstate as everyone had to slow down to get
a good look! The only thing I took…besides my plaque…was a picture Don
Carlton Don had given me on July 2, 1975 at a match race at Farmington
Dragway…a picture he signed for me… "To Becky, Don Carlton." I really
actually took the picture to use with my speech on Sunday. When I
first talked to Nancy, I told her I didn't want to make a speech since
I had just made one in January and I would just say something like
thanks to everyone and I was glad to FINALLY officially be receiving
my induction plaque!

But during our phone conversations, Nancy said something which
eventually made me change my mind about making a speech. I say,
'eventually' because I had to think about it a while. She said when
she talked to Betty Sigmon, Betty had asked her if she thought the
owners of her former car would mind if she got her picture made with
that car and Nancy said, "Do you think she doesn't realize how
important her role was and has been in all this?" I said, "No, she
doesn't realize it. And neither do any of the others you're going to
have that weekend." Well, the more I thought about that conversation,
the more I realized what I had said is true.

People who have been in drag racing since the '50s and '60s (and many
of them were there) have absolutely NO idea how important they were,
still are and always will be in 'all this!' 'All this' being the
entire sport of drag racing! I called Nancy back and told her I had
changed my mind and I actually did want to make a speech but it wasn't
about me and it wouldn't be long. I just wanted to thank all those
people for making drag racing what it is today! She said that would be
just fine. By the time I called her back I already had the speech
written…once I started, I couldn't stop until I finished it. It is
something I feel very strongly about. I hope all of you will read it…I
know you will agree with every word in it and I'm sure you feel the
same as I do. It follows the end of this story.

One of the things which totally shocked me was what Ted Jones said
when he introduced me. It has never been a secret there was always a
lot of contention between me and 'most' of the powers that be at IHRA
and NHRA. I was more than a 'little' worried about the fact he was the
one who was going to do the introductions!!! But he actually surprised
me and did a good intro…as a matter of fact, I was so shocked at what
he said, I had to clasp my hand over my mouth to keep from gasping out
loud! He gave me credit for single handedly saving IHRA class racing
when Billy Meyer owned IHRA by forming the Sportsman Class Racers
Association!

You could have knocked me over with a feather! I really appreciated
that…it made a lot things seem 'worth it' if you know what I mean! He
also said the fact I had worked so hard to bring IHRA back to what it
was 'before Billy' was the reason I received the IHRA Media Award for
1989! And he made sure he talked about how hard I had worked for the
'little guys' all the years I published Quick Times Racing News.

Don Carlton's daughter Robin and wife Jonnie were there to accept the
Ronnie Sox Memorial Award posthumously for Don. Most of you know
Ronnie and Don were friends and raced together for a lot of years. I
met both Robin and Jonnie for the first time and was really glad for
that opportunity. Frank and I sat with them during the awards ceremony
on Sunday afternoon and talked with them later. We all got our
pictures made together and it is GREAT to have those pictures to
reflect on for many years to come. I enjoy my racing pictures more
than anyone can imagine…all of them…mostly the 'people' ones! They
make everything even more real and keep my wonderful memories vividly
alive. These photos from this weekend have been added to the 'treasure
trove!' I want to thank Ernest Burwell from the bottom of my heart for
sending me a lot of those photos.

Four of the men who worked for Chrysler Corporation and originally
built these Carlton cars were present…they were Tom Hoover, Dick
Oldfield (who owns one of the cars), Joe Pappas and Ted Spehar. Then
of course, Dave Koffel was there. They held a seminar on Sunday
morning after church services on the actual building of the cars. I
cannot begin to imagine what kind of life those men led during those
years…HOW exciting it had to have been during that time in factory
sponsored drag cars. I wish I had had the chance to do something like
that in my lifetime.

I did a story on Betty Sigmon in 1982 and I wrote all about her car,
how it was built, etc. but I did NOT know that was a one-of-a-kind
car. It is the only one like it EVER built anywhere in the world!
There IS no other and will never be another one built even similar to
it! It is called a 'wire' car and I won't even begin to try to explain
that to you but they talked about that, how they did it, why they
built it, the great things about it and why they didn't build another
one!

They discussed so MANY pertinent things during that time and I mean
they talked about things which are STILL pertinent to drag racing and
always will be. Things pertinent to the way cars are built today, how
the changes and improvements have come about over the years, what
makes drag cars SO special. The spoke about how these particular cars
were built, why they were built the way they were, how they performed
on the track and how that transferred to highway performance for
future cars. These were true factory experimental race cars and
basically were built as a way for Chrysler to learn how to build
better cars for the public. There was standing room only in the
seminar, proving how popular these cars were and still are.

These were TRUE factory experimental race cars…they were built by the
factory, at factory owned shops by people who were Chrysler
employees...ALL engineers. Basically, they were built as a way for
Chrysler to learn how to build better cars for the public…you can
thank a lot of our safety features and other great features on the
cars of today to these men. There was standing room only in the
seminar, proving how popular these cars were and still are. There were
so many people viewing the cars during the exhibits on Saturday, there
had to be special photography sessions at a different time away from
the crowds so the cars could actually be photographed.

It was fascinating. I couldn't stay in it for the whole time, but I
was mesmerized the entire time I was in that room (I would love to
have a DVD of that seminar…if anyone made a video, PLEASE call or
email me). Dave Koffel and many other people who were at some point,
somehow involved in this project joined in these conversations…if you
ever get a chance to sit in on a seminar like that, make sure you do
so…you will learn a lot about our sport as a whole! The men who are
restoring these cars, along with those former Chrysler car builders,
were also in the seminar and talked about some of the things they have
learned and done in this restoration!

Don Carlton of Lenoir was the most honored racer at this year's
event…if y'all know anything about Don, he was killed in a testing
accident in Detroit in 1977 at the young age of 37, but his
sportsmanship and major accomplishments in the sport made him one of
the most popular, most important and most honored drag racers of all
time. He made his mark in a short amount of time because of the person
he was. For many years after Don's death, IHRA presented the Don
Carlton Award for Exceptional Sportsmanship to a deserving racer every
year because Don was always the epitome of a great sportsman, always
respectful of everyone he met, worked with and raced with.

This year, Don was honored, posthumously, for his contributions to
drag racing. Don's daughter Robin accepted the Ronnie Sox Memorial
Award for her dad with her mother Jonnie looking on. Don and Ronnie
were racing competitors and friends all the years they raced together;
they both worked and drove for the Chrysler Corporation. A native of
Lenoir, Don had a busy early career racing locally, then drove Pro
Stock and Super Stock for Chrysler for many years until his death. Don
was named to the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, associated
with the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, FL in 1992 and to
the N.C. Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2007.

Five of Don's former Chrysler-built factory race cars were on display
during the 3-day event...
four have been completely restored and several are being raced in
Nostalgia races and are being taken all over the country for people to
see. Those cars included: his 1971 Motown Missile Dodge Challenger
owned by Arnie Klann of Phoenix, AZ; his '72 Motown Missile Plymouth
Barracuda owned by Mark Williamson of Canada and Eara Merritt of
Richmond Hill, GA; his '73 Motown Missile owned by Ben Donhoff of
Melbourne, FL; the '77 Macomb Missile Aspen owned by Mike Ricketts of
Macomb County, MI and last, but most unusual, the '75 Mopar Missile
Plymouth Duster (aka 'The Wire Car'), also owned (now) by Arnie Klann
and previously owned by Betty and Ray Sigmon of Vale.

Restoration of the Challenger is not complete but it was displayed as
a chassis and 'back half work in progress.' It was interesting for the
spectators to be able to see what the under parts of a drag race car
look like and how they are made. This may be the only time these cars
will ever be seen together since they are owned by people from Florida
to Arizona to Canada, but hopefully they can and will be shown
together more often! This entire event was a major undertaking and
practically took miracles to pull it off in such grand fashion!

All in all, for me, this was the MOST rewarding weekend I have ever
spent in drag racing! I can't explain that to you…the people I was
with, the circumstances of the weekend, the way this whole thing came
together…for me…for people I care about, for the sport I have ALWAYS
loved! It was an amazing weekend, I learned so much…and no matter who
you are, what you do, where you go or what your past or future is…you
can ALWAYS LEARN something. I saw people I had not seen in a long
time…Roger Gustin, Bunny Burkett, Lew Silverman, Ernest Burwell…whom I
helped get started in drag racing photography, Geoff Stunkard… who
probably has as much MOPAR memorabilia as anyone (and maybe more)…and
on and on…TOO many to mention! I met people I had only read about,
heard about and/or watched in our sport. I was both totally amazed and
awed and treated with SO MUCH respect from everyone…even people who
had never known me before.

This group of people who are restoring the Mopar Missiles is one of
the neatest bunches of guys and gals I have EVER met in drag racing
and, let me tell you this…they are going through a LOT of heartache
doing this love of theirs but they are having a blast! If you ever get
a chance to see them where they are nostalgia racing or just have
their cars on display…talk to them. You will be amazed at what a great
group of folks they are, just as I was. I am SO glad I got to meet
people who CARE this much and that I got to hang round with them and
LEARN from them. I can only hope maybe they learned just a smidgen
from me, too…if nothing else but the fact I love drag racing so much!

I am so thankful for this weekend. If I never get to do anything in
drag racing again, this will go down in history as the culmination of
a helluva career…a career like no other person ever in the entire
history of drag racing has EVER had! My life and career in this sport
had never been done before and can NEVER possibly be repeated by
anyone! I have done something in my life no one in the world has ever
done and will NEVER do in the future. What I did cannot be repeated,
it is literally, physically AND historically impossible. I am so glad
I had what it takes to stick it out all these years. I'm not done! DO
NOT count me out just yet. I may still have some surprises left in me!
The 2012 weekend of the East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame gave me
something I've been missing these nine years since my accident…let's
see what happens from here on out. Now…the following is the speech I
wrote and made at the 2012 East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame awards
ceremony:

My Thanks to Our History Makers from Becky White

"I had originally told Nancy I did not want to speak because I have
already given a speech this year and I am not good at speeches. But
she mentioned something to me later in that same conversation which
made me change my mind. I don't want to speak about me, but there is
something I would like to say to all of you about YOU, people you have
seen this weekend and hundreds of others you haven't seen but who,
nevertheless, are all cut from a similar pattern. What I really want
to stress is this: I don't think any of you here have any clue what
YOU mean to all drag racers everywhere! I spent a lot of time at home
raising children before I got heavily involved in drag racing but I
continued to read my hot rod magazines, etc. and I went to a race once
in a great while. (I held up my picture of Don Carlton and said)…This
IS my pride and joy…you can't read it but it says, "To Becky, Don
Carlton!"

From the '40s on, there were groups of people in small areas all over
the country who got together to discuss cars, who's was faster, had
more horsepower, more cubic inches and all the other things drag
racers still discuss today…we have heard that for years. From those
groups of racers…like the bunch which came out of the Hickory, Hudson,
Lenoir area and others like them all over the U.S…they can have NO
idea how they impacted, not just local drag racing, but the sport as a
whole. People like Don Carlton and Clyde Hodges here and all their
followers…the people who idolized them and wanted to be just like
them…just like groups all over this country. They MADE drag racing
REAL. They made it legit.

YOU…all of YOU are the people who made all this possible…this entire
sport…you came before…you are the ones who made drag racing what it is
today. YOU…you gave us our deep, fierce abiding love for cars with
MUSCLE, for big loud engines and little loud engines, YOU…you gave us
our heritage and taught us things like respect, sportsmanship, caring
for our fellow racers and what it means to be a part of something as
grand as drag racing. YOU…you showed us how to be fierce, mighty
competitors while all the time, teaching us how to share and share
alike, help anyone who needed it and be there at all times for your
fellow racers.

YOU…at least most of you…came from shoestring backgrounds where you
had to rake and scrape and scrimp and work a second job to raise a
family AND a race car! Most of you worked on your own cars…maybe with
a little help from friends sometimes…and you taught us how to do the
same…you let us KNOW and showed us ALL THIS IS POSSIBLE!

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you…every racer who came before
us who taught by DOING and NOT by TALKING. Thank you for teaching us
we can be the absolute best of friends and the absolute fiercest
competitors while all the time being good sportsmen and sportswomen.
The battles we have fought in drag racing for so many years are
nothing compared to what you went through in making drag racing the
grand sport it has become. WE cannot thank you enough, there are no
words to describe what you have meant to the sport, to all the little
guys who came after and KNEW they could do this because they watched
all of YOU struggle and fight to be able to do this singular thing you
loved.

Clyde Hodges told me a story about one time when he and Don Carlton
had been to Detroit, I don't remember why. They probably weren't
testing a car because he told me how cold it was during the trip. Yes,
sometimes they got paid by Chrysler and sometimes they raced FOR
Chrysler and sometimes they raced independently, but as Clyde said,
"They didn't pay for everything!" They didn't pay for that old car
hauler they were driving on that trip and not long after they left
Detroit heading home for good old North Carolina, that old rickety,
falling apart car hauler…which probably already had a hundred thousand
more miles on it than it should have…started smoking. Like the smoke
coming from the stack on a coal fired steam train!

They just happened to have a case of 'racing' oil on the back of the
truck…they pulled over, checked it, yep…it was low so they started to
put a quart of that oil in the engine. Only the oil wouldn't pour out
of the can…it was so cold it was almost solid! They laid the can on
the engine and finally got it barely warm enough to pour in. They
started on down the road. Shortly thereafter, they had to stop and put
in another quart…only this time they had been smart enough to put a
can in the truck with them…near the heater. That worked. They put that
one in, but their fingers were freezing and they were having a really
hard time.

Being the 'engineers' all drag racers are known to be, they stuck a
piece of hose in the hole in the valve cover and ran it into the truck
through a crack in the window and stuck a funnel in that end of the
hose. They put that whole case of oil in the front floorboard with
them…they knew they were going to need it! From then on, all the way
home, they just poured warm oil in one end of the hose and let it run
right into the engine. He said they never WERE so glad to get back to
get back to good old Lenoir!

There are a MILLION or 20 million stories like that in drag racing.
Every racer you meet has several of them. Not many of them ever get
published. I thank God I had the chance to publish a lot of those
wonderful stories. I thank God I had the chance to have so many people
like YOU help me raise my children…in their crucial teenage years…all
drag racers who taught my girls how to be REAL people. THANK YOU for
being who and what you are, the spectacular friends of drag racing.
Thank God for DRAG RACERS…those who continue to carry on our sport but
even more importantly, those of you who made it possible! Thank YOU!
Becky White