Tuesday, May 13, 2014

TOP END SAFETY

By Becky White
Editor/Publisher of Quick Times Racing News for 25 Years & Blog Author
for 10 Years

For all the years I have been in drag racing, there have been many
track operators…meaning track owners and the people who operated the
tracks for them…who have reminded me of General George Custer. Just in
case you don't remember your history lessons, he was the General who
would not listen to anyone because he thought he knew more than
everyone else.

Because of that, he led his troops into the Battle of the Little Big
Horn where every single person in his troop was killed including
himself. Track owner/operators who refuse to listen to anyone and
everyone and learn anything are signing their own death warrant…we
have seen this so many times over the years, we wonder how they can be
so blind as to do the very same thing other 'out of business' track
owner/operators have done to cause their own demise.

They think they know it all and will listen to no one, even when
people try to reason with them over the issues of track safety. I was
out of drag racing for ten years…what have I learned since becoming
involved again last year? Things are the same. Nothing has changed. I
want to explain 'top end' safety to track owner/operators who seem to
think the only thing they have to update and take care of is the
starting line and 660/1320 feet racing surface.

They think they can keep up with the times by shaving the track,
widening the track, prepping the track and even re-paving the track
and that is all they need to do. Of course, some do nothing! 100% of
ALL fast racers will tell you, "The top end is even MORE important
than the starting line AND the track surface!"

I had not seen Pro Mod cars since 2003 until September last year. I
knew they were quicker and faster but you have to see it to believe
it. I have only attended two Pro Mod races since but it doesn't take a
rocket scientist to realize something is wrong! I LOVE this job! I can
STILL call nearly every racer I have ever known and get more
information than most anyone else in this sport.

My reputation precedes me by over 35 years and even though I haven't
been there very often for racers since '03, they are still confiding
in me about their concerns and issues. With Pro Mod drivers, top end
safety came up more than any other problem. I went to MANY Quick 8,
Quick 16, Top Sportsman and Pro Mod races over the years as Pro Mod
grew…from some guy trying to go fast enough to get an extra 50 bucks
for Low ET or Top Speed at their local (southeastern) eighth mile
track in the '80s to the single, most popular group ever in the
history of this sport.

I was one of the original instigators of Pro Mod racing. These guys
are flying. The fact they are running over 200 mph in 660 feet…not to
mention the quarter mile…is mind boggling. I was always on the
starting line and able to watch track prep and clean up as well as the
race cars and drivers. As always, the concentration is from
approximately 60 to 100 feet behind the Christmas tree to the top end
traps.

The area beyond those traps is a no man's land! Why aren't track
operators concentrating more on their tracks from the top end traps to
the end of their pavement and even beyond? Why don't they realize THAT
part of the track is AS important, if not MORE SO, than the FIRST 660
feet? Track owner/operators must feel since the cars are 'racing' only
on the 'racing' surface that is all they have to keep updated. That is
NOT true!

Just because a racer shuts his car down at 660 or 1320 feet it doesn't
mean he isn't STILL racing! They are no longer under power, true, but
they are going the fastest at top end and in the shut down area of any
time they are on the track! Not only that, these modern cars are more
violent on top end than at any other time as Todd Tutterow said. Yes,
it takes a lot more power to power 'up' than it does to power 'down'
but, in most cases, they are powering down for an even longer
distance!

These cars do NOT and CANNOT stop when they get to those top end
lights! They need their shut down area to be just as smooth, just as
wide and just as sticky as the racing surface they were just on. Todd
also said, "It doesn't matter HOW long the shut down area is when you
are barrel rolling or flipping end over end!" Most others agree. But
it does matter if you're still on your tires. Just the fact most
tracks change so drastically at the top end lights is enough to cause
a crash!

Cars are at the height of their speed and a parachute or two can only
do so much! The science of these cars continues to advance so much
quicker than track surfaces but, of course, they always have. Why is
that SO hard for some track owner/operators to understand? I will
never forget, in 1989 at River Cities Raceway Park, a popular small
track in Ashland, KY, Rob Vandergriff and Norm Wizner were matching
racing.

One racing gas company reps was talking to Rob telling him how much
more power his gas would give Rob's car. Rob said, "Man, you don't
understand. I don't NEED any more power! I can't get the power I
already have to the track! If I could just get the power I have now to
the pavement I could run faster anyway…even without a better fuel!"

There is the gist of this editorial. What Rob said, nearly 25 years
ago, was so profound it is 100 times more true now than it was then!
Chassis builders and most racers concentrate on safety and how to get
more power to the pavement. Speeds and ETs have skyrocketed. Track
safety, in most instances, has not! Tracks have not gotten any longer.

Most smaller tracks have NO top end lighting…where it is needed most.
If someone has a top end accident, safety crews and EMTs have to work
by vehicle lights in most incidents to do what they have to do and
sometimes, that may even include saving a life! Race cars don't have
lights…they NEED as much lighting in the shut down area as they do
anywhere else, maybe more.

Tracks are not getting any longer and most aren't getting any better
in the shut down area either. If a track has plenty of shut down
length, they don't need sand traps and safety nets, but in most cases,
shut down has not been expanded and needs those things. The reason
racing had to go eighth mile in the early years was because cars got
too fast for the shut down and a fifth of a mile was not short
enough!!!

You forget…in the '60s, they weren't running nearly as fast as our
cars today…on these same tracks! This is also the reason Pro Stock
cars were taken out of championship points competition in the early
'80s. Yet, these ultra fast racers today are expected to race on
tracks their counterparts would not…and thought they could not…race on
40 years ago!

The reason? They didn't feel safe! Cars need assistance to stop just
like they need assistance to start…ie: water box, burnout area. They
just need a lot more of it. A car is 100% more erratic and more
violent on top end because they're at the fastest they will ever be on
any part of the track! How many accidents do you ever hear of on the
racing side of 660 feet? I don't have any figures on that but almost
ALL accidents happen on or near top end.

What are some of the causes? First and most important…besides the fact
shut down areas seldom get any upgrades, is the fact bracket racers
race on these surfaces on a weekly basis. The problem? What do many
bracket racers do when they go through the lights? The first thing is
slam on their brakes.

What happens when hundreds of cars slam on their brakes on hot asphalt
near the same spot? A dip eventually occurs. Check out the top end at
your local track and look closely…many look like those proverbial old
'washboard' dirt roads on which many of us grew up learning to drive!
Not only that, after a track has been paved and the pavement stops at
the finish line, there is already a dip caused by the pavement ending
abruptly!

Even though the paver smoothes and tapers it down, it is STILL a dip.
Another problem is most tracks were not 'stabilized' when they were
built so when there is a lot of rain, water gets under the asphalt or
concrete. When it has nowhere else to go, it pushes up through that
surface. In the winter, the water freezes and pushes the ground and
the pavement up.

When the ground warms up, it settles back down but the cracks never go
away. Every time the ground rises and settles, it settles differently
due to the changes in temperatures from day to day. The old pavement
becomes more and more cracked and porous allowing water to settle down
in those cracks. The water gets pulled back up by force…making it as
slick as an oiled baby's behind!

But how many top ends ever get sprayed with VHT? I have never seen a
top end get sprayed, have you? VHT is not only an adhesive used for
traction, did you know it is also a concrete and asphalt sealer? Even
though it not a stopgap answer for an unstabilized track, it is better
than nothing!

Can you imagine hitting a slick surface at 200 mph? You can if you're
a Pro Mod driver! That is the first experience ALL drivers have when
he or she goes through those top end lights! They can't even utilize
their own braking system, it is too dangerous…just using the brakes
can cause an accident….sometimes deadly, as we all know.

I am not down on all track operators. Many have, over the years, done
all they possibly could to make their tracks and even their top ends
safe; others…just what they thought they HAD to do (which, in many
cases is nothing). Many have made leaps and bounds trying to keep
their tracks in good condition to be able to handle the power in these
cars.

They have concreted their starting lines; most tracks where the
quicker cars run have been paved and re-paved. But most have only been
paved to the 660 or 1320 foot mark…the point where the cars are going
the fastest they ever go! After that, these drivers find themselves in
'never never land.' They run nearly 200 mph on a nice smooth, groomed
surface into infinity.

How many of you remember Bristol Dragway in the old days? It got so
bad when IHRA would have their Saturday night national event show,
once cars got to about 1,000 feet, they were all over the track and
many accidents occurred! Funny car and top fuel drivers threatened to
stay away unless something was done about it.

It was as simple as the fact there was natural water coming out of the
mountain under the track…the heat of the sun and speed of the cars
pulled the water back up through the track. It was dangerous! They had
to go under the track and put in a drain to take that water away from
the track.

Even after Jeff Byrd became the manager there and remodeled the track,
that had to be done again! Atlanta Dragway was the same way. When Gary
Brown bought it and spent millions remodeling the entire facility,
there were still top end wrecks because of water under the track. He
had to go back under it and drain it, too.

I will never forget at a IHRA national event at Alabama Int'l Dragway
one time, the Pro Stockers looked like 'Seadoos' going down the track
there was so much water flying up behind them! I don't know if
anything was ever done to fix that track. Many (most) tracks have not
been repaired.

When a Pro Mod driver hits that rough, unsealed, damp, possibly slick
asphalt, they can literally skate around as if they had hit a patch of
black ice! Do you have any idea WHY racing insurance is as expensive
as it is? If you can't answer that by now, go back and read this
again, only let it soak in next time.

A word to racers…something you can do to help yourselves be safer on
the tracks you race on…when you go to a track you've never run on
before…go down to the top end and check it out. Even if you have to
make a 'time trial' in your personal truck or car, even a golf cart or
ATV…just drive all the way down that track!

Look to see what is there for your safety. Is there enough shut down
area? If not, do they have a sand 'mountain' or safety nets or lights
if you are racing at night. Judge for yourself…most of you are going
to get a surprise! 'Try' to talk to the track operator about what
he/she needs to do to KEEP you coming back to his track!

We know every drag racer loves what they're doing, if they didn't they
would be bowling or something safer. Every time they get in their race
car, they know they are taking their lives in their hands. They do
this because they love it, but they get hired in to put on a show and
bring in spectators for the tracks…for YOU.

They are busting their butts going quicker and faster and having cars
which not only look like show cars, they become missiles on the track.
For THEIR sake, what kind of mind cannot comprehend the dangers these
racers are putting their lives in for your track and your fans? I know
small track operators are having a rough time now…even some national
event tracks are as well because of this economy.

However, there are NO reasons to short change racers and even fans
when it comes to safety, not to mention short changing yourself. Let
us not make drag racing a sport where spectators pay to come see the
wrecks! We have never had that reputation, let us not sink to those
lows now.

Thanks to: Warren and Arlene Johnson, Todd Tutterow, Charles Carpenter
and Marshall Oldham for their help with this very important issue.

I am now, I always have been, I will always be drag racing's 'most
dedicated fan!' Becky White

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
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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
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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.
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