Tuesday, January 17, 2012

North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame Award Speech

When I was introduced at the North Carolina Drag Racers Hall of Fame awards ceremony on January 14, 2012, I walked up to the podium with the aid of my crutches. I leaned them against the wall and thanked the Hall of Fame committed, then I said, "Most of all, I thank God just for my being here because less than four months ago, I was completely paralyzed!" Then I made my speech. I had been told I would only have three or four minutes to speak so instead of making the entire following speech…the one I WANTED to make…I had to cut it down by more than half. I also said everyone had talked longer than that, but that they never had wanted to me speak anyway! Of course there were some remarks, but I continued. This is the speech as I FIRST wrote it on September 10, 2011.

 

A long time ago, I gave up hoping I would ever be recognized for my achievements in drag racing. So, imagine my surprise when I got this call! It call came on September 10 and all I knew was I had been selected for an award…I didn't even know what the award was for until two weeks before the car show! There ARE some people I have to thank. Without them, Quick Times Racing News would NEVER have been a reality. The first and most important is Jeff Byrd (I wrote this before I knew the award would be in Jeff's name). Without Jeff's guidance, his advice, his help and most importantly…his friendship, I would NEVER have made it. He never failed to answer a question, do a favor, share his knowledge, boost me up when I was in the depths of despair and he was ALWAYS my friend!

 

With Larry Carrier trying to keep me out of IHRA races and the powers at NHRA trying to keep me out of NHRA races, I would NEVER have gotten to go a national event had it not been for Jeff…I also have to thank Bill Taylor of TCI here! All I had to do was call and tickets would be waiting for me AND my girls when I got to any event I wanted to attend! Jeff answered MANY of those calls from me! I learned a LOT of things from going to the 'big' races which would help me help you. To me, the best two men we have been lucky enough to ever have in drag racing are Jeff Byrd and Bill Bader…thank you Bill, for everything. When I heard Jeff was the NEW president of the NEW Bristol Motor Speedway, my estimation of Bruton Smith went up about a million points!

 

I knew then Bristol Dragway would be saved! And that's exactly what Jeff did. He saved that track from being a parking lot and campground. When you went in Jeff's first office at Bristol, there was NO photo of Richard, Dale, Buddy, Ned, Junior or any other NASCAR racers hanging on his wall. Oh, no…in their place was a wall sized poster of John Force doing a burnout! Jeff LOVED drag racing. When we lost Jeff, we lost a person who did more for the sport of drag racing than almost anyone else every involved. Jeff…thank you…for EVERYTHING, but most importantly, thanks for your legacy…it will NEVER be surpassed! If the rest of us would be try to be more like Jeff Byrd, the whole world and especially the world of drag racing would definitely be a better place.

 

Next, I have to thank Jerry Joyce and Norman Drouillard of Farmington Dragway…without them, there wouldn't have even been a place to start. Thanks, Guys! They gave me a chance and BOTH taught me a lot. It was actually through them, I met Jeff Byrd. Next I have to thank Barry Jenkins. The paper AND the name was his idea, he just brought me along to do the dirty work. Without him, I would NEVER have had the nerve to start a project like this. This was a dream of his and when he learned it was a dream of mine as well, HE made it happen. After four months, he wanted out and somehow or another, I decided I would try to keep at it. I NEVER expected to succeed, much less for the paper to become what it did. I only wanted to do a 'little' publication for our local tracks and racers, but when the local racers would not support me, I had to go farther afield. That is how and why Quick Times Racing News grew the way it did.

 

The next two are Woody Hatten of Super Stock & DI magazine and Dave Wallace of Drag Racing magazine. You know, it's really funny, the men whose names I've mentioned welcomed me into the sport more than most track operators and racers!!! Woody and Dave both helped me in ways I cannot begin to explain. The closest I had ever come to doing anything like this was watching the girls at the Davie Enterprise do ad layouts!!! My entire background had been in farming and automotive and being a mother and homemaker! Those two men taught me things about writing, about people, about publishing…Dave told me one time, "I wish we could get as many letters as you do!" I was shocked. I said, "I always thought you got so many letters, you had to leave most of them out!" He said, "No…we print every letter we receive! We just wish we could get more! Never forget, every time someone writes you a letter, there are at least ten more out there who wanted to write the same one!" They were always there for me…that's how I got MY story printed in both their magazines! They taught me so much about this business, I could never thank them enough!

 

Without Frank and Debbie Teague, I wouldn't have been able to go to as many races as I did. First, because Frank kept all my junkers and clunkers…mostly Mopars…on the road for me! Second…because they both were willing to put up with my girls when I went to races they didn't want to attend. They just became a part of Frank and Debbie's crew! Thanks to both of you. I had SO MUCH adversity, not just when I first started the paper, but during the entire 25 years I published it. Actually, I am still getting adversity…there are many people who are trying to re-write the history of drag racing even now and I am still fighting the fight. I haven't quit writing…it is on my blog!

 

Thank you Dick Moroso. A MOST unusual man. He was another of those VERY exceptional men drag racing was VERY lucky to have. Had it not been for him, this sport would be short many of his innovations and developments. The first time I got a call from Moroso Performance when they wanted to advertise with me, I was floored! From that point on, I had a Moroso Performance ad in nearly every issue I ever printed. He called me at least once each year and sometimes more to get MY take on the 'health' of sportsman racing…we spent hours on the phone. Then we got to be personal friends and he was SUCH a help and so willing to do ANYTHING to help make drag racing better. Drag racing was what he lived for. I thank God our entire sport was lucky enough to have him. I learned SO much from him and we had a blast forming the SCRA and being at the 5-Day bracket races in Florida. We shared the deaths of our children, both at the age of 22 and that brought us even closer together. Thanks, Dick.

 

This next person was running River Cities Raceway Park when I met him. Marshall Oldham has been my mentor, my friend and supporter for many, MANY years. Whenever I was unsure of myself or of something I had written, especially if it was controversial, I would call Marshall and read it to him. Now you know who to blame! He taught me so much about public relations, how to get attention for our sport from people who knew nothing about it, how to get things done and I appreciate him so much. Marshall and I still solve the problems of drag racing every chance we get!

 

I have to thank Warren and Arlene Johnson for their support in MANY ways over these many years along with Ronnie Sox, Harold Denton and several more of those wonderful Pro Stock racers. Even Don Carlton, although he was gone before Quick Times was started, the kind of man he was made me want to be the kind of person I am. He was always instrumental in the way I wrote and the things I did in my fight for grass roots drag racers. I spent just enough time with Don to learn exactly what kind of person he was and how he felt about the sport he had dedicated his head, his heart, his mind and his time to. Back to Warren and Arlene…any time I EVER needed an ego boost or just needed someone to re-assure me I was doing the right thing…I could call Arlene Johnson! When she talked about the guys in the shop dropping all their work to read the Quick Times when it came in the mail…that was all I needed to make me want to work even harder! When Warren said if he wanted propaganda, he would read National Dragster, when he wanted to know what was REALLY going on in drag racing, he read Quick Times Racing News, I knew I was doing the right thing.

 

I DO want to thank Larry Carrier…for the NASTY, hateful, lying letter he wrote ABOUT me but not TO me…the letter which made me mad enough to NOT quit. I was ready to quit…in March, 1982, until I read that letter. I thought, "I'll show you! You just don't know how stubborn I really am!" Larry also passed away a few years ago…he had Alzheimers and didn't even know his own family members. A local racer told me one time, "I would NEVER write a letter to that paper. And if I was a track operator, I wouldn't advertise in it either. It's just a bunch of propaganda!" Remember that, Bob? (If I could have said this much when I actually made my speech, I would have looked directly at Bob Harris!) This WAS my life for 25 years! And I loved every single minute of it! Things like that just made me tougher and stronger and made me want to be a better person and do a better job…for all of you…even for the people who were always against me.

 

Most importantly, thanks to my family…even Teresa. She was actually going to the printer to pick up the October, 1985 issue of Quick Times when she was in the accident which took her life. Without their help and support, I absolutely could NOT have done this. Thanks to Mendy and Candace who both worked for me and especially Mendy who took care of the home front when I was gone. They went racing with me and supported me for many, many years.

 

There are people in this world whose foresight rises above all obstacles, they just know there is a greater good with some things when other people just cannot see that good. Thank God I was lucky enough to have a few people in my life like those I've mentioned here who supported ALL my efforts. There WERE a lot MORE people than these who really made this publication a success and I could not have done it without every single one of them. Thanks to each person who ever bought a subscription, ran an ad, let me stay with them when I was out of town, fed me when I didn't have enough money for a meal, paid for my gas when I couldn't have even gotten home without it and said a prayer for my well being. Thanks to all the writers, contributors and photographers who sent stories, race results and photos and never got any pay…just their name in print. I am really afraid I've left out someone important, but I hope not.

 

I did not know this was 'possibly' going to be the Jeff Byrd Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award until two weeks after I was notified I was receiving it and even then they weren't sure that is what it would be! I feel SO honored to be the first person to receive this and I cannot begin to tell you how I feel. Thank you everyone….and thanks again, Jeff!

 

(I cannot tell anyone how much receiving this award means to me. I will cherish this always and it will always be the highlight of MY career in drag racing. Drag Racing's Most Dedicated Fan Forever…Becky White.)

 

Within the next couple weeks or so, I will put at least two more articles…editorials if that is what you want to call them, on this blog. I hope you will all read them and take them to heart because they will mean as much to this sport's future as anything I have ever written. Please keep reading because I'm going to keep writing. I am also working on an expose' of the Sportsman Class Racers Association. I want everyone to know exactly what happened to that organization and I want to make sure the people who caused its demise will get their 'just' rewards for their lies and back stabbing. Receiving this award has made me realize how much I have missed working in and FOR drag racing. I think I can still be influential because I have an insight into the sport and its people few other people have ever had. Thanks to everyone involved in and with the North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

4 comments:

William said...

Congratulations Becky!!

"Billy Mac" McAteer P286 said...

Becky...You know I don't get a chance to check messages too often, but when I DO...I truely enjoy reading your emails. Keep 'Em comin, Girl!!!

Love Ya!! "Billy Mac"

Anonymous said...

Becky;


Congratulations on your award and the recognition you so rightly deserve. I don't know a lot about your early years but I do know how dedicated, passionate and hard working you have been in recent years. Your efforts to give our racers, race tracks and sponsors their "moment in time" was very special. The little guy or big guy, it didn't make a difference. You did a terrific job!


Additionally, your special programs, informative and thought provoking columns, and strong opinions were good for our industry. Quick Times was an invaluable tool for anyone who was willing to keep an open mind and pay attention to what was being said. We all learned from what you offered.


Thank you for recognizing me in your acceptance speech. I was honored to be included with industries leaders like Jeff Byrd, Norm Drouillard and Woody Hatten.


Bill (and Deb)Bader

Marlin Huss said...

Congratulations on your award, it is well deserved. Looking forward to more posts.