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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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