Monthly Archives: April 2010

Answer Man

They call it the Information Age.  The problem sometimes is too much information.  If you don’t have messages coming at you from several different angles, you’re a Tibetan monk (Hmmm, they might have something figured out there).  But like most things, if you want to know or find a subject of interest, you still have to research it and even then, there’s no asurety you’ll find what you want.  So you need information when you want it.

We’ve been involved in and around drag racing for a long time. In that time we’ve found, investigated and discovered a large amount of information – We want to share it.  So if you have a question related to anything regarding drag racing, ask us.  There’s no guarantee we’ll be able to answer everything but give it a whirl.  Go to our Answer Man page on the Eagle2Team website and email us.  Maybe you even have a question not pertaining directly to drag racing, we might have answer for that too.

So in the age of information, let us know what you think or better than that, we’ll let you know.

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”Heritage Series” Rumors

On my recent trip to the March Meet in Bakersfield Ca., I couldn’t help from overhearing the unbelievable and unsubstantiated rumors regarding “phasing out” the “King Of The Quarter Mile”; the Top Fuel front engine dragster.  As opposed to the Nitro drenched, ear splitting sounds these beautiful four wheeled monsters belch forth, the negative sound I was hearing was understandably coming from track promoters and chassis builders anxious to promote a new and different product.  In speaking with a prominent chassis builder at the track, his comment was that there were people involved in the management of the sport that think the cars are too dangerous.  Dangerous?  This is obviously a story shaped, so a new series of chassis can be built to resemble the first back motored cars.  After all, business is a little slow these days and track promoters are always looking for new ways to increase gate receipts.

Much hard work and dedication is in effect within the Heritage Series group at the NHRA Wally Parks Museum to keep this division of the sport alive.

For those that would even think of eliminating the marquee of Nostalgia Drag Racing, here’s my view on the subject.

The name of this particular division of nostalgia drag racing is the HOT ROD HERITAGE SERIES (Inherited – Birthright)!  The foundation of nostalgia drag racing is the TOP FUEL FRONT ENGINE DRAGSTER!  It’s our heritage. It goes back to the days of the “Thingy” (Body-off and run it), dangerous?  Of course they are.  What racecar is not?  Auto racing is a calculated risk.  How about back-motered cars, look at Daryl Guinn and what about Darrell Russell and Blaine Johnson?    Remember Scott Kalitta and Eric Medlin?  All Funny Cars are front motored; are they dangerous? And how about Altereds with your butt sitting over the rear end with 3,000 + hp. and 115 in. wheelbase, dangerous?  Midgets, Sprints, Outlaws, IndyCars, F1, Bonneville cars and Drag Boats; Dangerous?

Simple Greed

We, in the sport are constantly seeking and receiving improvement in the safety of auto racing.  To recklessly declare, for personal gains, that the top fuel front engine dragster should be phased out because it is dangerous is to ask for the foundation of the very thing the series is built on to be destroyed.  It is thoughtless, insensitive, irresponsible, greedy and detrimental to the entire sport of drag racing.  That’s my opinion…

‘See ya’ at the races…

Ronnie Hier

Home Of Nostalgia Drag Racing

All Funny Cars are front motored; are they dangerous?

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iPad, Apps & Slow Adapters

Technology is with us in everything we do.  It also seems the latest technology is always advancing faster than you can keep up with.  In the end, we acquire or stay with most of whats important in today’s fast pace.  Lately, Apple’s iPad has been the talk of the town for the last several weeks.  Early adapters already have their gadgets in hand.  You may not be ready to have your life fastened to your hand and ear, so iPhones and iPads may still be around the corner for a lot of us.

So drag racers, did you see the latest app?  Yea, it keeps you updated on all the news regarding drag racing and in particular Nostalgia drag racing.  It’s great.  You can connect with tracks immediately, plug-in your location for the nearest race coming your way and … and, and only if it were true.  Why isn’t it?

The drag family is an interesting brood.  The marvels of speed, information and data, brought us technology advances akin to the space program.  They are unique in many ways BUT one of the areas that they’ve been slow to adapt to is technology.  OK, OK, easy, I know we use computers for data recovery and every major NHRA pro teams has banks of computers to decipher the latest timing issues, weather etc.  BTW, how you guys doing using analog tire gauges – not very 21st century and you’ll NEVER have the right air pressure – but I digress.  Well, on the other hand, there’s a point: Many in drag racing including teams themselves, DON’T use the latest equipment and knowledge because?  Stuck in their ways?  Actually I’m not sure why the EXACT hangup, but it’s real … drag racing has some catching up to do with technology … DRAG RACERS AND THEIR FANS ARE SLOW ADAPTERS.

Maybe if you looked into the psychology of drag racing fans, for the drag racing fraternity, what is new is old, if that makes any sense.

I include the fans because I’ve been dealing with them for years and for instance; when the Internet came along, I tried to get racing fans to purchase through our website but they wouldn’t have any part of it.  Even last year, trying to sell something as simple as a t-shirt, some wanted to send checks in the mail or at most FAX me an order.  It’s an odd bunch.  Don’t get me wrong, drag racing fans usually have as much or more in the way of electronics, cars, or what have you but they don’t want to step to quickly.   Drag race fans will buy and support the companies and products, ESPECIALLY, if it’s associated with a race team but they’ll never be first adapters.

Maybe it’s like they say in Missouri; Show Me.

Personally, I don’t see the iPad making it.  I mean, didn’t Bill Gates drag something similar idea out like a tablet computer several years ago and everyone just yawned and giggled?  Apple’s marketing is second to none even if their products aren’t, so we’ll see.

Well, anyway, now that I’ve lambasted (in a good way) my own ilk, let’s hear what you think.

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The Book

A few years ago a gentleman by the name of Erik Arneson called me and said he would like a few minutes with me when I had time, to talk about an old friend of mine, Mickey Thompson.  Erik is the former design editor and motorsports reporter for USA Today and is now the Vice President of Media Relations for the SPEED Channel.  He is the writer of the book, John Force: The Straight Story of Drag Racing’s 300-MPH Superstar and he wanted to talk to me regarding a book he was writing about Mickey.  BTW, he found my name on a message board, of all places.

We talked awhile, about all the things that happened back when we were running at all the So. Cal. racetracks during the time that Mickey was managing the old Lions track at 223rd and Alameda in Long Beach Ca.  Boy!  What a trip down memory lane that was, all the fun, goofy and exciting things that happened while racing at that track.  Four at a time, LeMans starts, dragster vs. 1/4 horses, jets, foot races between all the drivers, you name it and Mickey tried it.

 

We racers of that time just cruised through all the happenings of the era as if nothing else was going on and for us there really wasn’t, so imagine my surprise after all this time, when a guy with the laurels of Erik Arneson calls ME and asks about my association with Mickey during my racing days, to help him with his research for his new book “Mickey Thompson: The Fast Life And Tragic Death Of A Racing Legend”.  I was totally taken back.  A few weeks after talking with Erik, I received one of the books, signed … by him, not only that but he mentions my name in several places in the book, wow was I surprised.  If any of you guys are interested in the “good ole days” of drag racing, I strongly suggest buying the book.  It’s great reading about a phenomenal racer, written by an excellent author.

 

See ya at the races ……… Ron

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Considering past and current, where are the best drag racers from?

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Circle Trackin’ 2

In my last post, I tried to give you some insight into how my life in racing was “back then”.  There was too much to say so here is Part Two of my days involved with circle trackin’.

Uh ... Yikes!

The Jalopy was either a ’39 or ’40 Buick Roadmaster coupe with a straight eight engine.  Bill (Adair) had Jack Engle, (Engle Cams in Santa Monica) grind a cam for it and other than a 3 carb manifold, I think the engine was pretty much stock.  We reworked the undercarriage a bunch and that thing was heavy.  It was heavy and FAST!  It was fun running it as most of the other cars were Fords and the fans loved it.  We would usually qualify well and win a few heat races but I don’t remember ever winning a main event.

1952 DeSoto Firedome

The Sprint car was … hang on now … are you ready for this? … a Hemi!  Yes it was a Hemi.  The car came from back east and looked like a Kurtis Kraft (it wasn’t).  It had been stretched 6inches and had a DeSoto Hemi engine in it.  It was a pretty car and except for a 220 lb. driver (Porky Rockowitz – you’ve probably never heard of him), it was a haulin’ son-of-a-gun and I’ll tell ya, that guy could drive.  The car was fun to be associated with and Porky was fun to watch.  We didn’t travel a lot with that car but always qualified well and won our share of races.

For me, it was as if time stood still; it was a great time, a time that was easy to live.  We were too busy racing to get into trouble and the only things we had to worry about was getting the car ready and getting to the track on time.  No troubles, no hang-ups, no drugs, there were girls but Bill was married and I was too involved with racing to get serious, heck we didn’t even drink back then (not yet).  The circle track era of my life phased itself out when Zeke became interested in drag racing and my friend and neighbor, Hank Bender and I decided to follow, as we were also interested and “somewhat” already involved.  So it was the end of my circle trackin’ and the beginning of my future in drag racing and what a ride it’s been!  I’m still lovin’ it and still doin’ it.  I hope to have a Nostalgia Top Fuel Dragster running by next year.  Hope springs eternal.

Afterthoughts:

For all the time I volunteered as a crewmember, Bill gave me a ’34 Ford 3 window coupe (no engine, trans, or interior but everything else) and a ’40 Ford coupe that had the engine compartment and hood modified to accept a Blown Oldsmobile, motor mounts and all but no engine.  Years later, maybe 1958, Mike Sorokin (“Sork”) of Skinner, Jobe and Sorokin “Surfers” Top Fuel fame, bought the ’34 and I think it was Mike’s first car (street rod).

Thanks for visiting and …

See you at the races!

Ronnie Hier

Home Of Nostalgia Drag Racing

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Circle Trackin’

One thing about being my age, it gives me the opportunity to comment on the days of racing that most people reading the “The Nest” were not able to visit.  Some way or another I have been involved with racing most of my life.  Before organized drag racing existed (OK, so there was a little street racing – which we DON’T do now), most racing was centered on circle tracks.  There were Midgets, Sprints, Big Cars (stretched sprints that were sometimes used in Indy racing), Track Roadsters and Jalopies.  They were all exciting and fun and at a very young age, I had the privilege of being associated with all of them.  Just out of school, I met who was to become a very good friend and mentor in my young days of racing.  His name was Bill (“Zeke”) Adair.  Don’t know where the nickname came from but Bill was an excellent mechanic and a hard core racer no matter what kind of racing it was.

You old timers may remember the Top Fuel Dragster team of Weekly, Fox and Holding.  Well, for a short time they joined with Zeke and became Fox, Holding and Adair and did real well together.

While I was associated with Bill, we worked out of his garage in Venice, CA.  I was his only volunteer “full time” assistant and pit crew.  I lived with my family in Venice so I had little overhead and Bill paid my way into the races as a crew-member and also paid my travel expenses (very little, as we slept in the truck, or car, or whatever we were using at the time).  One of the very popular Southland racetracks at the time was in our own backyard, the Culver City Stadium at Washington and Lincoln Blvd’s (since deceased).  We ran a lot at Culver and at different times during my years with Zeke we ran several different types of racecars, Jalopies, a Sprint Car and a Track Roadster.  To say I had a favorite car is difficult as I just loved each one as much as the others.  The roadster was probably my favorite as it was a sponsored car and ran real well.

A fellow named Ferris Webster was a Film Editor for MGM Studios in Culver City and also owned a very popular bar and grill called the “Retake Room” right across from the entrance and exit to the studio (not a bad location, eh?).  Ferris was a real nice guy with a lot of dough and he sponsored the car.  It was a ’23 Ford “T” body with a ’39 Ford flathead V8 with all Edelbrock Racing equipment.  It was nicely painted in red and white with the “Retake Room” painted on the sides and it was fast.  A couple of famous drivers (for the time) drove it but I can’t recall who they were.  We raced with such well-known drivers as Rosie Rousell (who may be still around and had his roadster in the NHRA Museum a couple of years ago) and Troy Ruttman, who went on to Indy fame.

1948 - Troy Ruttman at Culver City Stadium

There is so much to talk about of my circle trackin’ days that I’ve decided to make this a two-parter and continue it next time with some good stuff and a couple of very interesting afterthoughts.  Please join me then.

Thanks for visiting and…

See you at the races!

Ronnie Hier

Home Of Nostalgia Drag Racing

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