Tag Archives: drag racing

Top Current Female Drag Racers

With the much overdone and yet historical 100th NHRA drag racing win for women finally coming to fruition with Courtney Force’s Funny Car victory at Topeka, it brought out the diversity angle once again.  Drag racing is by far the most diverse sport in the world with men and women of all colors battling each other head-to-head day-in and day-out.  With all that has been reported lately, it felt like as good a time as any to list the current female stars in drag racing.  They’re listed alphabetically.

Force DeJoria Enders-Stevens

Courtney Force, Alexis De Joria and Erica Enders-Stevens have all been winners in the NHRA this season.

Alexis De Joria – Her professional career is rather short for the 36 year old from Venice, California.  Alexis is only in her third full-time season driving the fuel floppers and yet she looked like a good pick to grab the 100th female win.  She currently resides in third place overall in the Funny Car ranks and has earned two wins already in 2014.  The daughter of Billionaire John Paul De Joria – he of hair product fame (Paul Mitchell), Alexis has coupled with Kalitta Motorsports and will likely be a force on the track for years to come.

Erica Enders-Stevens – The 31 year old Pro Stock points leader is from Houston, Texas, and the most accomplished of all the current professional women drag racers.  Erica has eight career meet victories and has more history-making runs and accomplishments than any of her contemporaries.  She drives for Elite Motorsports and has consistently been the fastest car this year in a division that arguably is the most competitive of all the professional categories.  Enders-Stevens might have the best chance at a championship of the women racers this year, which in-turn will make even more history for the superstar driver.

Brittany Force – The fastest of the women drag racers, the 27 year old Top Fuel pilot from Yorba Linda, California, has been making inroads in only her second season driving the ground-pounding monsters.  Brittany joined her sister this past week as number one qualifiers making the two Force girls, the first siblings to ever accomplish the feat on the same weekend.  Driving for her father John, Brittany looks ready to win her first event and it wouldn’t be surprising to see her competitive during the Countdown to the Championship (playoffs).  She’s a star in-the-making.

Leah Pritchett and Brittany Force

Rookies in 2013, both Leah Pritchett and Brittany Force are up-and-coming Top Fuel drivers to be reckoned with.

Courtney Force – The 26 year old has ascended to the top of newsmakers this year for drag racing but has had a relatively quiet third season so far – at least until winning Topeka Sunday.  That victory was the Yorba Linda native’s fourth of her short career and has brought her right into the thick of the championship battle.  The youngest of John’s daughters, Courtney has the drive and determination reminiscent of her father.  Having already made news last season as a winning Funny Car driver while baring it all in ESPN’s Body Issue, Courtney looks like a champion-in-waiting.  When?  Could be sooner than you think.

Leah Pritchett – She’s on the list even though Leah doesn’t run the full schedule.  Still, the 26 year old is a competitive Top Fuel driver and has shown to have the skills necessary to become a champion for years to come.  A former Nostalgia Funny Car champion, while also winning in Pro Mod, Pritchett, who is originally from Redlands, California, drives for the Dote family and her marketing abilities offer an advantage that most other drivers could only hope for.  Once she becomes a fulltime Top Fuel pilot with a competitive car, the talent is there and she could be a future star in the sport.

Source: NHRA

Daryle W. Hier

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Drag Racing Is Back!

It seems every winter I end up talking about the lack of racing and how I can’t wait for the new season to start.  This time, I stopped myself from another silly article about how boring it is without motorsports – unless of course this counts.

Joe Namath

Drag racing could sure use someone cool like Joe Namath

Being a football fan doesn’t help what with the Super Bowl and thus the season over for another seven months.  Hey, didn’t Joe Willy look cool – brings back great memories.

Regardless, the NHRA drag racing season is upon us and all I can say is: Thank God!

A shot of ground-pounding nitro-burning behemoths burning rubber is just what the doctor ordered.  The Winternationals from Pomona, California, start this Thursday and whether we agree with what the NHRA does and doesn’t do to screw up drag racing, it’s still nice to sit back and enjoy one of life’s pleasures.

Not having to be concerned about the news delving into another silly story such as toilet fishing at the Olympics – it appears Russians are troubled about just this problem (go here for the lunacy) – helps with the insanity.

Being inundated with what is the best Super Bowl commercial – by the way, they’re all lame, yes even the puppy ones – does nothing for my psyche unless I can entertain you while you watch my grey matter explode.  These brain farts called commercials are not going to make me buy Budweiser, Coke or a Maserati Ghibli, whatever the heck that is.  Advertising is truly dead.

Racing brings a bit of normalcy back to those of us who are motorsports folks.  Miley Cyrus and Puppy Bowls don’t do it for me.  Other than our new business, which excites the you-know-what out of me, drag racing does do it for me and now it’s time to light em’ up!

Winternationals

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California Needs Drag Strips: The Answer? Central Coast

In a state where drag racing was born due in part to dry lakes racing and the regions fervent support and love of the automobile, there seemed to be a quarter-mile drag strip in every corner of California.  Starting with the innocuous Goleta, there may have been nearly 100 drag strip facilities dotted throughout the state from Fremont to Fontana and Saugus to Santa Ana (pictured).Santa-Ana-drags

Population up, drag racing down

However, with the onslaught of population and the crush of urban development – along with noise activists – tracks disappeared.  Everywhere you looked, there were abandoned strips that sometimes sat vacant for decades afterwards.  Famed tracks like Orange County eventually became a plot of commercial highrises while Irwindale turned into a brewery and Lions, well, sadly it’s just a storage yard.

In a century of growth, the greater Los Angeles area in Southern California went from roughly 200,000 to 20 million (source US Census).  At the advent of the Roaring 20s, the state as a whole grew from about 4 million to almost 40 million.  Yet today, we have literally a handful of quarter-mile drag strips to pursue the thrill of drag racing.  That’s dangerous for our streets where especially the young head out to street race illegally.

Centrally located

What’s needed is to build in an area where urban sprawl doesn’t have an effect on a potential racing facility.  Also, would it be nice if it was centrally located so both the southern and northern folks can meet without having to drive half a day.  That can happen right here on the Central Coast.

National forests like Los Padres take up much of the land from Santa Barbara to Monterey plus with vineyards helping to insulate itself from population growth, much of the towns of the Central Coast will likely never see any population explosions.  Such are these reasons and more that many of us live near or on the coast of Central California.

Santa_Ynez_Valley_Farm

Regions like the Santa Ynez Valley northwest of Santa Barbara are perfect for drag racing.

The Santa Ynez Valley in inland Santa Barbara County is one of many excellent locations with idyllic small towns geared towards visitors for the vineyards that could also entertain racers and their fans.  Just north is Santa Maria with farms and wide open spaces, yet has many hotels due to being the biggest city on the Central Coast.  In San Luis Obispo County, there are several locations though don’t expect anything in the city of San Luis Obispo – it’s loaded with small-minded no-growth activists who would squash any idea of a race track.  However, in what is called the open rolling hills of ‘North County’, from Atascadero to Paso Robles, there are many potential locations for drag strips.

Positives

The idea of bringing safety to the Central Coast by keeping illegal street racers off our back roads should be met with open arms.  Additionally, the income from having one of the only quarter-mile strips in California would be welcomed during this continuing elongated recessional period we’ve had the last several years.

Among the beauty that this region is known for, the centrally located towns of the Central Coast, sitting between two giant metropolitan areas, would be ideal for a quarter-mile drag racing facility.  I got the ball rolling, now who’s ready to step up and make it happen?

Daryle W. Hier 

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Drag Racing 1959 – Detroit Dragway

This is a video from 1959 regarding the ‘Nationals’ at Detroit Dragway.  It’s old but done in color and the quality isn’t bad.  Take a look – you’ll get a kick out of it.

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Paul Candies: Piece Of History Passes Away

Candies & Hughes was one of the more successful teams in drag racing history.  When anyone thinks of famous race teams, certainly Candies & Hughes will always be mentioned.  Well, we lost a famous man as Paul Candies unexpectedly died over this past weekend from a heart attack at the age of 72 (source: St. Charles Herald-Guide).

How successful was Louisiana based Candies & Hughes’ team?  They were the first drag racing team to win a IHRA and NHRA championship in the same year.  They also were the first team to win a championship in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.

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Candies & Hughes Funny Car circa mid-’80s – driven by Mark Oswald

The modern version of Candies & Hughes’ Funny Car is being campaigned in the Nostalgia Funny Car circles by Jim Broome.  The car nicknamed the Cajun ‘Cuda has been driven by Mike Savage and  Mike Halstead in recent years.  However, famous names that have piloted the legendary car include: Mark Oswald, Leroy Goldstein and of course Leonard Hughes (up until the early ’70s).   

Candies & Hughes operated two cars when it was unheard of and early on, the infamous Roland Leong tuned the second car.  Richard Tharp came along in the mid-’70s to drive their new Woody Gilmore and Don Long built Top Fueler, which quickly became a world championship car.  Later, Oswald would pilot both their Top Fueler and then their Funny Car to huge wins in the ’80s.

Generally speaking, Hughes was the mechanic and Candies supplied the money.  Candies helped run a thriving marine transportation company that his father founded, Otto Candies, and that business acumen allowed Paul to add a significant business sense to the team.  Candies always kept the team not wanting – they constantly had all the best parts and pieces to go racing.  When Candies became President of the company he worked at in the early ’90s, the team soon dissolved.

As a young fan, I used to buy models of race cars such Candies & Hughes early Barracuda and was enamored by the Funny Cars during the ’70s.  It was certainly one of the iconic names in the history of drag racing.

Candies, who went to Southeastern Louisiana University and served in the Coast Guard, had additional passions other than drag racing.  He was a skilled sportsman that included fishing and hunting, especially in and around Grand Isle, Louisiana.  Candies lived in Des Allemands, which is just southwest of New Orleans.

He was a humble man known for his charitable ways and both his local community as well as the drag racing community have lost a significant icon.

Additional source: NHRA

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Courtney Force in ESPN Body Issue: Good for drag racing?

Is Motorsports Producing Women Racers or Purging Them?

Bo Doesn’t Know Drag Racing – $#%@!

Daryle W. Hier

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Bo Doesn’t Know Drag Racing – $%&#!

THE BO AND ROCKY SHOW

or – Lucy pulled the football away from Charlie Brown again.  $#%@!

I was enjoying the beautiful sunny Central Coast weather, working in the yard during the day.  It was on the hot side but I had to get some work done, including a little ditch digging.  That was okay because later in the day, I was heading off to a big cigar dinner gathering in Paso Robles with maybe the leading man on the front lines of trying to save the cigar industry: Rocky Patel.

I didn’t have the time to watch the NHRA drag racing qualifying at the inaugural event in Epping, New Hampshire (New England Nationals).  However, this isn’t a problem because I can DVR the ESPN2 show and watch later that night when I get back from the dinner.  Wrong.

The old switcheroo

There was a problem because unbeknownst to me, ESPN had decided that the show wouldn’t appear on ESPN2 but instead, they had it on ESPN.  See I’m used to ESPN and NHRA screwing with time elements of when they’ll show drag racing and I always make sure to add an extra hour – or even two sometimes – because you never know when the women’s ping pong show might run a little late and push drag racing back.  I’m not shitting you … it happens.

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However, moving the show over to another channel is a little hard to foresee.  So, I like millions of other drag racing fans instead, were able to watch all you needed to know about Bo Jackson.  Now, Bo was quite an athlete but when the schedule states drag racing should be on, don’t you think, well, I don’t know, that maybe … A DRAG RACE SHOULD BE ON!  $#%@!

and Todd too

Of course, I fast forwarded through hoping against hope that there’d be something looking like a drag race but no, it was Bo all the way through for an hour and a half.  The last half hour led into another segment on a different athlete and this one was worse, Todd Marinovich.  Ever hear a story about someone who was extremely gifted and talented but threw it all away?  That’s Marinovich.  BUT I DON’T CARE!

What I do care about it is drag racing, but obviously ESPN and to some extent, NHRA, just don’t give a hoot about the quality of coverage the sport gets.  Yes, I’ve ranted about this before but it doesn’t change the fact that as a drag racing fan, we are at best, second class citizens.  Why it happens, I have no idea but this has to stop.  Someone needs to get through to these nimrods at ESPN and NHRA that it would be nice if we had some rp-edgesemblance of regular television coverage.  That’s all.

I did get to meet and talk for a short time with Rocky Patel, which made the day not a total dud.  Anyway, my evening was spent outside having a late after-dinner cigar – a Rocky Patel, what else – with a good Zin.  So I guess I’ll just keep the wine ready and anytime I need to drown my sorrows again, I’ll be ready.  $#%@!

Daryle W. Hier

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National Hot Rod Reunion – Fathers Day Weekend

Rat Trap powers down Beech Bend Raceway

Fueled Altered Rat Trap powers down Beech Bend Raceway
Courtesy of NHRA Motorsports Museum

This Father’s Day weekend comes the largest Nostalgia drag racing events east of the Rockies: The National Hot Rod Reunion (NHRR).  The race takes place starting tomorrow – although teams and vendors are there today – the event going from June 13-15 at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky (source: NHRA).

This is the 11th annual NHRR and was originally created to give those in the eastern half  of the country an ability to see some of what those that had visited the California Hot Rod Reunion (CHRR) were able to enjoy.  The CHRR is the largest Nostalgia drag meet in the world and the popularity was such that the NHRR was established.  In-turn, the NHRR has become such a success that there’s is now a third reunion that will take place at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire, as the New England Hot Rod Reunion.

The NHRR will have of course Top Fuel along with many of the other popular classes that Nostalgia meets have.  There will be a Cacklefest, which is memorable all by itself bringing back and actually firing up the original cars of yesteryear.  There’s a Show N Shine with all kinds of classic cars on hand, plus a swap meet and vendors for everything under the sun – in other words, something for everyone in the family to enjoy.  And don’t forget that Beech Bend is also an amusement park.

Companies such as Holley, AAA Insurance and Axalta Coatings are major sponsors of the event.  Preston Davis is the Grand Marshal  and gained his fame during the ’60s and ’70s as both a successful Top Fuel and Funny Car racer driving the famed Tennessee Bo Weevil throughout the southeast.

Reunions, unlike other drag meets, are a combination of drag race and get-together with some of the legends of the sport always on hand.  If you’ve never been to one of these magnificent spectacles, head on out to the rolling hills of western Kentucky and enjoy the time of a lifetime.  And no, I don’t get paid anything for saying that … it’s just the truth.  By the way, if you can’t make it out, the race is being broadcast through live streaming at BangShift.com.

Otherwise – Be There!

Daryle W. Hier

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