Tag Archives: Funny Car

Raymond Beadle May Have Passed Away, But He Lives In Infamy

One of the greatest drag racers of all-time, Raymond Beadle, passed away. There are very few drag racers – other than my dad – that I looked up to, however Blue Max Funny Car driver Raymond Beadle was one. The sport lost a legend, but he will live in the hearts of racers forever.

Raymond Beadle in the Blue Max

Most famously known as the driver of the Blue Max, Beadle was the man who got me interested in drag racing when I was a teenager. Yes, my father was quite successful, yet I was only five when he retired the first time. Still, the both of us would go to Irwindale, Ontario and of course OCIR (Orange County International Raceway) to watch drag racing in the ‘70s. What caught my attention were the giant fields of Funny Cars, especially at OCIR. And it was there that I first noticed the Blue Max.

Bigger than life?

I can’t tell you what grabbed my interest in Beadle or the Blue Max. As a Texan, he wasn’t even a local, but that didn’t deter my interest. To me – and probably a lot of others – he was the star of the show.

Sure, there were big names like the Jungle Jim, the Snake and Mongoose, who had certainly my attention since I grew up with Hot Wheels. Nevertheless, as far as I was concerned, there was only one driver and car: Raymond Beadle and the Blue Max overshadowed all others.

I was such a huge fan of Beadles, I even followed his NASCAR team and became a Rusty Wallace fan, going to Riverside every year to root him on – eventually winning a championship in Winston Cup.

I’ve followed Beadle fairly closely even lately, becoming a friend of his on Facebook some years back. I known that he almost died this past summer when he had a heart attack. He was lucky enough to survive that difficulty but obviously the issue must have persisted because he recently was hospitalized with heart and kidney problems.

Raymond Beadle

For all his success in racing, Beadle was rewarded by being inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame a little more than two months ago – ironically, Wallace was also inducted this year.

Beadle was 70 years old when he died Monday morning (October 20), but the memory of his exploits including three straight NHRA championships from ’79 to ’81 will live infamy … and unquestionably this fan will always remember Raymond Beadle and the Blue Max.

Daryle W. Hier

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NHRA’s Expanded Lack Of Coverage

Does every round count?

Fans of drag racing probably weren't happy this weekend watching the so-called expanded coverage - if you could find it.

Fans of drag racing probably weren’t happy this weekend watching the so-called expanded coverage – if you could find it … or stay up late enough.

The NHRA likes to say that every round counts but I would ask: Does anyone hear or see a round if it falls in the forest?  I hate to write these rants (see related articles), but since no one else seems to have the cojones to say what needs to be said about the NHRA, here I am again, delivering another quasi tirade about the TV coverage or lack thereof.  Kind of like ‘The Emperors New Clothes’ anecdote (go here for a refresher).  And remember the context for all of this is that the Countdown or playoffs are starting for NHRA drag racing in Charlotte this past week.

“Here’s what the viewers at home can expect when they tune-in this weekend.”

How the NHRA had the nerve to put out a press release noting the “expanded coverage” for this past weekend Carolina Nationals television broadcast is, well, quite appalling.  What was to be expected?  Here’s what actually happened.  IF, and I state ‘if’ because not everyone gets ESPN News – I mean, why would you since that is what ESPN and ESPN2 are in part, news outlets – IF you are lucky enough to have ESPN News, then you could watch the so-called expanded coverage of qualifying with 90 minutes at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time Saturday night into Sunday morning.  Additionally, there was another 90 minutes of qualifying at 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning on ESPN2.  $%&#!

Problem is ESPN News is a premium channel which is usually only available with special packages.  If you’re someone with basic channels or without the special  package, you probably don’t receive ESPN News and therefore could not have seen the expanded coverage.  However, you still had to stay up into the wee hours of the morning to watch the 90 minutes – how wonderful.

Rerun 

ESPN2 thought a rerun – yes, a rerun – of baseball highlights should preempt nearly a third of the NHRA qualifying, so you were only able to watch just over an hour of qualifying.  Think about it.  Four rounds of Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying condensed into an hour.  Yeah, it doesn’t work.

Nevertheless, Sunday’s a new day and we will be able to watch eliminations in “prime time” at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN2 even though that isn’t the normal time slot.  Still, the round-by-round coverage starts nearly on time and a great first round of eliminations take place with several upsets, especially in Top Fuel.

Second round begins with Top Fuel and a pair goes down the track with more on the way after this break.  We’re back with, uh, oops … what the … ?  You know, those Pro Stockers look a lot like NASCAR Cup cars.  Wait a minute.  Oh sorry, but NASCAR has moved their coverage over from ESPN to ESPN2 (due to rain delay) and drag racing is nowhere to be seen – unless you have ESPN News where they’ve switched the broadcast over to.  $%&#!

I’ve said this before but being a fan of drag racing and dealing with the NHRA/ESPN is like Charlie Brown dealing with Lucy.  Lucy has that football ready for Ohno_notagain-CharlieBrownLucyCharlie Brown to kick but every time Charlie finally agrees to run up to kick it, Lucy pulls the football and flat on his back he goes, once again being fooled by Lucy.

Only winners

There’s no spoiler alert here because you can’t view a replay of coverage anywhere that I know of and no one would have known where to tape the broadcast on a DVR.  The winners were Morgan Lucas in Top Fuel, Robert Hight in Funny Car, Jeg Coughlin in Pro Stock and Andrew Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle (source: Charlotte Observer).

So unless you’re lucky enough to afford traveling to the races during the Countdown, it appears watching NHRA’s playoffs may be as hard as sighting Big Foot.  Whether the expanded lack of coverage continues remains to be seen but certainly the drag racing world for fans is a tough one to live in.

Here’s hoping ESPN and the NHRA can offer just regular old coverage like during the season.  But somehow I doubt that what with football, NASCAR, baseball and pygmy preseason ping-ball shoving drag racing’s playoffs to some distant cable outlet to be shown in the early morning hours.

$%&#!

Daryle W. Hier

Home Of Motorsports Marketing

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Snake & Mongoose

The Snake & Mongoose movie will be hitting the silver screen nationwide September 6th and is likely the most anticipated drag racing movie to come out in a long time – see the trailer here.

The movie is about the two famous nemesis’ and how they become synonymous with drag racing, Funny Cars and each other.  Their popularity took drag racing from amateur level backyard-type sport to become a bona fide profession.  Don Prudhomme as the Snake and Tom McEwen as the Mongoose, were in actuality friends, with arguably the better racer, Prudhomme matched up with McEwen the better businessman.

The two arch enemies in the animal kingdom were a deadly pairing yet some know that the two Southern Californians were friends … but many didn’t.  And that’s what this film explores.

As a kid growing up in the ’60s with Hot Wheels, this story has a special meaning but on a wider scale, this pure piece of Americana should conjoin most folks whether you like motorsports or not.  The movie has rare footage and splices into the movie with a look and feel and that will make many wistfully long for the ’60s and ’70s, no matter the long hair and polyester.

As a longtime fan of drag racing with a father who was one of the pioneers of the sport, I grew up following the Funny Car era as it and myself grew up; so this movie and story hit a cord.  With an obvious nostalgic bend to the retro story, I think it will hit a cord with many people even if they aren’t a fan of drag racing.

The two men are still with us and helped oversee the making of the movie.  Hopefully this film will bring on more tales of a time when the world was changing … as was drag racing.

Daryle W. Hier

Home Of Nostalgia Drag Racing

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Nightfire Nationals Are Here

The 42 annual Pepsi Nightfire Nationals at Firebird Raceway near Boise, Idaho, — the largest Nostalgia drag race in the Pacific Northwest and one of the biggest Nostalgia meets in the country – begins today (Thursday August 8).

Adam Sorokin in the Champion Speed Shop Top Fueler with wheels up at the March Meet
– Picture courtesy of Facebook

There will be plenty of nitro including Nostalgia Top Fuel and Funny Car.  This race is one of only three events on the Nostalgia drag racing calendar with both Top Fuel and Funny Car racing at the same meet.  There will also be Pro Mods from the West Coast Outlaw Pro Mod Association with their sub six second passes.  Jet dragsters will also be on hand.

Last year’s Top Fuel winner Adam Sorokin will be back to defend his victory, once again driving the Champion Speed Shop Chevrolet with his top challenger likely Jim Murphy.  Both drivers are from California.

The Nightfire Nationals will have more than 500 cars on the premises with a purse approaching $200,000 including $80,000 just to a series of ‘Sportsman’ (bracket racers).  Sportsman is usually considered amateur level as far as funding is concerned but this race defies that description.

A huge crowd comes out every year for this special event at Firebird Raceway in Eagle, Idaho.  Skies will be mostly clear with high temperatures in the 90s – slight chance of a shower Thursday.  Great weather to go see a race.

Daryle W. Hier

Home Of Nostalgia Drag Racing

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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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Daryle W. Hier

Home Of Nostalgia Drag Racing

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55th March Meet — 2013 Nitro Results

The 55th March Meet in 2013 had a little of everything and seemed like a long weekend for a lot of teams as the four-day meet had some interruptions … and as we speak, parts of it are still going.

Jim Young with Frank and Debra Ousley’s Crop Duster crew

Teams started arriving to the mecca of drag racing as early as Tuesday because in-part the event has become so large that people have learned to get there early plus the Bowser’s, who run Famoso, opened it earlier to accommodate everyone.  In addition, Thursday would be a test and tune for many who needed the extra time to get ready — since this was the first meet of the year.  One particular eye-opener test run was Tony Bartone’s Top Fueler clicking off just before the lights and still going 5.56 seconds at just 220 mph (source: Bakersfield Californian).

It never rains in California … unless there’s a drag race

There’s been a drought of sorts here in California but as many of us have witnessed over the years, if you need to end a drought, schedule a drag race.  On cue, Friday saw the rains come and thus, there would be no joy in Mudville.  And that’s what it was like for some — which happens to dirt when it gets wet.

So in the nitro ranks, Saturday saw a lot of qualifying as teams from every division jammed in as much as they could on a cool and mostly cloudy day.  Top Fuel saw last year’s winner Jim Young as the top qualifier with a 5.68 ET.   34 Funny Cars vied for the top 16 spots with Jason Rupert snagging #1 qualifier with a 5.70.

Winners

While most of the Sportsman classes ran early Sunday morning to get in a second round of qualifying, Top Fuel and Funny Cars started eliminations shortly afterwards.  Reigning Hot Rod Heritage Series champion Adam Sorokin lost to Young in the first round.  Eventually, with the Top Fuel final under the lights, Young and his Ousley family Top Fueler matched-up against Denver Schutz.  The top end speed of Young’s car was too much for Schutz to overcome and Young was victorious with a 5.65 ET and at over 269 mph.  In Funny Car,  Tim Boychuk ran a stout 5.81 ET at 249 mph to defeat Mark Sanders who broke a transmission almost at the hit.

Funny Car winner Tim Boychuk
– Driving his ’77 Firebird

The immense popularity of Nostalgia drag racing is alive and kicking and probably bigger than it’s ever been.  It would be nice to think something this big with such a fan loyalty and following could  garner more coverage and sponsorship.  Even with all the rain, the crowds were unbelievably huge and there wasn’t a seat to be found each time Top Fuel and Funny Car came to the line.  The Bowser’s do a good job with Famoso but it certainly would be nice to see more seating.

If you’re wondering, all the other classes had to run today after getting only one round of eliminations in on Sunday.  Again, the delay was due to the lost day of rain.

By the way, if you would like to see some videos of the March Meet, the Bakersfield Californian has several clips here.

Daryle W. Hier

Home Of Nostalgia Drag Racing

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No More Hurry Up And Wait For NHRA Nitro Teams

ESPN announcers: Dave Rieff and Mike Dunn

The old saying in drag racing about hurrying up and then waiting is as old an adage as their is in our sport.  But like high-button shoes, it’s a thing of the past.  With that, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) is marching head-first into making sure their programs move fast enough for television.  What is it their doing?  How about 50 minute turn-arounds during eliminations.  Yes, you read that right – the NHRA wants Top Fuel and Funny Car teams to make 50 minute turn-arounds from the time they run one round to the time they run the next round.  And we thought 90 minutes was tough.

TV

The reason is clear: The NHRA will be offering live shows on ESPN starting with the Spring Nationals event in Houston in late April.  The NHRA wants the nitro teams to be ready for 50 minute turn-around times to accommodate live television.  Just a quick note: When we say live, it still may or may not be taped … but, hey, the show was live when they taped it!

I’m okay with live event broadcasting because those in the know have said for years that if drag racing wanted to move into the big leagues, it had to be live.  Also, television does better ratings-wise with live events over taped.  And that goes for advertisers too.  A smart, successful and very informed man of marketing once told me that drag racing would never make it as a major sport if it didn’t figure out how to have live broadcasts with a quicker pace.

Pressure

But – and you knew there had to be a but – pushing teams to do a 50 minute turn-around may backfire.  The 90 minute turn-around really has become a 75 minute over the last few years and then when things go awry recently, the NHRA has reduced it to 60 minutes.  However, pressuring the pit crews to do more in less time doesn’t sound like a good thing.  I’ve never had to be a part of such quick work in the pits but having been associated with and having done tear downs to get a car ready is nerve-racking and hard to do the same day and get a car back out for another round, without demanding it be done CORRECTLY, and not blow something else up.  It goes without saying that when the anxiety rate goes up, so do mistakes.

Again, I’m sure everyone is in agreement that we need live racing and if shorter turn-arounds is the answer then, that’s what must be done.  Personally, I haven’t heard how they’re going to handle the Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle but those teams don’t need as much time as the nitro teams do because and let’s face it, they don’t have nearly as much to do as nitro crews do.  Plus, most eyeballs are concerned and interested in nitro more than the Pro Stock classes anyway.  In other words, like it or not it’s tough sh** if you’re not nitro.

Yes, the NHRA has dabbled in live event coverage before but these broadcasts are going to become the norm – even if they aren’t all “live” – plus, it makes it easier for television because they don’t have to sit and wait to put a show together.  How this works with the smaller teams also concerns me as I’m guessing the big-time teams will just have everything set, no matter how many engine assemblies need to be complete and ready to go.  Time will tell, but ready or not … drag racing is going live.

Daryle W. Hier

Home Of Nostalgia Drag Racing

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