Sunday, March 23, 2008

75 Posts and a G-free Zone....................................

Following the lead of the conscience that Catholic Worker Press inspires (ie, they've been around forever and, like me, are only accountable to the Creator....) ---I'm moving this kit over to open-source

Away from corporate shills and towards village-level commerce, community and egalitarian journalistic traditions......

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Changing Our Relationship..............The person or persons who gave Richard Heath a new lease on publishing life with his Full Throttle News business have apparently flown..... the coupe'. Without naming names (as they have committed treachery in my eyes- and are nameless to me....), some bodies think they can run a nostalgia-industry rag without Richard's heart and soul- and mean to do so. The recent FTN was closer to Drag Strip Illustrated than anything else. Amazing first-hand accounts from people like Don "We Did It For Love" Ewald and the fueler families that inhabited the halcyon days at Lions gave content and credibility to a magazine that, even with a new generation of cub reporters, struggled against the cooperative sponsorship that racers' associations have used to leverage opinion towards their pet agendas. That nostalgia drag racing has a legendary back-biting reputation is part of its' culture-one documented since the late '80's.
Whatever....whatever prompted this change has left a nice, if battle-weary, silverhaired journalist more options. His editorial stance of trying to be friends with everyone in the southland needs to be applauded. Advertisers voting the direction of Heath and his legacy (a regular magazine dedicated to preserving what was left of So Cal dragstrip culture took monstrous godlike gonads in 1995.....) will add streetcred to them....more than Heath-who doesn't need to prove his talent to anyone, anymore.

It may be time to bring Full Throttle News online. Cole Coonce was not the only drone in the FTN hive with ahead-of-the-curve talents in that area. As an avowed luddite, I would miss a written page FTN more than most; but, then, I also miss the Holy Goof asthetic: that hairstylist Hollywood gossip girl , the first days of a bright-eyed schoolage reporter named Ellen-growing up in the sport, Professor Ginz's rhetoric, Tom Hunnicutt's light-is-right eyeball engineering, Steve Parker's straight world scene, Coonce's Twin Peaks tome's and "Racers And Fans"-featuring the previous few months at the Brotherhood Raceway--always priorities with The People.

That last part.....the grass roots part of a grass roots publication seems like history now. The notion of low buck racers running for fun and personal glory has as much to do with current drag racing business models as has a working cowboy with pro rodeo bullriding. If you're old enough to remember Paul Newman in "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean", the last half-hour of that comic-drama comes to mind......

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Little Ray Of Sunshine illuminated one of my usual haunts at Dawn, today. Bud Deboer kept Drag News a truely national force for informative results for years. Without DN, how could I have known that the Ohio Modified Production and S/S scenes were actually more energetic...and vital...than the local fluff I venerated as weekly sportsman events in the early '70's? Who could have facilitated the White Suit and cheap cigar southern charm of promoter/PR doozy Jimmy "Herculeas" Boyd? The mysticism of the AHRA Grand American's annual swoop down upon Green Valley Race City? Bud has started his new career of sharing historical perspective (and, thus, telling truth to marketing...) at (yay!) the Draglist. Here's hoping we don't bore him with self-serving homogeneric posts.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I am usually dubious about any major attempt outside the entrapeneural workshop to renew the face of manufactoring. My suspicions weren't thinly veiled last year when reviewing "Who Killed The Electric Car?"---and I seem to be joined in this by an old masthead mate

While there, feel free to key in the Jesse James commentary written recently by Steve. Absorb truths on racial (and horribly misogynistic) ignorance in the retroauto industry (that are, also, thinly veiled by the balance of a 'nostalgia'/'tatt'/rustrod neuvo-greaser richkid movement which is selling a bucketload of magazines) from Mr. Parker-an old school inclusivist who, unlike this post-apocalyptic luddite here, believes the future progress of autoculture can still be tooled-up within our current economic framework. I love his idealism. (Mine is more spiritual, less about faith in new materials...) Reusing old materials for results Steve and I both want-a future free from dependence upon death industries- is where I look..and we still have plenty 'nuf uncrushed parts to dabble with on the left coast.

Props for a new direction in '08 to: a couple of mainstreamer writers- Top Fuel Handbook author and former National Dragster editor Chris Martin, who is going public on his health n' selfcare challenges.......and Ian Tocher, senior dispatcher for the Drag Racing Online crew-leaving to do what he's really doing anyway: PR for the ADRL. Attention DRO: you can't have an indie press when your major sponsors include a SANCTIONING body...and I know I'm hardly the only punter out here seein' this.........

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Holiday Season in America has evolved in a positive direction, in my opinion. Never before have I witnessed so many people willing to accept different directions and personal rituals in marking the transition of the year, as humankind has done in one manner or another for thousands of years...

A longtime celebratory event gets my annual vote for best indie promotion of the year. The Snowbird National Open featured a great eclectic open 'procomp'-style mix of open altereds, TD and alky floppers. While we are priviledged to see such a salad tossed together on an index on the left coast, it is not often that a no-rules combo eliminator is allowed...much less encouraged.

Another factor that struck me as healthy symptoms of diversity was provisioning for as many doorslammers as possible: 10.5 on up to unlimited with a refreshing lack of fencing-in which we have suffered way too much of this past year in both 'pro street'/outlaw and Pro Mod-style southern promotions. This race was truly independent. Recognizing which sorts of entrants would show....THEN providing avenues for those eager runners to play within...showed promotional maturity. I could easily see how an unlimited field expanded to 16 cars could have accomodated a budget weights-out team capable of lighting up our world.
(BTW...Any promotion/psuedo-sanctioning org that demands pledges of allegience to series sponsors or acronyms is doing a disservice to themselves...and proving how little faith they have in the free market of ideas to attract a quality show...)

The Snowbirds Pro Mod field did give old flopper sensibilities reminders of ancient Miami-style winter events; those monthly FC two-day blasts that would attract .....snowbirders. This year's 'slammer show had only one 'northerner' I recognized: #4 qualifier Scott Braskett out of Ohio- a mid pack 6.41 qualifier..and first round duck. The finals were dominated by the only real "star" of this event: Quain Stott. His savin-it-for-the-final 6-oh ET outran another Stott stable 'Vette.
Unlike those Funny shows of yesteryear, there seemed to be no 'hitters' to book-in, ala the Blue Max, Chi-Town, etc. My suspicions that there are none killer cars at all in the midwest who will venture outside the national/Chevy events...seem confirmed. It cannot be healthy to have all the PM stars sucked into a couple circuits and the occasional Snowbirds or World Street Florida show. Promotional genetics points out this is inbreeding the innovation and free spirit of competition out of the top end of the sport. Supporting the local single-event features and looking for teams who can parlay their resources into a small-biz supported entry of note should keep us busy in '08.

A quick mention of another holiday celebration on the west coast that is being 'handled' internally: Christmas in Compton attracted a reported thousand 'tators onto a street in South Central. A Solid Brotherhood oversight of a scene still forced off-track, due to lack of suitable drag strip outlets, was disrupted by....squirrels. By and large, things were OK, til supposed 'street racers' started doing dog-nuts on the asphalt. Cripe! Proved we desperately need to educate a new generation not clear on concepts like responsibility to community. Over the xmas weekend, a kid slammed into a pole at high speed in a side-by-side run on Marineview Drive, near my crib. These deaths are racking up a hideous bodycount. My recent exchange in the local daily on the subject did not shed new light, nor impress me those authorities interviewed are interested in anything but whitewashing and NIMBY. Kudos...kudos to the LAPD and Los Angeles County Sherriffs for a mature response to an ugly reality. Street racing is happening now....and needs venues to contain the carnage- drag strips, not jail cells.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Final Spoke in the Wheel of 2007

.......I seem to find renewal in little things every ten years on the button. '67, when I opened my wide eyes to the sport....'77, the death of Drag News--yet, when Quick Rod began the fast bracket march to todays independent promotions....'87....ah, '87. Dejected at the blatent commercialization and cultural pillaging of my sport, I found renewal, passion and.....especially, humor with Gromer, DeFeo and the Brunt Bros. in CARS mag.- encouraging me to return, once again, to bracket, grudge and *other* straight-line participation. '97 found me in the midst of morphing from chronic pain in the letters to the editor within SS and DI into a Full Throttle News and NR 'Varmit' celebrating the retro-fitting and pomo renewal of independent thought on paper....and shooting the curl within the first 'net venue for the sport. Cole Coonce became our generations' Terry Cook.

2007 has been a plain search for a truth that could 'resonate' (how's THAT for a 2007 term? Ranks right up there with 'Boogie'!) with a needful decentalizing and return of focus to small town strips and neighborhood 'stars' who could work their way to prominance without a marketing firm molding them (----yuk! .....and they wonder why I can't take the commercial sport seriously, anymore.....) .
A year-long prediction that 2007 would find house-mortgaged racing operations sounding a death-rattle is coming to pass--of course, those same marketing geniuses are being paid to paper over this situation, as well. Word from the other end of the coast is the new car construction we are accustomed to during the 'silly season' has crawled to more of a mud wallow.
Dissent is limited to those like me who don't try to make a living at racing. Dissenters are labeled "trolls" on the internet, today. Evidence we are, indeed, headed for a corporatist republic. But some of the biggest names in commercial media have been open-minded and willing to have another viewpoint within their walls. I feel as welcome on boards as I ever have. We have been throwing the term 'fellowship' around rather liberally, lately, to describe this net-friendship phenom.
As dire as 'things' appear, wonderful racers filled with passion and more sense than money are rebuilding old S/P cars, giving pro streeters new life, looking for ways to run Q8 while breaking even, and finding something of interest often even commercial enough for Speed-esque TV. Bracket bashers are rediscovering home-finished race cars. Nostalgia racers are, once again, taking their legacy into their own hands...a dearth of Cali strips to celebrate upon seems to be just a speedbump in the NE ranks and their march into the land of fulfillment and friendly events.
I've left this year behind with a desire to leap onto asphalt and concrete on the first dry weekend the temps hit the 50 degree mark. That's called taking my emotional barometer. The forcast is for long-term storm damage with smiles in the short-term.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A new book documenting the halcyon daze of drag racing is out and about....Tom Madigan, best known to me for his terse comment about most racers at the top of the food chain possessing "criminal minds" has documented local SoCal fuel culture well in:

In other silly season buzz, sources have told me of the likelihood the NHRA "Pro" sale is in escrow for now.....rumors of curtailed new car construction among those who attempt to make a living off the sport continue....