Hopefully by the time you’re reading this, we will have gotten past the problems of the Coronavirus and the grip it has placed on every single one of us. However, I’d like to deviate writing about my past escapades and instead focus on the grip it has placed on our drag racing community and our extended family.

As you know, all forms of sports were placed on hold. It has been very hard to imagine the clasp it placed on our country. It’s sort of mind boggling to get the ole brain cells around all of what is happening in cities large and small around this country.

Those involved in our sport have been left wondering, “Will there be a 2020 race season?” “Will the NHRA be able to crown 2020 Mello Yello and Lucas Oil world champions?” Once again, hopefully by the time you’re reading this we will have the answers to those questions and more, but for now…

If you’ve followed along with my columns, you’ll know that I’ve decided to walk away from attending the yearly major NHRA tour of 24 races. I’ve followed this sport since I was 12-years old. but I really cut back after I had medical issues between the 2004 and 2005 seasons. On the heels of that, I had announced I was going to walk away at the end of the 2005 season but the word cancer made me re-think that. However, I have settled on walking away after the Finals at the end of the 2020 season. I was asked recently was I going to extend my time shooting for another year because of virus, unknown if or when the NHRA will run again? The answer to that is NO, which means that 2020 is it for me, although I’ll be continuing to write and share with you some of my remembrances.

This virus has affected all of us in different ways and I have to feel saddened for a couple of other drivers who have announced their retirements from the day to day, week to week rigors of the sport, deciding to hang up their helmets. I have to wonder what’s going through their minds these days during their self-quarantining? One driver is someone whom I got to see grow up following in his father’s footsteps as a drag racer, and whom turned into one of the multi-talented drivers winning NHRA World Championships in more than just one class. I speak of Jeg Coughlin Jr. of course. I’m sure I have shot photos of him in every class he drove in at one time or another. I became a friend of the family when I officially started to shoot the Division 3 races in 1970. I was privy to seeing all the boys grow up to be excellent drivers and businessmen in their own right as well as champions. Now their offspring are driving, which makes me very old. My relationship with the Coughlin family has been personal over the years and remains so to this day.  

The other driver who has said he is going to retire after the 2020 Finals is Pro Stock driver Jason Line, a champion in his own right. As far as I know, he says he’s also done at the end of the year. I’ve known Jason for quite a while and though we don’t seem to get a chance to talk an awful lot, he has always been very open and friendly to me. We have both shared our love of ‘60s Chevelles over the years, and while I didn’t know him on a very personal level, he is still a part of my extended drag racing family, just like so many others I know.

Just like a lot of us, I hope these two drivers get some sort of a season that defines their careers within in the sport. Both will always be champions, there is no doubt about that.  I hope they get to end their careers by doing what they love, driving. They certainly deserve it!

With this virus engulfing our country, I can only hope that all those involved with our sport come through this unscathed. In the meantime, please stay safe and Remember When times were good. I know I do! -RICHARD BRADY