Land Of The Free - This Week's Opinion

Back from the Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas. A lot of good racing taking place but I would guess the one special moment was the crowning of the 2018 Mello Yello NHRA Top Fuel champion.

Now I’m not exactly a true fan of the sport. Sure, I like a good race just as much as anyone but I’m a racer. Racers don’t tend to make good spectators. But I gotta lift my hat, if I wore one, to that Torrence racing team. Last year he finished in the No. 2 spot and vowed to do better this year. What can you possibly do better than win five out of the six Countdown races so far this year with one race left, Pomona next week? No one in the history of the Top Fuel class or any pro class for that matter sport has won five races in a row in the Countdown. If he goes on to win next week in Pomona he’ll just set the bar even higher. And I can’t wait to see that starting line crew celebration. The Kalitta teams have started that mosh pit style of celebrating and I noticed the Torrence team copied the party when they won the championship after the third round of eliminations. It’s sure fun to watch but I gotta believe somebody’s hurting afterwards.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the great crowd this past weekend in Vegas. It wasn’t announced as a sellout, but then again, I’m not sure if they know the real definition of a “sellout,” as several races this year were marketed as just that. A sellout to me means you can’t put any more people into a venue. But the Vegas race did have a great crowd and I’m happy for the NHRA in that regard.

I noticed how SFG Promotions affirmed their desire last week to enforce excessive braking at the finish line. If they catch smoke off the tires or witness an out of control car, you’ll get a stern warning. Do it again and you’re done. Certainly it’s a safety issue but so is not wearing gloves or any of the other points I brought up in last week’s blog.

A number of years ago I was asked by an NHRA official as to how we can stop excessive braking at the finish line. My comment at that point was “you guys started it.” Anytime you place a dial on the car and tell me I can’t run under, you’re forcing me to use the brake pedal at the finish line. Now I understand the problem because it does cause a dangerous situation. Especially when you get a driver who is new to a car, maybe not aware of just how hard you can push on the brake pedal before the tires lock up. There are also ways to set your brake system up to alleviate a locked-up condition. However, all that can go astray if the track surface becomes slick which can happen on cold nights. Here’s the million dollar question: Can this ever be fixed? I doubt it. What do you think?

Tuesday was SEMA Show day and for me it almost ended before it even started. As a media attendee they make it extremely hard to apply for credentials first of all. But I was all set and just had to pick up my credentials at their Media Center. However, this year they must have instituted new policies and had metal detectors at every entrance in addition to searching any bags you were carrying and not allowing you in unless you had a credential. Notice the latter part of that sentence. Because I didn’t have a credential yet and had to go inside to pick it up, they wouldn’t allow us in. Kind of a Catch 22. You can’t go in unless you have a credential and you can’t go in to pick up your credential.

We argued the fact but I’m not sure whoever was manning the entrances understood common sense. There were a lot of hot people over this one and truth be known, we came pretty close to just leaving and forget about attending the Show. Finally, someone with a little bit of common sense came out and escorted us to the Media Center where the women there mentioned how many complaints they had had that morning.

Maybe along the same lines, every so often at the Vegas race, they played a short video on the big screen explaining if there was an evacuation and were asked to exit, here were exit procedures to leave the stands and the facility. That’s the first time I’ve see something like that and maybe it had something to do with last year’s Vegas shooting, but what is this world coming to? When things like that happen, you almost have to ask if “they” are winning, whomever “they” might be. This is supposed to be the land of the free, but sometimes it doesn’t appear that way.