Back home from the Las Vegas final NHRA event of the year. By now I’m sure you already know that the Mello Yell… wait, habit I guess… the Camping World NHRA professional champs were crowned; Steve Torrence (for the third year in a row-talk about dominance), Matt Hagan, Erica Enders, Matt Smith, and Steve Jackson in Pro Mod.

Some of the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series champs also clinched their championships; Doug Gordon in Top Alcohol Funny Car, Megan Meyer Alcohol Dragster, Craig Bourgeois in Comp, Bryan Worner Super Stock, Chris Dodd Super Comp, Mike Boehner Super Gas, Darien Boesch Top Sportsman, Aaron Stanfield in Factory Stock and Randal Handras in Top Fuel Harley. There’s still one more Lucas Oil divisional race along with the Sportsnationals to be completed this weekend in Vegas which could have an effect on the points and will put an exclamation point to what has been a very weird year.

My congrats go out to the champs crowned in the other series too; the PDRA, NMCA/NMRA in addition to any other champions this past year. This has been a pretty tough year for everyone. Coming out on top of your particular group is certainly an outstanding feat.

The Vegas event also became the site where the Summit Racing Equipment bracket finals champs came together to crown their national champion. I won the very first NHRA Bracket Final back in 1976 and I’m jealous (not really but) the winners of the individual divisions get invited to the Finals to be crowned National Champion. We didn’t have that back then. It’s amazing how that whole series began in ’76 and what it’s turned into today. My congrats goes out to each of the bracket champs that made the trip but especially to the National Champs, Devin Isenhower, Jeff Hefler, John McLaughlin, and Don DePeel.

What was missing last weekend in Vegas was the winner’s circle celebrations and the like which has become the new normal in this world. I don’t like it nor am I dealing very well with the changes.

After 9/11, 19 years ago, our country as we knew it changed. It became harder to travel with new tougher regulations. For those of you who were around at that time, I’m sure you remember the certain freedoms we had which “those people” took away from us. Not to get too “political;” if that’s even the right way to explain it; but it’s even worse now. I don’t like the mask idea and I think a lot of it is being forced on us in the name of optics, not necessarily health safety.

This whole mask idea doesn’t sit well with me because I’m not convinced it’s helping. With the masks on, you can’t recognize anyone nor can you even make out what they’re saying. Then you have this whole “contactless bulls**t” where no one wants to touch anything anymore. You can quote me all the statistics you want, but I’m not convinced when I think of it in common sense terms. And maybe that’s the problem all along, common sense ain’t that common anymore.

This was actually the first time I’ve traveled by air since March and don’t like it anymore than before. I’ve always maintained an eight-hour rule when it came to flying. If I can drive there in eight hours, I’ll drive. By the time you get to an airport early, get into your seat, concern yourself with delays out of your control; even a short two hour flight quickly turns into much longer. As has been told to me, “If you have time to spare, go by air.” And it’s really true.

It does take me nine-hours to drive to my son’s home in Charlotte, but I can deal with that. After this trip to and from Vegas, I think I’m going to have to expand that eight-hour rule to something like 15 or so, which is about how long it takes me to drive to Florida.

Okay, rant over for this week. -JOHN DiBARTOLOMEO