[Note to self: next time you attend an all day event like this, have backup batteries for your phone and camera so they won’t both die two hours before the event’s conclusion]
As I mentioned numerous times before, I was going to be in attendance at this year’s NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals.
I was we were! My sister Alicia, her boyfriend Alex, my eldest daughter Alexis…
Here I will present a sort of timeline of the day. For starters, I required Alicia & Alex to be over some time Saturday night, so we could leave promptly at 7:00 am on Sunday and arrive at Norwalk as the gates opened at 8:00. For the same reason, I coordinated with my caring, funny, non-confrontational ex-spouse so I could grab Alexis Saturday evening as well.
The plan tanked on Sunday morning as we didn’t get to leave until 7:03.
Not a big deal, though. I figured if I drove 3 miles an hour faster on the way there, I’d still hit our target arrival time. And I did!
As there was no time for breakfast before we left Brunswick, we had to dine at the track. Well, Alexis is good at targeting foods. Though breakfast style foods are offered at the track, she opted for something different.
The $8 bucket o’ fries was washed down with a $7 lemonade. Woo hoo! We were ready to hit Nitro Alley and attempt to meet some drivers. What is Nitro Alley, you ask?
The top two classes of NHRA drag racing are top fuel dragsters and top fuel funny cars. They are powered by a 90%-85% mix of nitromethane and methanol, respectively…. hence the “Nitro” tag.
See, the reason for getting to the track early, is that there is a really good chance to see, or even meet, one of the drivers. These drivers make millions of dollars, just like stick and ball athletes, but they know where their money ultimately comes from: the fans; so they make themselves accessible.
We saw the always hilarious Antron Brown…
The legendary John Force…
We (sort of) got to meet the lovely and talented Courtney Force. My goal, for this blog at least, was to get a picture with Courtney. And the plan was rock solid. We got to where her team was working on her car… the crowd was pretty huge. Well, she came out and jumped into the car so they could tune it.
If you’ve never been around a nitro funny car while it was running, you won’t be able to comprehend what I’m about to say…
The fumes are so noxious, your eyes begin to burn right away… then you breathe that shit and it totally blasts your lungs. You actually can’t breathe, but start to choke uncontrollably. It’s a wonderful experience…must be why the crew members wear gas masks!
Anyway… the car tuning fumes chased away most of the crowd. But not us; we toughed it out and got right up front to potentially meat Courtney. She came out to sign autographs…
…but it became an awkward moment. We made eye contact and she immediately got all nervous and left to “get a new marker.”
Then she went to talk to her Dad, the legendary John Force, presumably about me?
I’ve no clue what that conversation was about. Regardless, Courtney came back out to sign autographs. She was different, though, when she got to us; seemed distant. So instead of making it an issue of “us” I simply asked if she would take a picture with Alexis… and she obliged…
Okay… I need to get away from the clear attraction that was between me and Courtney Force, though she’s fifteen years my junior…
On to the pre-race festivities! There was a Beach Boys inspired band who gave a pretty good performance….
… not my kind of music, though.
Then we attended driver introductions and were right on the side of the stage. It was pretty cool!
Oh yeah… while watching driver introductions, I noticed a couple standing next to me; tho woman was holding some contraption made of various auto parts: Header collector, piston, pushrods, rocker arms spark plugs and wires. They told me they got married at the track the night before… and this is their wedding bouquet….
Congratulations to TJ & Nancy Moffitt!
After all the driver introductions, I rushed my crew up to our seats for the customary prayer, National Anthem, balloon release…
Then the racing immediately began with the first pair of nitro dragsters. Oh… I failed to mention how extremely loud these cars are. The entire package produces upwards of 8,000 horsepower. That’s about forty times the horsepower of your average car… and they have no exhaust system…. just pipes hanging off the cylinder heads. It is by far the loudest sound you will ever hear in your life…. unless you’re a fighter pilot or work in the military. When they race, everything shakes; the ground, the grandstand, your body… for around 4 seconds!
I always enjoy watching people experience their first pair of nitro cars. All the cars do a burnout before they race, which heats up the tires to make ’em sticky. The burnout is loud…. but not nearly as loud as the actual race… so it sort of fools everyone. Then the pass happens! They have this shocked look in their eyes…. then notice all the hair on their arms is standing on end. I couldn’t help but notice the really attractive girl sitting in front of me while she showed her boyfriend that her nipples were hard after that first pass. It’s that good!
Alexis asked for ear plugs after the second race. We went and got ’em and Alicia picked on her… Then I noticed later in the day that Alicia was sporting a pair. It’s loud!
Anyway, while I like the dragsters, I’m more a fan of the nitro funny cars; specifically the John Force Racing team. This includes the cars of John & Courtney Force, Robert Hight and Mike Neff.
Three of ’em made it through the first round of eliminations. John Force smoked the tires right in front of us… getting himself eliminated.
Here’s Courtney’s first round win. Recorded by yours truly!
You can catch the really attractive girl with the erect nipples at the end of the clip (she’s in the green tank top), though I stopped recording.
After the funny cars ran, everyone wanted to go across the track to grab some of Norwalk’s famous $1 a pound ice cream… so we did.
They waited in line for like an hour… for ice cream. I did not. I grabbed a couple beers and went to get some pics and watch the motorcycles race!
Round two of funny car saw both Robert Hight and Courtney Force eliminated. Hight smoked the tires (when I say this, it means the car lost traction and the tires started smoking) in his race. Courtney raced well… just got off the line a bit too late. The only Force car still in it was Mike Neff… More picture taking….
Between rounds the team has 75 minutes, from when they cross the finish line, before they must race again… and it’s intense! The crew is like a well oiled machine tearing the car down and prepping it for the next round. More on that HERE.
It’s awesome to see these dudes completely tear down a car and put it back together for the next race.
Oh, and John Force always runs a special car for the annual Night Under Fire at Norwalk. He now unveils that car at the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals… and here is that car:
Mike Neff won the finals in funny car, so that’s good! I’m still hoping for a win by Courtney… This weekend in Denver? Let’s hope so!
It was a fantastic day; very nice to spend some much needed time with Alexis without her sisters…