This week guest blogger Tim L. gives us his take on our drag races.
What do you think about when you hear the phrase “drag races”? Does it take you back to your first car and seeing if you were faster than your buddies? If you’re a baby-boomer, then drag races means burnouts, nostalgic cars, American muscle and real engines…..NOT those furiously fast import tuner cars. This weekend, Fairplex will once again play host to the NHRA drag race season opener.
The 52nd O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals and names like Larry Dixon, John Force, Tony Schumacher,”fast Jack” Beckman and Brandon Bernstein come roaring into town February 9-12. Everything from the smell of beer and hot dogs to burning rubber and alcohol funny-car exhaust will permeate the air in a way that makes everyone ages 1 to 100 grin from one finger-plugged ear to the other.
I can remember as a kid coming with my dad to the drags when he worked in the automotive industry, and thinking that if his job consisted of being around cars and racing, then he had an awesome job. You see, I grew up watching my dad work at a few very well-respected companies within the auto industry, and at age 4 I could tell you what kind of car my parents were driving next to…it’s in my blood and car shows and drag racing are my heaven.
The drags don’t symbolize just a fun environment with noise and fast cars, it is the epitome of my inner addiction to the sound of an engine revving high into the bone-rattling upper limits of the RPM spectrum while waiting for the tree to glow green, so two cars could go flying down the strip. The heavenly smell of a big block Chevy idling in a 1940 Willy’s or a beautiful 1972 Plymouth Duster in perfect condition puts a smile on my face. It takes me to a place that not much else can.
I want to leave you with one last thought….are you ready to feel your chest rumble like never before while seeing a car speed past you at over 300 miles per hour? I am!
In 2008, NHRA driver Doug Herbert’s two teen sons were killed in an automobile accident. Working through his grief, Herbert began a non-profit organization that focuses on safe driving. B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) offers a safe driving program for teens and their parents. B.R.A.K.E.S. comes to Fairplex this weekend, March 13 and 14.
B.R.A.K.E.S. is not an ordinary driving school. It supplements driver education programs by teaching young drivers how to handle emergency driving situations in a controlled environment. Working with professional drivers, teens are taken through different scenarios including skid pads, panic stops with anti-lock brakes, distractions and a slalom course. Drivers also have teens attempt to drive and pay attention while texting or talking on a cell phone – showing them that it cannot be safely done. Parents are taught the exact same driving methods so that they can continue to practice with their teens and reinforce what their teens have learned.
Herbert and his non-profit organization are based in North Carolina but hold driving programs three times a year at Fairplex and he is in attendance to speak directly with the teens. The California driving schools are sponsored by NHRA, which is dedicated to getting the message out about driver safety on the road.
Each year more than 6,000 teens are killed in automobile accidents and more than 400,000 are injured. B.R.A.K.E.S. is hoping to drastically reduce those numbers. For more information about B.R.A.K.E.S. or to register for the program, visit the Web site, putonthebrakes.com.
Check out what’s coming up at Fairplex: RCX Radio Control Expo – March 20 and 21 Computer Fair – March 20 and 21 POAC Southwest Regional Horse Show – March 20 and 21
WOW, I just went on a mini tour of the Auto Club NHRA Finals and I can safely say that I will never look at the Drag racing the same again! First, I walked through an area known as THE PITS there I saw and heard the loudest most amazing looking drag cars and motorbikes I have ever seen in my life. Even better, I saw how some of the beast machines were built and fixed up to beat the competition.
Then I made my way to the Sky Boxes, where only the VIPs sit and enjoy an exclusive crystal clear view of the drag races and the entire event! It’s a great place to catch a photo like the one posted at the bottom.
After my trip to the Sky Boxes, I found myself at the Staging Area. There I saw what looked like a pack of drag cars waiting impatiently to be driven at Full Throttle™ . It’s a great opportunity to check out the drag cars up close and see the hard work that is being put into these astonishing machines.
Continuing my journey, I made my way on over to the Top Eliminators Club, where food from the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel was served and eaten by me (in my mind).
After this awesome mini tour, drag racing at the Auto Club NHRA Finals will never be the same for me. It’s one thing to sit on the bleachers and watch the drag races. It’s a whole other experience to see them when you’re high–like up on the skyboxes, rolling with the big guys.
Looking for a different experience this weekend? Check out the Auto Club NHRA Finals right here at Fairplex. Now for a step-by-step guide to looking like a die-hard fan this weekend.
Arrive early! The best time to get autographs and enjoy the pits (not to mention finding some prime parking) is before the racing starts.
While wandering the pits, feel free to chit-chat with people like you know what you’re doing. “Hey, did you see John Force’s qualifying run last week?” Simple statements like that make you seem much more knowledgeable than you are.
Before walking up to a driver to get his autograph, make sure you know his (o her) name. Their faces are huge on the sides of their trailers and their names are always there too. You have no excuses for not knowing who Brandon Bernstein is when his face is plastered about 12 feet high.
Now this is one decision you get to make: Do you buy a t-shirt or just ask the drivers to sign the cards they provide? If you buy the t-shirt, be sure to put it on so they can sign your back (this is the ultimate in pit groupie cool).
Find a good spot to sit. Now, depending on which tickets you purchased, you may have a reserved seat or you may not. If you do, come and go as you please, but if you don’t, you are going to need to camp out in your spot for quite some time.
Earlier, I mentioned Brandon Bernstein. If you do see him, wish him luck in his new ventures. Budweiser is pulling out of NHRA at the end of these races, and he has found a great new team.
Drink water and wear sun-block! You are sitting outside all day. I don’t care if it is overcast, the UV rays still come through and you can still get dehydrated (sunstroke is definitely not pit groupie cool).
And, the most important one…HAVE FUN! The Drags only come twice a year and they can be a great experience.
The dust has barely settled in the Big Red Barn. The last semi-trailer has rolled through the gates with its Fair cargo on board while busy Fairplex events staff start the preparations for the next great Fairplex year-round event.
The Fair has packed up and moved on until next year and the Fair-ey Blogster is taking a well-deserved break. This means that all those buildings and grounds are available for a spectacular line-up of fall events.
FREEBIE! Starting things off on Wednesday, Oct. 1, Twilight Cruisers will fill the lower administration parking lot in front of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum for an evening of car camaraderie and nostalgia. There’s also a pretty cool 50/50 raffle where you can win some cash. You might also be selected by a panel of judges to drive your “ride” in the parade that kicks off the NHRA Winter Finals in November at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, which is also right here at Fairplex.
All Twilight Cruisers can spend some time in the NHRA Museum, also for free (admission is usually $7), so it’s a double-dip FAIRPLEX FREEBIE.
There’s more for autophiles Friday. Oct. 3 – Sunday, Oct. 5 when Off-Road Expo fills no fewer than six Fairplex exhibit halls as well as various ground locations. Now in its 9th year at Fairplex, this event has everything for the off-road enthusiast, including the latest toys, technologies, gear and accessories from hundreds of national and local exhibitors.
There are amazing show discounts as well as live-action entertainment including the world debut of Side X Side Super Jam Drifting; W.E.ROCK Rock Crawling Demonstrations; Freestyle Motocross Action; a Toyota Off-Road Ride and Drive; a BF Goodrich $5,000 Shopping Spree; Kids’ Zone and more!
New this year, the Expo will open one day early, on Friday, Oct. 3 to allow more time for off-road fans to enjoy all the action.
Come on down. Parking is at Gate 17 on Fairplex Drive. Adult admission: $12; children ages 6-12: $5.