This month’s blog has taken on many shapes…. I even missed the deadline for April due to what I wanted to say. Sorry for the delay, I hope you enjoy this one and it brings some stuff to light for you.
As you remember from my March blog, I totaled my Camaro that I worked countless hours on to be perfect. Then due to something beyond my control, the car is now a total loss.
Drag racing is a sport of trust. We trust that the engine builder assembled everything right, we trust that the transmission was assembled correctly, we trust that the converter is welded together flawlessly, we trust the seat belts are sewn correctly, so on and so forth, but it comes down to we trust others for our own safety. As we roll into the water box and do our burnout, we trust that the track crew has given us a safe and well groomed racing surface.
As we started out racing, our mentors always said something along the lines, “if you don’t feel safe then don’t make the run,” and/or, “once you stage you accept the racetrack and conditions.” Most of us truly accept the race track once we roll into the lanes, we have gone this far no turning back now, right?
Well what do you do when you have made a run and the track is not to par and weather conditions change your outlook on the track? Most of us watch others go down through there and accept the race track. But as you are the first pair sitting in the water, way in the back of our mind we have a slim sliver of doubt.
That worry is normally satisfied by a quick drag with the tractor and then you are in the zone. But what do you do when they tell you, “not dragging, make a run or go back to the trailer.” In the past we have fired it up and stuck it in the beams.
Growing up at Texas Raceway and North Star Dragway with Larry Croft and Nick Duty prepping the track we were spoiled. Back then and still today they put track prep and racer safety #1. That’s why I race with them when I can, I trust them.
I also raced and witnessed many events at the Texas Motorplex over the years. There I learned, and many of us did, that once you get out of the groove you let off, there is no saving it. That is just a characteristic of the track, but we also learned to be a little more cautious.
That caution was amplified after my crash in my Camaro. When you are upside down sliding on your roof and then back right side up hitting the wall some more, you witness a lot. The drive home and nights to follow are long and your mind races and wonders.
You relive the accident and you relive accidents you have seen, some crashes where racers survived without a scratch, somewhere racers were taken by helicopter to the hospital and some where the racer did not make it. I walked away with just a hurt pride and pocketbook, but the thought always flashes through your mind that the crash could have ended it.
We all think we are invincible and that we can drive a pro mod down a dirt road in the rain, but we are not and can not.
Like I said, racing is a sport of trust. We trust everyone around us to do their job so that we can do ours and enjoy this. I will admit, that at the Houston National event that I made a fool of myself on the starting line. I apologize to everyone for that, it could and should have gone differently.
I was not happy with NHRA’s decision on not dragging the track after a brief rain shower on a cool cloudy day, especially after the first run down the track had shown the car spinning the tires all the way down.
I was told to make the run or go back to the trailer, I felt the track was not up to par, I made an exit down the chase road and said no for the time trial. I watched multiple cars not make it down once they started running again and that made my decision to pull off feel more justified.
After the run the talk came up of, what happens when you don’t accept the race track? Has this happened to you? Do you just suck it up and make the run, do you go back to the trailer? What do you do?
I was pretty frustrated leaving Houston, as I felt the track was not to par and on the ragged edge of unsafe. We spend our lives and every penny to race and we get these conditions. If race tracks were restaurants, we wouldn’t go back. But in the end we still go back.
I made the trip to Ardmore Dragway this past weekend, and if you live within eight hours of Ardmore, Oklahoma and you have not been there…. You are missing out and need to attend.
Continuing on the comparison of race tracks to restaurants, racing at Ardmore Dragway is like going to Grandma’s at Christmas. You are welcome with open arms, track is great, crew is friendly, and if you don’t feel the track is safe, then you tell Ricky or Will and it gets taken care of.
This is the way racing is supposed to be, you are supposed to be wanted at the track. I have raced at many tracks over the years where this has be the case. There has also been a few that have been the total opposite.
So to finish this out, why do you race where you race?
About the Author: Chase Huffman currently competes in his Super Comp dragster and Super Street Camaro. Having grown up around racing, Chase climbed into a junior dragster at the age of eight. At sixteen, Chase moved into the big cars eventually winning the NHRA Fall Nationals in Dallas. On most weekends, you’ll find Chase at the track with family and friends.