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PhilZone
Mar 28, 2005


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Funny Car Reunion Raw
Drag Racing Underground

A review by Phil R. Elliott

Let me preface this by saying that one of my favorite things to do is watch funny cars do burnouts and launches. So, if you give me a film of dozens of funny cars doing their thing, with our without an audio track, I’m pretty happy. If I have a bowl of popcorn and a warm blanket, I just disappear totally.

When I was approached to do a review on a DVD called Funny Car Reunion Raw, produced by Drag Racing Underground, I expected the worst --– an amateurish production with out-of-focus shots and inaccurate dialogue.

When I received it, I stuck it into my computer and just bounced through to see what was in store – lots of FCs doing burnouts and a few driver interviews. “OK,” I said to myself, “I can survive this deal.”

Then, my computer, digital camera and the case they were in were stolen. I thought for certain that the FCRR CD was in the computer case and was gone for good. I was so disturbed about the whole thing I didn’t even look. Later, when I settled in to the fact that my stuff had been borrowed on the no return plan, I discovered the CD among a pile of papers and magazines that I’d removed from the case a day or two before I was burgled.

I’ve had a DVD player for a couple years – still in its box. So, I pulled it out and tried to hook it up. No dice. There were no similar ports in either device. Two trips to Radio Shack and about $40 later, I had a converter and enough cable to give my five-year-old TV the capability to view DVDs. So, while most of you were watching several hours of pre-Super Bowl drivel, I was enjoying a bunch of funny cars burning out and launching.

A few weeks later, I watched Funny Car Reunion Raw again and decided to complete the review I’d started.

I was fortunate enough to attend FCR1. It was an enjoyable weekend with Bill and Tim Pratt where we visited with a bunch of historical figures and watched a couple dozen historical and hysterical floppers at Englishtown. I suspect that my best memory (beyond the great time I had with Bill and Tim and Bill’s family) was in meeting an internet friend (LeRoy Blackman) and the worst was in seeing Rob Bruce’s Zombie and Frank Jonkman’s Nitromare turn into trash.

FCRR brought back those bad points and a lot of other moments too. Lots of on-track action was interspersed with nearly unknown drivers telling what they love about owning and racing funny cars. Good stuff. And, the on-track portions were in focus!

Instead of John Force ranting about who knows what (even he doesn’t know), we view Jerry Smith remembering his brother Keith’s Logghe Nova, a car he recovered and semi-restored. There’s Lou Sgro who seems to have an affinity for northwest funny cars – he’s procured and restored two so far. And Bob Rosetty, who bought and raced an old beat up flopper long before it was popular, then discovered that his very car was Joe Jacono’s Rollin’ Stoned Cuda. Rosetty restored the car, and put old Joe back in the seat, much to the delight of the highly partisan northeast crown at Englishtown. We meet Willie Johnson who has no idea whose old Nova body he races, but enjoys the whole scene more than anyone on the grounds.

At this point, I have to tell you the bad points too. If you are expecting a Ken Burns documentary, this ain’t it. In fact, I hope John Gill owns Drag Racing Underground and Diana “the Doc” Thomas is his live-in girlfriend. If not – I mean if these two are actually paid, on-air personalities – Drag Racing Underground is not getting their money’s worth.

Just after George W’s inauguration, I heard a political analyst suggest that the speech was only half written and poorly delivered but the good news was that few heard it anyway. That is the way FCRR plays for me. The script is lacking and the dialogue is delivered in a totally amateurish manner. The at-the-track stuff is adequate, where Ms. Thomas introduces a driver and lets him go. But the overdubbing ranks with the worst public access broadcasts I’ve ever seen/heard.

OK, so it has faults. It also has some superb points.

The editing is great! And the wonderful grouping of funny cars is entertainment enough for the measly $23.95 you’ll spend on this DVD. Plus, instead of just FCR1 like I expected, there is coverage from all three Funny Car Reunions run at E-town so far. I enjoyed the heck out of it!

I was somewhat perplexed that the production staff had not covered some of the behind the scenes politics that were going on between the organizers. But then, that could have filled this two-hour presentation! Also during FCR1, for example, there was a great meeting that encompassed most of the car owners and drivers present. This DVD should have covered that, if not in depth, at least an overview-style interview with someone that attended, showing the audience the huge interest in vintage funny cars.

There is passion and care behind the current fiberglass and gaudy paint, almost as much as when the funny car was still new. But the producers of FCRR missed most of this infatuation. I wanted some “Jungle Jim” type to rip off a modern version of, “Drag Racing is FFFAAAAAAARRRRRRR OUT!” It wasn’t there. And even though Ms. “Jungle Pam” Hardy was at all three FCRs, and though the opportunity seemed rife, there were none of her experiences portrayed. Maybe next time.

Still, if you want to check out most of the eastern vintage funny cars in action and cannot afford to travel to see them, this is a pretty fair way to do just that.

The best way to receive Funny Car Reunion Raw is to aim your browser at www.DragracingUnderground.com
 and get a copy. Or, write Drag Racing Underground, 26-10 18th Street, Suite 1A, Astoria, NY 11102. The phone is (718) 626-6457 and I’ll bet operators are standing by.

Thanks for checking out the PhilZone portion of Draglist.com. If you have accolades, complaints, comments, questions, or if you want to share a story, please feel free to post it on the PhilZone Message Board. Phil
 

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