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Dornbos Reviews...

The 1999 Mile High Nationals

By Doug Dornbos

Hi gang - 

Last weekend, I made a trip to Denver to visit my Dad and made my first ever trip to Bandimere Raceway on Saturday for the NHRA Mile-High Nats. It was my Dad's first ever time attending a drag race. Below, in no particular order, are my miscellaneous impressions and observations about the weekend:

1. When I called Bandimere, they gave me almost exactly the seats I asked for, at 330', next to the top row (I asked for the top, it was already sold out), and next to an aisle. At that time, I did not realize that the pits were at the top of the stands instead of at track level. They were better seats
than I realized because access was so easy.  

2. When I got to Denver, I was amazed to see the press coverage, i.e., special sections or multiple pages in the newspaper every day during the event! I usually don't buy papers in the towns I go to races in and I don't live in a "national event town" so maybe this is S. O. P. but I thought it was great coverage.  

3. Racing got rained out on Friday and the morning paper said they would run an extra pro session on Saturday so I was hopeful we would see night runs. I was not disappointed.  

4. We got to Bandimere at 8 a.m. on Saturday and was looking forward to looking through the pro pits before the crowds got there but there wasn't much happening probably due to the cars being rained out while in the staging lanes the night before.  

5. What a facility!!! In the Midwest, all the drag strips I have been to are in one of two places, swamps or cornfields. This strip in the foothills was REALLY cool. I could see for miles and miles. It really is a great setting. I hope that as housing moves out towards him, that Bandimere is able to keep his place protected from the whiners and crybabies who would rather attack a hard working American than think a little bit before they buy their home.  

6. I don't know how many nationals allow outside food vendors to come in but there were a TON of them here! Everything from chili-sauce covered burritos (at 9 a.m.?!!!) to turkey legs (girls in hot pants just aren't attractive gnawing on a big ol' turkey leg) to corn on the cob ($2 an ear but they'll keep you regular) to Haagen-Dazs and on and on. (Of course there were funnel cakes as well which I believe is a federal law ;-). This is the best variety of track food I have ever seen displacing Elkhart Lake's Road America (road course) as my previously held #1 choice in this regard.  

7. When I tried to explain the "breakouts disallowed" system to my Dad, his response was somewhere along the lines of "Since I was a little boy, maybe 5 or 6 years old, it has always been that the first guy to the finish line wins the race". It is exactly that inherent problem with the "breakout" system that keeps it from ever becoming a spectator sport. We went to the pits.  

8. The highlight of my race activities was the hospitality shown to us by TA/FC racer Lyle Greenberg. Even though he had blown his only motor in the final qualifying round and couldn't appear in the first round eliminations, this guy went out of his way to show us around his operation. Lyle is a first class guy in my book.  

9. This was absolutely and without a doubt, the best behaved crowd I have ever seen at a NHRA national event. I believe I know the reasons why: No camping at the track and they inspected every cooler to enforce the " no alcohol" rule and the only beer vendors I saw were on the "non-pit" side of the track which meant there were about 40 stairs to climb if you wanted to get to the pit side from there. Also, they enforced the "no standing along the railing" thing and in my opinion, that gets rid of a lot of aggravation. This crowd was so well behaved, it reminded me of the crowd at the IHRA Northern Nats!

10. The Comp Eliminator field seemed small to me. I saw only one inline-6 altered there (I think there was another but I missed it) which is my favorite type of comp car. Another car which was cool was a F/D powered by a Dodge Neon motor. It sounded like a bumble bee compared to the other cars. I respect the guys with oddball combinations.  

11. The reason that NHRA will never have a live TV package under the current rules is cleanup time. The entertainment crew did a pretty nice job between the rain delay and the track cleanup but it really wasn't what I went there to see. Somehow, the explosion problem needs to be addressed before live TV coverage is possible. WJ is right on here. I know what I'm saying isn't new but...

12. If you don't get what's exciting about drag racing even after seeing top fuel at night, you are never going to get it. My Dad thought it was cool too. After seeing a few runs with the flames showing he remarked that the shape of the flames reminded him of Dilbert's boss. Maybe Dilbert's boss has a nitro mind! Any of you cartoonist types out there thinking of a great T-shirt idea with Dilbert's boss and a T/f dragster?

13. There was a special presentation at the starting line to acknowledge the wounded students from Columbine HS. While I'm a little tired of all the media attention thrown at this catastrophe, it happened only a few miles from Bandimere so it really was a community thing and showed class on the part of the Bandimere.  

14. For the last few runs of T/f, we went down and sat as close to the starting line as we could. I wished we had done it earlier since my Dad got to see a lot better all the stuff the crew does down there. A lot of guys like to sit down there for the entire race but I just can't take it for a whole day. I do like it for a while though even though I couldn't see anything past half track.  

15. Did anyone else catch Shelly Anderson get part ways through calling Bandimere Raceway the Mile-High Stadium on TV on Sunday?

16. We got out of the parking lot with virtually no delay on Saturday night. Unbelievable.  

17. While not actually related to the Mile-High Nats, while in Denver, I had the privilege of having breakfast with Pete Garramone. Pete is as nice of a guy in person as he is online. He brought pictures for me to look at and we had great conversation. We talked about the Newsgroup and some of the great people on it. He doesn't hang out here much anymore but spends most of his time on the 1320-list I believe. Anyways, it was great to meet Pete.  

Two weeks until the IHRA Northern Nats.  I'll probably give another set of ramblings after that.  

Doug Dornbos
Dornbos@aol.com

 

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