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
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
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.