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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Postcards from England

More Vacation Notes from the NHRA World Finals

by John Hutchinson

Nov 3 - 9:30 a.m. - Flight from Newcastle upon Tyne to London Heathrow delayed until 11 a.m., as Heathrow was fog-bound. Sitting next to John Steele, drummer with "The Animals" pop group from Gateshead, my hometown. In the '60s they had a No. 1 hit record in Britain & America simultaneously with "House of the Rising Sun." 

3:00 p.m. - Virgin Atlantic flight from London to Los Angeles took 11 hours. I was upgraded from Economy to Upper Class due to my earlier flight arriving late. Upper Class had more comfortable seats and much more leg-room. In-flight service was excellent: TVs behind seats, good selection of movies, cartoons and music channels, good food, and plenty of orange juice and water rounds. I traveled with Bruno Sanderson-Brown and his wife Sophie who I know from Shakespeare County Raceway, near Stratford upon Avon. Bruno is the Fire and Safety Teams Chief and Sophie works in Race Control. Bruno collected his Toyota SUV from Alamo Car Rental and we traveled to Bakersfield. Next to our motel was a Burger King. The restaurant was closed so we walked to the Drive Through window. The girl wouldn't serve us without our car, so Bruno had to walk back to the motel to get the Toyota. ONLY IN AMERICA!

Nov 8 - First day of the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway on the LA County Fairplex. Pomona has a very short shutdown area, so if the driver doesn't pull the chutes and apply the brakes at the finish line the car will be in the sand trap and possibly the catch net. I had pre-purchased a Top Eliminator Club Ticket costing $250 for 4 days, which was great value. For this, you got your own numbered seat in a special grandstand right near to the starting line. The stand was angled so you could see all the way down the strip without standing up. On the other side of the strip near the scoreboard was the huge Winston Vision Screen on which they showed replays, etc. Behind the stands was a huge marquee with tables and chairs and close circuit TV showing all the action on the strip. They provided free soft drinks, iced water, and coffee. On the weekend, you got a free 3-course lunch. There were private restrooms, complimentary souvenirs, etc. 

I recorded approximately 10 hours of racing on videotape, and I got photos of the following personalities:

Tony Schumacher - Army TF Dragster
Darrell Gwynn - Team Manager, NY Yankees TF Dragster
Kenny Bernstein - Budweiser TF Dragster
Dean Skuza - Mopar Parts Funny Car
Rhonda Hartman - Fram TF Dragster
Scotty Cannon - Oakley Funny Car
Dale Armstrong - WWF Racing Funny Car Crew Chief
Dave McClelland - NHRA Announcer
Wally Parks - NHRA Founder and Chairman
Bob Frey - NHRA Announcer

I also got the following autographs in my book, "High Performance," by Robert Post:

Al Hoffman - Driver, Mooneyes Funny Car
Gary Scelzi - Driver, Winston TF Dragster
Dick LaHaie - Crew Chief, Miller Lite TF Dragster
Tommy Johnson Jr - Driver, Skoal Bandit Funny Car
Ron Capps - Driver, Skoal Bandit Funny Car
Don Prudhomme - Team Manager, Skoal Bandit Funny Car Team & Miller Lite TF Team
Tom McEwen - Advertising Director, Drag Racer Magazine
Andrew Cowin - Aussie Driver, K&N Filters TF Dragster
Jerry Gwynn - Darrell Gwynn's father
Chuck Worsham - Crew Chief, Checker Schuck's & Kragen Funny Car

John Hutchinson
58 Wordsworth Street
Gateshead, England
dragracingman@hotmail.com

 

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