Funny Car Racing against Texans and Tornadoes
By Pat Foster
I drove the Barry Setzer Vega in a California versus Texas Funny Car meet in the Lone Star State one time. After the second round, the two low ET cars were to come back for the final round. The cars to return were Gene Snow and I. The skies clouded up and the wind came up, so the track manager said, "Hurry up boys; we need the cars right now." Being a California guy, I hadn't given the weather much thought...
We got ready to run the final when I realized that the crowd was leaving and the other racers were loaded up and headed outta there. I asked what the Hell was going on and the Manager said, "We may have a tornado headed this way. Get your stuff up to the line and let's get this deal over with." By the time we got ready to run, the wind was howling but no rain yet.
Snow, the Manager, and I talked it over. We decided that as hard as the wind was blowing, we had better run to the end of the grandstands and shut off (at about the 1100 foot mark). We agreed that whoever was leading at that point would be declared the winner. When we staged, I noticed again that the spectators were non-existent.
We left and at the end of the grandstands, I had Snow covered like a blanket. I stepped off it and pulled the chutes. Just as I did, I heard him jump back on the throttle and he went by me like a freight train in the lights. They gave him the win. That also let Texas win the deal.
When we got back to the pits, the Texas guys were laughing their asses off. They said, "You didn't think he'd actually shut off, did you?" <G> Texas guys, what can I say! But in the next couple of three years, that candy red Vega from N.C. wore their asses out though. Believe me, I never gave one of 'em a chance after that. They paid for their fun...
BTW - A tornado did touch down about half mile from the track...the locals knew that weather game...<G>