See ALL of Stephen's MIR Jet Cars photos and wallpapers HERE!
It's August 17th, 2002, and time for the 14th annual Jet Car Nationals
here at the recently refurbished and renovated IHRA sanctioned Maryland
International Raceway at Budds Creek, MD. This is only the second time
I've been to MIR since witnessing the total demolition of the old tower
last November. If you haven't been here for a while, I gotta' tell ya',
I've worked in a lot of media rooms the past 10 or so years, but this
has got to be the jewel of them all. The control suite is modern beyond
belief, the media room is spacious with comfortable, reclining chairs,
plenty of counter space to hold laptops, monitors, camera's, and your
lunch or dinner. To get in to any of the suites, media room, or even the
bathroom, you need a plastic card key. Kinda' the same type of entry key
you would use at any of your better quality hotels.
For all the work... and money... Royce Miller and his family have done
to modernize this facility, on a scale of 1-10... I'd give it an 11! If
you are a competitor or just a spectator and you haven't been to
Maryland's #1 drag strip...and perhaps one of the top three strips in the
East...you owe it to yourself to make the trip to Maryland International
Raceway in scenic southern Maryland.
There's been a flurry of activity here today. Along with the jet funny
cars and dragsters, we've had open competition from MIR's Frantic 7,
junior dragsters, motorcycles, alky dragsters, and throngs of local
bracket racers. The parking lot and grandstands are filling up quickly.
The pits are loaded with local fans checking out the hundreds of race
cars, jet vehicles, the NASCAR game tent, and the snack bar. We did have
some brief moments where it looked like we might get some rain, but it
cleared and the sun started to set behind the back of the starting line.
Royce had his hands full today as he was running around making sure
everything was working right, consulting with his staff, and even
announcing for a short while until one of Englishtown's regular
announcers, Sean O'Leary, showed up. Sean did a fine job in keeping the
fans pumped up though it was obvious he'd just seen Austin Power
Goldmember as just about every other remark was punctured with "YEAH,
BABY, YEAH!" It did get a bit stale after repeated use over the hours
of the event, but the fans seemed to enjoy it.
The first round of the jet show started off right around dusk with
brilliant fire shows from each team. Only one jet dragster had a problem.
Aggi Hendricks and the Queen of Diamonds jet dragster sprung a fuel leak
right after the engine was cranked up. Rich Hanna shut the dragster down
and towed it back to the pits. According to Rich and Aggi, a fuel line
clamp was not tightened enough and came loose when the engine rpm's
cranked up. Aggi came back about 20 minutes later with the problem
corrected and made a nice pass.
Bunny Burkett was on the grounds and made two passes...both against
Hanna Motorsports JET CARS! On both passes, Burkett made long smoky
burnouts and backed up while the Jet FCs performed the fire shows. Pass #1
was against the Top Secret Eastern Raider Jet F/C and pass #2 was against
the First Strike Jet F/C. Bunny was 0/2 on both shots.
Bob Motz and his Kenworth Jet Truck made an early shakedown 1/2 track
pass to the delight of the early arriving fans and two after dark passes
that almost char-broiled yours truly. The first pass was a 7.511/211.43
mph and the second pass, about two hours later, registered 7.565/213.27
mph. Just before both passes, Royce Miller had a giant water truck hose
down the entire area behind the starting line and all the way to the back
fence. With a whole new paved staging lane, Miller didn't want Motz
"cooking" the new asphalt. There was also some concern about the
very dry tree's and wild shrubbery behind the starting line. Motz truck
puts out a very long and intensely hot stream of fire and thrust.
The first pass melted the flags on the pole behind the starting line,
blew down the fence several hundred yards behind the starting and moved an
extremely heavy water box several yards back. On both of Motz's fire shows
and launches, the trees and wild shrubbery several hundred yards behind
the starting line were whipping and blowing around as if a strong
thunderstorm was moving in. Fortunately, nothing was damaged and Royce
Miller, after inspecting the scorched and still steaming staging area, was
seen walking towards the tower breathing a big sigh of relief.
Some of the huge crowd started heading out the gates a little after
10:00, apparently having seen enough racing for the day or weary of the
intense heat and humidity. For the many that remained, there were more jet
car/dragster passes and a visit and demo from Transaurus... the fire
breathing, saliva drooling metal monstrosity that rose out of its rolling
metal tank like holding container to slowly rip apart a -- supposedly --
illegally parked car near the rear of the tower. This is the first time
this writer has witnessed this demo though I've heard about it quite
frequently at other tracks. It was impressive, but does go to show that
drag racing can be a circus at times. It is entertainment and that's part
of the deal in running an event like this.
Getting out of the track on to Rt. 236 and the 9-10 mile trip to Rt. 5
was a breeze, thanks to the energetic MIR security staff and local police
and sheriff's support. This has been somewhat of a problem in the past,
but as a component to the facility upgrade, this a big noticeable
improvement. There are lots of pictures and other pertinent info on the
tracks outstanding web site...http://www.mirdrag.com
When the IHRA comes to MIR late next month for the CARQUEST
Mid-Atlantic National, most all of the improvements will have been
completed. The competitors, officials, and the media...many who have been
here frequently in the past...should be surprised and overjoyed at all the
new improvements. This reporter will be on hand to gauge the reaction from
these participants. Should make for some interesting responses.