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This issue is not the bomb

Work is interrupted by a bomb scare at National Dragster HQ. 
06 Sep 2007
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
DRAGSTER Insider


From left, Lisa Handy, Cynthia Cabrera, Jeff Mellem, Richard Wong, and Nicole Cintron wait out the search.


Copy editor Sarah Barnes keeps herself busily efficient.


Adriane gets the all-clear from the P.D.


The fraidy-cats next door bailed. You know that's not our sign. Who capitalizes "afternoon"?

This is the city: Glendora, Calif. It's the kind of place where you'd want to raise your kids. Nice homes, good schools, and the crime rate is low. A lot of nice folks live in Glendora, and they're happy most of the time. When they aren't, that's when the building gets evacuated by a bomb threat. I work here. I carry a notebook.

It was Thursday afternoon, I was working the day shift on the editing desk. The boss is Capt. Ridder. My name's Burgess. It was just before 1 p.m. when the door to the office opened. It usually does.

Assistant Managing Editor Juan Torres escorted in an officer from the Glendora P.D. He wanted to speak to me. They usually don't. I ushered him into my office.

"Just the facts, man," I told him. Had my son gotten another ticket? Was the new grandbaby going to the hoosegow for disturbing the peace?

No, apparently an anonymous bomb threat had been called in to one of the tenants who shares our building. Would I come listen to the tape to see if I recognized the voice?

I didn't, and although the call could have been a random prank, after consulting with Capt. Ridder (who was at lunch … how conveeeenient) and her high-ranking lunchmates from HR and Legal, we decided to play it safe and evacuate the building to the adjacent parking lot. With everything that's going on in the world, not a bad precaution.

This interruption couldn't have come at a worse time, on the final ship day of one of the most important issues of the year. If we were going to have to be sent home for the rest of the day, we'd miss our scheduled press time, and the issue would be significantly delayed.

I went department to department on both floors, calmly informing the staff of the situation. Fortunately, most everyone was at lunch, so there were only about 20 of us. The two officers said that although they suspected a hoax, they would search the building inside and out.

We camped out for about an hour, amusing ourselves with gallows humor to cut the tension and keeping an eye out for returning staffers. Copy editor Sarah Barnes showed what a real trouper she is, walking out with this week's Staging Light column in hand to edit while we waited. (Of course, because I wrote it, I'm sure there wasn't much, if any, work required, right Sarah?) Me, I took cell-phone pics for y'all.

Finally, the P.D. gave us the all-clear, and the staff members were given the option of leaving if they still felt uncomfortable. No one did. Back to work. Just another day in the wacky world of publishing.

In addition to our thorough coverage of the U.S. Nationals, this edition is the Memphis souvenir issue and includes a nice feature story by Candida on Tennessean Clay Millican. It was written just before he and Mike Kloeber parted company, so minor editing had to be done to bring it up to date. We also have another installment of Thri!!s and Spills, Month in Review, and much more.

Because Indy finished a day later than most national events, we shifted the traditional ship dates from Tuesday-Wednesday to Wednesday-Thursday. While that buys us a day on the front end, it shorts us a day for the next issue, so everyone is multitasking on both issues.

The next issue is a monster, with our usual coverage of the Sportsman results from Indy, plus the Skoal Showdown, Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle, Mopar Hemi Challenge, Pro Mods, and Sport Compacts. The Photo staff has diligently sorted through the estimated 11,000 digital and slide-film images they shot over the course of the event to illustrate our stories and create the Photo Highlights section.

It's also the Dallas souvenir issue, and we have a pair of Motorplex-themed features primed: Kelly's look back at that magical inaugural event in 1986, and Kevin's retrospective on the racing and business careers of Motorplex owner Billy Meyer.

Everyone has their Glendora legs back and their mini jet lag conquered, so it's full speed ahead. I can hear the clock ticking (I kid).