Merry Christmas to the Insider Nation!
In the spirit of the season, I worked with National DRAGSTER staff to create the list below (which also appears in ND's year-end issue, in my Staging Light column), which represents our Christmas wish list for certain NHRA racers and for the community as a whole.
I'd like to hear your suggestion as well, and I'll print the best ones in a future column. Have at it, and Merry Christmas!
Hi, it’s Phil Burgess (again, still waiting on that Hot Wheels collection from my 1967 list — any hope?). How are you? I hope your off-season was great and you spent some quality time with Mrs. Claus hot rodding around in your supercharged sleigh. Our off-season is just beginning while your busy time ramps up, so I thought this would be a good time to send you our Christmas list of wishes for 2010.
You don’t have to worry about fulfilling all of our wishes at once — dropping them under our trees on Christmas Eve wouldn’t make much sense for most of them — so, hey, no pressure.
My brothers and sisters and me here at National DRAGSTER have been extra good this year. We wrote all kinds of really interesting stories and didn’t tell any lies. We treated every winner — and even those who didn’t win — as if they were the most special person in the whole world. We were respectful of our elders (and bosses), played nice with others, and filled every single page of every single issue and were never late. We didn’t even whine or complain (well, not much anyway) while sitting through hours of rain.
Anyways, I asked the staff for their lists and compiled them for you.
A double for Dan?
A double for Dan Fletcher: C’mon, Santa, give the guy a break. He’s one of the all-time NHRA Lucas Oil racers and won just about everything under the sun, yet in seven chances where he has made it to two finals at the same event, you’ve been a little Grinchlike in denying him a double. Pretty please.
A robust economy: I can’t tell you how many problems this would fix (including helping you out on a few of the items below), but we’re tired of hearing how good friends of ours have lost their jobs or took pay cuts or how worthy racers can’t get a sponsor, and, frankly, we’re a little tired of eating two-for-99-cents Jack In the Box tacos for lunch every day.
Good weather: I think you poured it on a little too much this last year, boss man. I mean, we’re all for the greenification of the world, but we’re getting tired of those Next Heavy Rain Area acronym jokes. Let’s start with the sun shining in Pomona, OK?
A championship decided by a single point: OK, we don’t mean to sound greedy after both Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle titles were won by two points, but after that double dose of dual-digit deciders, how the heck are we gonna top that? I think you get the point, and we hope we do, too.
While we’re at it: Three points each for Larry Dixon and Eddie Krawiec — hey, better late than never.
And furthermore: Greg Stanfield would like the thousandth of a second he needed to win the Indy Pro Stock final — with interest.
Where there's a Will ...
The return of some old pals: Man, we really miss Hillary Will, David Grubnic, “Hot Rod” Fuller, J.R. Todd, Melanie Troxel, Doug Herbert, Whit Bazemore, and a bunch of others. While you’re at it, coax Gary Scelzi out of retirement. Whaddaya say, Santa, a big reunion anytime soon?
More first-time winners: You were very generous in this category in 2009, helping place Wallys into the hands of Krawiec, Morgan Lucas, Spencer Massey, Bob Tasca III, and Mike Neff. Here are a few who seem overdue and/or deserving: Bob Vandergriff Jr. (c’mon, 12 runner-ups? Give “BeeVeeGee” a break!), Shawn Langdon, Joe Hartley, Matt Hagan, Doug Horne, Rickie Jones, Rodger Brogdon, and Junior Pippin.
A national event win — in his own car — for Gary Densham: Densham won eight races in four seasons driving for John Force Racing but has never won one in his own car in 330 races since making his Funny Car debut at the 1971 World Finals in Ontario, Calif. He has reached seven finals in his own iron but never the winner’s circle.
A new season champ in Top Fuel: OK, nothing against Tony Schumacher, but we think it’s time he shares the wealth a little. Last thing we want to see are “Schumacher Buster” T-shirts. He can win it again in 2011.
Ashley Force Hood, Funny Car champ: We love Robert Hight as much as wife Adria, but can you imagine the public-relations windfall for AFH and NHRA — and by that I mean, the entire NHRA nation — if she were our season champ? And, hey, it ain’t like she isn’t deserving, right?
A sponsor for “the Snake”: As we close the publishing season, Don Prudhomme’s handlers tell us he’s still beating the bushes for a 2010 backer. “The Snake” hasn’t sat out a season since 1986, and we don’t see any reason why he should again.
A get-well season for John Force: After being shut out of the winner’s circle for the first time in 22 seasons, drag racing’s Superman deserves better. He still has laps in life to make before he hangs ’em up. If you’re feeling real generous, another championship might be nice. (PS: If you can’t swing the championship, Force says he would like to ask for a new Top Alcohol Funny Car champion next year. Frank Manzo’s 13 titles are just one shy of his own record.)
A Stock class win for Don Garlits: I think we were almost as disappointed as “Big Daddy” was when his Mac Tools U.S. Nationals comeback in Stock ended with a DNQ.
For Pro Stock’s Allen Johnson, more races in Denver: He won two of the last three years on the mountain and was runner-up the other.
Looking for a home
Some stability for Antron Brown: You gotta feel for “the brothaman.” He was shuffled around in 2009 like grandma’s nasty fruitcake. From David Powers to Mike Ashley and finally to Don Schumacher, A.B. had more owners than a shelter-rescue puppy.
A Christmas Tree with no red lights for Karen Stoffer: The hard-charging GEICO rider was felled by six foul starts this season, the third straight season in which she has had a half-dozen or more red-lights. Here’s hoping for more gecko-colored bulbs in 2010.
Another great rookie of the year battle: Other than Pro Stock newcomer Shane Gray and perhaps Daniel Wilkerson, we’re not sure who’s going to make up next year’s freshman class, but if 2010’s race is even half as good as this year’s, we’ll be happy.
More four-lane racing: This year’s dual-fuel exhibition at zMax Dragway — four Top Fuelers and four Funny Cars, going off side by side — had to be seen to be believed, and here’s hoping for more of the same in 2010 so more fans can enjoy the rare treat.
Okay, kids, that's it. Hope you're enjoying your holidays and already working towards being on Santa's "nice" list for next year. Remember to send me your gift suggestions for those in our sport.