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Some Brief Recollections
by John L. Dilbeck
When I think back several decades and brush the cobwebs away from some of my old memories, I recall sunburns, wind-blown dust, crowds of excited spectators, and the sudden thunderous explosion of noise as a funny car roars into life (See Funny Car). Before it has time to overheat, the crew pours water or bleach in front of the slicks, and with a roar reminiscent of the dragons of yore, smoke boils from the tires, fire leaps from the exhaust pipes, and the driver, encased in steel and fiberglass, hurtles down the track, leaving the far side of the track obscured by clouds of white smoke.
As he backs the car to the staging area, the smoke drifts away and carries the stinging nitromethane fumes with it. That acrid itchiness brings with it the added edge of excitement as we prepared to watch the race.
The same events are repeated in the other lane and soon the two competitors are easing to the starting line. They play a psychological game. Who will light the yellow staging light first? Will they wait too long and overheat the engines?
With short, loud, BRRRATTT sounds, they lurch towards the starting line and the fiberglass body shudders and shakes with each lurch.
Then, one yellow light appears, soon followed by another.
The crowd tenses, and suddenly there's the green light!
With a mighty, earthshaking roar, both machines explode down the track, gaining speed with every second. And, before it's really started, both engines go silent and the bright flowers of the parachutes bloom at the end of the track. In mere seconds, the cars are a half-mile away and the race is over. One driver will advance to the next round and the other goes back to the pits and trailers the car until the next race.
When the round is over, most of the crews find themselves in the pits working on the engines and trying to repair the damage caused just minutes ago. Will they be able to fix it and make the next round? It remains to be seen.
One of the things that stands out is a memory of two drivers who are fiercely competitive and who each wants to win, sharing tools and helping each other solve problems. It's not enough to win by default. Each wants to face the other and win because he is alert, his crew has done their jobs, the car is running strong, and the tires grip the asphalt instead of boiling into smoke. He wants to win because, even if it's for just a few minutes, he is at the top of his game.
I didn't go to many events, but I enjoyed them. My brother, David, owns this site and he remembers much more than I do about the trips we made and the races we watched. I'm enjoying remembering some of our adventures as he reminds me.
We lived south of Atlanta and went to Houston Brothers Drag Strip fairly regularly. Occasionally we'd make it to Dallas, and once we went to Gainesville, Florida to attend the Gatornationals.
We took lots of photos, and dreamed of owning a race car and competing against the best, but that dream was not realized.
So, we went to more races and enjoyed the spectacle and excitement. Then, later, after washing off the dust and putting something on the sunburns, we relived what we'd seen for a few days.
Now, with the Internet, we can remember and relive these events not just for a few days, but for a few decades.
David, I'm really happy to see you doing this, and I'm enjoying being along for a part of the ride. Best of luck with this new site and I'm looking forward to seeing what develops.
John L. Dilbeck has been working hard to perfect the art of being a hermit. He has completed converting his bedroom into a cave where he works when he's not asleep. This was much easier than actually finding and living in a cave. He enjoys questioning authority and reality. He really needs to get out more.
When he's not working on the computer, he's recycling old car and truck body panels and hand forging them into The Rose That Never Wilts.