In 1992 I took a buddy of mine to Ennis for the fall race. He was a big NASCAR fan and had never been to a drag race. We were doing a pre-race walk through the pits and came across a funny car (I can't remember which) that was about to do a warm up. There were no barriers next to the car so I had him stand about five feet directly in front of the passenger side headers.
When the engine first fired it sent a big plume of unburned nitro out of the headers and covered my buddy. He's standing there coughing and my son and I were laughing hard. He just said, "that wasn't very nice."
That was an endurance race. It took over an hour to run just the first four pairs of top fuel cars. Gene Snow crashed his car, and Doug Herbert had his blowover, of which one of my pictures was printed in National Dragster several times.
At the end of the long day, my buddy said he was glad he went but he still reminds me of getting covered in a cloud of nitro. But, it still makes me laugh when I remember his reaction to the lovely smell of the nitro flower.
Took my good friend to his first race right to nitro pits and placed him at the ropes behind the dragster, they lit the car and did a few wacks, he looked back at me like he was face to face with big foot smiling and laughin, the rest of the afternoon he would look at me and as loud as he could try to imitate the sound of the wacks with a big grin, he went home with a rough voice, to this day when I mention that afternoon he still gets that wild look in his eyes
I remember we were at Atlanta Dragway in 2001 or 2002 warming up the car. There wasn't much wind and a cloud of nitro was under the awning. It never seemed to bother Mark Oswald' our crew chief at all. I saw a lady standing at the front of the ropes in our pit, trying to inhale as much as she could. I swear her nostrils were flaring !! I turned around and told Mark " There's one for you ! We couldn't believe it didn't faze her at all.
Can't remember the first time I saw a fuel car. But have a memory from San Garbiel Drag Strip, around 1963. AA/Fuel Competition Coupe (dragster w/ car body on it), blown Chrysler on nitro. I'm standing by the fence on starting line. Car had "weed sweeper" headers & I could feel the exhaust hit my pants leg. Wow.... I can still remember that all these years later.
I don't like to get doused. When I was racing with Phil Poynter, we would push the car down the fireup road, and it would start and then we were riding behind it, and the car was filling up with fumes. Hated that. Finally told them, if we didn't roll all the windows up, I was staying in the pits.
I always like to bring a new person to the track. When they are ready to fire up in the pits, I tell them to get up to the ropes before they start up the car because once they fire it up there will be so many people surrounding the area that they wouldn't be able to see them do the adjustments on the car. Am I a bad guy? Just want them to have a front row experience of the eye watering, take the breath out you, sensory overload. LOL
My first big dose NITRO was back when Bill Carter was making licensing passes in the Stone-age frount motor dragster, was pushing the tire and cadge after burn out, looked down at Bill and saw those wild eyes, tried to look away but he whacked the motor and nailed me good, one of guys helped me back to the push Trk, hooked for life
I was maybe 16, Back when they used to have the MBNA people set up everywhere trying to get you to apply for a card, there was a black guy that worked for MBNA set up down wind at the end of the nitro pits. He talked to us everytime we passed through, he was hilarious. Poor guy couldn’t get away from it, every time they would fire a car he was down wind of it. He said this shit is crazy man, I’ve been maced and it don’t have nothing on this!
First? I can't remember. Most memorable? That was at Englishtown for the Summernats and I was on the ropes at Eddie Hill's trailer. Most likely 1988. They fired it up and all of a sudden it started siphoning nitro before it had run a few seconds. The area under the awning turned white and the car and crew disappeared. Everyone there got gassed. I hit the ground and crawled out of there, stood up and almost got run over by a trailer backing up.
Once I got far enough away and got my eyesight back it looked like Normandy Beach back there .
Over the loudspeaker I heard probably the Stat Man hisself calling for Don Garlits to "please report to the Eddie Hill pit"........
My son and I have gas masks so that we can get "right in there" during warmups in the pits. However, in 2012 four of his buddies made the trip to the fall Las Vegas event. On the Sunday morning we were all a little hung over after enjoying the Vegas night life. So we shared the gas masks. The result was 2 of us getting gassed during a John Force warmup. Amazingly, both of us found our hangovers were suddenly COMPLETELY gone !!!!
Some entrepreneur could make some money with that !
I can’t remember my first either, I was like 5 lol. But most memorable had to of been down at the gators. Early 2000’s. Me and Dad live in Ohio but we made the drive down quite a bit. We got in on a Friday and caught the end of Friday night qualifying. Stayed and walked around pretty late. I was a big fan of the sarge, we came up on his trailer and he was hopping in the car. I remember it well, there was no wing or body panels on the car for some reason. My dad and I were the only ones standing there watching. They had it on overkill and I bet they whacked the throttle 8 times. Tony got out of the car with a smile just about as big as ours. He looked at us and said.. “hope you guys enjoyed the show!” None of it made sense haha still doesn’t. But it was bad ass.
Some of my favorite memories is from when I've taken first timers to show them what nitro was all about. Two in particular,
One year at the preseason test a group of friends from high school were working a concession stand at the track for their younglife group and they had some downtime so I took about four or five of them near the starting line. Where we were standing it was about 20-30 feet from the cars. Well Cruz Pedregon was making a single pass and when he fired up they were already bug eyed. He does the burnout and they all duck and cover their ears even though they all had ear plugs in. I step back a few feet to watch their reaction when he hit the throttle and they all jumped a couple feet in the air it seemed. One girl in particular jumped back and when she did she tripped over an electrical outlet that was at the base of the wall and she fell back and I had to catch her. I was giggling along with with a couple other seasoned fans. They all walked back to their concession stand still shaking from the expierence.
Another year at the preseason test a buddy of mine from work had never been before tagged along with me for the day. We had already expierenced a few warmups so he was "used" to it by now. He were joking around and we was a macho type person and said he could stand at the ropes all the way through a warm up.....even I cant do that. Well I ended up betting him $10 to stand at the rope for John Force's warmup and he sat front row and center. To my amazement he stood there the entire time, throttle whacks and all. As soon as they clicked the car off he Usain Bolted to the nearest trash can and started dry heaving. He got a good nitro dose and had a horsed voice the rest of the day, best $10 I ever spent.
So my first was Huntsville Dragway 1995. Force vs Bazemore in a match race. We sat near the starting line, no ear protection, no nothing. Left ear plugged with a finger(I've been to loud concerts, this won't be that loud, I thought), the other hand holding a camera. By time they sit at the line and leave, and I pick my jaw off the floor, every opening in my head was pouring. Told my dad we had to head on home. I couldn't hang with that. Now I sit on the top end, no ifs ands or buts.