Monday, April 16, 2012

Thoughts From the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals

When I called my mom on Tuesday to tell her that I met Cal Ripken, she made mention that my dad was taking my niece to Z-Max Dragway this weekend for the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals.  She said that Dad had said how nice it would be if I could come along with Christopher.  Initially, I told her that I didn't think I could go, since we would be getting home so late Sunday night with Chris having school today.  I called her back Wednesday and told her that I thought about it and we would go, regardless of what time we got home.  My thinking was, I hardly ever get to hang out with my dad because the both of us are so busy.  Plus, I thought it was a great idea to have Chris do something with his Paw Paw as well.

So, we all got up early Sunday morning and made the hour-hour and a half drive to Charlotte from my parents' house.  I stayed over the night before, having gone to a minor league game with my little brother.

When we got to the track, we made our way to the ticket office, planning on getting Reserved Seats for $55.00.  As we made our way to the line, a man stopped my dad and handed him 4 Reserved tickets (since he saw that there were 2 kids with us).  Turns out, they had friends who couldn't make it and decided to hand them to someone with kids.  Man, were we lucky!

We made our way into the racetrack and walked around for a while, taking in the sights.  Dad wanted to stop and talk to John Nobile, father of Pro Stock driver Vincent Nobile, since Dad knows him from way back to when they both ran the IHRA tour, Dad in Pro Modified and John in Pro Stock.  John is a really great guy, who talked to me just as much as he talked to my dad.
John had Vincent come out and talk to us as well, and Chris and I got both of their autographs on Vincent's 'hero card.'  You can barely see John's signature on the right in silver Sharpie.

 Here are John Nobile and my dad chatting before the race.  We hung out there for a good 15-20 minutes.  The Nobiles were really friendly and offered for us to come and chat with them anytime.  Chris and I actually took them up on it after the first round of eliminations when Chris saw Vincent chilling out on his golf cart.  Vincent was really good with kids.
 I took this shot before the first round of eliminations when Chris got his autograph.  The thing I really respect about Vincent Nobile is that he is only 19 and goes to college full-time.  He has his class schedule structured to support his race schedule, but he was due to fly back to New York this morning at 6AM.  That's a lot of hard work, but I'm glad he is able to manage and follow his dream.
After we were done chatting with the Nobiles, Dad, Grace, Chris and I made our way around the pits.  I had to take some pictures of a lot of the cars I haven't been able to see in person, since I hadn't been to a national event since 1998 and I had never been to an NHRA race.
I did get a John Force sighting.  Here he is signing a bunch of stuff as he was heading out to the racer introductions.  We didn't get anything signed by him because his crowd was MASSIVE.  Oh well, I got to see him at least.
Here is the first 4-Wide pass I witnessed.  I'm not going to repeat the one word I said after these cars went down.  Let's just say I'm glad it was loud because my Dad didn't hear it and Chris had his headphones on.  The word rhymed with truck...  It was amazing.  I shot a video, but something happened to it, it keeps starting and stopping like it added extra frames to it.  I need someone with video editing softwar to fix it for me.  Any takers?
Here's Chris' reaction after a couple 4-Wide passes from Top Fuel Dragsters.  He had only seen one top fueler go down a track, and that was a couple years ago at a local track.  This was far different.
I can now say that I saw John Force race in person.  I don't recall ever seeing him at the races I went to as a kid.  So, I'm counting this as the first time seeing him in person.
Here is our new favorite driver, Vincent Nobile, during the first round of Pro Stock.  Vincent would go on to the final round where he was done in by tire shake.  He would wind up finishing third, which isn't bad at all.  We wanted him to win, but it just wasn't meant to be.
Another car/driver that I wanted to see was Doug Kalitta.  His uncle Connie used to tour with Shirley Muldowney in the 1970s and is a drag racing legend.  We didn't get to meet him, which was something I really wanted to accomplish, but I just didn't get lucky.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.
Chris wanted to watch a lot of the Sportsman cars race, so he and I hung out in our seats while Dad and Grace walked around a while.  I thought this picture turned out pretty good.
Here is a good shot of Doug Kalitta doing a burnout.  My camera did a really good job taking the pictures during the event.  I just wish my video did better.
Here is Chris in front of one of the old cars they had on display.  I'm certain he was the only person there rocking the 1989 Scotty Cannon t-shirt.  That shirt is old.
Here is the final round of Pro Stock, which Vincent got 3rd.  Not too bad.  Greg Anderson second Summit car from left) won the race.
Here is the final round of Top Fuel.  Spencer Massey (far left) won, followed by Tony Schumacher.  Doug Kalitta got 4th, I think.

In all, we had a blast, and I really think I'll be heading back to ZMax Dragway in September when they return.  I'm glad I could spend some time with my dad and my son.  Oh yeah, Grace, too.  We now have a new favorite Pro Stock driver, which will make it more interesting for Chris.  Thanks for inviting us, Dad!


Commishbob said...

Looks like you guys had a great time. Fun to share those kind of days with your Dad and son, isn't it? My Dad is gone now and my kids are grown but I have a lot of memories.

BTW.... I'm a racing fan, too I follow all the major series to one extent or another. Im just a few miles from Houston Raceway Park (Royal Purple Raceway). NHRA rolls in here in a few weeks.

Drew said...

Wow, awesome post man, glad you had a really good time!