IT'S TIME FOR THE ALL STAR GAME
May 27, 2009
Author: Bobby Martin
Every sport has its All-Star event. What an awesome privilege it is to
drive the Parkertech Charger in Drag Racing's version!
I've raced at the Chicago national event a bunch of times. I always end up
pitting way past the finish line in the grass. The reason is, it's the
weekend of the Jegs Allstars, and the Allstar guys get all the good pit
spots. Having the best cars from all over the country in the field makes
it kind of a suicide mission. But I was always there for the sponsors.
While it's always great to have the opportunity to race, I never
accomplished much at this event. Last year, my first driving for Frank and
Dan Parker, we were there, but not part of the Allstars. We beat Allstar
Brian Hough in round one only to lose to Allstar Jay Payne in round two. No
easy rounds here! It should be noted, however, that we did get by Jay the
following week at the Divisional, which we won. The kind of year we had
with our new team is responsible for us being part of the Allstars in 2009.
There's a lot that's cool about this event. But here's something not so
obvious. One thing that's very cool is that Ben Wentzel is on our team from
D3. Ben is running Stock. Ben won Stock eliminator at Indy in 1967. The
cool meter is just pegged here. Don Garlits won Top Fuel with the legendary
shave at the starting line, Doug Thorley won a new class called Funny Car,
Gene Snow won in a Funny Car but it was classed as a C/Fuel Dragster in an
eliminator called Super. Bill Jenkins won Super Stock in a brand new car
called a Camaro. Do you get the feel of the magnitude of the names and the
significance of the event? I believe Ben is racing the same car (also a
Camaro) that he raced in 1967. In '67 it ran B/Stock. I think he runs in
C/Stock now. The lack of an 'A' at the end, such as C/SA, means Ben is
shifting gears. (A is for "automatic"). You can bet that I'll be cheering
for Ben at the Allstars. As teammates we'll be earning points for the same
cause. It would be really great to be in the winner's circle with Ben just
like Big Daddy and the Snowman were in 1967.
It's going to be a tough weekend. Not only because the best in the country
will be there, but just because of the schedule. Two qualifying runs
Friday, three Allstars runs Saturday, then the whole national event - Four
runs - on Sunday. That's nine passes in one weekend. But anyone who gets
to make all those runs is having a pretty decent weekend. I think there
will only be seven cars in our class because last year's winner, Doug
Gordon, made the show this year, so there's no blocker. Doug is the TA/FC
Allstar hero, having beaten Frank Manzo by OUT RUNNING him in last year's
final. The only problem with that is that Manzo's gonna be mad. Uncle
Frank is running once again for Division 1, the scrappy Mark Billington will
be this year's D2 guy. Way to go, Mark! D3 is us. D4 is Steve Harker. We
all know how tough he is. D5 is Roger Bateman. Roger has done everything
but win a National event. He'll be hungry. D6 will either be Brian Hough
again or Clint Thompson. Both are bad hombres who know how to win under
pressure. And D7 is the aforementioned defending champ, Doug Gordon. Can
you say Allstars? I may be the only rookie in this lineup. (Frank and Dan
have been here before with Danny Townsend) This is going to be a bloodbath.
Don't just watch the elapsed times. The weather will have a lot to do with
that. Watch the reaction times. That'll give you an idea of how serious
this group is.
CAVALCADE OF STARS
We weren't too stellar at this year's
Cavalcade of Stars. It was one of those races where nothing was routine.
Even when we warmed up the car, we'd be starting it three or four times
because of some little issue. We darn near DNQ'd for the thing. Getting in
#7 was good though, because Manzo was #4. He dispatched the #1 qualifier in
round two to take his usual place on the eliminations ladder. We took out
the #2 guy to adjust for those mediocre qualifying runs. It was another
match with Mick Snyder. We're 2 for 2 against Mick this year. I say so
what. Those guys are notorious for their strong finishes. Case in point,
last year. There will be plenty more tough matches with Mick this year. In
the semis we had Terry Munroe, a cross-town neighbor from the IHRA world.
Terry has adapted to NHRA and the screw blower real quick. We took him out
in Indy, but he got us back at Norwalk. So now the Beaver Valley series is
tied at one apiece. Hey, no fair! It took me years to learn how to run a
screw blower. Terry is doing it in a couple months. He's got a good team.
He's technically a D1 car, although I think it's just because he didn't know
the rules. So now he's in D1 with Manzo and Mickey Ferro and those guys.
D3 is plenty tough, though, as demonstrated at last year's Chicago points
race. D3 cars took the top qualifying spots (and the win, thank you) while
the best of the rest were wondering what happened, including a DNQ by
Jackson Racing and Von Smith! This year's race is once again the week after
the Nationals and the Jegs Allstars, so it should be another slugfest.
We'll see how it goes.