Saturday, June 10, 2006

Drag Racing

Bow down to the awesome power of my 1998 Chevrolet Prizm, which won 4 out of 5 races this evening at the Samoa Dragstrip.

In the first race, I faced North Coast Journal scribe Luke Johnson, who was a formidable foe in his 1991 Honda Civic DX. My four-cylinder automatic left him in the dust, although he started to catch up near the end where speeds reached a scorching 70 mph.

After my overwhelming victory, race officials decided in the second heat to give Luke a car length's head start, as seen in the photo above. That, along with a strategic blunder on my part, allowed Luke a single win, and my only defeat. (Note: My car begins to float and wobble at about 70 mph. I got nervous and I assumed he wouldn't catch up, so I let up on the gas. Big mistake. He won.)

The next two races were mine – with the pedal to the metal all the way. No more hesitation on my part.

A highlight of the race was hearing Dennis Mayo yell "All journalists are socialists!" at the starting line. Dennis is the one that talked me into racing. He was joking... kind of. I endorsed a candidate he disagrees with. He considers her too liberal.

I also endorsed a candidate that Dennis agrees with. That got me labeled a "right wing moderate" by a guest columnist in the Arcata Eye. Oh, and the publisher of another publication suggested that my paper, along with others, is secretly controlled by a local neocon billionaire.

All good fun – socialist, liberal, right wing and ultimately a neocon puppet. That's OK with me. Just don't call me a fascist or a Nazi. But I digress....

In the fifth and final race of the evening, I faced Tom Marking, manager of the McKinleyville Community Services District. Tom drove a 1972 MG Midget.

Above is a photo before the race. I'm in the orange shirt with the hair sticking up and looking awkward. I didn't know we would be posing for a photo. I was looking at CP's camera, while everyone else was looking at a different camera. Check out the photo. And while everyone was getting ready to shake hands, all I could think about was how the track was sticky with rubber. Weird.

Tom's MG looked like a sweet ride. I was jealous and figured defeat was imminent.

Tom had me in the beginning, shifting gears like a pro and taking the lead. I was behind. But the MG's 1200cc were no match for the 1.8 liter Prizm, which eventually passed Tom and cruised to victory.

Anti-freeze was dripping out of Tom's car at the end of the race. I was a little worried about how he and his wife would get home until I remembered that Tom is an engineer. He'll figure it out. Give Tom enough cardboard and duct tape, and he'd probably turn the MG into an aircraft and fly it home.

After the race, I posed with Luke for a glamour shot. That's me on the left. We were trying to look mean and tough.

We were among the "celebrity racers" for this weekly event. Yeah, you read that right... welcome to Humboldt County. I guess the weatherman had the day off.

But we weren't the only racers. The place was packed with lots of kids.

The only qualifications to race are that you have a working car, a driver's license and no drugs or alcohol on board. You sign a piece of paper and line up to race. It's totally free.

There were kids in pickups, Camaros, Hondas, Mazdas and just about every make and model you can think of.

Two guys raced in a Dodge Viper. There were some muscle cars on hand and a lot of fast-looking bikes.

Good fun. I may write a more detailed account of my experience later. In the meantime, these scribbles will have to do.


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