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Old 03-20-2011, 04:43 PM
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Tucson Racing Goes Full circle!

When I moved here from the Midwest in '75, I thought I would not find any drag races to entertain me. I had grown up 90 miles from Indy, and had been attending the NHRA Nationals each year since '62... along with the local 1/8th mile NHRA action at Charleston, and Paris, Illinois on a more weekly basis.

I was more than pleasantly surprised that Tucson's AHRA track had not only the AHRA Winternationals... but it the summer hosted the AHRA Fuel Altered Nations! Those, along with the smaller programs, more than entertained me!!!

Eventually the track owner was caught flying in something from Mexico, and using the track as an airstrip. The zoning was soon changed, and the track forced to close. Bummer!

After a few years, the county fairgrounds expanded it's oval track operations to include a brand new track. It ran under an NHRA sanction, and hosted not only a Spring PRO pre-season test session, but also a Super Chevy event, weekly racing, and a few great nostalgia events. Bernstein said it was the best track surface he had ever run on!

After some time, the big events went away, leaving a regional points meet, and some local events. We have lost out to the very active Firebird Raceway south of Phoenix, with a National event, and a much larger population to support the events. Eventually NHRA lost interest in the track, and word came down that they the track was losing their sanction.

I was anticipating a slow death for the track, but recently they got together with IHRA... who is moving in more of a "nostalgia direction" now... to open IHRA's most "western" location!

Next weekend will be our first big event, a "NitroJam", which will include not only the usual firey show, and bracket classes....but now features nostalgia Funnies, and the newly embraced Fuel Altereds!!!

Today I still religiously follow NHRA on TV, but miss the old days of "brand identity"... violent race cars... and personalities that made it on their own, without corporate funding, and a car that looks like a commercial billboard, or a box of laxitives.

I am stoked. Being a child of the sixties, I prefer the older classes that I was weened on as a kid! The local racers seem equally excited about the renewed interest.

There aren't many more sanctioning bodies after these three, but we are glad for this new chance for drag racing in Tucson!!! :-)~

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Old 03-20-2011, 04:50 PM
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Bernie Longjohn is running the Tucson track now. He is a sharp guy. SpeedWorld racers miss him
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Old 03-20-2011, 05:02 PM
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Isn't Speedworld also a Phoenix track? Seems I have heard local racers talk about it.
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Old 03-20-2011, 08:18 PM
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SpeedWorld track in AZ is the old Mel Larson dragway that is located in Wittman AZ. That is north west of Sun City AZ

If you google Bernie , you will find many bits of information on him. Sharp guy , runs a good track operation.

Back in the early 1970's a group of young guys would drive to Tucson to watch the fuel altereds run on the old track. Always a good time there
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Old 03-20-2011, 08:26 PM
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I thought it was in the area.

When you went to the Altered Nats... that was me leaning over the fence by the starting line! :-)~

I actually got to paint a car that ran the event one time before going to Texas.
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Old 03-21-2011, 07:16 PM
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Tucson Racing Goes Full Circle

Quote:
Originally Posted by TucsonJay
I thought it was in the area.

When you went to the Altered Nats... that was me leaning over the fence by the starting line! :-)~

I actually got to paint a car that ran the event one time before going to Texas.
AAF/ALT have always been big in AZ., still is my favorite class, even if NHRA doesn't let them run anymore.

That's one car that when you hit the throttle, you never knew which way the car was going.

Bob
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:08 PM
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I think my current favorite class would just about have to be Pro Mod. They are wild lookin', and like the altereds...unpredictable!!!
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by TucsonJay
I think my current favorite class would just about have to be Pro Mod. They are wild lookin', and like the altereds...unpredictable!!!
Like pro stock on steroids.

Bob
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:36 PM
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To me they are the closest to the old Gas classes.

I also like the variety in the class. Early and late bodies... and Naturally aspirated and nitroused, or blown on alcohol.

That way the cars aren't all alike, and there is always the question about which power combo will work best today? :-)
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:47 PM
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I used to hang out at ths San Gaberial drags and watch Wild Man Willy Borch run fuel altered. That is the best spectator band for the buck. Big John Mazmanium and Stone Woods and Cook were a blast too.
I hope thee bring more nostalgia to Tucson
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:54 PM
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I've never been to San Gabriel... but it is a legend in my mind. The magazines convinced me of that.
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Old 03-21-2011, 09:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 65ELCMO
I used to hang out at ths San Gaberial drags and watch Wild Man Willy Borch run fuel altered. That is the best spectator band for the buck. Big John Mazmanium and Stone Woods and Cook were a blast too.
I hope thee bring more nostalgia to Tucson
The only trouble with those cars were the wheel base to HP. A lot of crashes and guys killed.

Like jay said Pro Mod is close with a little less HP and more wheelbase, they are still a hand full.

When I was crew chief on a Pro Stock, we had a key to MN dragways, I would take the car out there to test, or break in a new engine. I was doing short starts from the line, didn't have a seat belt on, bad mistake, took off at 8000 RPM, almost put my head through the roof. lucky I never broke my neck.

And they go a lot faster now.

Bob
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Old 03-21-2011, 09:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TucsonJay
I've never been to San Gabriel... but it is a legend in my mind. The magazines convinced me of that.
Me and my buddy would ride our bicycles there and hang out tillalmost dark so we could get home in time for dinner.
When we got old enough to drive it was our second home. TV Tommy Ivo, Gas Ronda. Saw the first top fuel 200 mph pass. Wheel stands for 1/4 mile and full pass tire smoke. The just don't make 'um like that anymore.
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