Sportsman Hall of Fame.


Recently on the Sportsman Racing Podcast with Luke and Jed, they discussed and listed their picks for a first induction class for a hypothetical Sportsman Drag Racing hall of fame.  What a great idea. Sportsman racers are the back bone of drag racing and some of the most unsung heroes of our sport. For every John Force or Steve Torrence, there are a couple hundred sportsman racers slogging it out week after week around the world. Very very few people start off in the whiz-bang world of the Pros. At one point or another, we all make our first passes down our local track, running whatever we could afford.

So, let’s get started.

Track Owner/Operator/Promoter

I have to go with George Howard, how can I not? At a time when if you knew drag racing you almost certainly knew the NHRA Pros. But if you had a toe in racing at all everyone heard of the “Million Dollar Bracket Race” and for that alone, putting Bracket racing on a bigger map, not even counting his other achievements he has to be my pick.

Media Member

Dale Wilson/Bracket Racing USA This man and the magazine he created were a staple to back yard racers. columns by Dale himself, the chassis guru Dave Morgan and Frank Hawley to name a few was a godsend to the guy with an open trailer and a car. The knowledge we gained from Dale and his magazine is priceless.

Member of Automotive Aftermarket Industry

Jeg Couglin Sr. THE catalog. What do you need? Tires. intake. delay box? Jegs had and has it all. In the days before the internet and social media, Jegs was there and is still here today for whatever you need. And he’s not just here to sell you parts. A stout supporter of the Sportsman classes by sponsoring events and drivers.

“Legend” a name from the past that has either passed or is no longer in active competition.

Ronnie Davis. 5-time IHRA world champ who had more than 25 years behind the wheel, and a vocal supporter of fast bracket racing. It’s in a large part due to Ronnie’s lobbying that Top Sportsman got its start in the NHRA and spread to the rest of the country.

4 racers (past or present)

It’s easy to say guys like David Rampy and Dan Fletcher belong in, and they do. It should almost be named “The Dan Fletcher Sportsman Racing Hall of Fame presented by David Rampy” But I digress, the truth is these two guys aren’t done yet. Dan is on track to become the second winningest driver in the NHRA ever and David will certainly get over 100 wins this season. So I say let’s wait on putting them in, let’s see where they wind up in the annals of racing history and when they do get put in, let’s be able to fully recognise their achievements.


Sheldon Gecker One of the first to run with some substantial sponsorship, Who can forget his Fel-Pro King Kong cars.

Mike Federer Consistent winner spanning decades. Top notch equipment just a class act all around.

Ted Seipel Early Pioneer in Super Gas. West Coast legend in that Austin Healy.

Larry Morgan We forget that before Pro Stock Larry was a sportsman stand out in Competition Eliminator and Super Stock. He had an impressive career before he even got to Pro Stock.

There you have it. As to where to locate a possible Hall of Fame/Museum? I have to say Indy. Pretty centrally located and a mecca for any racing fan. As a proxy home of the NHRA away from California, it’s the perfect place to show the sportsman racers the support they deserve.

I’ve said it before. If you only go to the local National events during the year, then you’re missing out on some amazing racing on the Regional and Divisional level as well as the Bracket program the local track runs. Do yourselves a favor and get out and support your local tracks..

You can hear the full episode here


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The Ready Line: Pro Stock


It’s assumed that with the new “any body any engine” rule change in Pro Stock that everyone is going to go with the DRCE GM engine that is currently the dominant engine in the class. But it occurs to me that it doesn’t have to be this way. In the past, if you had a Dodge program, you were pretty much a solo single-car team. Any expense you incurred was for you and you alone. But not so anymore. Let’s say you have an engine program for your Dodge that shows promise, now you can lease those engines to anyone and defray some of the R&D work. Look at KB racing, for example, they don’t just build engines for Line and Anderson. They have 4 KB powered cars out there. (Butner and Kramer)

Is this a likely scenario? Almost certainly not. But we can hope. Maybe some enterprising engine builder will see a market to disperse the cost of a Dodge program amongst several cars. Or a Ford guy will resurrect a long-dormant Ford program. The parts are out there. I heard recently that Derec Kramer had no problem selling his Dodge engines to a couple GM guys and somewhere, someone has the remnants of Larry Morgans Ford program. And with an increased presence at the track maybe, just maybe Ford and Dodge will be enticed into investing into a Pro Stock program and reintroducing factory Pro Stock parts.

Let’s wildly speculate a minute. Let’s say that Allen and Roy Johnson are slaving away on the dyno as we speak, and they find something, they overcome the 10500 RPM limiter and are ultra competitive in the horsepower numbers. Do you think Dodge would be happy with Dodge engines winning in Chevy bodies, or would they want to come back with a factory team, and get the glory for themselves?

We can hope

On a side-note. It seems to me it would be a good idea to create classes in Competition Eliminator for Pro Stock cars similar to the classes for Pro Stock Truck and Pro Mod. Some of the low buck guys who can only get to the national events near them could really benefit from this move. Instead of only getting to hit the track a couple times a season, most Divisions have 6 or 7 events. with most being at National events tracks. This would really open up the possibility for those part-timers to get needed seat and actual on track time in race conditions. I’d set it up with a moderate index so they don’t need to kill their stuff. There’s no way that a part-time Pro Stock team can be hurt by having a 7 event divisional and 3 national event season.

Racing Rigs and you.


Ever since PRI there has been a lot of talk about the legality’s of the tow vehicles. Since Dec 18th when the new ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandate came down, a lot of people are asking questions about being in compliance with the rules and we can discuss the needs for exemptions, the law is the law for now. Since my living is made out on the road lets look at a few things that do concern you.

Lets look at some definitions here. If your rig has a weight of more than 26000lbs and or your trailer comes in over 10000lbs, you are a commercial vehicle. You can make the argument “but it’s my personal truck and I own and operate it privately” well sorry. I hate to break it to you but the laws don’t define it that way. Putting “Private, Not for Hire” on the truck means nothing to the officer or inspector at a scale. If you are on the road and you meet the definitions of a commercial vehicle, you better be legal to be safe.

The quick answer that I hear over and over again is get a CDL (Commercial Drivers License) and run an ELD. And yes, that’s what I would recommend. But hang on. it’s not that easy. IF you are going to run those things, you better be aware of the requirements that those entail. Are you aware of the HOS (Hours of Service) rules? No more crazy cross country trips to make races, unless you have more than one qualified driver to team up with (and yes, there are special rules for running as a team). Are you aware of what you need to do for a Pre Trip inspection, or a Post Trip inspection?

This looks and sounds complicated, but it’s really not. A little homework on the DOT website can answer most questions. But the fact is if you run any kind of log book and or pull out that CDL at a scale or inspection center you better know what you need to have done to be compliant with the laws. If you blindly declare on your Pre Trip that the truck is safe and sound, you better not have half the lights burned out, or bald tires. It better be as you declared. And yes, to answer the question I’ve seen debated several places, They DO have the right to inspect inside the trailer. Proper load securement is a mandate in the laws, and they have a right to ensure the load is safe.

In the era of so many Pro and Semi Pro Sportsman racers on the road it’s time to step up the game, the rigs are huge and dangerous in inexperienced hands. Is a Volvo Toterhome and a Stacker infinitely safer than a dually with a tag? Yes of course. Proper brakes, possibly an engine brake (Jake Brake) the power to climb and descend hills. But with that comes the need for responsible operation. Remember, these things can kill others as quickly as they can save your life. Are the rules regarding their safe operation heavy handed at times? Of course. But the benefits outweigh the hassle.

The appearance that more racers are getting stopped, from what I witness on the road is true. As Drag racers we look at things in a vacuum. But remember their are more than just us out there. The stock car, dirt track, road course and just anyone hauling cars in general are on the same roads with the same equipment. Just by sheer numbers I see more dirt track guys stuck at scales than drag racers, but for whatever reason their are more of them. So yes, it is a problem across the board, but then in this era of trucks being the bad guys on the road it’s tough for anyone with a big rig.

If I was advising a racer out there, I would recommend getting a CDL and an ELD. Know the laws regarding both. Get a permit service to ensure you have all the right permits for the state or states you will be travelling in. As well as checking with an accountant as to how to handle the IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) stickers. Personally when I cross a scale or inspection center I always know i’m in compliance and any document they might need is right at hand, Be nice to them and more than likely they’ll be nice to you. Those guys never want to deal with a hassle, the easier you make it, the better it will go.

A little sidenote on the inspection. I know the majority of  you are racers not truckers. But how many times do we need to see guys on the side of the road with problems that could have been easily avoided with a little maintenance. I had a guy ask me, at the track, in a toterhome I know he’s had at least 2 years, how to open the hood. This is a Freightliner based rig. You have got to be at a minimum once a week checking basics like oil and coolant. Even if you don’t put tons of mileage on your rig these things can deteriorate just sitting. Just as I would never pull a trailer out of the yard that’s been sitting a couple weeks without a detailed inspection you shouldn’t leave the track after a weekend without checking at a minimum, Tires, hubs, lights, fluids and double check the hitch or pin.  Here’s a short list of things that will take you Out of Service. Flat tires, Air Leak, Broken suspension parts. And it’s unlikely for you but overweight. And if you been driving more than 11 hours, you’re most likely getting parked for 36 hours.

Bob Glidden

bob 1I’ve always been a GM guy, grew up with my Moms daily driver a 57 Chevy. Had them my whole life. But there was a time early in my racing career that I ran a Ford Mustang. My reasoning was there were tons of them and parts were plentiful. It was seemingly simple to make it fast and a nice street/strip ride looked easy to achieve. But, I could not make that 302 live. It kept breaking connecting rods and I couldn’t figure out why. Too much compression, too many RPM’s? I was baffled and quickly sinking into a money pit.


Early Days of the Mustang. circa 91 with a short lived Capri nose.

So, I asked questions from who I thought was the go-to guy for Ford products. Bob Glidden. We had a chance to talk after Q4 at Sanair on a lazy Saturday evening. And he told me 2 things. No 1, if I was building it with a GM mindset I needed to pay more attention to the connecting rods, stock rods at higher RPM’s were a bad idea. Go with the best rods I could afford. And No 2, keep an eye on the oil pump driveshaft. It was a weak point. The rods were spot on and after I changed them I never broke another one, until I did break the oil pump driveshaft leading to another broken rod. But that was my own fault. I should’ve changed it. Shortly after I sold the car rolling and started my Vega project.

To me, what can you say about Bob Glidden that hasn’t been said? He’s a legend in the truest sense of the word. To this day more than a decade since his last Ford start when you say Ford Motorsports, I think of Bob. 85 National event wins and 10 Championships speak for themselves. But it was more than that. He was a great guy. Always nice to the kids at the rope and as I related at the start, quick with advice if you needed it. It was a sad day in Pro Stock when Ford stepped away and all but ended Bob’s career. But regardless it was always cool in the recent years to see him at the track with a quick smile and hello.

bob 2

Mr. Glidden, you will be missed, I hope wherever you are, you and Lee, Gordie, Grumpy,  Scott, Joe and all the others are bench racing up a storm.  Rest In Peace.

Pro Stock, 5 points.

On this weeks WFO Radio Nitro, Joe Castello had a pretty in depth interview and discussion with Alan Reinhart and Richard Freeman about Pro Stock. (link to the show at the bottom.) The conclusion was a call out for a 5 point plan to reinvigorate the class. As you know if you follow my column, I’ve already written 2 about this issue. In response to Joe’s call, lets have a fresh go at this with some new perspective.


#1 We need to accept the fact that Pro Stock isn’t the King of the Doorslammers class anymore, that cats out of the bag. Currently there are 2 classes that are faster. Pro Mod and Top Sportsman. If we just look at this weeks race, Pro Stocks field was stretched between a 6.564 to a 6.924 and the top 16 spread in Top Sportsman was 6.201 to 6.811. 2 different classes to be sure, but if you want quick Door cars you now have several options.

#2 Body styles. It’s been said before by many, including myself, we need to get back to stock body lines, simple as that. The drift away from using the classic “Body in white” that was the norm for so long needs to be reversed. Stock rear quarters, roof and a pillars at a minimum. The classic Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday is really hard when the cars at the top of the “Factory” class don’t resemble whats on the showroom floor.  With one caveat, conversion from a 4 door to a 2 door must be acceptable.

#3 Pro Mod or Factory Stock will never replace Pro Stock, they will always take up their own unique niche in the Drag world. As great as it is, factory stock is already in danger of drowning under ever increasing development costs, and unless the manufacturers want to keep sinking endless sums of cash into going faster and faster it will start to suffer. The Pro Mod racers have already expressed they are happy with the space in the NHRA they already have, a 24 race schedule for them would be too much.

#4 The NHRA itself. The NHRA as a sanctioning body needs to get out of the mindset that the Nitro classes are the most important class out there. Are they great? for sure, do they attract the fans? for sure, but they’re supposed to, that’s how they’re hyped; all the advertising is built around them.  At any given National event there are several classes running, and any given class could use more exposure. This goes for not just Pro Stock, but other classes as well. What about Competition eliminator? My point here is the NHRA needs to balance how they advertise and promote the races better. If they believe it or not there is a significant number of fans who attend the races for more then just the Nitro classes.

#5 Drivetrain. I see 2 options here. So pull the belts tight and hang on, don’t pull the chutes until the end.

500 cubic inch spec engine based on the DRCE(Drag Race Competition Engine) block the Chevy guys use. We already have a precedence for this; the nitro classes. They can badge it however they want, Toyota, Chevy, Ford but the reality is they’re all based on the Dodge Hemi, a variant to be sure but a Hemi nonetheless. No offence to the Dodge guys or the lone Ford guy i’m aware of but the Chevy guys are kings right now, and have been for several years. Without major corporate support the Fords and Dodges will never be competitive. It may be great when a Dodge picks up a Hundredth but if they’re still a tenth behind they have a long costly way to go. So take that all out of the equation and run a spec block and heads like the nitro guys do.

358 Small block with a spec blower. Richard Freeman floated this on the WFO radio show and when you stop and think about it, it might be a really good idea. There are already several readily available 358 combinations out there from the NASCAR guys, Ford, Chevy, Dodge and Toyota and boosted with a supercharger makes a pretty interesting possibility.  Plus it has the advantage of fitting under a more stock appearing hood line then what we have now. In my opinion, this is the way to go, coupled with a manual clutch and a 5 speed this could be cool.

Pro Stock is an iconic class, and it’s demise would be a great loss to the sport. But as you know manufacturers have drifted away for various reason. But if they don’t want to jump in as it sits now, we have got to make some wholesale changes to reinvigorate the class. If we increase participation who knows, maybe they (The manufacturers) will take a second look and if  we can make changes to welcome them back, we can address that in due course. But trying to keep them happy is part of the reason we are in this situation.


Honda V8

One last thing. Lets assume for a minute we go with the body specs and 358 engines I’ve suggested as the best options, those open the doors to more then Dodge, Ford and Chevy in Pro Stock. As mentioned, Toyota has a stout 358 program and Honda had a V8 in production for Indycar until 2011. If Toyota and or Honda wanted to jump in, and Toyota in particular has shown a strong commitment to the NHRA, then I say welcome, the more the merrier.

Here’s a link to the WFO radio Nitro show.

On a side note. If you want to have a little fun between races, be sure and follow Riki Ratchman on his ride across America this year, yes the same Riki from the Cathouse, Headbangers Ball and currently host of Racing Rocks radio. he is raising awareness for Cystic Fibrosis and raising money for the Claires Place foundation. A worthy cause that we here at Lit and Loud fully support.






As always, Be Safe and Have Fun.

Dodge Demon, Diamond or Dud?


You know, as a car guy you can’t help but be impressed at first glance of the Dodge Demon. It’s a very impressive piece of work, 840 horsepower, 9.60’s from the factory at over 140 MPH. But what”s the reality of this car? Is it as amazing as it seems?

Lets put the performance in terms of drag racing into perspective.  This car, off the showroom floor is faster than most Stock class cars, some Super Stock. Quicker than the Super Gas index and less than a second slower than Super Comp. In a car that you can go to a dealer and buy.

But here’s the thing. Should you be able to? It takes a Competition license to drive most of the aforementioned classes, and much more safety equipment than the car comes with, no roll cage, no 5 point harness and does come with for example, a line loc and a trans brake that are not toys, in the wrong hands or malfunctioning they can be downright dangerous. A car that can run these numbers is not a toy, and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

If they (Dodge) wanted to make a car with these capability’s why did they not go the extra step and create a car that could at least meet minimum rule standards out of the box? I know why of course, the idea is to build a sick car that could roll off an assembly line quickly, without to much inconvenience and not bother with a hand crafted roll cage or anchoring for a legit racing harness.


The famous letter from the NHRA states “Don’t bring this car to our tracks” Now Dodge for some reason see’s this as a badge of honor. But it’s not. What that means is that as soon as you drive it home, you have just bought a car that is unable to compete at any NHRA sanctioned track. Unless you slow it down to slower than 10 seconds. Which is still impressive, but how do you expect a novice to know how to safely scrub a half second off his ET? I know that I would not like to be in the lane next to a novice running at or close to 140 MPH without the skills to understand the nuances of controlling a car at that speed.

Back at SLP Terry “Zeke” Maxwell had an saying about who we built the Camaro SS and Firehawks for, 1/3 of our cars were for collectors,1/3 were for racers and 1/3 were for the casual car guy to have fun with. Of the 3000 scheduled Demons to be built, 1000 to collectors=ok, 1000 to racers=ok, but the thousand to the novice are the problem.  Should the NHRA bend the rules as so many have suggested? absolutely not. These rules have been forged over the years in terms of blood and lives, they are tried and true. And while we do have an occasional incident with an injury, those rules account for a truly staggering safety record when looked at over the whole of the sport. And Just looking at the basic crash test results of a standard Challenger finds it at the bottom of the pony car list  (according to the results for the IIHS see link below) and I for one would not want to be in a Challenger at 140 MPH with no roll cage crashing. And it’s the little things, why for instance would they put a 4 point harness into the car, why not take the extra step and put the 5th point in. How do they (Dodge) know that whoever buys the car will have the skills needed to put the Skinny’s on the front properly? It seems to me that Dodge makes a lot of assumptions about the skill level of the average car buyer.

Sure you could argue that anyone can buy a Ferrari or Lamborghini and that’s true, but those cars, while they have impressive performance are unlikely to ever be used in North America to their true capability’s, but this car, any stretch of pavement could get it into trouble, not to mention cars around it.

So to get back to the first question, Is this a great car? Yes, with caveats. It’s a great car in the right hands. In the hands of a drag racer who knows what he’s doing it’s a masterpiece. A true racer will make sure the car has the safety products it needs and the experience to use it. Should the average guy buy one, even a car fan? No way. It’s too much car. In the end, if you want to buy a street pony car to have fun with, go get a nice Hellcat. I know it “only” runs 11’s with 707 Horsepower, but it’ll be a much more civilised ride for daily use.

One last question. If Dodge wants to improve it’s image to the Drag racing world, why didn’t they sink that R&D money into the Challenger Drag Pak program? At the last Factory Stock shootout event (Charlotte) only 1 of 8 cars was a Challenger. As it stands now, the Camaros and Mustangs are running away with the series.

On a side note. If you want to have a little fun between races, be sure and follow Riki Ratchman on his ride across America this year, yes the same Riki from the Cathouse, Headbangers Ball and currently host of Racing Rocks radio. he is raising awareness for Cystic Fibrosis and raising money for the Claires Place foundation. A worthy cause that we here at Lit and Loud fully support.






As always, Be Safe and Have Fun.

Reality Bites? NHRA

Others point their finger
If they don’t like what they see
If you live in a glass house
Don’t be throwing rocks at me “Shelter Me” Tom Keifer.


You know, in light of the recent incident between Gray and Elite Motorsports both on the top end and pits during the Houston race. It got me thinking. You will see all over social media opinions over this, pro and con. But the overwhelming thought is “we need this in Drag racing”. And maybe we do. But here’s the thing, it’s not as if we don’t have our share of reality moments, we just choose not to talk about them.  And when we do it will be a week or 2 and we move on. But behind the scenes, they’re always there.

Why for instance has Mike Dunn only driven for a relatively short span in his entire storied career for his Dad? The great Jim Dunn? Jim’s had cars on the track the whole time with various drivers. And parallel to that, what happened between Jim and Chad Head? The word was Chad stepped out to concentrate on the family business, but then we find out Chad is working at Kalitta Racing, and Jim has Jonnie Lindberg driving. Did, as the rumours say, Jim fire Chad? Awkward.

And what of our famous Funny car champ? We all know his 3 daughters, successful drivers in their own right. Respected and adored by their fans and fellow competitors. But here’s the thing. He has 4 daughters. But yet it’s the strangest thing. No one talks about her. If she wants her privacy that is of course totally fine, but it seems unfair to never even mention her name. She’s even married to the President of the company? Heck I’ve seen and heard more of her daughter than her. I have some, but you’d be really hard pressed to even find a picture of her. Weird

And the list could go on and on. But aside from the fact that these are our “Stars” it’s none of our business. And all the social media speculation serves nothing except to give some keyboard cowboys a few thrills. The reality is, there’s some real personal drama out there in our world that would rival the most gaudy reality show. And real faces behind real pain. The ones I’ve listed above are really pretty mundane in comparison to the rest.

And on track, There’s 2 problems. One is, and a completely respectable one to have. The sport went through a phase when we sadly lost a spate of our young drivers in accidents. Russell, Johnson, Medlen, Kalitta, you know the names. I noticed a definite change in attitudes after that period, a more respectful and appreciative attitude towards each other as competitors. It was as if after a period of invincibility everyone became aware that the dangers were very real and the guy in the other lane was just as vulnerable as yourself, and worthy of your respect if you liked him or not.

The second of course is the Politically correct era of corporate sponsorship. You have to wonder about the whirlwind careers of Bazemore and Cannon to name a couple. These guys came into the sport on fire (In the case of Bazemore often literally) Talking a big storm, getting in everyone’s face, not afraid to speak their minds and sure as hell not backing down to anyone. Only to fade away and rarely to be heard from again. Did the corporate world end them? Were they to controversial to keep handing money over to? Only they know for sure, but from the outside, that’s sure what it looks like. And as we all know, if you don’t have the bucks you don’t make the runs.

Talk is great, a way to attract new fans, or reinforce the ones you have, do we like to see Force and Shoemaker have words? Sure. And by the way, the best part of John Force getting into feuds is his seeming innocence that someone might be upset, in his mind if Prock went to DSR and it was “Just business” then him bringing Prock back was “Just business” as well. No harm no foul. Or driving Al Hoffman crazy, innocently unaware that he was driving Hoffman insane. How could Al possibly not like him or be angry at him? Do we like Leah Pritchett admitting she loves beating Brittany Force? Of course. But to let things escalate to throwing punches in the pits? maybe not. That’s not good for anyone. Regardless of what sponsor is on the door.

Watch at about 1:05


In the end I’m reminded of when Don Prudhomme ran to a burning, unconscious Don Gay Jr to get help get him out of the car, or a very concerned Khalid AlBalooshi watching a crashing Antron Brown behind him, that those moments are what make Drag racing great. And all the bickering or feuding  off the track are meaningless, that it’s what happens on the track and in the background that are whats important.



On a side note. If you want to have a little fun between races, be sure and follow Riki Ratchman on his ride across America this year, yes the same Riki from the Cathouse, Headbangers Ball and currently host of Racing Rocks radio. he is raising awareness for Cystic Fibrosis and raising money for the Claires Place foundation. A worthy cause that we here at Lit and Loud fully support.





Be Safe and Have Fun