I remember when the drag races where populated by an un diluted type of person that drove around in pack rat wagons and bagabond buses to raise their children in a mechanical gypsy drove around the nation. Every event filled with people so pationate that their megar funds could be seen on display in the pits, but everything was hung out on the track. Kids stacked up on scooters and little red wagons modified with 2 stroke engines blasting past you with the puff of purple smoke and the vision of a 10 year old with a shit eatin grin. I almost forgot all those memories of this camp ground folley on the side of strip, if not for this last installment of the the Phoenix Super Chevy Show. I went for some crank and rods for my '83 Suburban that has spun to a different tune lately. There was cones set up in front for track racing and a very small group of cars attending, a few ticket wielding straglers sticking and leaving the sides of the track like the plaque in my arteries. At first it appeared as the place we got processed into consumers, coming in the gate in a hurried single file line and leaving holding bags and catalogs while wearing shirts depicting this or that vendor.
As I slowly made my way around I realized I was in a unique place in the best of times. The economy sucks, everyone is effected and these type of events are actually costing someone money. I enjoyed a day at the track with some of the best and most severly pationate people, everything that was ok 10 years ago and the liablility neigh sayer isn't paying to go right now. I'm not saying everything is legal, it just didn't bother anyone that was lucky enough to be in the pits fielding a car this year if your 12 year old moved the truck to the back of the lot. I had lunch with the Nierdam Family and at their family camps they run two jet cars. The brothers came in and out of the trailers making little adjustments and modifications to the few bits of the cars that could be tweaked as the father looked on and the women attempted to wrangle the kids into some form of order. I was given a nice embroidered shirt to wear down to the line and shoot some pics of the cars as they staged and raced for one last time. This was of course the point my battery died and I spied a young girl with a very big camera and asked her to double her exposure of the two jet cars, hoping secretly that this math problem wasn't boggling or that she knew enough of photography to attempt the term literally with a digital SLR. As the cars staged the parachute popped out of on of the cars and the other took off. Not holding a camera any longer and wearing the team shirt I hopped the rail and headed to the jet car as the turbine whined down. The crew chiefs sausage fingers couldn't fenese the parts together at this level of heat and everyone around the car is screaming, the fans in the stands are waiting...this was my moment. The crewchief packed the chute and held it in the spring loaded can as I pulled the cover over the top, lined up two very small parts and yelled to the driver to push the lever forward. It took two tries to nail it and the motor fragged the last two stages of the very expensive j-60 pratt and whitney turbine on that run. We went back to the pits to observe the damage to the Strike Eagle. The Nierdam Family is a great bunch that take everything in stride. A huge spread of food was brought out from a number of places and a few other players from other trailers where happy to swing by and say hey for a plate and that was fine by everyone.
The event itself was a bust. The stands where empty and the pits spotted with random transports. The car show was a great quality of craftsmanship, but still not the volume of cars that I rememeber it. I walked around the pits and meet a number of really great people all out to have a good time. The reality of the times was evident as every complement I gave a car owner elected the same responce, "The car is for sale" and then rather than chatting up the car the spiel to sell the thing that sacked the morgage or marrige was given an opportunity to live a new life.
I saw a rig there that really made me believe there was hope. A big rig with a huge sleeper on a single axle. Balanced on a channel beam was an old roadking, between the gas tank and the passenger side duals. The trailer was an old semi trailer with a home depot door in the home side of the tug. This guy did not offer to sell his car to me, or his bike. It was a beautiful day to be at the dragstrip, the loud cars and offensive language were a welcome thing for me, before I head back to my full time job of tip toeing the line of liablility and attempting to offend no one on my way through the day. Do yourself a favor if you cant afford it, you deserve it.