The ground shakes almost to the point of having to hold onto something, your heart pounds as the sound vibration goes through you and even wearing earplugs doesn’t deaden the decibel level that much. Welcome to NHRA Drag Racing.
I decided to go out to Pomona for the season Finale of the NHRA / Full Throttle drag races because, well, hey…we are called The Moto..WORLD…and I figured I need to get away from just focusing on road racing don’t you think? I lined up a couple of interviews for our podcast, set up some video cast time with a friend on another website, loaded up my ‘studio in a bag’ and off to the drags I went. Oh yeah…Southern California traffic…at the Pomona Drag Strip, 1/4 mile takes a few seconds…on the 210 Freeway that 1/4 mile takes about a day and a half. Maybe I’ll get there before dark.
I go to motorcycle races all the time, usually they are two to three day events and the first day is generally just racers going through practice and qualifying and if there are fans there, it’s because they’re collecting unemployment and have nothing better to do or they’re part of the media…wait, they’re one and the same…Not so with drag racing. I arrived at Pomona Raceway to a full parking lot, stands packed and people walking the pits and vendors row like it was main event day. All I could think was this is very cool, and…it’s only Thursday!!! What is Sunday going to be like?
At most big time motorcycle races you need to buy a pit pass (or trade one back and forth with your friends) to get anywhere near the race bikes…actually seeing the racers is a rare added bonus. Here at the drags, your ticket in put’s you within touching distance of 300 MPH cars, 200 MPH motorcycles and the pilots of these machines. No wonder the fans love it. I was caught up in the whole atmosphere the minute I walked in.
As I walked around looking for my friends, my neck and my camera were getting a serious work out, so much to see and hear. Everytime a dragster was being fired up a crowd would gather, everybody putting their hands over their ears and holding their nose. If you have never been six feet away from the exhaust pipes of a Nitro Methane fuel burning, 7000HP…yes, I said ‘Seven Thousand’… horsepower motor… well, you just haven’t lived…and, now your sinuses are cleared for life.
After wandering, I found the Harley Davidson Screaming Eagle pits but my friends were nowhere to be found…I was a little late…remember LA traffic??…well, I made the best of it and spoke with racer Andrew Hines, son of Vance and Hines performance parts co-founder Byron Hines. The Hines family has quite a history in drag racing. Byron and partner Terry Vance won many National Championships, Byron’s older son Matt won more and now young Andrew is keeping the family dynasty alive. We had a great visit with promises to get the whole family together for a podcast interview.
I couldn’t wait any longer, I had to go over to the track. Ok, it’s only a quarter mile of asphalt…big deal?? Well, yeah it is. I got there in time for Pro Stock Qualifying, Alcohol Qualifying ( by the length of the lines at the Budweiser stands, I think most of the race fans qualified) and the reason I was there…Pro Stock Motorcycles. Walking through the staging lane at Pomona reminded me of the time I had Deja Vu’…Hmmmm…Ive been here before…but last time it was on salt not asphalt. It seems to me that the choice of motorcycle to go fast in a straight line whether it’s the quarter mile or a flying mile, comes down to two…a big Harley or a big Suzuki. I got a chance to speak with pilots of both and the feeling is the same for both…it’s the adrenaline rush baby.
Being a racer, I know the adrenaline rush…you spend days or weeks preparing for a race…the bike, your body, your mind…all you want to do is be on the track. Racing is what you live and breath for, your significant other either embraces it…(read, finances it…), accepts it…(how much was that part??!!) or maybe just tolerates it …(Ok fine go racing just don’t get hurt…) but it’s in our blood and it doesn’t go away. While standing in the staging lane and on the starting line, my heart started racing, my brain was focused and I could feel my clutch hand twitching. God I love racing.