Sunday, July 13, 2008

Not a drag: Mopar Mile-High Nationals

Some friends were going to the drag races, the Mopar Mile-High Nationals, at Bandimere Speedway today and talked me into getting tickets. I've never been, so I was looking forward to the experience.

The most important thing to take to the drag races is earplugs. If you're right next to the track, it's totally, awesomely loud.
First the cars do burnouts, spinning their back tires in place to get them nice and sticky. (And at 90 degrees out, we were all feeling a little sticky, let me tell you. Second most important item to take: Sunscreen!)

Then the cars roll forward until the roller on the back touches a sensor , which triggers a "ready" light. When both cars are ready, they GO!
Look at the front tires on this '87 Firebird above (driven by
Ritch Ahrens of Greeley, Colo.). It's just gotten the green light and those wheels are off the ground.

Racers love this track because it goes uphill for a long way past the finish line. No worries about not being able to stop.

Cars aren't alway evenly matched on the track, so the slower ones get a head start, such as this '67 Nova driven by Dave Lockridge of Aurora, Colo., vs. an '05 Stratus driven by Kevin Helms of Belle Rose, La. It's all about the individual car's performance, really.
(I had to look up the model years of the cars anyway, so I figured I'd include the drivers' names, too. Way to go, guys!)

The race also includes nitro cars, which are insanely loud and fast. When they go, your whole body vibrates with the sound, like someone hitting you in the chest with a jackhammer.
But I preferred the more traditional stock cars. Classics like this 1970 Plymouth GTX with Ronnie West of Broussard, La., at the wheel. (I'm sorry I didn't capture his cheery wave to me just after I snapped this.)
Then there were the similar-looking but archrivals, a 1973 Duster driven by James Findell of Zimmerman, Minn., and a 1970 Nova driven by Jim Hughes of Grand Junction, Colo.
Those Dusters sure can go! This '74 was driven by Dale Johnson of Kearney, Neb.:
There was motorcycle racing, too. Those things are wicked fast and scary dangerous.
Hats off to Karen Stoffer, who was signing autographs and posing for photos. She is a champion in motorcycle drag racing and is working on her MBA.
The stands were full and the people-watching was great. I have to present my favorite race-goer:
Yes, Mom, that's my name tattooed on his chest:
I'm sorry I forgot to ask his!

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