A Day at the Races

Alcohol is for drinking, gas is for cleaning parts, and nitro is for racing!”  ~Unknown

Drag racing—the straight dash over a quarter mile from a standing start for the shortest elapsed time—is a form of racing unique to the US.

My husband, Jim, and I spent a recent weekend at the National Hot Rod Association’s 49th Annual World Finals Drag Races in Pomona. Now this wasn’t my first time attending a national drag race. In fact, Pomona is what I would call my “home” track. My youngest son, Jake, competed many years as a junior dragster. The first time I saw my older son race our ‘72 Pro Street Camaro

Rickie Jones

Rickie Jones

was at Pomona. 

This particular weekend we are here to see and support Elite Performance, Rickie Jones and RJ Race Cars, and most importantly, Jake, who is an engine builder for Elite Performance.

The scene in the pits begins at 8 a.m. Crews roll out the cars and begin wrenching on the engine. Then the drivers arrive later to greet fans, sign autographs and pose for pictures.

Fans sport shirts or hats of their favorite teams and go from pit to pit with bags or backpacks to pick up “fan cards”, decals, posters and other goodies. Actually it’s a version of adult trick-or-treating!

We visit the Elite Performance set up and watch the crew prep the Elite Performance Chevy Camaro. I wander around the corner to give a hug and best wishes to our good friend, Jeg Coughlin, Jr., who is in the lead to clench the 2013 NHRA Pro Street Championship.

The best possible outcome for Sunday is for Jeg to win the championship and Rickie to get his first NHRA Pro Stock win.

Jeg Coughlin, Jr.

Jeg Coughlin, Jr.

There is a completely different set vocabulary used in drag racing.

Burnout is not long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work rather spinning the rear tires in water to heat and cleans them prior to a run for better traction. A burnout precedes every run.

Christmas tree: No this is not what we will be decorating next month. It is the noticeable electronic starting device between the lanes on the starting line. It displays a calibrated-light countdown for each driver.

E.T. isn’t the movie here. It is elapsed time, the time it takes a vehicle to travel from the starting line to the finish line.

Holeshot has nothing to do with golf or hockey it is when a driver reacts quicker to the Christmas tree to win a race against an opponent with a quicker e.t.

Rickie-Jones-PS-winner-DHUp to the hospitality booth in the tower we go to watch rounds and rounds of racing: Sportsman classes, Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock.

Jeg, Jr. and Rickie continue to win their rounds. Jeg, Jr. clenches his 5th Pro Stock Title. However it is Rickie, the 26 year-old, who defeats defending world champion, Allen Johnson. Rickie clocks a 6.584 ET at 210.28 MPH in his Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro to hold off Johnson’s quicker, but losing Team Mopar Dodge Avenger, which finishes in 6.581ET at 211.03 MPH!

“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.” ~Ernest Hemingway

Kathy Hairston

Kathy Hairston

A native of California, Kathy grew up in the Pomona Valley. In the 60’s her parents began halter showing Quarter Horses. This hobby led them to purchase a small ranch in Ontario where they began raising and racing Quarter Horses and eventually moved on to Thoroughbreds. Although she never became a rider, their enthusiasm for horses was instilled in Kathy; she attended the Equestrian events at the 1984 Summer Olympics. Kathy purchased her first “show” quality English Bulldog in 1971. She has been actively showing and breeding dogs for 29 years. She has raised and finished champions in two breeds, Bulldogs and American Staffordshire Terriers. Kathy is a member of the Bulldog Club of America and the Pacific Coast Bulldog Club. She has served on the PCBC Board of Directors and has been their show secretary, public relations and fundraising chair. She currently is their AKC reporter. When not at a dog show, Kathy is at the drag strip watching her son, Clint, drive a 2007 Pontiac GTO at 251 mph. The GTO is tuned by her younger son, Jake, and the team is managed by Jim, her husband of 38 years.
Kathy Hairston

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