Motorsports Recap And Behind The Scenes Access

Sucker-Buckers & Four-Wide Racing–The Recliner Report Visits Vegas!





Randy Cunningham


Stop #4–The DENSO Spark Plugs Four-Wide Nationals, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas


Double mosh pits, a “sucker-bucker”, flak jackets, and Wally gets a Mello Yello shower. Yep, it could only be time for…Vegas! Oh yeah, the Fox Sports 1 coverage of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Racing Series doubled down this week, as the track became the second tour stop to move into four-wide racing. And, as if 20,000 horsepower per normal NHRA race was not enough, we were treated to a slight increase in volume as each 40,000 hp pass in the Nitro division resulted in mega-amounts of volume, enough that if any television sets across America were set on max volume, that may have resulted in viewers falling out of their La-Z-Boys, soundbars overloading and smoking more than a two-pack-a-day nicotine freak, and finally, TVs levitating off their stands, then flying across the room and landing into big bowls of bean dip. Dudes, it was loud. Couples sitting in their front porch rockers were overheard saying, “Hon, you hear that rumbling?” By the way, these folks were in Alaska…well, it coulda happened…


“HEY….WHERE ARE YOU FROM?”–Amanda Busick hit the pits to out what distances fans had traveled to check out the event, and she met some troopers. Nah, we’re not talking folks from Hot Coffee, Mississipi or Ding Dong, Texas, (Hey, look ‘em up…they’re for real!) but how about Germany, Australia, and Aruba? Though some cynical folks may gripe, “Man, people from across the world don’t have anything in common”, they don’t get it. Going fast is fun, and people across the planet dig it. Even in Hot Coffee, Mississippi. Dude, that place has gotta rock!


EPIC QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND, #1–Amanda struck gold with John Force following his first round finish that sent him to the Funny Car semifinals when he commented, “I’ve made more trips to the hospital in an ambulance than I have down the racetrack this year, and that is a first.” One of our staffers actually laughed so hard that he fell off the editing room sofa after hearing that line…


WHO’S YOUR MONEY ON?–133 event wins between them. Three of the four drivers had won NHRA championships. Five wins in nine Charlotte Z-Max four-wide events. That was the resume’ of the participants who composed one quadrant in a first-round matchup of the Funny Car division, which included Ron Capps, Jack Beckman, Robert Hight, and Gary Densham. Umm…there was like, some serious competition at this event. Seriously.


YOU BETTER HOLD HER STRAIGHT–Ace “Stat Guy” Lewis Bloom shared some epic info he gathered while visiting with Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen, when he informed viewers of a story relayed by McEwen regarding racing that took place in Northern California back in the 1960s. The ‘Goose talked about four-wide races that involved two front engine Top Fuel dragsters…alongside a pair of jet cars! Also, Bloom provided a photo taken by legendary photographer Steve Reyes detailing a race between four Funny Cars. Not that big of a deal on the surface, until Bloom added that the event was taking place on a two-lane track! Downright cool.


TG15 TALKS!–During Amanda Busick’s “1000 Foot Walk” with Tanner Gray, we learned that Gray believes that sometimes drivers have to do all the wrong things to figure out what’s needed to do it right, and that he’s his own biggest critic. His biggest influence? Mom and Dad. Busick asked about his ideal first date, and learned that because Tanner’s such a homebody, it’s all about “…Netflix and chill.” Finally, upon reaching the finish line of the walk, Gray was given the opportunity to show off his possible Vegas victory dance, so he pretended to toss a pair of dice. Staffers named it… “Dice, Dice, Baby.” OK, so we’re not going to win any national headlines competition or anything, but we eat lots of Twinkies and have fun! Oh, almost forgot! Tanner was rockin’ a pair of black Converse Chuck Taylor low-tops. He has now moved to 2nd place in The Recliner Report’s “Epic Shoe-Wearing Dudes Who Drive Fast Cars” Hall of Fame! So, what moves him to the top spot? Hi-tops. Any color. Those kicks are the best!


DAD, I’M HUNGRY!–Moments later, Gray was shown advancing to the Pro Stock semifinals alongside Deric Kramer. Tanner finished nine-thousandths of a second faster than Kramer, which the Lucas Oil Finish Line camera showed to be the width of ½ of a french fry. OK, so that’s not the official NHRA stance, but if Kramer was a ½ fry plus a ketchup packet faster, he woulda won that baby. Tight.


ARE YOU WEARING YOUR SEATBELT?–The dudes that pilot the Top Fuel Harleys have got to be wired differently than most of us. Seriously, who would willingly climb aboard a 1000-horsepower roman candle that burns fuel containing 98% nitromethane, all while wearing a flak jacket for protection from the engine that rests right below their chests? This ain’t your daddy’s motorbike. Also, following the launch from the starting line, the front wheel of these rockets may stay off the ground until halftrack. C’mon. Following Jay Turner’s win over Kevin Boyer, booth commentator Tony Pedregon viewed the super slo-mo, then pointed out to viewers how long Turner’s front wheel stayed airborne, forcing the driver to rely on the back tire and wheelie bar for traction out to the 600-foot mark, saying, “Right now, it’s a tricycle. It’s on that wheelie bar.” All at 220mph…


EPIC QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND #2–During the telecast, our staffers heard a thump, then turned to see one of the gang’s famous couch potatoes picking himself up off the floor. He grabbed the remote, rewound for a bit, then commented, “You gotta hear this!” We all looked on as Jason Line responded to Amanda Busick’s question regarding the red light he incurred that knocked him out of championship contention for the day. Line responded, “It is not the day I was looking for. I wanted to have a better showing for Summit and all the folks there and DENSO and everybody else, but you know, there’s no sense in throwing a TG15, ‘cause it won’t change anything. They won’t let you do it over again, so it is what it is. It’s part of racing. You gotta be able to take the losing with the winning.” The sound that followed from the group was a collective, “Oooof.” Hmmm…two weeks till Houston…must-see TV!


DUDE’S GOT FUEL IN HIS BLOOD…AND HIS BLOODLINES!–Declan Hines is seven years old, an age when most guys are still practicing how to tie their shoes. This kiddo? He’s already lacing up the racing boots so he can sit behind the wheel of his Junior Dragster. Declan, the son of ace Harley rider Andrew Hines, has been “bugging” Pops since the age of five to let him launch off the starting line, a wish that may soon come true. Now driving the car previously guided by Antron Brown’s son Anson to the age 10-12 championship last season. Antron commented, “He (Declan) took to everything like a duck takes to water.” Get ready folks, ‘cause this little guy is already locked in, saying on camera, “I’m looking forward to it a lot. I mean…a lot.”


WE HAVE LIFTOFF…WE HAVE LIFTOFF–Jim Underco, Blower Specialist for Top Fueler Tony Schumacher, was highlighted on the “Encyclospeedia” segment. As a kid, Jim always liked “…tearing things apart and eventually it evolved into engines.” Always trying to feed his need for speed, Underco went mad scientist, attaching a chainsaw motor to a skateboard, creating a four-wheel land cruiser that topped out at 30mph. Crediting his break into the drag racing world to John Medlen, eight years later he’s now hanging with The Sarge. Interestingly, he currently dates Brittany Force, which could lead to some pretty interesting dinner conversations. “So, what’s new over at JFR? Really? Hey, you gotta pencil or anything? Nah, I’m just adding cookies to my grocery list…”


FULL WHEEL DEAL–Rickie House took the Top Fuel Harley Final over Jay Turner, riding on his wheelie bars during a majority of the run. Those guys gotta have ice water in their veins, and his post-race interview comment proved it, along with cementing his “Understatement of the Weekend” title when he stated to Amanda Busick, “It was pretty intense.” Dang.


WALLY NEEDS SOME SOAP AND A WASHRAG–Following Vince Nobile’s Pro Stock victory, his first since Maple Grove in 2016, he proceeded to shake his bottle of Mello Yello in a way that no one within 10 feet was safe from the flying sugar, including his brand-new winner’s trophy. Poor Wally. Dude needed a shower before heading back to his new home. Sticky.


HEY, HOLD MY DRINK FOR A MINUTE–Forget your usual Kalitta Racing post-win, starting line moshpit that takes place with each team victory. This was a four-wide super mosh on the part of Connie’s crew following J.R. Todd’s victory in the Funny Car category. It was brutal. Who was on the bottom? Just look for the guy with asphalt on his eyebrows…and his teeth, and in his ears…this pile was epic! After the win, Jon Oberhofer commented to John Kernan, “J.R., pardon my French…he’s a bad…you-know-what.” Yep, Todd is baad…and that’s good.


THE MOSH IS SPREADING–The Steve Torrence crew took a page from the Team Kalitta playbook following the Texan’s Top Fuel victory in the final, as they demonstrated a pretty cool mini-mosh (Compared to the number of crew members in Kalitta’s bunch) at the starting line. Our staffers gave ‘em a thumbs-up for enthusiasm and willingness to pile on with no regard for clothes or hair. Man, it’s gonna be an interesting summer…In his post-race talk with Amanda Busick, Torrence, pointing his Wally towards his Capco ride, commented, “This sucker-bucker right here gave us all kinds of heck during qualifying.” Sucker-bucker. Nice. Even Wally hadn’t heard that phrase before.


So, tour stop #4 is in the books. Next up? H-town. Houston. The Springnationals. A brand-new racing surface. Ten feet above sea level. Lots of air. Lots of horsepower. So, as Tony Pedregon commented, “Look out.” Till then, keep reclining!





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