THE RECLINER REPORT!
Stop #13–NHRA New England Nationals, New England Dragway, Epping, New Hampshire.
So, you know why this race is named the New England Nationals?
Easy! Just looking at the Fox Sports 1 broadcast of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Racing Series, ALL of New England showed up! Every last one of ’em! Dang, those folks were practically hanging from the trees to catch a view of the nitro insanity taking place at Epping, and from the camera shots overlooking the pit area, they might have been able to squeeze in another, maybe…one or two more people…maybe! Those folks from the northeast brought it big-time this weekend. Tell you what. Let’s go back next week! Just tell all the racers, crews, track employees, and vendors to head on back next Thursday. No biggie! Those folks were amazing!
Anyway, it was an epic weekend for everyone, as well as the Recliner staffers, who, just by accident, created a brand-new snack that caused a huge stir. One of the couch potatoes got off the sofa (Which, by itself, was a HUGE deal) to load up at the grub table. He filled up, and whipped out the Sriracha sauce to put on his guacamole, but accidentally spilled some of it into his bean dip. Dudes, I’m telling you, it was like a WWE main event at that table after he clued everyone in to what he had done. Those goobs were putting it on everything. One guy even dunked some on a Twinkie and claimed to like it, but this is the same guy that, as a kid, used to fill his mouth full of Pop Rocks, take a sip of soda, then, while the foam was pouring out of his mouth, chase his sister around the house screaming, “Mad dog! Mad dog!” Yeah, you get the picture…
Back to New England, and by the way, welcome to the Recliner Report! This week’s event was truly epic, where we saw a display of sportsmanship like you hardly ever see in a world of “Me, me…it’s all about me!”, learned that a racer can win by zero inches, and found out that some formerly happy cows are gonna be ecstatic this week. Let’s get to rollin’!
HUH? WHU…? HOW MUCH?–Brittany Force’s win over Mike Salinas in Round One of Top Fuel resulted in a holeshot victory for the Force daughter, and after grabbing a slide rule, yardstick, protractor, and any other device to measure distance, it was determined that her margin of victory was one ten-thousandth of a second. Translate that number into distance and you got zero inches. Zip. Nada. None. Even the slo-mo camera could be heard mumbling, “Hey, you guys gotta figure this one out. I got nuthin’.”
THAT COULD BE A SONG TITLE!–Dave Rieff gets the award for “Most Epic Description Of A Drag Race…Ever” for his thoughts following Richie Crampton’s win over Scott Palmer in first round Top Fuel action, after the pair weebled and wobbled a path down the track before crossing the finish line, causing Dave to say, “A whole lotta ugly goin’ on there.” Don’t fear the Rieffer. The dude knows how to paint pictures with words.
I WANNA BE LIKE YOU!–Amanda Busick used up some frequent flyer miles this week, as she took her “Walk 1000 Feet” to Dearborn, Michigan, a distance of 757 miles from Epping, to interview Bob Tasca III at the Henry Ford Museum. Introduced to racing at the age of around 10 or 11, he went to Englishtown, New Jersey for his first national event, where he also met Bob Glidden, a legend who became Tasca’s childhood hero. We also learned that Bob’s dad is his biggest fan, and that he’s the father to four boys, including son Austin, who at eight years old, innocently asked, “Dad, when do I get to drive your car?” Bob’s thought at that moment? “Boy, this is going way too fast for me.” Hey, be on the lookout for Austin Tasca appearing at your local NHRA event someday soon. Bob is also a licensed pilot, and winning his first Wally at the 2009 Gatornationals was his most memorable and emotional, as he was able to share the victory with his grandfather. For a possible victory dance, Tasca claimed to shake and bake only “…behind the wheel of a Mustang”, and we’re not talking the horse variety. Following Bob out to a parking lot, Busick watched in amazement as Tasca pulled an ultra-sweet burnout with multiple 360s in a vacant parking lot, sending up enough smoke to set off alarms in three counties. Killer. Don’t try this in your neighborhood. You might end up meeting your local buddies at the pokey after Ms. Nusshagel calls the cops on you. No asphalt was harmed in the event.
SORRY ABOUT YOUR TRASH CANS–“Driving on ice.” That was broadcaster Tony Pedregon’s comment following the first round match between Robert Hight and Bob Tasca, in which both demonstrated their stellar driving skills while corraling their 10,000 horsepower loose cannons while slipping and sliding down the Epping track. Don’t know about you, but we’ve seen You Tube videos of folks going “Smash ‘Em Up Derby” on the neighbor’s trashcans after losing control while backing down an icy driveway at about, oh, five flaming miles per hour. These guys are driving 250-plus mph. They don’t just have talent. These guys are wicked good.
SHALL WE DANCE?–Video from the Robert Hight pit area showed six of his crew members descending upon Hight’s ride following the victory as they prepared for Round Two action. Watching these guys at work is pure nitro ballet, as each member has multiple specific tasks to complete in the 40-minute turnaround, all working together with 1) a very small workspace, 2) engine parts hot enough to grill a steak on, 3) tools going in every possible direction, and 4) weather that is by no means cool and comfortable. Heck, we’ve got staffers that trip over each other while reaching across the table to grab a napkin. (By the way, the napkins aren’t usually for themselves. They’re wiping guacamole off the face of the staff miniature schnauzer, who loves raceday because she can lick the leftovers from their plates. She looks like a miniature martian if not cleaned up.) Again, Dave Rieff tagged their efforts in the most Rieffian way possible, calling the turnaround, “Choreographed Chaos.” Nice.
BUT, I WANTED TO SAY #%&*%@#!!!–Tanner Gray’s day ended following a first-round loss to Kenny Delco, and this one was over early after Delco took the lead and never checked his rearview mirrors. Interestingly, Gray’s car began smoking after crossing the finish line, revealing a flat front right-side tire that may or may not have impacted his run. One of staff goobers earned a shower of Cheetos after mumbling, “Yeah, where’s a Pep Boys when you need one?” Needless to say, Gray wasn’t exactly thrilled while talking with Amanda Busick about the matter, but give the guy credit. Try talking with athletes from other sports immediately following a major disappointment or loss. Needless to say, the network censors are sometimes busy hitting the “Delete” button after those moments. A tough pill to swallow, but the 19-year-old manned up and went pro. Cool.
YOU JUST CAN’T GET ANY COOLER–Today, the Recliner Report staff is handing out the first-ever “Dude, You Are The Ultimate Sportsman, Good Guy, And Honorable Person” award (If we can fit all that on the trophy) to Pro Stock pilot John Gaydosh. Facing Vincent Nobile in Round One action, Gaydosh waited while Nobile’s crew frantically repaired a loose parachute at the starting line. Though Gaydosh had every right to prestage, forcing Nobile to do the same in seven to eight seconds, he chose to wait and give Vince’s guys the opportunity to correct the malfunction. Finally, Gaydosh did so, but only after being directed by the NHRA to prestage. Moments later, Nobile’s chute was readied, and the race continued. Following the race, which was won by Nobile, the pair was seen shaking hands at the top end. Say what you want, but count the number of sports where opponents treat each other with such respect. You won’t need the fingers on one hand, or even half the fingers. Man, there just aren’t enough kind words to describe the action of Gaydosh, so we won’t even try. But, John demonstrated the coolest side of sportsmanship this bunch has seen in a long time. ‘Nuff said.
ANYBODY GOT A VHS PLAYER?–John Force’s attempt to capture his 1,300th round win was halted in Round Two by Shawn Langdon, who according to reporter Bruno Massel, stated that he had raced Force “…hundreds of times on the NHRA video game and each time we burned out or ran out of fuel.” However, this was Langdon’s first-ever real-life run against the 16-time champion, and Shawn can now shelve the game, as he defeated Force after some starting line moxie by waiting out Force and refusing to prestage first, forcing John to be the initial competitor in the box, a strategy other drivers haven’t always been willing to employ.
SUN’S OUT, GUNS OUT--Matt Hagan was a visible guy at the top end during the broadcast. Following his semifinal round win, Matt found himself giving a “Hulka Hug” to Tim Wilkerson, who leapt into Hagan’s arm (Nope, not both of ’em…just one, and Matt held him up easily) following Wilkerson’s own Funny Car semifinal victory. Dudes, Hagan held Wilkerson with one arm. Uno. But then, his guns are used during the week to “encourage” the cows on his Virginia farm to follow his directions. Cows may not always look so smart, but they’re pretty sharp…and they don’t want to be burgers before their time, so we’re betting they pretty much do as Matt says. Hey, if that guy tells any of the Recliner staff to head off to another pasture…we gone!
BUT, THIS BROWN’S NOT GREEN–Antron Brown found himself face-to-face with “The Hulkster” following his semifinal round win to advance to the championship against Steve Torrence. While visiting with Amanda Busick, AB was dang near mugged by an anonymous helmeted giant, which turned out to be Matt Hagan, who was “Woo-hooing!” his own semifinal victory. Brown never broke character, even posing in true superhero form while asking the camera, “Was that the…HULK?” Antron is, well…Antron. Dude is cool personified.
RED LIGHT, GOLD WALLY–Chris McGaha won his 1st Epping Wally after one foot of driving in the Pro Stock final. Yep, 12 inches. See, his opponent Erica Enders red lit at the starting line, allowing McGaha to do the trophy dance at the top end for the seventh time in his career.
HULKA, HULKA, BURNIN’ HUG–Matt Hagan picked up his third Wally of the season with his final-round win over Tim Wilkerson, the man who sold him his first car and also signed off on his FC license. The victory was the 29th of Hagan’s career, placing him one win behind the legendary Kenny Bernstein.
NO MORE HOOFIN’ AROUND–Having now made fun of cows, we also have to say that Hagan’s herd is hoofing pretty right now. See, following his victory at Norwalk, we reported that the furry bunch should have taken advantage of Matt’s good mood after returned from the road by asking for additional hay, etc., just some little perks to make life on the range even better. At this point, Hagan has two new Wallys in consecutive races, so maybe the bovines should take it to another level. How about a big screen in the barn? They could watch Farm TV…but they definitely don’t want the cable package with the Food Network. That could get ugly.
WE HAVE A MOSH!–Stevie Blaze Torrence took his 5th Top Fuel title of the season with his victory over Antron Brown, (His 13th in the last 37 tour events) and as excited as the Texan undoubtedly felt, his crew took the win to a new level with big-time mosh at the starting line. When you’ve got guys rolling on a 130-degree track, (And loving it!) you’ve got yourself a dedicated group, and Torrence has just such a crew. When asked by Amanda Busick if he missed being a part of the goings-on at the starting line, he made dang sure that viewers knew he wanted no part, saying, “Absolutely not. There’s some big ‘ol tough boys right there, and I try and stay away from ’em.” Stevie is wise…very, very wise.
Well, we’ve got ourselves a week off before the Fun Bunch heads out for the one-and-only Western Swing! Yep, Denver, Sonoma, and Seattle…you’re up next, so get your racin’ shoes ready! Till then, keep reclining!