Motorsports Recap And Behind The Scenes Access

It’s Grape To Race In California Wine Country–Time For The Recliner Report!


31st NHRA Toyota Sonoma Nationals, Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, California


Anyone out there a wine conesessu…conessuuer…con…aw, the heck with it. Anyone out there like wine? OK, so then you might want to keep an eye out, in, maybe ten years or so, for any wines from the Northern California region. Why, you ask? Well, because it’s extremely possible that the wines from that particular area of the country might have experienced a subtle, yet delicate difference in the various notes that compose the wide range of tastes and palate-pleasing qualities…wait a minute. I gotta cut out this ridiculous line of writing. Just gotta say it my way: Look, the grapes from Sonoma will probably have had the %@*&%@!%$ scared out of ’em because of the 10,000 horsepower monsters that roared right down the road from ’em in 2018 at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series that was covered by Fox Sports! How’s that for shooting straight? Those little dudes are still probably shaking on their vines after all the hysterics that took place. All you wine-tasting dudes that sniff, swirl, and sip some special solution? You’ve been warned!

RECLINER REPORT RIDDLE #1–John Force made his 750th career race start this weekend. How many of those events has he won, and what’s his winning percentage? The answer? We’ll tell you after the staff goobs learn more about figuring percentages. That means you may get the answer in about three weeks….Nah, we’ll figure it out and tell you in a bit, after counting on all fingers and toes…

IF WE COULD HAVE READ HER MIND…–Leah Pritchett’s loss to Bill Litton in first-round Top Fuel action due to a red light at the starting line hit the young gun hard, but you gotta give her props. She wore it big-time in her interview with Amanda Busick, saying, “This team. They don’t deserve that.” Tell you what. Find another sport where athletes are questioned immediately following an incredibly disappointing loss, then listen as the network censor works overtime bleeping and blooping their comments too blue for most adults to hear. Pritchett, though obviously emotional, took the question and answered respectfully after thanking her sponsor, though ten bucks says she wanted to let it loose. But, that patience proves…the girl is pro!

LOOK OUT BELOW!–So, what are the most dangerous words that a racer can utter? You might be thinking, “Dudes, I’m hearing a funny sound from the motor” Nope. Perhaps, “Man, I’m fighting it all the way down the track!” Nah, though that would be pretty dang scary, especially at 300-plus miles per hour. Or finally, “Crud. I shouldn’t have eaten that sixth taco. I’m up next, but now I need a nap.” Wow…but that’s not it either. For some folks, the words from a fellow competitor that might cause just a bit of nervousness are…“I feel really good. It’s like I’m at home in that car again. It’s an exciting day.” Oof. And guess who’s feelin’ it? Del Worsham. Dude, when Del’s on…look out. What’s got him so fired up? A complete parts overhaul from various sources, all placed in the same car in which he won the 2015 Funny Car championship, and it showed after Worsham disposed of defending champ Courtney Force in Round One action. Yep, when Del’s feeling good…just sayin’…

WHO NEEDS NICE, PLUSH HOTELS?–You’re gonna have to understand that from now on, if Funny Car pilot Jim Campbell’s crew wants to sleep on air mattresses at the track on Friday and Saturday nights, there’s a good reason. It just so happened that Campbell’s fun bunch was in a gnarly accident this weekend, as their vehicle was t-boned by another car…on the way to the track! No worries. The guys were all cool, and still got to work in time to make sure that their bossman was in line for Round One action. You know…staying overnight at the track could turn out OK…the guys could make lemonade out of lemons here. See, by hanging out at the track at nighttime, they could have have weinie roasts, (Blowtorches everywhere! They’re mechanics! They’ve got an awesome set of tools!) Same goes with s’mores…man, it could be a party! Other crews are gonna want to come hang with ’em. Monopoly tournaments, playing dominoes, washers…this could be a pretty sweet deal!

CONGRATS TO MATT!–The wife of Funny Car whiz kid Matt Hagan had the couple’s fourth child this past week. Cool. Glad that mom Rachel and baby are all good. Ya know…just one more and Hagan’s got himself either a basketball team or possibly, in a few years, the Hagan Family Pit Crew…but here’s guessing that mom has just a little bit to say about that, yeah?

I’M GONNA STOP HOW FAST?–Bruno Massel’s report on parachute deployment was eye-opening to say the least, and for “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and legend Joe Amato, the force generated by the stopping power of the chutes was actually eye-popping. Massel explained that even though the launch of a nitro car generates five G’s of force, the same run can also end with a negative seven G’s, and in the case of Garlits and Amato, that extreme slowdown meant detached retinas. Seriously? Yup, and though stopping can be horrific on the body, not stopping due to the chute failure can be, at the very least, extremely frightening, and in some cases, incredibly dangerous or life-threatening. Needless to say, the sand traps at the very end of all NHRA tracks can be a lifesaver.

PRETTY PLEASE?–A couple of the staffers were acting really weird during the broadcast. So, the supply of Twinkies, Cheetos, and bean dip was checked and rechecked. Yup, the table was loaded. Finally, one of the guys just asked about their glum looks. Turns out, they were bummed because of, “…the lack of aerial shots.” Translation: no drones. Though they had enough bean dip on their plates to pave a driveway, the cats were ticked because they love watching those little hovering machines at work. Finally, about halfway through the show, the magical words they had been waiting to see appeared on screen. Immediate happiness occurred, and bean dip magically disappeared in minutes. It just doesn’t seem possible to cram that much of the stuff into a single human body, but on this day, the challenge was met. Just flippin’ scary…

KINDERGARTEN KAR KINGS AND QUEENS--Junior dragster racers can hit the circuit at age five. Cinco. That’s only one more than four years of age. That’s the same as a kid in kindergarten. Dudes, though you’ve never actually met them, can you imagine some of the Recliner staffers cranking it up at five? Most of these knuckleheads hadn’t stopped eating glue till at least age seven, and one in particular…well, let’s just say he had a recent incident in which he couldn’t open his mouth for about three hours. Way past his normal feeding time. Let that visual (And the reason for it) sink in for a moment….needless to say, you gotta admire these little guys and girls who can slam track while still tiny tots.

I DON’T DANCE, BUT NOW I WISH I DID!–We know that Amanda Busick’s “Walk 1000 Feet” segment has produced some crazy-cool moments. Heck, that’s why we gave away our first-ever “Buseys” in last week’s edition of this mag. Didn’t read it? All good. Just put that mouse in reverse (After finishing today’s article) and give it a look. Epic stuff. BUT…the staffers went nutsypalooza after Busick’s piece with Top Fuel pilot Richie Crampton. Yep, he told some great tales of the early years, and of the tool set he recently purchased that his son will one day enjoy, but the final moments of the segment have already been deemed an instant classic by everyone at the Recliner Report. It’s one-word simple: MOSH! Oh yeah. This was the Godzilla of all moshes by the Kalitta crew, which followed Busick’s question to Crampton, “What would your victory dance be?” Innocent enough, yeah? Dudes, in mere moments, it was ON at the finish line, as Richie mentioned that though he doesn’t personally shake it, his boys can deliver. From the moment the words, “mosh pit” were leaving his mouth, he was already backing up as the crew members began their quest to seemingly make the Aussie star a permanent part of the pavement. This was hard-core, and Crampton had to be thinking…well, mainly just how he was going to survive! The last crew member to hit the pile leaped up at least three feet off the ground before landing on top. Staffers actually got off the couch to applaud. One even cried tears of joy. BIG props to Amanda for braving the onslaught…and for having fast-moving feet to get far, far away!

RECLINER RIDDLE ANSWER #1–John Force has 750 career race starts, and has also walked away with a Wally on 149 occasions. An unbelievable winning percentage, but unfortunately, we can’t give you the exact number. The staff math guys tried using a pencil, then a calculator to find the answer, but both kept slipping out of their hands due to slippery Cheeto residue. One guy has orangey-yellow toes now. Yes, you are correct. He actually tried to figure it by counting…man, it’s just too embarrassing to even talk about…

BABY DOLLS? NOT ON MY LIST!–The “My Journey” segment featured Angelle Sampey, the winningest female in NHRA history with three Pro Bike championship titles. After begging her parents for a motorcycle, the baby dolls she received from them just didn’t cut it for this Louisiana girl, and by age six, the bike she desired appeared under her Christmas tree. The first female to attend Frank Hawley’s racing school, Angelle stated feeling “…eight feet tall and a fire-breathing dragon” when strapping on her rider’s helmet. Upon her retirement in 2010, she mentioned feeling that she was going to be nothing with no value, but that emotion soon changed in a huge way, when in 2011, she became a mom to daughter Ava. After trying unsuccessfully to have a second child, she returned to the circuit in 2014, and in 2016, accomplished a major personal goal with a win. Fans might remember her mentioning in her top end interview that day that she had finally won “…the real one”. (Wally) Interestingly, the week before the victory, Angelle, along with other attendees at the Coca-Cola Champions banquet, had received a Wally made of chocolate, which she promptly gave to Ava. (Who loved it…especially after biting off the head first!) Upon her victory in 2016, an emotional Sampey spoke directly to her daughter on camera while holding the official Wally, knowing that viewers would not understand the meaning of her “real one” statement, but that her daughter would. A true credit to the sport and the ultimate competitor, Sampey is always a feared draw on any Elimination Sunday.

CHEETO RACE OF THE WEEK–Goes to Jeg Coughlin, Jr. in his semi-final win over Greg Anderson. With a margin of victory a tiny 18 ten-thousandths of a second, (Seven inches) staffers figured that the number of Cheetos required to measure the distance would depend on where the snacks could be found in the bowl on the table. If the bowl had just been freshly filled, three, possibly four would work, while midway through the supply (When grubby little hands start to break them when grabbing to fill a plate) would require as many as five or six. If forced to used those found at the bottom of the bowl, they could be looking at 15-16. Hey, this is highly technical measuring. Ya gotta have skills to work in this joint!

CAN WE COME BACK HERE EVERY WEEK? LE Tonglet will probably make an appeal to the NHRA to hold next year’s entire season at Sonoma, as he picked up his 3rd consecutive title at the California track. Sweet. Also, starting line dances by ecstatic crew members are starting to take hold, as an overhead shot picked up one member bringing an epic version of The Floss. Even LE got in on the Dance Fever Party, bringing his own Floss (Shown in slow motion by Fox) at the top end! Maybe next year we could have some group choreographed numbers…possibly with costumes!

WIRED AND FIRED UP!--Jeg Coughlin tied Tanner Gray for Pro Stock class wins this season after taking his third Wally of the season with a 27-inch victory over Deric Kramer. Being this late in the broadcast, nothing but Cheeto remnant pieces were left, so no measurements of Jeg’s victory could be made. See, that’s good news. Now, no one can say it was “crumby”…get it? Crummy? “Crumby”? Also, Coughlin was on his fourth Coke of the day, as he reports drinking one before each round to help him “stay up on the wheel” and help his reaction time. Glad he doesn’t ever need to make a fifth run, otherwise he might be standing up on the wheel…OK, on to Funny Car!

THE WILD AND THE MILD–Robert Hight’s 43rd Funny Car title came at the expense of Ron Capps, placing him squarely in a tie with legend Tony Pedregon, and it’s a safe bet that with a long driving career ahead of him, look for the Californian to break the tie before too much time goes by. Hight, always an animated interview in victory, never fails to first acknowledge tuner Jimmy Prock, who is as understated, calm, and cool as Robert is excited. A great winning combo.

WALLY GETS A TWIN–Blake Alexander’s victory was the second in his young career, and the newcomer proved he’s not going to back down from any Top Fuel fight, even when it comes to the vaunted Tony Schumacher. Though “The Sarge” left first, Alexander’s patience gave him the win after Tony smoked the tires mid-track, and moments later, Blake’s collection of Wallys doubled.

Alright, so we’re two steps through The Western Swing, and there’s one last 789-mile step before they turn out the lights on this three-week consecutive race run! Seattle, get your gear on, ’cause the dance party is headed your way! Till then, keep reclining!
























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