Motorsports Recap And Behind The Scenes Access

Speedless? Not In Seattle–It’s The Recliner Report!


Stop #16–The Catspot NHRA Northwest Nationals, Pacific Raceways, Seattle, Washington


The Western Swing? Man, it swang on Sunday, and after three weeks on the road, we’ve got some drivers, crew members, team owners, broadcasters, and Safety Safari members that are just about swung out! And even though 21 straight days was a long time for the NHRA folks to be hittin’ the highways, after watching yesterday’s “Battle in Seattle”, it was obvious that no one was even thinking about backing off the throttle! Yep, you can be assured that this edition of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series on Fox Sports was loaded with horsepower and drama, including a very expensive protest from a Pro Stock challenger, a really cool top end mini-mosh, and Wallys giving each other head butts…with a little help from their owners. Let’s roll!


A YEAR WITHOUT WALLY–Antron Brown entered the Seattle city limits lugging a 23-race winless streak. 23. That’s more than 22, and way more than anyone would’ve ever dreamed for the Top Fuel pilot. Still, after taking home Wallys from 2016 and 2017 from this very track, AB was hoping to end that chapter.

NO PLAYDATES IN THE NEAR FUTURE–The Pro Stock category had more drama during the weekend than an “As The World Turns” marathon, after Chris McGaha filed a protest against fellow competitors Erica Enders and Jeg Coughlin regarding “…the legality of their powerplants.” After a big-time inspection of both cars, the NHRA gave their official okey-dokey to the pair, and McGaha’s wallet was $2,000 lighter, as each protest cost him a cool $1,000 per person. Here’s betting the three won’t be sharing recipes anytime soon…just sayin’…

TELL US HOW YOU REALLY FEEL–The “Behind The Visor” segment featured a visit with the just-mentioned Erica Enders, and needless to say, Erica was shy and reserved when she discussed the issue of the McGaha protest…said no one ever. According to Erica, “A.J. Foyt once told me, ‘If you have friends in drag racing…you suck.'” Enders added, “He’s (McGaha) never liked me, and I don’t care.” Anyone out there need additional explanation? Pretty dang clear to us…

JUST BE QUIET AND EAT YOUR CHEETOS–Tony Pedregon’s description of a Top Fueler included the info that each of the machines contains a 17-gallon tank of nitro, and during a single run, burns 1.3 gallons of fuel per second. Immediately, staffers ran for their slide rules and calculators when one of the goobs, mouth covered in Cheeto residue, posed the question, “OK, so like, it takes 10 minutes to get to the Quik-E-Mart to buy a gallon of bean dip when we run out. How much would that cost us if our car used the same amount of gas as a nitro rod?” It took awhile, and lots of counting on fingers and toes, but they figured out that a convenience store run takes 10 minutes round trip. Subtracting 3 minutes to count out the change from their pockets after separating it from the lint and gum wrappers inside the pockets of their jeans, they figured the trip to be seven minutes. So, seven minutes at 60 seconds equaled 420 seconds. Next, they multiplied the 420 seconds by 1.3 gallons per second and learned that a seven-minute run would total 546 gallons. At an average of $2.50 per gallon for gas, that would mean that buying even one measly gallon of bean dip would cost $1,365 bucks. One of the goobs then added, “Dude, at that rate, we’d better buy two gallons of dip…at least.” How they got out of primary school, no one will ever know…

DUDE, I GOTTA HAVE ONE!–Though the fancy name is “aerial shots”, the truth is, they’re…DRONES! Yep, Fox is using these amazing flying machines to create some truly epic perspectives for the broadcasts, and Jamie Howe went behind the scenes to show viewers how they’re utilized. A two-man operation, Jamie introduced us to Eric, who controls the drone, and Ryan, who operates the camera. Capable of shooting up to 4K broadcast quality, (That creates, like amazingly sweet shots!) the little critter can bounce along at 60 miles per hour for 20 minutes. Staffers were shedding tears of joy after this segment. One of ’em is even considering giving up his Twinkie money for a week to buy one. Now, a quick check on Amazon showed the cost of a drone to range from $38 to several hundred bucks, so even if he bought the cheapest version, that’s $38 worth of Twinkies he’d be willing to give up…and that’s one week’s supply. Can you say addicted?

YOU MAD, BRO?–Jamie Howe visited Jeg Coughlin, the other Pro Stocker involved in the McGaha protest, regarding his perspectives on the matter, which staffers nicknamed, “As The Motor Turns”, (Hey, no one said they’re creative…) and Jeggy took a slightly different approach than Erica Enders, saying the situation didn’t have much of an effect on his weekend, and though the extra work it took by his crew to tear the engine down slightly changed the “…serene” environment that normally surrounds his pit area, Coughlin was as calm as ever. One cool cat.

HE SAID IT, HE MEANT IT–Following all the discussion, back and forth, comments, thoughts, accusations, snips, and snaps regarding McGaha’s decision to protest, his first-round Pro Stock battle versus Vincent Nobile ended prematurely as McGaha turned on the red light at the starting line. However, you gotta give Chris props, as he looked Amanda Busick straight in the eye at the top end interview, saying he 1)Stood by his decision, 2)Missed the tree, and 3)Would try again next week. Some folks would’ve run for the exit and blamed it on their horoscope or the position of the moon, but McGaha walked it and talked it. Epic.

I DANCE TO THE SMELL OF NITRO–Amanda Busick’s “Walk 100 Feet” featured Scott Palmer, (Along with his dogs Maverick and Maci) and we learned that after beginning his love of all things motorsports on dirt bikes, he dreamed he was Even Knievel, owns a Top Fuel hydro, (A boat named “Liquid Voodoo” that ain’t exactly a canoe, folks…this little jewel will jam…) and though he doesn’t claim to bring his version of “The Floss” following an event win, his victory dance consisted of the get-down that takes place when warming up his Top Fueler in his pit area, and fans were shown to be joining in as the nitro burned and the motor fired away. Also, Maci, (The smaller of his two dogs) was putting a beat-down on Maverick at the finish line. Maverick, even though twice her size, didn’t flinch…

SOME HAVE IT…HE’S GOT IT–Jack Beckman joined Dave Reiff and Tony Pedregon in the broadcast booth, and though obviously enjoying his time behind the mike, his appearance was due to first-round exit from Funny Car competition. Still, “Fast Jack” immediately brought his humor to the party. When asked by Reiff what went wrong to cause the loss, Beckman replied, (With a smile) “We got beat.” Mic drop! Thank you, and remember to tip your servers! I’ll be here all week! A natural on TV, Jack has previously expressed an interest in public speaking, and his insights and perspectives were an epic addition to the already-strong Reiff/Pedregon tandem.

SURE, YOU’RE FAST, BUT…–Jamie Howe reported that the Seattle area was Ground Zero for those with a need for speed on this weekend, as the Blue Angels precision flying team was also performing at an area air show, and though the U.S. Navy dudes can bring it in the friendly skies, the NHRA’s Top Fuelers have them smoked in regards to accelerating from a standing start. Howe stated that the runway area on a Nimitz-class carrier is around 300 feet in length, and the F-18s flown by the Angels must be catapulted for takeoff, reaching a speed of 170 miles per hour in just over two seconds before exiting the launch area. However, a recent run in Sonoma by Top Fuel’s Clay Millican resulted in him hitting the 300-foot mark on the track at 202 mph…with no catapult. Talk about pinning your ears back…dude…

IS THAT REALLY NECESSARY?–On his “NHRA 101” segment, Bruno Massel explained the need for the wings that sit in front and on top of a Top Fuel ride, with the sole purpose of them to provide downforce for the car, which then keeps it glued to the racing surface. Without their help, the land rockets wants to “bow up” in the middle, and when they’re adjusted properly, the ride stays on the track. Massel then stated that if the top wing were removed, “…things would get ugly pretty quick”, and at the 150-200 foot mark, the car would crash or smoke the tires. The lesson? Uhhh…get a wrench. Use the wrench. Make sure them ‘ol wings are workin’…

THE CRUZER SPEAKS–On Jamie Howe’s “My Journey” segment featuring Cruz Pedregon, we learned that Cruz grew up on a trucklot, complete with forklifts, tractors, bulldozers, etc. After winning a race at a local track in a diesel truck, his dad recognized Pedregon’s talent. Later, though grief-stricken following the death of his father, Cruz told his brothers that he had decided to become a racer, adding, “…and they must have thought I was nuts.” In 1992, his efforts resulted in a Funny Car Championship, yet even then, he felt he wasn’t in control, believing that he was just a driver, but wanting to be the decision-maker, such as hiring his choice of a crew chief and being more in control of his own future. His second Championship, which took place in 2008, meant a great deal to him because of the team he had assembled after realizing that though he wanted to, he couldn’t physically handle every detail of such a huge operation. Currently, he views a racing team as being similar to a miniature NFL squad, as it’s essential to put together multiple personalities, each with a talent required to make the group successful. Today, Pedregon still believes he’s representing his dad as well as himself, and he views that in a serious manner, realizing that at the track, he can be described as “intense.” Feeling that the perceived Cruz is nothing like the real person, he takes pride in representing his Hispanic culture and helping others find inspiration through his efforts and success, and to this day, he feels a special bond with his deceased father, believing that his spirit is always present. A cool piece about a man with a huge amount of pride regarding his past, present, and future.

Tanner Gray NHRA image

LISTEN…CAN YOU STAY HOME?–Following a 33-second burndown at the starting line, Tanner Gray won his fourth event of the season after a red light by Deric Kramer. To date, Gray has nine wins in 40 events, a pretty darn good average for any racer, much less a 19-year-old with a long career still to come. However, don’t be surprised if Tanner asks his folks to stay at home for the rest of the season. Nah, he loves ’em a ton, but on both occasions when they have been unable to attend, Gray has won the event. OK, maybe dad could put on a fake mustache and they could sit in the stands. One of the staffers says he ought to wear a mullet wig…geez…you can’t take these guys anywhere….

WHAT’S YOUR RECIPE?–Ron Capps victory was his 60th event title, 59 of which have come while competing in the Funny Car category, with his 1995 Top Fuel win (His first-ever event win) being the only exception. Comparing crew chief Rohn Tobler to a chef using the finest ingredients, Capps stated serving “…an expensive meal” on the day’s “race plate”, and finished off the feast by giving his Wally a huge guzzle of Mello Yello.

HE MOSHED…KINDA–Following wins at Seattle in 2016 and 2017, Antron Brown completed the championship trifecta by taking a four-1000th-of-a-second victory over Leah Pritchett, gaining his 50th win in the Top Fuel category. At the top end, AB gave viewers (And ecstatic staffers) a single-person, sorta-mini-mosh, barely bringing the car to a stop before flying out of the cockpit before hitting and rolling on the pavement in pure joy. Following a hug from Ron Capps, the pair head-butted their Wallys and posed for the cameras. No Wallys were injured in the filming, though an aspirin might have been needed for one or both before their flights home…

Well, we’ve come to the end of the Western Swing, and like the old classic country hit says, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.” Yeah, but only for little bit, ’cause in two weeks, the nitro circus heads to “The Zoo”! Yep, Brainerd is the next stop, and ten bucks says those folks are already getting prepared! Till then, keep reclining!







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