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Rich – Thanks Larry. I’m now the "Director of Sales" with Dacon Industries. I kept a very low profile on my old job because I didn’t have much responsibility in spite of what I did outside that 8 to 5 job and I was somewhat embarrassed by it. This new job is the opposite. It can be a little chaotic and I thrive on that plus I’m doing some some traveling as well including a trip to your neck of the woods in Ohio.

Rich – I could never quit because of the economy and the last decade was so bad that I had read an article which said if you were over fifty you had a very small chance of ever finding a new job. I wondered what the hell? My life just passed me by. So I just accepted the situation and was content that I had a job with enough time off to go racing. I was then recruited for this position because of my marketing success in drag racing. Without racing I wouldn’t have this job. Imagine telling your boss of 23 years that had little faith in your abilities that you were just recruited for a new job and you fly out on a private jet in two weeks to tour the corporation’s manufaturing facilities all over the country? It’s something we all dream about but it rarely ever happens. But that’s exactly what happened to me.

Rich – I race a blown alcohol dragster. They are like a Top Alcohol Dragster but more suited for what they used to race in the Pro Comp class before Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car were spilt off into there own individual classes. If Pro Comp was around today in NHRA we would race that class. Since it’s not, myself and a few other racers brought the class back independent of NHRA. We call it the Blown Alcohol Thunder Series. The cars go roughly 200 MPH in six seconds and there only a few rules. It’s actually affordable if you have your infrastructure meaning the complete car and transporter already in place.

Rich – We are close but we have had a lot minor set backs including our truck which was recently rear ended. As minor as the set backs are, each one takes a week to solve after it’s discovered. It’s the nature of the beast since we switched blocks from our original Rodeck which changed everything. We didn’t plan this but it was revealed in December by our engine builder Keith McCurdy that our engine block was on it’s last leg so we went from an aluminum block to a stronger cast iron block which lead to a domino effect of small problems associated from going from one engine to another.

Rich – Yes. We have a new crew this year with only one guy, Otis Pettit, making a solid commitment so I’m going with him as our main guy. He has taken the bull buy the horns to do most the work since Keith finished the engine and I’m very impressed with his rock solid commitment. We also have Stan Wise who has a lot racing experience as well as a couple of other guys that are willing to help part time. So basically, it’s a new team this year. It will require patience from everyone but we’ll get there.

Rich – We are hoping for the season opener at Woodburn Dragstrip in a couple of weeks. If not, we will hit the the Rose Festival race which is only a couple of weeks later. It’s a little more laid back so it will be less stressful then going out in May. After the Rose Festival race we will have an event every weekend in June and into July.

Capitol Auto Group Racing Team member Brent Sanford has decided to step down as Car Chief in order to take care of his mother who has sadly undergone treatment for a recent illness. As a result, Capitol Racing welcomes Otis Pettit as the new car chief replacing Brent Sanford. Other team members will be announced soon.

Otis Pettit, who resides in Dallas, has already shown great skills and has a firm mechanical background, and has also displayed the grit and the drive needed to be successful in professional drag racing. Brent will help out locally and assist Otis when he can but will be unable to travel out of state. We wish Brent and his mother Jan well and hope for a good outcome.

It’s been an up in the air off season to say the least for our race team. And while there are still some uncertainty out there, everything is now more in focus then it was just a month ago. We are blessed to have Capitol Auto Group back as our primary sponsor for the 18th season along with most of our valued marketing partners. This season we will have a new engine built by Keith McCurdy of Competition Performance and Repair. This engine project actually began last year and now it’s full speed ahead with the best parts money can buy. We also had Russ Meek’s coat our headers which will really shine up those headers.

Speaking of new, we have a new team member, Otis Pettit. I’m very excited that we grabbed on to Otis at the end of last year as he’s going to be a great addition to our team. He is quite an impressive guy who owns his own shop and even a hamburger stand out in Dallas. We also have brought on Franks Munz who is a retired mechanic that will assist me on the display end and will help out at the track.

The sad news is we lost Troy "Hurricane" Hannemman or did we? He had so much fun racing with us he went out and bought his own car! I was hoping his new house project would stall things a year or two but he’s going racing this year which leads me to a big announcement. Troy and I have joined forces and are going to be a two car team this year! We will independently own and run our own cars but we will pit together and help each other out. I hate the multi-car teams in NHRA but I think this will work out well for both of us. We are already seeing the fruit of each other’s expertise.

It appears that the new President of NHRA, Glen Cromwell, has the sport of drag racing in his best interest. In a recent interview in National Dragster magazine Mr. Cromwell had good answers and my confidence in NHRA has been restored after falling off the rails for a while especially after the news that Englishtown had abruptly closed. However, NHRA as well as local racers had no idea this awful decision was coming down the pike until the night before the big announcement was made. But still, one has to question the health of the sport after that bombshell.

Mr. Cromwell is looking to grow the sport and unlike former President Tom Compton he’s not an outsider, so all indications are that he has his heart in the right place. To be fair Mr. Compton did some good things like landing Coke-a-Cola as the series sponsor, but at the end of his tenure he pretty much left the sport as he found it sans some loyal life time employees in a mass firing and an embarrassing attempt to sell the NHRA which exposed the series weakness for a short time when Direct TV refused the deal.

Mr. Cromwell touched on some good points like admitting kids under 13 to it’s NHRA nationals events for free. However, in the past they have missed the boat on how to market this. People now days especially heads of house holds count every dime and can’t always afford to take the family to a national sporting event of any kind. However, if they know there is a family package to get them into the races at an affordable price they will more likely go if they are cassual fans. This will help fill seats in markets such as Chicago and Bristol. And while you are at it Mr. Cromwell, why not enlarge the general admission sections and include some family sections as well?

On the racer side, the DOT RULES are really the snake in the grass for the sportsman racers and non-touring pros. When your sportsman racers can’t legally get to the track without a CDL, a DOT number and the looming ELD program there’s a big problem. NHRA needs to form a group including other motorsport series and the horse show industry and hire some lawyers and lobbyists to push back on these rules for racers who don’t compete for a living. And getting back to Englishtown, NHRA also needs to study sound barriers to prevent more track closures.