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Sat, 27 Sep 2008, 06:52 PM

Froscher's Forum
By Norm Froscher





September.

This is sort of another Thanksgiving month for me.

I have said before that I also celebrate early in the month of October because that was the month in which I had successful open heart surgery by Dr. Jeffrey Snyder back in 2000.

Hey, at turning age 78 this month, I have more thanksgivings months at being able to write these offerings for Summit Drag Race Central.

And naturally, people and events pour fourth over those years.

Drag racing is a very big part of my life and at this advanced age I give thanks, because it is with those 78 years, 54 of them in this profession, because without those years I wouldn't be able to be witness to many, many events and the fine people associated with them in the sport. You're only as old as you feel, so in no particular order, let me put down a few of the events and people from this sport that I have enjoyed by being able to reach this age.

If I wasn't an old geezer, here's some I would have missed. Enjoy.

***

Kenny Bernstein's 300 -- and Bernstein's second 300. That first was right here in Gainesville back in '92. I didn't realize it until the smoke had cleared on the left lane, but Kenny knew it immediately as the finish line workers joysly held up three fingers.

And I was fourtante enough to also be a part of his second, at Indianapolis Raceway Park (that's what it was called back then). National firsts for the ages.

Don "Snake" Prudhomme's record seven straight wins record in his U.S. Army Funny Car from 1977 through a part of '78.

It was so amazing, I opened the interview with him with a far-out question "Snake, are you ever going to lose another race?"

He put on a slight frown, shook his head as only Prudhome could do, and said, "Geez, I hope not!"

Yeah, he was already cool before the word was popular.

***

Madam President. This one goes back to when computers were very first becoming popular to give you an idea of how far back.

Eddie Hill had just had a very good qualifying run in his Top Fueler and several of us writers were ushered to his pit to get a recap,

We were greeted by Eddie and Ercie and invited into his hauler's lounge, where he proceeded to show us important items of the run on a new fangled computer.

Naturally, several of us had questions, which only served to bring forth new and lengthy explantions.

It was about that time that Erice broke in and said "We have to be in staging again in about 12 minutes and I hope you're ready".

That to me had all the earmarks of an interview ender, so it my best newshound voice I said "Thank you, Madame President."

And she has been MP to this day.

Raymond Beadle, Oh, he would go on to add to his championships, move into NASCAR as a car owner for Rusty Wallace's only Cup championship, but one of my fonder memories involved a crashe. Yes, right here in Gainesville.

His Blue Max Funny Car went haywire and swerved to the left shortly after the start, rolled completely over, lost it body and finally came to rest in front of the grandstands.

Beadle, knowing we were holding our breaths, climbed from the car and triumphantly raised both arms into the air to show he was unscathed.

***

Then there's Steve Earwood, currently the President of Rockingham Dragway, who came through the NHRA publicity ranks. He became such a helper and friend that I consider him a brother. He also interested many media members in drag racing and was always there with an answer to any question.

On the lighter side, one situation stands out from 1982, when he was working for Billy Meyer. He borrowed the company's Lear 32 and took several willing writers down to the Sebring soirts car race before that day's qualifying, We visited there and then returned to the plane,

Earwood told the pilot something along the order of "Do something funky on the takeoff,"

He did, turning the plane straight up into the air on takeoff.

Motorsports guru John Cooper was in the audience and I saw him the next day at the race.

"Did you see us leave," I asked. :EVERBODY saw you leave," he grinned in reply, Yes, brother Steve and family, long motorsports enthusiasts.

Shirley and Big Daddy. One visit paid off with good quotes during their rivalry,

"I have the fastest car, Donald knows it and you can tell him that," Shirley offered.

I did.

"If she thinks that's the case, then we'll race for the pink slip," Garlits snapped back. Yeah, that could be an early day Pinks.

***

And there are two many more to name, from Winston's Jeff Byrd, his race breakfasts and many, many favors to the media, even now in his position as President of Bristol, to T. Wayne Robrtson ("The T is for Teffific") and Wally and Barbara, Bob Russo and company.

Forgive me for just scratching the surface, but none of these memories woul I have had without becoming such a senior.





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