First, after finishing a couple of gulps of POWERade and trying to get used to writing Powerade/NHRA drag racing, I'm turning to a year-end cleanup (partial) of the Forum's notes and quotes:
First and foremost, here's to a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season to all. To our leaders and military forces, God Speed and a safe return after successful completion of your righteous mission and an exciting and safe racing season in 2002.
A ballot that left this desk earlier was a vote for the 2001 AARWBA Auto Racing All-America team.
That jumble of letters, in case you weren't already aware, stands for the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, the group which had as it charter president long-time writer and publicist, the late Bob Russo. Russo still isn't in the group's Hall of Fame, Legends in Racing, but that's a subject for past and future days.
In its wisdom, "Aruba" as it is commonly referred to, lists categories Drag Racing, Open Wheel, Stock Car, Short Track and At Large. Several nominees are listed in each category and members are asked to select two from each group.
So, how can you keep from going past Kenny Bernstein and John Force in drag racing? Oh well, you can skip one of those fuel drivers and go with Warren Johnson, Clay Millican or Gene Wilson. But wouldn't that be sort of short changing those top two?
We thought so, thus our ballot read: Bernstein and Force. In Open Wheel, we chose Gil de Ferran and Buddy Lazier, but also pondered Sam Hornish Jr. And in Stock Car Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, although there could also be a strong argument for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kevin Harvick.
Short Track is where one has to do a double take. Among the nominees, along with the likes of Danny Lasoski, is a guy named Jack Sprague. Indeed, the NASCAR/Craftsman Truck Champion, whose series ran from Superspeedways like Daytona on down. Sprague just won his THIRD Truck Title.
Indeed, it looks as though nominees who wouldn't fit into any other category, where lumped into Short Track or At Large. Yes, in Short Track, we gave our nod to Danny Lasoski and the aforementioned Sprague.
For At Large, we gave up trying to figure which "other" series should take precedent and wrote in the name of Slim Jim All Pro terror Wayne Anderson.
So don't be surprised when you see the results and "The Professor" isn't mentioned under drag racing and Truck Champion Sprague has moved to short tracks. I'd love to see him run at 3-8s-mile Bronson Speedway here some day.
Oh, yeah, in case you missed it, Bronson Speedway is now a racer's race track. It's been purchased by veteran driver Mike Cope.
Record setter: Yes, I think it's been a year for a record number of declarations of "a new record being set". Hey, you guys in the TV booth and elsewhere, such an event is a record, so naturally is new.
In case you missed it, Powerade is a signifcant $ponsor in another area. That's right, the season-end points fund payout increases to more than $3 million.
Top Fuel and Funny Car winners will receive $400,000 each, while Pro Stock World Champion will be awarded $200,000 and the Pro Stock Bike season will take home a check for $50,000.
Powerade/NHRA. Powerade/NHRA. Powerade/NHRA. There. I've gotten my practice.
Jim Murray update: Thanks to the many of you who let your likes of our earlier column on the late Jim Murray be known.
The annual Jim Murray Memorial Golf Classic, to benefit the Murray Foundation, was another huge success back on Oct. 15. Honorary Chairman was Arnold Palmer and the competition, at the Lakeside Golf Club, Toluca Lake, Calif., attracted celebrities from the whole world of sports.
The Foundation provides scholarships for journalism students nationwide. For further information and to learn how a group or company may be become involved, contact Linda McCoy-Murray, Jim’s widow and president and founder, at P.O. Box 491304, Los Angeles, CA 90049.
"Great" quote. Personally, we've heard enough use of the word "great" by athletes, drivers and support personnel, to describe a successful effort or victory to last us through 2002. At least Jeff Gordon says "awesome".
And let's just use that quote to describe Gordon and all the other oval
and drag racing champions of 2001. Awesome!