Search for in
Thu, 27 Sep 2001, 10:19 PM

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
By Bob Frey

Iíve watched closely as NHRA and National Dragster have released their list of the top 50 drivers of all time. And, I must admit, Iím surprised by some of the selections. Of course, anyone who saw my completed list would, no doubt, be surprised at some of my choices. Having said that, I will say that my list did contain 36 of the 50 drivers who were chosen by the panel of experts. I use that word, "expert," advisedly, since I was one of those guys. My list also contained eight of the top ten, and nineteen of the top twenty on the final roster. Not bad, I donít think. Still, I was surprised that more sportsman racers didnít make the list. In fact, several of the ones on my sheet who didnít make the final cut were sportsman racers. Guys like Rick Santos, Bob Newberry and Vern Moats to name just a few. Having said that, I imagine that it wouldnít be out of bounds to suggest a list of the top 50 sportsman racers of all time. Sure, some guys like Dale Armstrong (#18 on my list), and Gary Scelzi (#23 on mine, but not on the NHRAís top 50 at all), would have to be judged by their accomplishments in the lower classes, before they stepped up to the pro ranks, but that shouldnít keep any of them off the list, I donít think.

Jeff Taylor
This past weekend, in Memphis, Jeff Taylor pulled off another rare "double," that is, he won two eliminators at the same national event. Obviously, thatís kind of special, since the number of guys who have done it can be listed on one hand. OK, slightly more than one hand, but you know what I mean. The fact that Jeff has now doubled twice, puts him in a very select group, a group that includes Edmond Richardson (who did it five times), and Pat Austin (who did it in Top Fuel and Federal Mogul Funny Car). Add to that the fact that Jeff beat David Rampy and Peter Biondo in the finals at Memphis and you can see how good he really is. Or how good he must be, since both of his final round opponents fouled out. So is Jeff the best sportsman racer of all time? I donít know, but he has to be way up on any list, thatís for sure.

In addition to Taylor, the drivers whom Iíve already mentioned, Austin, Edmond, Biondo and Rampy, may comprise the rest of the top five on my list. Of course, that means that Rick Santos, Blaine Johnson and Tom Conway would be in the six through ten category. No, wait, I forgot Frank Manzo, Bob Newberry, Vern and Bobby Taylor, surely they have to be in that elite group, donít they? Then what about Scotty Richardson, Gary Stinnett and Jeffís brother, Charlie, Peterís brother, Sal and others, where do they fit in? Plus, I havenít even touched on Tony Bartone, Brad Anderson, Randy Anderson or Bucky Austin, not to mention the late Bill Barney, the great Chuck Baird, the incomparable Bill Walsh and the still competitive Jay Payne. And thatís just in the alcohol classes.

Vern Moats from Ontario.
The one thing that impressed me about the NHRA list was the large number of older racers who populated the field. I have to admit, several of the ones who werenít on my list came from the early years of the sport, although I did have Don Moody and Bob Muravez, for example of my sheet, and they didnít make the top 50. Go figure! With that in mind, I imagine that a sportsman list would also have to be sprinkled with some of the sportsman pioneers, guys like Cotton Perry and Dave Boertman. Now if you donít know who they are, I must ask that you send your ballot back in and give it to someone who does. Perry was one of the absolute best, and he dominated in the old Modified Eliminator. In fact, Cotton was one of the very first drivers to go to two finals at the same event. And, while he won one and lost one, it was still a pretty good accomplishment for back in 1978. Boertman, who still competes from time to time, went to over twenty final rounds, winning most of them, except, of course, the one he lost to his wife in Englishtown, New Jersey in 1971. But we wonít hold that against him. The way I see it, they both have to make the list. Cotton and Dave, that is, not Dave and Judi. And I havenít even mentioned Chico Brescheni or Clyde Harnish.

As tough as it was to come up with my selections for the NHRA top 50 list, I would find it almost impossible to put together a list of the best sportsman racers of all time. In addition to the current drivers and the pioneers, you would also have to include the drivers in the alcohol classes, the ones who race in the handicap eliminators and the "super" classes. Just picking the best from those groups would be nearly impossible, but then you have the guys who run the big bracket races, or the ones who compete at the local tracks and the Super Pro and Heavy guys and girls from around the country, like Tim DiIorio and Tony Gambardella. Nope, I donít think picking a top 50 sportsman list can be done, although, it would make for some great discussions, wouldnít it?

The one thing that you have to remember about the top 50 list is that it is really just an opinion poll, a personal opinion poll, nothing more and nothing less. As such, there are no "right" choices or "wrong" choices, just opinions. Although, I have to admit, that I was surprised that not more of the selectors on the NHRA top 50 had the same opinions as I did. Only kidding. Maybe I will do the sportsman list and throw it out there for your discussion, although I know that most of you will agree with me. That is, as long as you feel that Carroll Caudle, Dan Fletcher and Greg Stanfield should be in the top 10.

NHRA: 10 Most Recent Entries [ top ]

Apr 24- CHARLOTTE 1 - Steve Torrence Enjoying Four-Wide Success Heading to NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
Apr 24- CHARLOTTE 1 - Fact Sheet
Apr 24- Kalitta Motorsports Welcomes NASCAR Stars to the SealMaster Track Walk in Charlotte
Apr 24- zMAX Dragway Celebrates 10th Anniversary
Apr 24- CHARLOTTE 1 - NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Brings 40,000 Horsepower Thrill Show to zMAX Dragway
Apr 23- HOUSTON - Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Wrap Up The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Wrap Up
Apr 23- CHARLOTTE 1 - J.R. Todd Aiming for Two Four-Wide Racing Wins in 2018
Apr 23- Mid America Dragway Joins NHRA Member Track Network
Apr 23- HOUSTON - Special Awards
Apr 23- HOUSTON - Sunday Video

Copyright ©2018 AUTOSALES INC, dba Summit Racing Equipment
Ready to take your order at 1-800-230-3030 | Customer Service 1-800-517-1035