Archive for Ron Capps

NHRA: Iconic event gets iconic winner: John Force

Posted in Blog, NHRA with tags , , , , , on February 15, 2010 by Martin Henderson

The old man still has it in him. After 39 races and 20 months without a victory, after months of self-doubt and intense physical training, John Force returned to the winner’s circle Sunday at the 50th Kragen O’Reilly Winternationals at Auto Club Speedway in Pomona.

Force, 60, held a gold-plated Wally trophy over his head as the crowd roared its approval of the victory that snapped the longest winless drought of his career.

If you’d like to read the rest of the story written by racescribe author Martin Henderson — and there’s another 850 words about Force and top fuel winner Larry Dixon , including a funny story about what Dixon was thinking when he saw Force take the win light — you can read about it at ESPN Los Angeles. Just click here.

Advertisements

Nothing fabricated about IndyCar’s championship

Posted in Column, IRL, NASCAR, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2009 by Martin Henderson

In a racing world where playoffs were created to ensure a close championship battle and maintain consumer interest, isn’t it ironic that the IndyCar Series may have the best championship of all?

Going into today’s final race of 2009 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Scott Dixon has the championship lead, teammate Dario Franchitti is five points off the pace, and Ryan Briscoe is eight points back. The series has averaged a new championship leader every other race this season.

There is nothing contrived about this battle for open wheel supremecy, nothing fabricated by artificial means or points. It will be decided in a 200-lap shootout on a 1.5-mile oval under the lights. One of those three men is going to win it, and he will earn it in the process.

Based on the whole season, not just a portion of it.

Continue reading

NHRA: Kalitta’s legacy can be measured by 1,000

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2009 by Martin Henderson

Has it been a year already?

It seems like yesterday that we were burying Scott Kalitta, acquiescing to the reality of auto racing. It’s a sport that is never completely safe, but shouldn’t be unnecessarily fatal. As followers of the sport, we agree to invest our feelings toward heroes that may not return to the trailer after the next round of competition.

Kalitta’s was the third NHRA professional fatality in five years when a series of events conspired to steal Connie Kalitta’s son from our presence. Top-fuel driver Darrell Russell (2004) and funny car driver Eric Medlen (2007) preceded Kalitta in death, tragically.

Kalitta’s was among the horrific crashes of the ages, a flaming fireball crashing into the end of the shutdown area at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., site of today’s United Association NHRA SuperNationals.

Doug Herbert likes to believe that “God takes over” in moments like those, grabbing the soul before any pain is felt. It’s a comforting thought, and I’m all for adopting it.

Continue reading

NHRA: Capps tops Head after remembering the past

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2009 by Martin Henderson

Gary Densham had a sign on the back of his trailer asking for financial support for his racing operation. His car was black, devoid of the color livery of a sponsored team.

Same with Jim Head. No sponsor, no commitment to running the full NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season.

Yet Densham and Head faced off in the Funny Car semifinals at the 49th Kragen O’Reilly Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. What does that say about the economics at play in professional motorsports when a couple of independents can get just as far as cars backed by NAPA Auto Parts and the Auto Club of Southern California?

Well, it says there are still sponsor bargains to be had. It also says that Densham and Head know what they’re doing, that professional racers have become notoriously adept and learning to steal from Peter to pay Paul, that they will manipulate parts and favors and do everything they can to squeeze every ounce of horsepower out of an engine that produces 7,000 of them.
Continue reading

NHRA: It’s a golden moment for Connie Kalitta

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2009 by Martin Henderson

One couldn’t help but pull for Doug Kalitta on Tuesday afternoon in the finals of the 49th Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals for one reason: Pulling for Doug Kalitta meant pulling for Connie Kalitta.

The man known as “The Bounty Hunter” in his racing days is celebrating his 50th year in drag racing, but nobody could have faulted him if he had stopped at 49.

He will be 71 on Feb. 24, and has given the bulk of his life to drag racing. Last year he gave his son, Scott, a two-time champion who was killed instantly in a qualifying crash at Englishtown, N.J.

Kalitta Motorsports was at the next event a week later, so maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that it cobbled together its resources to open the Full Throttle Drag Racing season at the series’ second-most prestigious race.

Conrad “Connie” Kalitta is a drag racer, and will be for as long as his heart continues to beat. It’s what he knows, it’s what he is.
Continue reading

NHRA Funny Car preview: Expect the Hight of drama in this shootout

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2009 by Martin Henderson

Cruz Pedregon proved in 2008 that timing is everything. As two of the three North American racing series determine championships based on playoffs, the only thing that matters is making those playoffs.

That’s how Pedregon managed to win his first NHRA Powerade Funny Car title since 1992. He made the six-race playoffs, then won the last three races after winning only once in the previous 11 years.

The smart money in 2009 says the title will come down to a two-time champion and two-time runner-up, neither of whom finished in the Top 3 last season.

Tony Pedregon and Robert Hight.
Continue reading

NHRA: Under pressure, Pedregon earns his money

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2008 by Martin Henderson

Cruz Pedregon had prepared himself for this moment. Had told himself everything would be all right, that he would be relaxed, that the first round of the 44th Auto Club Finals in Pomona would be just another race.

That’s what he kept telling himself, lying with every word.

Money time.

He was going up against journeyman Jerry Toliver. It would be OK.

Keep calm and stay focused. It was no different from 500 other runs in his career.

Then he tried to strap himself into his 8,000 horsepower Toyota Funny Car and it took hold.

The pressure that he said he would avoid? His body was imploding.

Money time.

Pedregon had crossed over into Ron Capps’ world, had discovered what it was like to be stuffed into a fishbowl and squeezed with a million dreams.
Continue reading