Archive for Tony Schumacher

NHRA: Golden Greek isn’t age-challenged as Winternationals celebrates golden anniversary

Posted in Column, NASCAR with tags , , , , , on February 13, 2010 by Martin Henderson

Chris Karamesines’ head may have never lifted up to look at his interviewer as he slipped rings on pistons inside his far too small trailer. He considered the questions like a Western cowboy, the kind whose hands are tattered by years of working on cattle fences, the kind whose answers come from years of riding the range.

But instead of riding a single horse, Karamesines rides 8,000 of them. A top fuel driver who is among those celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, the man known as the Golden Greek began his 58th season of professional racing.

Age? Well, apart from being a state of mind, Karamesines says he is “a little over 80.” This may or may not be in conflict with the National Hot Rod Association’s media department which says Karamesines is either 81 or 78, depending on whether he was born November 11, 1931 or 1928. Afterall, for a guy in his 80s, an extra year could be “a little over.”

But forget about the specifics for a moment and consider this: Karamesines is closer in age to John Wooden than John Force.

He goes into final eliminations on Sunday with a qualifying speed of 305.91 mph.

Think about that for a minute: Imagine Grandpa, whether 78 or 80 or 81, driving a dragster 305 mph over 1,000 feet!

Not only does he get to drive really fast, but he still has a full head of hair and a boss nickname. On the cool meter, he leaves Phil Jackson in the dust.

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NHRA: Schumacher’s season is almost heroic

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , on November 15, 2009 by Martin Henderson

The firesuit hung on the wall like a costume waiting for its superhero to pull it on. Nearby, Larry Dixon sat as cool as Clark Kent.

He is asked if it makes him feel like Superman.

“You better feel like Superman,” he replies, “or you shouldn’t put it on.”

Dixon, engaged in a classic Superman-Batman rivalry with Tony Schumacher, faced the media Sunday disappointed that he had finished second to Schumacher by the scantest of margins in the NHRA Full Throttle championship. “Two points could be 200, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “We were in charge of our own fate and we lost.”

And Batman won.

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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.

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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.

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NHRA: Johnson’s impact could snap a Coil

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , on May 17, 2009 by Martin Henderson

You could see Austin Coil bristle when the question was asked. A man of intense pride and accomplishment, perhaps the question was worded poorly, or the context misunderstood completely.

Whatever, there was a moment when slapping the reporter silly crossed his mind. He might never admit to it, but that’s not what his eyes said.

“I’ve won 16 championships,” said Coil, who won 14 since joining John Force to become the most dominant crew chief/driver combination in racing history. “How many has he won?”

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NHRA: Not exactly off to a Full Throttle start, but not exactly lacking storylines, either

Posted in Blog, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2009 by Martin Henderson

The first  two days of the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Pomona weren’t exactly run at full throttle. New series presenting sponsor Full Throttle Energy Drink must see the irony: “Go Full Throttle or Go Home,” which pretty much summed up the fan experience as the rain poured on Pomona. There was no throttling, and everyone went home wet. That is, if they came out to the track at all.

But you had to like the drama Saturday in the first day of on-track activities. Although Antron Brown at first appeared to run the fastest 1,000-foot time in history, the story of the day was Larry Dixon’s failure to qualify in the debut of the Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing dragster.  With the team behind him that helped Tony Schumacher win his fifth consecutive title a year ago, Dixon’s debut was nothing short of disastrous, a full-throttle flameout. Lined up against Schumacher in the last pair of the day under threatening skies, Dixon encountered problems and coasted to the finish. He wasn’t going full throttle, and you can pretty much figure out what that meant.
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NHRA Top Fuel preview: A rivalry where ‘the Dark Side’ resides

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

Take Brandon Bernstein, Antron Brown, Cory McClenathan and J.R. Todd and place them all on one side of the street.

Then look to the other side where Tony Schumacher and Larry Dixon are standing because that’s where the action is.

Schumacher alone won 15 races in 2008, and now his crew chief, Alan Johnson, formed his own team and not only hired the best driver in the division, but also brought 15 of the 16 members from last year’s team that gave Schumacher a season for the ages.

Is it possible for that team, with first-time crew chief Jason McCulloch handling the major decisions under Johnson’s guidance, to repeat what Schumacher did a  year ago? Probably not.

Nevertheless, it’s easy to understand why Dixon bought out his contract from Don “the Snake” Prudhomme: These opportunities A) don’t come around often, and B) are too good to pass up.
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