BRISTOL'S UNIQUENESS AND HISTORY BECKONS BECKMAN NORCO, Calif. (June 15, 2010) - Jack Beckman has always been an NHRA historian, often reciting facts and statistics drawn from the "old" days of the sport. As he heads to this weekend's 10th...
BRISTOL'S UNIQUENESS AND HISTORY BECKONS BECKMAN
NORCO, Calif. (June 15, 2010) - Jack Beckman has always been an NHRA historian, often reciting facts and statistics drawn from the "old" days of the sport. As he heads to this weekend's 10th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway this weekend, he can't help but talk about this track's history and how neat it is to race there.
"For me, as a racing historian, Bristol is one of those places that's got it all," said the driver of the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger which will feature a tribute to the troops in Afghanistan in its paint scheme. "It's got history. NHRA first went there in 1965 for what was then the Spring Nationals. NHRA left in 1967 and after the 1997 season the original track closed and work began on an $18 million facility under the guidance of new owner Bruton Smith. The facility reopened in 1999 and hosted the first Thunder Valley Nationals in 2001.
"And if you've never been to that track you're missing a unique experience. Bristol completely stands out. It's the only track we race at that is literally in a valley, therefore the name Thunder Valley.
"When you hear the nitro cars warming up in the pits, and when some of them burp the throttle to seat the clutch, you can hear three or four echoes of that blip if you're standing off in the distance.
"If you haven't been there it's almost impossible to describe that feeling. Going down that track is amazing because you get to the shutoff area and there's trees lining both sides of it. It's just a completely unique place.
"And I think in terms of richness of history, the atmosphere, the Southern hospitality, the fact that this is the third of four in a row, the third of seven in eight weeks, this is where you want to continue banging out those round wins on Sunday.
"We phased in the brand-new chassis two races ago, and I guess it's about as perfect as can be expected, with two semifinal finishes in a row. We would like to get a win quickly with it. The tune-up numbers are looking good and we're postured really well to get all four win lights on Sunday.
"This is one of probably no more than four events throughout the year that we're going to actually run as late as we do on Friday night. (Pro sessions begin at 5 p.m.) Because dragsters run second Friday nights at national events, the Funny Cars more or less get a dusk session, where the Dragsters get a night session. In Bristol, because the sessions are so late, the fans will be able to see the Funny Cars and Dragsters run completely under the lights on Friday night. That's always a treat from the fans' perspective, but it's always a little bit of a nail-biter from the drivers' perspective.
"We should see the best conditions of the weekend Friday night. You have to run well on Friday if you want to qualify in one of the top four spots, and visibility in the nitro Funny Cars at 315 mph is highly under-rated, so it's pretty exciting from our standpoint."