Whit Bazemore story (F/C)

>From: NHRA Communications FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 HARD WORK REMAINS KEY COMPONENT OF SUCCESS FOR BAZEMORE TOPEKA, Kan. -- Everyone figured that Whit Bazemore would be transformed into an...

>From: NHRA Communications

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

HARD WORK REMAINS KEY COMPONENT OF SUCCESS FOR BAZEMORE

TOPEKA, Kan. -- Everyone figured that Whit Bazemore would be transformed into an instant NHRA Winston Funny Car championship contender with the stroke of a pen last winter.

If only winning titles was that simple, folks.

Bazemore landed the lucrative Smokin' Joe's sponsorship after struggling for nearly a decade as an independent, producing three top-10 finishes in the NHRA Winston points despite a tiny budget. But Bazemore is winless and in seventh place in the points, the same spot as 1995.

"You've got to have money to be competitive," Bazemore said. "But money alone doesn't make you competitive. It doesn't solve your problems. We're always trying to improve ourselves.

"We've run better, we've done a better job on the racetrack this year. But the competition has improved a little bit, and we're in the same place."

Bazemore, from Indianapolis, will try to convert that performance progress into his first career victory at the eighth annual, $1,473,750 Sears Craftsman Nationals, Sept. 26-29 at Heartland Park Topeka. The race is the 17th of 19 events in the $27-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1996.

Desire and risk-taking have been common traits of Bazemore ever since he quit a promising career as a photographer in the mid-1980s to pursue his dream of driving a Funny Car.

So it should come as little surprise that Bazemore made a bold, risky move earlier this month by switching to engine cylinder heads made by Alan Johnson, brother of late Top Fuel driver Blaine Johnson, in an effort to increase the performance of his Smokin' Joe's Ford Mustang.

"That's something you should never do midseason," Bazemore said. "But our backs were up against a wall. We wanted to try and get a head start on next year. We've got nothing to lose."

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore