Densham to youngsters, 'Bring it on.' PHOENIX -- Funny Car pilot Gary Densham, a 51-year-old high school auto shop teacher who has been moonlighting as a professional drag racer for 34 years, has a message for the rest of his ever-younger racing...
Densham to youngsters, 'Bring it on.'
PHOENIX -- Funny Car pilot Gary Densham, a 51-year-old high school auto shop teacher who has been moonlighting as a professional drag racer for 34 years, has a message for the rest of his ever-younger racing peers -- "Bring it on."
The crafty Densham knows that when the 15th Annual Checker Schucks Kragen Nationals presented by Pennzoil begin Thursday at Firebird International Raceway the attention of the media and the crowds will once again find its way to the new breed of drivers and their wild machines. Young guns like Scotty Cannon with his Mohawk haircut and cars sponsored by the World Wrestling Federation, Penthouse Magazine and Mad Magazine will be vehemently pursued at every turn, just as they were at the NHRA's season opener in Pomona, Calif. It's exactly how Densham wants it to be.
"There are a bunch of new, well-financed cars this year that are getting all the attention," Densham said. "And to be honest with you, I'm glad. While they're smiling pretty for the cameras, I'll be over here working. We'll take any advantage we can find. It's gonna be a war out there all year long and we're planning on being a big part of the action at every race, especially on Sundays."
Densham stayed extremely busy during the season's first racing Sunday in Pomona. While his younger contemporaries were loading their flashy cars into their transporters, Densham was driving his AAA Auto Club/NEC Nitro Funny Car to the finals of the Winternationals. In front of an army of his Bellflower High School students and plenty of family and friends, Densham dismissed -- in order - last year's No. 2 driver Ron Capps, Dale Creasy Jr. and eight-time World Funny Car Champion John Force.
"We had a bit of luck," Densham said. "Which we have certainly earned over the years. It was definitely a Sunday to remember. Everyone was really pumped." Due to rain, Densham's final round match-up with Tony Pedregon was delayed until Monday. Densham lost that race by six-hundredths of a second due to a malfunctioning magneto.
"We're still perfect on Sundays," Densham said with a laugh. "And things should only get better in Phoenix. We'll have a new Pontiac body to replace the one that burned up this preseason. That should really help us. It's lighter and more aerodynamic. Before the last one burned up, we were running some great times right there at Firebird. We're all anxious to get back there and mix it up with everyone once again. I've won a lot of match races in Phoenix. Now I'd like to take home a national event win."