Reading: Doug Herbert preview

DougZilla Returns to Maple Grove Looking for a Top Fuel Win Doug Herbert's Alter-ego Turns 2 at Lucas Oil Nationals READING, Pa., Sept. 14, 2004 - The idea came from an animated discussion between Top Fuel racers Doug Herbert and Clay Millican...

DougZilla Returns to Maple Grove Looking for a Top Fuel Win
Doug Herbert's Alter-ego Turns 2 at Lucas Oil Nationals

READING, Pa., Sept. 14, 2004 - The idea came from an animated discussion between Top Fuel racers Doug Herbert and Clay Millican two years ago at Maple Grove Raceway.

Herbert, still wearing his red Snap-on Racing driver's suit and helmet, stands 6-foot-4. Millican, also wearing his driving apparel, is about 10 inches shorter. As one would imagine, Herbert, looking like The Hulk in red instead of the comic book character's customary green, towered over Millican.

It wasn't The Hulk that fans watching on TV thought about.

"There were a lot of fans writing about it on the internet, and they said I looked like Godzilla," recalled Herbert. "A friend of mine, Bob Doerrer, said he thought I looked more like DougZilla, and it took off from there."

Herbert, DougZilla and the Top Fuel team return to Maple Grove Raceway, Sept. 17-19, for the Lucas Oil Nationals.

The DougZilla legend has grown from that starting-line discussion. Herbert's souvenir trailer sells popular DougZilla t-shirts and hats and Herbert continues to turn the proceeds from those sales to an ongoing fund raiser for Billy Williams, a longtime friend who was seriously injured in a drag racing accident two years ago. The money is to defray his medical expenses.

This year, DougZilla has been featured on the dragster itself. It's not surprising, then, that DougZilla will adorn the side-panels for this weekend's anniversary event.

"The fans really like the DougZilla caricature so we thought we'd dress him up and take him on the road this year," said Herbert. "We have a little bit of a local twist for each of the paint schemes at 11 different race tracks. At Reading, he'll be paying his respects to the Keystone State and Philadelphia's history by featuring the Liberty Bell. DougZilla was hanging around the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and a winery when we're in Sonoma, Calif.

"Fans like our city-specific cars," Herbert continued. "They seem to take pride in the fact their area is pictured on the race car."

There is one place DougZilla hasn't been yet, though, and that's the winner's circle.

"We'd like nothing better than to take care of that business at Reading," said Herbert. "We showed during qualifying at Indy (the U.S. Nationals, Sept. 6) that Ed McCulloch, Jim Brissette and Ron Douglas are beginning to get our car running competitively. We qualified third on our first run (4.574 seconds at 318.09 mph), and also ran 4.596. We started fourth on race day.

"Unfortunately for us, things didn't go so well in the first round, but we are determined to keep moving forward," Herbert added. "We made good runs, and it was probably our best complete outing of the year. We just slowed down at the wrong time."

Herbert is eighth in POWERade points with 817. He trails Cory McClenathan by 104 points with five races to go.

"We could catch Cory if we continue to run like we did at Indy," Herbert said. "We have five races to go, so all we need to do is win some rounds at each race. Our goal right now is to take that place away from Cory."

The first order of Lucas Oil Nationals business, however, is continuing to qualify in the top half of the field. Qualifying times are 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. Friday and 12:30 and 3 p.m. Saturday. Eliminations Sunday begin at 11 a.m.

Herbert Performance Has New Address

The move is complete and Doug Herbert's Herbert Performance Parts is now located at 1443 East Gaston Street, Lincolnton, N.C., 28092

The 100,000-square foot building not only houses Herbert's flourishing automotive parts business but his Top Fuel team and apparel business. He also plans to open a drag racing museum early in January 2005.

"We have a lot of room, but we really filled more space than I thought we would," Herbert said. "It's not as empty as I thought it would be. It does look good. We needed the room because we'd completely outgrown our old building in Cherryville.

"I was in the old building the other day and it looks a lot bigger empty. We moved there in 1993."

Herbert planned the museum to acquaint the area's motorsports fans, most of whom are NASCAR followers, with some of drag racing's history.

"I have my 2003 Snap-on Top Fuel car, Tommy Groves' Funny Car and a Jungle Jim (Lieberman) Funny Car," Herbert said. "We plan to have a great display for the fans."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Clay Millican
Teams Williams