Neil has been drag racing since he was sixteen. I’m not exaggerating when I say he eats, drinks and sleeps drag racing. He used to talk in his sleep, mumbling some nonsense and then clearly say something like “manifold”. I once told him to get a 1-800 call and ask Neil phone so we could make some money on the time he spends just talking about it. People still call him to ask questions and since it’s a passion, he knows pretty much everything you need to know about it. He never tires of talking about it, researching it, working on cars or watching it. It’s a community of like minded people and they feel free to start up a conversation with any other racer anywhere, like they’ve known each other for years.
He won a Wally in NHRA’s Super Gas category in 1985! It’s the equivalent of an actor winning an Oscar. Some people race their entire lives and don’t win one.
He’s actually a pretty private guy and would never brag like this, but since I’m his wife of almost forty years, I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m really proud of him and his achievements, even though I don’t share his passion. I just don’t get it and have disappointed him more than once by saying “who cares who gets to the finish line first”. He has explained to me numerous times that he isn’t really racing the other guy, he’s racing himself. Drag Racing is a science and making that perfect run involves a lot of thought. It’s not only the car and engine, the fuel, it’s the tires and how hot they are, the air temperature and wind direction are also factors that he keeps track of and weighs in when he works on his strategy! See, I must have learned something over the years because I know this stuff! When we were dating and first married, I went with him to all of his races. I’m not really into sport, so I usually took a book with me. This was before internet and smart phones and frankly I was bored. Of course I cheered him on and was excited when he made a run, but you can sit there for 6 or 8 hours before a run. Then, if you aren’t familiar with drag racing, it’s a quarter of a mile in less than 10 seconds. Boom, it’s over and you’re back to waiting for the next one. When our kids were young, we bought a motor home and went to the races as a family. We have 3 daughters and none really had the passion to race. We bought a little TV with video and the girls and I would watch Disney movies, make food and run out to see Daddy’s run, then back to the motor home. It was great family time.
He still races today, although not drag racing. He is building a Bonneville car at the moment and goes every year he can to Speed Week there.
It came as no surprise that he did a little research and found that there was a race in Santa Pod a few hours north of where we were staying in London. He got online and figured out which bus and train he needed to take to get there, he got up early and he went. He had a fantastic time and met some excellent people. I tried to get him to guest write this post for me, but he says he’s no writer. I have interviewed him about his experience and hope I can do it justice. (stay tuned for part 2 and his experience at Santa Pod)
Needless to say he had a fabulous time. At about 7:30 that night, I told my friend Sue that I was getting a little worried. She looked at me and said “he’s an adult and he speaks the same language, sort of”. Of course she was right and he walked in a few minutes later carrying some Chinese take away that he had gotten walking home from the bus stop. Just like a local!