Mile High Nationals
Press Release : Denver Colorado
On the Road at the NHRA / Mopar Federal
Mogal / Mile High Nationals
by Bev Saidel
I like unscientific polls, don’t you?
With scientific polls, I get tired of having to worry about every
single fact and figure, documenting my sources, making sure that none of
the people who I interview will sue me.
Unscientific polls are more fun.
And I can make up stuff to fill in the holes that may occur in my
Ever the intrepid reporter, I
decided to proceed with a project fraught with possibilities.
I would attend the Mile High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in
Morrison, Colorado and proceed with an interview that no one else would
get. Joe Amato, you might
ask? Or possibly John Force
or how about that attention getting motorcycle rider, Angelle Seeling?
Well sure, I could interview them.
After all I had my bonafide NHRA Media credentials - I could go
anywhere, do anything, talk to any manager, make that interview
appointment. But that was not
my purpose. Yes, talking to
Joe Amato would be sensational. After
all last year he beat the competition and this year repeated the effort by
defeating series champion, Tony Schumacher reaching 300.53 mph in the
quarter mile. And everyone
wanted an interview with the No.1 pro stock qualifier in motorcycle -
Angelle Seeling. But I had
another purpose. My purpose
was to walk among the people... you
know, the fans. My purpose
was to ask the really hard questions, single out a specific demograph and
ask the question that no one else was willing to ask... “Why are you
The first person I approached
was Jean. She was standing
with a lady friend near one of the many places where you can buy t-shirts
and gizmos and car models and whatever else might suit your fancy.
It was hot and they were standing in the shade offered by the
canopy of the booth. I stepped forward, took a deep breath, introduced myself and
asked if I could ask them a couple of questions.
I received a slightly pained look, but heard the answer I hoped for
I looked Jean right in the eye
and asked, “Why are you here?”
Her response was clear and
concise, “My husband made me!”
Suddenly I heard another voice,
“Yeah, and she’s enjoying every damn minute!”
I was to learn that this was Jean’s husband, Ron.
Well, this is getting
interesting I thought and asked, “Jean, where do you live?”
“Are you here just for the
“That’s a long way to come
just for the day. Did your
husband offer you any kind of incentive to get you to come all this way
for just the day?”
He bought me a new pickup!”
“And do you get to drive it,
“You bet!” she smiled and
they walked off to watch their favorites in the Funny Car division work
down the quarter mile track.
My second interview was with a
gal named Jennifer who lives in Denver.
She told me that her boyfriend made her come and that it was her
first time at the drag races. Kevin, her boyfriend, exuberantly told me that the Nationals
were almost as good a sex. Jennifer
made a face, but admitted that she’d probably come back ... next year.
I found Martha in section 5
sitting in the top row with a baby carriage behind her.
I was intrigued that she might be such a fan that she would not
even conceive of leaving her infant or toddler at home.
I sidled up next to her, hoping to have a peak at the baby who I
imagined would be wearing a huge set of ear muffs to protect his or her
sensitive hearing. As I
introduced myself I tried to sneak a peek, but was unsuccessful. I was
straining my neck while learning that Martha and her companion had come
from a small town just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Martha quickly caught on.
“You must think I am a
terrible mother,” she stated. “Actually
we use this baby carriage to carry all of our stuff!”
I was somewhat relieved for the
sake of the baby’s hearing, but thought that I had lost the special
angle that I was trying to wangle. I forged ahead.
“Why are you here?”
“The Mile High Nationals are
my ultimate stress reliever. I have been coming here with my significant other for the
past three years and it is just the best.
I don’t have to worry about anything.
I sit here in the sun, enjoy the sounds and the smells - it’s
I asked her if she was a fan.
I love to watch Joe Amato and John Force, but my favorite this year
is Tony Pedregon. I want him to go all the way. You know this is the best kind
of racing there is. To watch
these guys speed down the quarter mile track is so exciting. I want to see if someone will break Amato’s record from
last year. (Amato traveled
318 mph in a quarter mile in the 1999 Nationals.)
Martha told me that she begins
to get “the itch” in early November and starts checking the mail for
the brochure first thing. She
buys the tickets and makes sure that their schedules are set so that
nothing stands in their way to attending.
I missed the baby angle, but found an amazing fan.
Julie and Stacie were attending
the Nationals as the result of a small bet.
Stacie was visiting from Monrovia, CA.
From what I could gather, the bet went something like this.
If Stacie had to attend the John Elway Invitational Golf Classic at
Inverness with Julie, then Julie had to attend the Nationals with Stacie.
As it turned out, despite living in Denver, Julie had never before
attended the Mile High Nationals. A
self-admitted drag racing virgin, I asked Julie how she liked them.
“I am having a lot of fun.
The noise and the smells are unbelievable and I never knew anyone
could go so fast in such a short distance.”
Stacie told me, “I have a big
love for this. My sister was
going to be a drag racer or a pilot. She chose pilot, but only after we attended a lot of drag
I wished them well at both
events. I was pretty sure
that they would have fun no matter where their travels took them.
Lanie admitted that her Dad gave
her his tickets from work. When I asked, “Why are you here?” her first response was,
“cause Dad gave me the tickets.”
Being an intrepid reported I quickly discerned the truth...
“It’s cause there are lots of cute guys here!”
Lanie also admitted that her favorites were the jet cars (who
don’t run in competition at this event) and the motorcycles.
But she was cheering for the guys.
Perhaps my most interesting
interview came from a fella. When
I asked why he was at the Nationals he admitted, “My girlfriend made me
“Well, now that you are here
are you having a good time?”
“I only came as a
I learned that they had traveled
up from Pueblo so I asked, “Did you at least buy your girlfriend
breakfast after you picked her up this morning?”
She bought us breakfast ... and she drove.” (They had come with
two of their friends.)
“Well, did you at least pitch
in, offer to drive her car and throw in some money for gas?”
But I told her I’d buy her a t-shirt!”
Will it be in her size?....”
I learned a lot at the Nationals.
I learned that there are true fans who come out to get a snoot full
of nitro fuel, to watch amazing feats of speed and coordination as the
drivers propel themselves down the quarter mile in an attempt to better
their last round. I learned
that fans come in all shapes and sizes and that it’s the thrill of it
all, the imagining that they are sitting in that funny car or top fueler
or super comp or stock car waiting patiently for the light tree to turn
green. And I learned once
again, what I already knew. That
it’s the thrill of the moment, despite everything else, of crossing that
quarter mile finish line in a blaze of speed and glory.