This past weekend, I made the last trip to Palmdale, Calif., that I'll likely ever make. Don't get me wrong; the serenity of a desert town made up of trailer parks and meth labs has its appeal, but I've always gone just for the drag races. Unfortunately, the legendary Los Angeles County Raceway drag strip, the track where a portion of our scene started some 15 years ago, is being replaced with a WalMart (or something to that effect) at the end of the summer. Saturday, March 31, 2007 marked the last import event ever held there.
I still remember watching Cyber versus Wicked battles there before I even had a driver's license. I remember grudge matches from the streets being settled there, with more money at stake than my young eyes had ever seen. I saw my first import model at that track. I even drank my first beer there (thanks, STR, for contributing to the delinquency of a minor). So like everybody else who has a personal stake in the place, when I found out that this was the last chance to watch a race at Palmdale, there was nothing that could get in the way of me being there. Not even the fact that the race was being organized by the IDRC could dissuade me.
Honestly, IDRC races are among the most fun to attend. They're very grassroots, less corporate than other, larger, organizations, and it's all about racing (i.e. no bikini contests or motocross jumping). The one major drawback is the narcissistic rodomont perched high on the pedestal that is the track's tower at every event, wielding his weapon of choice, the public address system.
It was a great day. Our good friend Eugene Castro was cleaning up in qualifying, nailing 11-second passes one after the other until he red-lit the first round of qualifying. Tony Garcia went 9.4 before getting eliminated in the semis in George's amazing CRX. My cousin Nalani even won her class (for the second time at Palmdale-way to go, cuz!).The turnout wasn't big as far as spectators. It was almost exclusively racers and their friends/crew at the event, which resulted in an "old school" ambiance. The aging back-number playing the part of big brother had to sprinkle an otherwise enjoyable day with bits of annoyance and eventually with some necessary confrontation. In the midst of the day's events, this IDRC owner and certain D-sport publisher decided that although the people racing in the event had paid $60 to do so, they deserved to have their efforts disparaged in front of all of their friends and fellow racers. To wit, our friend Fat Kid was accused of being mentally challenged and prone to "sticking a fork in an electrical socket." Tony Garcia's experience was laughably questioned when he was branded a noob for pulling his chute on an 11.3-second run in a car with virtually no brakes. While they weren't welcomed, these two quick jabs were disregarded by the racers.
Most race organizers would see these smoldering embers all but stomped out in an attempt to preserve the true nature of a drag race at LACR, and steer clear. Some, on the other hand, will pour some C16 on them to see how big the flame can get before they get burnt.
Milton Roller and Harvey Gianesse from Holeshot Performance campaigned a veteran of an EG hatch race car that, years ago, belonged to Jason Mulroney of Import Tuner. I'll save the history of the hostility between D-sport and Tuner for another time, but the story ends with Import Tuner getting singled out as enemy number one in a deficient attempt at taking down Primedia via one single slanderous, supercilious, self-aggrandizing bit of scribble he calls a "publisher's note" every month.
When Milton rolled out onto the lane in this car, the loudspeaker related a delightful anecdote of the machine to the crowd. "This car used to be Jason Mulroney's from Import Tuner," bellowed the loudspeaker. "It was slow back then. I bet it's slow now," he continued. "That was back when Import Tuner was worth reading."
After the run, Harvey confronted the tower about the inappropriate slight that was presented just minutes before, only to be received by a tiny little puppy, shivering in his own diffidence, trying to recant his disrespectful indiscretion. It's a good thing, too; had he maintained his original sentiment, he probably would have ended up in the hospital. Harvey is one of the most agreeable people I know, but I'd be terrified to be on the receiving end of a thrashing, physical or verbal, from an infuriated Gianesse.
After all was said and done, there was definitely an underlying moral. Being boastful about yourself, your magazine, your cars, etc., just makes you look insecure. Slander and/or libel in the name of elevating one's self (or one's magazine) is childish. If you, your cars, or your magazine are as phenomenal as you say they are, they should speak for themselves. Gain reputation and respect by your merit alone. If I have to be told something is cool, it probably isn't - DB