I Raced With The Best – September 2013
I Raced With the Best
I would like to begin this article with a quote from a November 1980 issue of National Dragster. A racer is recapping his season after having won the World Championship. This is his quote exactly as it was printed thirty-three years ago.
“The racing was tough at Ontario, but it is my opinion the E.T. racing at Woodburn Dragstrip is as tough as any in the nation. The actual racing competition for me was not as severe at Ontario as many of the weekly races are at Woodburn. Of course, the mental pressure at Ontario could not be matched anywhere, as I previously indicated.”
I am sure that you realize that I was the racer being quoted in that article. I believe that those words from 33 years ago are just as true today as they were then. And I believe that statistics from 35 years of racing at the NHRA Division 6 Summit ET Finals will confirm that statement.
First of all, consider this fact. This area is blessed with a large number of highly qualified racers, all within a reasonable driving distance. There are at least 3 drag racing teams who can claim racers within 100 miles or less from their location. For a racer to earn his spot on the Woodburn Team is an accomplishment in itself. To commit to and compete at fourteen or more individual events against perhaps 30 or 35 other racers who are committed to the same goal and to finish high enough in the points standings to qualify as a team member, is remarkable in itself. You might compare that to other NHRA Series events where some classes at various locations will not have that many cars and the series is 8 events instead of 14. Or, through no fault of their own, some tracks are not located in an area where the interests and skills of drag racing have been supported as the Livingston Family has done in the NorthWillametteValley. Tracks in those locations may select their team from a total of 75 to 100 racers whereas Woodburn Dragstrip’s numbers far exceed that.
I believe, if you want to be the best, you need to compete against the best. This fact is true in all of sports. You will not improve if you are competing against mediocre competition. For an athlete to improve, he/she needs to be stretched to his/her limit. The same is true in drag racing. Even though you may lose, when you have competed against the best, you will improve.
Earlier in this article, I mentioned statistics. The statistics will agree with what I stated. First, let’s look at how often the host track has won the event. Of the 12 events held at Portland, Medford, Yakima, Ashcroft, and Spokane, the host team has never won Seattle has hosted 6 times, winning once at their home track which equals 16.7 %. Mission has hosted 3 times, winning twice which tells me they know their home track quite well. The same can be said for Firebird, having hosted 5 times and winning four of those five. Being the most centrally located track in the Division, Woodburn has hosted the event 10 times, winning 6 of those events. With a total of 15 Team Titles, Woodburn racers have been successful at tracks other than their home track 9 times. Let that sink in. While some racers do very well at their home track, Woodburn racers have excelled at home and have won even more when away.
I do not know if anyone has ever tabulated the number of individual Division 6 ET Champions and matched them to their home track. If that stat was ever produced, I am sure that Woodburn would rank at the top. In the season just completed, two of the four Division 6 NHRA ET Champions were members of the Woodburn Team.
If you were a member of the 2013 Woodburn Team which claimed the 2013 Division 6 ET Champion Award, I congratulate you. In order to earn your place on that team, you can be assured, you have raced with the best.
Elvon Kauffman has been drag racing since 1975. He has been a NHRA Northwest Division Bracket Champion twice – first in 1978 when he defeated fellow Woodburn racer, Joe DiFillipi at Seattle International Raceway and secondly, in 1980 when he again defeated a Woodburn racer, Ron Burch at Woodburn Dragstrip. He was the first and only World Champion in Heavy Bracket, winning with his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner 4-speed at the now defunct Ontario Motor Speedway in October, 1980. Elvon’s variety of life experiences become the basis for the stories he shares in Straight Talk, a monthly column produced by Woodburn Dragstrip.