Drag-racing plot thickens in thin air


Being a Colorado native, I am used to hearing about the effects of the high altitude.

It doesn’t matter if it is baseball, golf, tennis, football, basketball or any event you choose, because there will probably be some mention about the impact of the altitude.

The National Hot Rod Association came to Bandimere Speedway for the Mile High Nationals on July 19-21, and naturally the altitude forced adjustments that both the crews and drivers had to take into consideration.

Many teams only use parts specifically for Bandimere. Crews have to deal with tuning, blower and piston changes, and the parachutes work but react different than at sea level. Drivers also have to adapt.

Funny car driver Tommy Johnson Jr., who once lived in Denver for six months, says he comes to Colorado early each season and makes adjustments to get more sleep and makes sure he stays hydrated to help avoid fatigue.

Matt Hagan is a physical fitness enthusiast who drove the 2018 Charger Funny Car and jokes about having to climb stairs.

“I come early because I have to walk up the stairs and I’m sucking wind,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to see me sucking wind. You have to get acclimated to the altitude.

“I work on my mental game a lot as far as being mentally and physical fit to drive the race car. You have to be super focused up here. At the end of the week, I’m ready to get off the mountain. You can’t get water fast enough. It’s a challenge.”

Crews were tested all week.

“It’s a huge challenge but it’s fun because it’s the biggest challenge we face all year,” Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson told NHRA.com. “Everything is different. We basically lift the gas cap up and slide a new car underneath it. We change gearing, suspensions and just about everything else you can change.”

Anderson won Mile High Nationals championship and talked about the effort it took from his team to win a Wally trophy at Bandimere.

“Everybody did their job and the car was flawless,” he said. “This has been the only track I’ve been able to win at the past two years.

“It’s a neat challenge to come here. People don’t understand what you have to do with these great cars to perform at Bandimere.

“They are not built for racing here. We build these race cars for 1,400, 1,500 horsepower. The driver, because of the fact you lose 300 horsepower, you have to jam all kinds of gear ratios into the car to make it think it has more power. It makes a tough challenge for a driver and it takes three or four runs to get the driver in sync.”

Littleton golf editor

David Jacobson is a Littleton golfer who can be found playing on courses in the area and he also is the editor of the book “Nine Holes of Golf” by Royal Cortissoz — a renowned architect, art critic and author of the first half of the 20th century.

“I believe the book will be of special interest to Denver suburban readers,” said Jacobson.

The book is a series of essays written by Cortissoz in 1922.

Best football programs

MaxPreps has rated Colorado’s high school football programs over 10 seasons from 2009-18.

The programs were assessed on finishes in state, national rankings and title game appearances.

Colorado’s top 10 in reverse order were: 10. Regis Jesuit; 9. Pueblo East; 8. Ralston Valley; 7. Mullen; 6. Grandview; 5. Columbine; 4. Cherry Creek; 3. Pine Creek; 2. Pomona; 1. Valor Christian.

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.


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