Hoon's Day Out: NHRA O'Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals

IMG_20140803_133031 A few months ago, I got an email from the NHRA with a special offer just for me. If I ponied up the dough for two reserved seats at the Northwest Nationals in August, they would throw in VIP parking and two tickets to a Lucas Oil event in the future. Needless to say, I bit. I’m a lot of things, but a fool isn’t one: the big boys only come around here once a year, and if you know Pacific Raceways at all, you know VIP parking alone is worth the price. I decided to take my wife along this time, and it proved to be one of the best races of the summer. Take the jump below to read more about our adventures. For those who don’t know, Pacific Raceways is about 30 miles southeast of Seattle, built in a quiet, hilly area in the 1950’s. Like most tracks these days, it has housing nearby, and I cannot fathom why. The drag strip is encircled by and partially included in high-speed, natural terrain road course, where many of the sportsmen classes camp for the weekend – yes, even at a drag strip, they have to climb hills and go around corners just to get staged. IMG_20140803_104717 I decided that Sunday final eliminations would be more entertaining than the qualifying rounds, and we’d get a better chance to people watch, which is half the fun. I also knew that the pit walk would be epic, with all the guys who made it to the finals would be working hard to get their cars ready. You see, I’ve been to the Northwest Nationals once before – three years ago – and I remember how cool it was to walk through the pits and watch the teams work on their cars. When you see the crowd rushing to one team’s hauler, you know 1) the driver is out signing autographs or 2) the team is about to fire up the car. Allow me to describe the experience of a Top Fuel engine turning over right in front of you. Imagine you’re sitting next to a bomb when it goes off, but you don’t die. Now, imagine this bomb goes off several thousands times per minute, and you can start to see why the pit walk part of National event is so cool. Even with good protection, I don’t know how the crews have any hearing left. IMG_20140803_144145 One of the unique things about Pacific Raceway, and racing in the Seattle area generally, is the oxygen-rich air. The track announcer said all the trees in the area saturate the air with oxygen, and engines love oxygen. I don’t how true that is, but even with the heat and humidity that day, multiple cars across all the classes were running low ET’s of the event. That has nothing to do with the matching blue Camaro and Corvette I saw in the VIP lot, but hey – muscle cars. IMG_20140803_142118 To wrap up this little review of the big show, I was reminded yet again – pass after pass after pass – that drag racing is some of the best bang for your buck when it comes to racing. We saw hundreds of race cars competing across multiple classes for nearly eight hours; we got to wander through the pits and watch the crews work; we rubbed elbows with the rich & famous (no, really – John Force passed by me while we walked through the vendor area); we got to watch red-blooded Americans drink beer and have a good time; and we did it all for the cost of a fancy dinner and a movie. I recommend all of you find an event in your area (even you Europeans!).   [Photos Copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Marcal Eilenstein]

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