Well, well…  April 2021! I’ve now been on this planet for 70 years. I consider myself to be very lucky, and not from just surviving 70 years mind you. My favorite saying is “TIMING IS EVERYTHING” and like everyone else, I’ve had the great timing and the bad timing, but the great timing has happened much more than the bad. For us Car Guys and Car Gals, timing is often associated with the timing of an engine and after 70 years and for at least 60 that l can remember, I’ve loved cars and racing, but to this day I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO USE A TIMING LIGHT , l have to call a buddy or take the car to a shop. That fact makes me smile, because in those 70 years I’ve accomplished a lot. Publishing Roddin’ & Racin’ for 31 years is actually my third successful career. All three revolved around selling. I’m really not a salesman, but l really from the heart like people and that made it easy to talk to them, l wasn’t so afraid to say “nice to meet you I’m Jerry Hutchcroft” Of course you also have to have a decent work ethic. I worked harder and was more dedicated to building the Pro Nitro Drag Racing Series than anything l ever tried in my life, but after 5 years of dedicated effort it failed. The TIMING IS EVERYTHING killed it, we’ll, and probably my lack of experience in building a new drag racing series. Then, also with zero experience we managed to produce the Roddin’ & Racin’ TV Show for 10 full years, go figure.

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Turning 70 makes you look back at your life and also makes you look forward too. The forward look is a bit scary, not just from the holly shirt in 10 years I’ll be 80. Please understand, I’m not being political, but America today, is not the same America as say 20 to 40 years ago. The way the political parties run this country and the way they hate each other and can’t seem to agree on anything except going against what the other party wants is shameful. OK, my non political political statement is over.

50 years ago, on my 20th birthday my first child Darla was just 41 days away from birth. Talk about scary, try being a 20 year old kid with no career type job or direction and now you’re gonna be a father. Darla was a beautiful baby and 50 years later she’s a beautiful woman. Andrew and Abby came along over the next 9 years, then a divorce-OUCH. Kathy was a wonderful person, but as she grew up, l was still a kid at heart and that did not make for a happy home life. l was determined to be the best father l possibly could be. Paying child support was never easy, but I never looked at it as a burden, l loved my kids so much, l always wished l could afford to pay more and tried hard to have fun on our visits and stay connected with them as dad.

Somewhere in those divorced father days, Donna came into my life.

She like me was a kid at heart and l guess at age 22 she really was a kid. She is a free spirit to this day and way back almost 40 years ago, she accepted me and my three kids and tried hard to do her best when the kids came to visit or go on vacations etc. She loved interacting with little toddler Abby. Then one day bringing the kids home from a week long travel vacation, my ex-wife said “l can’t take the kids back”. Darla stayed with her mom. As you can imagine, that is a shock to your life and a shock to your new wife. At the time we lived in a one bedroom apartment, so that wasn’t going to work and we quickly moved into a house in Huntington Beach CA. 5 blocks from the beach.

Shortly after moving there, we started a home based printing brokerage business and were very quickly building a very lucrative company. But, selling printing jobs was boring to me and even though we made very good money, after a while l felt financially trapped. Long story short, we moved to Texas and the Drag Racing Bulletin newspaper was born. Donna never liked living there, so 18 months later we moved to Arizona and have been publishing our newspaper for 31 years.

I’m sure this little walk through my history is boring, so enough said. How about a CAR NUT BALL UPDATE: I missed the first two Team Tucson Summit Racing Series races, but will NOT miss the first two Team Wild Horse Summit races on March 27th & 28th. The ‘56 Chevy wannabee “gasser” is race ready, but, I’m trying hard to get my (brand new to me) ‘63 Nova four door Street / Strip car race ready. It now has a new 327 small block and a fresh built Turbo 350 transmission, built by FAST Motorsports (480-625-2085) in Apache Junction. This car was a full blown drag car, with a 500HP engine, full racing transmission and torque converter, full roll cage, but not street friendly at all. In the next few days l need to install the new radiator and hoses, new SFI safety belts, new front tires and install a neutral safety switch into the new shifter. I’m gonna try hard to getter-done???

UPDATE; the Nova simply was not race ready and the ‘56 Chevy really wasn’t either, so on Saturday Mar. 27th l actually raced my 2006 Toyota Avalon in the Sportsman class. I lost first round, but it was just so great to be back at the track racing SOMETHING again. 2020 Wild Horse Pass Sportsman class Champion Jordan Hart and 2019 Tucson Dragway Sportsman class Champion Steve Watkins knew all about the Nova and the ‘56 Chevy and offered to come to my house and help get one of them race ready. The ‘56 was the easiest, because it only had a problem with the neutral safety switch working properly, other than that, it just needed to have the Hoosier drag radials installed. Steve and Jordan discovered the switch simply needed an alignment adjustment and now works perfectly. All three of us got the tires installed, we then had some pizza, it reminded me so much of way way back when you and your buddies would be working on each other’s cars. I super thanked them and couldn’t wait for Sunday. The one thing l didn’t do, was drill new holes to firmly bolt down the shifter, which then required just putting it into drive on race day. At the track, the ‘56 was awesome, it looked so neat all high in the front like a real gasser (but it’s not). The putting it in drive didn’t work out like we thought, the transmission would shift to the next gear at only about 3000RPM which killed the elapsed times. The big Chevy went through the finish line at only about 3200RPM. Amazingly, it still ran a best time of 13.20 seconds at 101 miles per hour. With its brand new 355 cubic inch small block shifting at about 5800RPM, this car would probably be in the low 12’s or high 11’s. I only managed one round win on Sunday in the Pro class, but, l’m already looking forward to the next two Tucson races on April 10 & 11. The ‘63 Nova will be 100% RACE READY BY THEN!!!

Bracket Racing is pretty neat, it’s one of the only types of racing, where you can actually race your daily driver vehicle (think Toyota Avalon) against much faster, even full built race cars and still have a very fare chance of winning. In the Sportsman class your vehicle can be as quick as 12.00 seconds or as slow as 19.99 seconds in the quarter mile. My Toyota was in the low 15 second range. It’s all about your vehicles Elapsed Time (ET) and driver starting line Reaction Time (RT) consistency. Yes, it takes some skill to do those two things consistently, the more you race, the more you gain experience. I know of several examples where a first time racer has won their very first ever race. That’s a rare example, but it shows that it’s possible on any given race day. Bracket Racing is contested in an eliminator format. Two cars race, one car wins and comes back for the next round of racing. That keeps happening until only two racers remain for the final round. As you can imagine, making it to the final round is a big thrill and you’re only a few seconds away from the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. Either way, you’ve done something very special. I have been in four final rounds and amazingly got that thrill of victory each time, but 2013 was the last time. I’m excited about a new racing season getting started, with the goal of adding to that final round tally.

How does a 19.99 second vehicle have a chance of winning against a much faster 12.00 second vehicle??? That’s the beauty of Bracket Racing. On race day each driver makes one to three practice runs to figure out what their vehicle will run. When it’s time to race, you must make an ET prediction. You do that by writing your ET Dial-In on your car’s windshield. The track’s computer operator enters that number into the computer. In that 19.99 to 12.00 example, the computer does the math and the slower car gets a headstart, that theoretically if both cars ran exactly on their Dial-In they would reach the finish line at the same time. The timing computer is very sophisticated and records the time to the ten thousandths of a second, so ties are almost impossible. In that perfect run example, your starting line reaction time will decide the winner, because your ET clock does not start until you break a light beam across the starting line. From the time the green GO light comes on, until you cross that beam, that becomes your driver Reaction Time. A perfect RT is .000 seconds and goes up from there. The driver with the lowest RT has the finish line advantage, even if both cars ran dead on their Dial-In. When you make your Dial-In prediction, it’s important that you don’t run quicker than predicted, because even though you may cross the finish line first, if you ran too quick, you would lose by Breaking Out, unless both drivers Break-Out, then the win goes to the vehicle that broke-out by less. The Breakout rule is there to prevent a quicker car from simply Dialing- in at a slower number, then cross the finish line first. You can Dial-In what ever you want, but that Breakout rule is always in effect. I once saw a 6.00 second Jet dragster at 280 miles per hour race an 18.00 second street driven El Camino at 85 miles per hour. The Jet won, because the El Camino went 17.90 seconds and Broke-Out.

Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (www.racewildhorse.com) in Chandler and Tucson Dragway (www.tucsondragway. com) have Friday Night Drags several times a month and also have Bracket Racing events such as the Summit Racing Series that l race in. You can join their Summit Racing team and race for points towards the track championship and you can qualify to race at the big Division 7 Bracket Finals in October, this year held at Sacramento Raceway, where all of the other Div. 7 teams compete for team and individual glory. I look forward to these big races every year. The Sunday winners, then get to race at the NHRA World Finals to compete for the National Championship in each of the four classes; Super Pro, Pro, Sportsman and Motorcycle. Up to 6 racers in each class from each track qualify by track points to race on Sunday at the Bracket Finals. You could also race on Sunday, by winning the big Saturday race.

If you’ve ever thought about going drag racing, Bracket Racing is a great way to get started and age does not mater, I’ve seen 80+ year old racers take the final round victory. And, other racers are willing to help you learn what to do and where and when to go. HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!!!

~ Jerry H.

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