>From NHRA Communications FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 HEAD FINISHES EMOTIONAL MONTH AT TOPEKA TOPEKA, Kan. -- Jim Head drove into the parking lot at Indianapolis Raceway Park late one Sunday ...
>From NHRA Communications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761
HEAD FINISHES EMOTIONAL MONTH AT TOPEKA
TOPEKA, Kan. -- Jim Head drove into the parking lot at Indianapolis Raceway Park late one Sunday afternoon during the U.S. Nationals earlier this month and had no intention of getting near a race car, maybe forever. Head had lost two of his closest friends, Top Fuel driver Blaine Johnson and Top Fuel Motorcycle rider Elmer Trett, in fatal accidents in less than 24 hours at the race and was returning to the track with Trett's wife, Jackie, and daughter Gina so they could gather their belongings. His grief was numbing and raw, and he wanted no part of his Smokin' Joe's Dragster.
But then he heard over the loudspeaker that the second qualifying session hadn't started yet.
"I said to Gina, 'Do you mind?'" Head said. "She just laughed and said, 'Go race that car. You're a racer.' And so I did. I don't know if I can ever quit racing. But I've given it harder thought the last two weeks than I ever have in my life."
Head, from Columbus, Ohio, will continue to balance his emotions at the eighth annual, $1,473,750 Sears Craftsman Nationals, Sept. 26-29 at Heartland Park Topeka. The race is the 17th of 19 events in the $27- million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1996.
The grieving and healing process has taken a toll on Head this month, as he admits that sleep hasn't come easily. But he will continue to race, just as he did in the final qualifying session that fateful Sunday at Indianapolis after receiving the blessing of Trett's daughter. Head made a career-best pass of 4.707 on that run with tuning help from Johnson's brother and crew chief, Alan Johnson. It was a fitting on- track tribute to the memory of his fallen friends, true racers to the core.
"Elmer was such a good friend of mine, and Blaine was such a good friend," Head said. "I was a really lucky man to have been such good friends with both of them."
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