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NHRA Breakfast at SEMA Show

One of the hidden “gems” of the SEMA – Specialty Equipment Market Association – week-long festivities this week is the NHRA – National Hot Rod Association – Breakfast.  Each year NHRA gathers a group of racing celebrities to come together, share some stories, crack some jokes and give the drag racing fans some inside looks at the world of drag racing.

The Voice of NHRA

This year’s breakfast was entitled “The Voce of NHRA” and featured past announcers Dave McClelland, Bob Frey and Alan Reinhardt with current ESPN/NHRA announcer Dave Rieff being the emcee.  The first two former announcers were introduced with video montages of their career.  When Reinhardt came out, they did not have a video of his past works, mainly because he is still announcing at various tracks.  Later Alan quipped, “My videos won’t start in black and white.”

Dave McClelland responded that the younger they are, the balder they are.  The announcers also shared some jokes about buying a parrot.  You had to be there!

They NHRA also had a poignant remembrance of Steve Evans, another past announcer, and gave an award to his son, Cameron Evans who runs Red Line Oil.

Dave McClelland

McClelland told the story how he started his career, when a track announcer “froze” in front of the crowd.  When Dave offered to take over, the track owner said, Why not?  You couldn’t do any worse.”

When McClelland was commenting on his career which spanned from 1961-2003 with NHRA and even earlier with other tracks, Alan Reinhardt commented “My parents hadn’t even yet met in 1959.”  And Dave quipped back, “And in a perfect world, they never would have!”

McClelland talked about his career actually racing and commented that he “kept his car looking old, just like the driver.”

Dave Rieff when first assigned as a rookie to interview John Force was worried.  He was told; don’t worry about it, “John will interview himself.”

John Force

John Force, the 16 time Funny Car champ, also came out and he was in rare form.  When he complained about not getting respect, Bob Frey pointed out the overhead sign only listed the three announcers as being present.

NHRA Preview Sign

Force told the story of how he got stopped in New Mexico and his 18 wheel race hauler was sporting a boat trailer plate.  Alan Reinhardt had to help loan him a truck to continue his travels back home to California, and while the truck was parked in a California lot it was vandalized with all the windows broken out.  To which John Force had calmly explained, “Don’t worry, we can fix this!”

Words can’t convey the warmth and true friendships the announcers shared for each other.  The crowd was in stitches and laughing throughout the event.  Later McClelland commented that it was the most fun he had in ages.  And I agree.

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