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Drag racing wouldn't be as fun without a little drama

By JOE CENTERS • Jun 21, 2017 at 10:00 AM

All we’ve heard the last couple of weeks is sports-talk chatter about super teams in the National Basketball Association.

Will the Golden State Warriors meet the Cleveland Cavaliers in The Finals for the fourth straight year in 2018?

And if they do, is that good for basketball? Is LeBron James a good guy or a bad guy? Is that good for basketball?

That was something Bill Bader, president of Summit Motorsports Park, talked about Tuesday as he prepared for the 11th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals which runs Thursday through Sunday.

His sport knows all about super teams as John Force, Connie Kalitta and Don Schumacher are the big three of drag racing.

Fans have taken sides with their favorites and you will hear it this weekend. 

And Bader said a little bad blood is good for the sport.

“That’s a debate I have been listening on talk radio the last month,” Bader said.

“Are super teams good for the sport? In the 80s you had the Lakers and the Celtics — two super teams. In motorsports those three (Force, Kalitta and Schumacher) are the super teams and others are trying to compete. It can happen.

“Super teams have their place because clearly those teams grab the headlines. What would happen if one of those teams go away?

“What if Houston would have upset Golden State? Houston vs. Cleveland would not have had the interest as Cleveland vs. Golden State. Super teams are the teams you hate. I love the quote when LeBron said here was Draymond Green celebrating his NBA title and all he can think about is LeBron James. He is in his head.

“A couple of races ago Force went out to shake Schumacher’s hand and he would not shake it. I look at some of what goes on in NASCAR and look at (Seattle Seahawks cornerback) Richard Sherman when he had that interview with Erin Andrews; that is real, raw human emotion at its best. That is great for the sport.

“There are some teams who do not like each other and that is OK. Who is wearing a black hat in the NHRA? We need some black hats and some white hats.”

While the big boys make the headlines, you can’t forget about the little guy — and there are plenty of little guys in the NHRA.

Can the little guys compete against the big three?

“Independent teams struggle to compete and I would like to see some parity,” Bader admitted.

That’s why he was thrilled when Clay Millican captured his first NHRA title ever Sunday at the Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tenn. 

It was an emotional first career victory for Millican as the 51-year-old is far from a new face in the sport. He finally sealed the deal after qualifying No. 4 and then defeated Kyle Wurtzel, Brittany Force and Steve Torrence en route to the final against Leah Pritchett. With a cylinder out on Pritchett’s machine, Millican just edged the Don Schumacher Racing driver.

Millican was a regular in Norwalk on the IHRA circuit and Bader said he couldn’t be happier — a local favorite taking down one of the big three.

That’s the kind of storyline Bader is hoping for this weekend.

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