In real life, it was education that was the great equalizer according to the 19th-century statesman Horace Mann.
In hockey, “Terrible” Ted Lindsay used to say it was the hockey stick.
In drag racing, it has to be a tightly wound combustible engine.
No other sport has leveled the playing field between men and women like drag racing has. Another chapter in progressive motor sports was written last weekend at the New England Nationals where the NHRA flirted with its first sweep of the car divisions by female drivers.
Brittany Force won in Top Fuel.
Erica Enders won in Pro Stock.
Courtney Force nearly won in Funny Car. First she survived a harrowing engine explosion and fire during a track-record E.T. qualifying run, then she battled all the way back to the finals on Sunday before losing to Matt Hagan by two-hundreths of a second.
The NHRA didn’t sound trumpets and play Katy Perry records to mark the occasion. Whereas Danica Patrick finishing 10th in a crash-filled NASCAR race in Delaware was sort of a big deal, women have been winning drag races since 1976, when Shirley Muldowney broke through for a victory in Columbus, Ohio.
Muldowney would finish with 18 national wins. That’s only third on the all-time list among women, behind Enders’ 21 in Pro Stock and Angelle Sampey’s 42 in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Counting four wins in Top Fuel (three by Leah Pritchett, one by Brittany Force) this season and Enders’ first winning pass since she took home the Wally at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2015, women have won 132 NHRA races and eight world championships (three by Muldowney, two by Enders, three by Sampey).
Brittany Force’s winning speed during a Weekend in New England that would have blown Barry Manilow’s socks right off was 328.62 mph — a whole faster than men drove horse and buggies during Horace Mann’s day.
Other Gaughan feted
Most people know Michael Gaughan as owner of the South Point, the guy who writes the checks so son Brenadan can go NASCAR racing. But he also was quite a racer himself. On June 22, Michael Gaughan will be enshrined in the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Napa, California, presented by Gateway Motorsports Park.
Gaughan, 74, spent more than two decades as a desert off-road racer and won his share of races, including the 1966 Mint 400.
He later founded South Point Racing with Bill McAnally, another West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famer. They won three straight NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championships with drivers Sean Woodside and Brendan Gaughan and went on to post nine NASCAR Truck Series victories with Brendan Gaughan and Steve Park at the wheel.
Others to be honored with the Class of 2017 include off-road legend Walker Evans, former IndyCar champion Joe Leonard and Scott Pruett, who also raced IndyCars and won dozens of sports car racing titles.
■ NHRA has announced its 2018 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and The Strip at Las Vegas Motor received its usual two dates. The DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals is set April 6 to 8; the NHRA Toyota Nationals — part of drag racing’s Countdown to the Championship — is scheduled Oct. 25 to 28. The Strip once again will join Pomona, California, and Charlotte, North Carolina, in hosting two nationals.
— #NHRA (@NHRA) June 7, 2017
■ Scott Gafforini, a six-time LVMS Bullring champion, returned to victory lane by taking the second of two 35-lap feature races highlighting the annual Chris Trickle Classic. It was Gafforini’s first victory in nearly a year. David Anderson won the first feature, giving him two wins this season.
■ Note to NASCAR: This year’s NBA playoffs have been abysmal from an excitement standpoint, but there’s a zero percent chance the baskets will be lowered to nine feet or points be awarded for winning the quarters to make them more interesting.
It shows how lousy the NBA playoffs are,when the National Anthem is the highlight of the game
— michael dalsky (@rudy7799) June 3, 2017
Contact Ron Kantowski at email@example.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.
NASCAR Monster Cup
What: Axalta Pocono 400
Where: Long Pond, Pennsylvania; Pocono Raceway (oval, 2.5 miles).
When: Friday, practice, 8 a.m. (FS1), qualifying, 1 p.m. (FS1); Saturday, practice, 8:30 a.m. (FS1); Sunday, race, noon,FS1.
Race distance: 400 miles, 160 laps.
Last year: Kurt Busch won in Pocono after starting ninth.
Last race: Jimmie Johnson won his third race of the year in Dover.
Next race: Firekeepers Casino 400, June 18, Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Michigan.
What: Pocono Green 250
Where: Long Pond, Pennsylvania; Pocono Raceway (250 miles, 100 laps).
When: Friday, practice, 10 a.m., (FS1), practice, noon, (FS1); Saturday, qualifying, 6:35 a.m., (FS1), race, 1 a.m., FOX.
Last year: Kyle Larson won a race that lasted just 53 of 100 scheduled laps.
Last race: Larson won from the pole in Dover.
Next race: Xfinity series race, June 17, Michigan International Speedway.
NASCAR Camping World Truck
What: Winstar Online Gambling 400
Where: Fort Worth, Texas; Texas Motor Speedway (oval, 1.5 miles).
When: Thursday, practice, 1 p.m., practice, 3 p.m., practice, 5 p.m.; Friday, qualifying, 2:35 p.m., race, 5 p.m., FS1.
Race distance: 250.5 miles, 167 laps.
Last year: William Byron became the first pole-sitter of 2016 to go on to win the race.
Last race: Johnny Sauter won his first series event of the season.
Next race: Gateway 200, June 17, Gateway Motorsports Park, Madison, Illinois.
What: Rainguard Water Sealers 600
Where: Fort Worth, Texas; Track: Texas Motor Speedway (oval, 1.5 miles).
When: Friday, practice, 8 a.m., qualifying, 12:15 p.m., practice, 3:45 p.m., NBCSN; Saturday, race, 5 p.m., NBCSN
Last year: Graham Rahal led just one lap, but it was enough to take first in Texas.
Last race: Rahal won both races and a pole in the doubleheader in Detroit.
Next race: Kohler Grand Prix, June 25, Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
What: Canadian Grand Prix
Where: Montreal; Gilles-Villeneuve Circuit (2.71 miles).
Where: Friday, practice, 7 a.m., practice, 11 a.m.; Saturday, practice, 7 a.m., qualifying, 1 a.m.; Sunday, race, 11 a.m.,NBC
Race distance: 189 miles, 70 laps.
Last year: Lewis Hamilton won in Montreal for the second race in a row.
Last race: Sebastian Vettel took first in Monaco, followed by teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
Next race: Azerbaijan Grand Prix, June 25, Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan.
What: Summer Nationals
Where: Englishtown, New Jersey; Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
When: Friday, qualifying, 2 p.m., qualifying, 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, qualifying, 11 a.m., qualifying, 1:30 p.m.; Sunday,finals, 12:15 p.m.
Last year: Steve Torrence won in Englishtown for the second time in 2016.
Last race: Torrence won in New England, his second victory in a row.
Next race: Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, June 22-25, Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park,Norwalk, Ohio.
— Associated Press