the car junkie daily magazine.


Unhinged: Pretending To Be Brian Lohnes For A Couple Of Hours

Unhinged: Pretending To Be Brian Lohnes For A Couple Of Hours

I have the ultimate respect for the work that Brian and Chad do when they work announcing gigs. They have different styles between them, but they both are excellent and working a microphone and keeping a crowd entertained. Chad brings an energy to the mic that is infectious…you can’t help but to be drawn in by the guy simply because his enthusiasm for whatever he’s talking about encourages you to pay attention. By comparison, Lohnes doesn’t do the energy thing as much, but what he does have is a near-mythical library of talking points to reference from that most mortals would consider as a form of telepathy. A 1970 Nova could stage in the lane, a common car at a dragstrip, and Lohnes will somehow know that Farmer Jones ordered that car new in May, sent the 396 off to a shop to be turned into bottled lightning, and kicked ass across the Midwest tracks until 1979, when he vacuum-sealed the car up in a bag and stuffed it into the barn for thirty-something years. He’ll rattle all of that off like he was telling you what he had for breakfast that morning while everybody else in the room is exchanging quiet, “How in the **** does he know that?!” communication.

With Lohnes out on the NHRA trail right now and Chad at home taking care of business, the Car Craft Summer Nationals was my baby through and through. From the hundreds of photos I shot to the thirty-something miles my iPhone thinks I walked over the last couple of days and the fifty gallons of sweat that flowed freely from my pores, it was all on me and despite the sauna-like conditions, I had a ball. But in those kinds of conditions, you have to watch your health. Heatstroke is a very real deal and while I haven’t gotten to that point, I have gotten close enough that I watch what I do in the sun and schedule in breaks for water, ice cream or some time in an air-conditioned room if I’m getting close to a bad way. By the later afternoon on Saturday, I was finding refrigerated relief in the media section of Beech Bend’s tower. I was cooling off and waiting for the test-and-tune session of the Midnight Drags to kick off, but something was missing: an announcer. I didn’t put much thought into it at first…I only cared about the 68 degree breeze at the moment…but when Lonnie Grim came up to announce the opening of the test-and-tune, that’s when Broc started to look nervous. As he stepped out onto the balcony, I asked where the announcers were and he said he didn’t know. Then I opened my mouth…

I’ve joked with Broc for a while now that I’d take the mic if given a shot. I was not, however, expecting him to say, “Go for it!” at an event like the Summer Nationals…I figured that I’d get a call for a local Tuesday night drag or something of that nature. But no…it’s five in the afternoon, we have cars starting to pull into the staging lanes and I’m holding a hot microphone. Lohnes is a natural with a microphone and does an amazing job with an almost perfect announcing voice. Chad is also a natural, and can wake up the dead with his enthusiasm and energy. The last time I performed live for anyone in any form of media (without heavy amounts of alcohol first, anyways) I was six years old, belting out lines to the play “Dragon Stew” moments before Lacey Graeff dumped a half-box worth of Rice Krispies on my head in unscripted annoyance. Since then, I try to keep my mouth shut and let my writing do the talking instead.

Sometimes, when given the opportunity, you have to just suck it up and run with it, though, and either I was going to announce or this was going to be the quietest test-and-tune ever. So for two hours, I ran the microphone. And for a bit of time, I was running blind…no car information (it was being entered into the computers), no names, and no sponsor readout in case there was a gap in between runs. There was no autopilot…it was me, the microphone, and fans that were feeling the effects of a long day. I don’t know if I made it work or not…I won’t toot my own horn. Let someone who was there make that call. I didn’t get dragged out of the booth with a shepard’s hook, so I guess I wasn’t bad. But for two hours, I questioned EVERYTHING I was doing. And I promise, the worst part of it all wasn’t the information I was putting out or the way I explained each run. I’ve watched Lohnes enough that I can manage that part. No, the biggest concern was my voice. I didn’t want over-excited, quick-talking and nervous, but I didn’t want to fake a new character either. I’ve heard what happens when I try to talk “smoothly”. I sound like a very white Barry White.

I could hear that now…”On behalf of Beech Bend Raceway, I’d like to welcome you all to the Midnight Drags. I’m your host, McTaggart, and for the next few hours we will settle in together for some hot racing action. Awww, yeah.”

Just trust me, it’s nowhere even close to as easy as Brian makes it look.

  • Share This
  • Pinterest
  • 0

6 thoughts on “Unhinged: Pretending To Be Brian Lohnes For A Couple Of Hours

  1. PJ

    Bah its not to bad, I’ve done announcing a few times at least for different events. Its fun and that’s all that matters and to be fair. Lohnes is a special bread of human, not normally found in the realm of normal humans and racers. The knowledge, statistics, voice and composure is something reserved for some hybrid NFL and MLB announcer. A rare breed we get to appreciate and enjoy.

  2. 91CCFirebird

    I was there Bryan and you did a fine job of keeping things going and those of us in the stands entertained. I will say that running Angry Grandpa against their Journey rental wasn’t quite fair though.

  3. Walter Frey

    I’ve been announcing for close to twenty years now and let me tell you, announcing test & tune is one of the toughest things to do, even with info on the screen!

Comments are closed.