A Real Puerto Rican Champion

Hector AranaLast weekend was huge for Puerto Rican sports history, but it's probably not because of what you're thinking about. Yes, there was a big professional boxing match where, champion Miguel Cotto was demolished by Manny Pacquiao. No, last weekend belonged to Hector Arana.

I know, most of you are like, Hector who? Before I tell you what championship Hector won, let me tell you a little bit about Hector. 51 year old Hector has dedicated his last twenty years to a sport that has only a marginal following here in Puerto Rico, but this was his breakout year. With Lucas Oil as his sponsor Hector was able to accomplish something no other Puerto Rican has.

Not to diminish any other sport, but the sport that Hector competes in is one of the most competitive in the world. It draws millions of spectators a year and receives even more in terms of team sponsorship. That most of you don't know his name is a huge injustice. While people are lamenting all over Facebook, that it's too bad that Cotto lost, but they were still proud to be Puerto Rican. Another Puerto Rican goes completely unrecognized for his achievement. There was no front page photo on El Nuevo Dia, in fact there wasn't even any mention of Arana anywhere in the newspaper.

Growing up in the heartland of the US, auto racing was just part of the culture. Cruising the streets of your home town and watching racing on Sunday were popular activities for me and millions of others. Of course most people are familiar with the monster NASCAR racing has become, it's even its own demographic, the NASCAR Nation.

Here in Puerto Rico, with the exception of the drag strip in Salinas and the road course at El Tuque, automobile racing is almost unheard of. That is, unless you count the thousands of people who use our public roads as impromptu drag strips. Anyone who lives close to a straight flat stretch of road, can attest to the popularity of drag racing in Puerto Rico every weekend at about 12:00 am.

So it was last weekend, that after twenty years of drag racing, Hector Arana was crowned the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock Motorcycle champion in the series's last event of the season, the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. As I mentioned before NHRA drag racing is one of the most competitive sports in the world. In a grueling 18 event season, Arana qualified first 8 times and won 5 finals to beat last years champion Eddie Krawiec by two points. In a sport were champions are decided by thousandths of a second, I think that Hector's accomplishment is huge.