Volume IX, Issue 10, Page 1

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Clearing out my cluttered notebook

The announcement by the IHRA that they were going to return to eighth-mile national event racing in 2008 with their season opener at San Antonio, TX, comes as no surprise to me. It is evident to everyone that the current cars are too fast for most quarter-mile tracks and the current Goodyear Top Fuel tire.

According to my sources, the greatest fear that the major sanctioning body management types have -- especially those working for sanctioning bodies owned by publicly owned and traded companies -- is that they will get sued for a massive amount over an accident blamed on tire failure. It’s one thing for a not-for-profit organization to get sued; it is quite another for companies such as Live Nation, HD Partners, or the ADRL, who answer to partners and shareholders, to get sued.

Like it or not, I think it’s not a matter of if the NHRA is going to a shorter distance, but when.

While at Rockingham for the IHRA World Finals I heard from several fairly reliable sources that Pittsburgh might be the next venue to host an IHRA national event. I heard nothing from an official IHRA source, but I’m guessing that should that happen it would be an eighth mile, and I’m also guessing the track will be structured and organized for the racers and fans to be an eighth-mile track specifically for professional racing.

I’ve got a few letters accusing me of being anti quarter-mile racing. Not so. I’m just concerned about the safety of racing Top Fuel and Funny Cars on the quarter mile. We’ve just got too many tracks that are too rough and too short for those cars.

I came across one interesting fact recently in talking to several Top Fuel and Funny Car tuners who told me that in many cases their cars only gain about five mph between the 1,000-ft mark and the quarter-mile.

They cited one of the reasons being the NHRA rev limiter kicking in at around the 1,000-ft mark. So, why not 1,000-ft racing then if it’s just the speed numbers some of you crave? Not running the tires or the engines an extra 320 feet on the limiter doesn’t seem like a bad compromise to me.  

I had a note from a reader saying that he noticed that John Force had a speech therapist and wondering if John might be hurt worse than we thought. The answer is that the staff at Baylor Medical just had never met John Force. According to a Force spokesman John was just talking to the staff at the hospital in the same manner he does when doing all of his TV interviews and on his TV show -- you know what I mean…a little rambling and disjointed -- and they thought he must have banged his head during the crash so they assigned him a speech therapist! 

John and his larger-than-life self always manages to make me laugh even when he isn’t trying to.

I thought that the Goodguys were out of the drag racing business but a press release from their PR guy John Drummond came across my desk with their 2008 schedule that shows they will have full-on drag racing at three of their Midwest races: Bowling Green, KY, Indianapolis, IN and Norwalk, OH. I assume that means nostalgia fuelers and funny cars. I guess the Goodyguys are only out of drag racing on the West Coast.

I was reading Chris Econmacki’s column in National Speed Sport News and the words “Super Speedway” jumped out at me and caused me to think. Since NHRA drag racing seems to want to emulate NASCAR, why not take to the max? Why not have eighth-mile, thousand-foot, and quarter-mile tracks on the NHRA national event trail?

Differing distances of tracks haven’t seemed to hurt the popularity of NASCAR. Then make our showcase tracks like Indy, Dallas, Houston, and Chicago -- not Pomona, it’s too short -- the quarter-mile tracks and refer to them as drag racing’s “Super Speedways”.

Television shows about drag racing litter the cable landscape. The only problem for me as a dedicated consumer of TV drag racing is about the only real drag racing shows I can regularly find when I’m channel surfing (Pinks is not real drag racing to me) are the NHRA shows on ESPN2.

I know that Super Chevy, ADRL, and IHRA all have tape delay shows on various networks but I’m damned if I can find ‘em on any regular basis. Which makes me wonder how effective these shows are as a tool to introduce new fans to drag racing?

I’ve never been able to get any kind of ratings for any drag racing other than the NHRA broadcasts. I don’t know, maybe television cable exposure is over-rated, especially now that there are as many cable networks as there are AM radio stations.