Volume X, Issue 1, Page 89

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EDITORIAL
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Kay Burk
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Happy New Year

A few thoughts and resolutions from the Burkster for the New Year! First the thoughts.

I’m going to buy stock in HDP and I encourage every member of the NHRA that doesn’t like the way that organization has been managed over the last 25 years to do so too. The NHRA membership turned the control of the organization over to an appointed board of directors about 25 years ago at the urging of Wally Parks and in doing so gave up any influence they might have had from that point on.  Now HD Partners apparently is going to buy and control the NHRA and we all have the opportunity to own stock in HDP.  As share holders we can hold management responsible for their actions.  If the 60-70,000 current NHRA members bought shares in HD Partners they at least in theory have a voice in how the organization is run. As opposed to the fact that since the NHRA membership gave up their stake in the NHRA they have no voice at all.  Let’s don’t make the same mistake twice. Oh and one more thing the shareholder vote to actually approve the acquisition by HD partners of the NHRA’s professional assets is Jan. 31 2008.

Apparently the NHRA Board of Directors has discovered Nostalgia Nitro Racing after years of basically ignoring it. Suddenly with a big push from Steve Gibbs and evidently the blessing of NHRA Executive Vice President and General Manager Peter Clifford, NHRA announced their own nostalgia series.  Let's just hope that the NHRA doesn’t screw up the Fuel Funny Car and Top Fuel Nostalgia classes like they have Top Fuel and Funny Car. I know the Nostalgia racers in those classes want to be under the NHRA umbrella but they should understand that the only reason NHRA Board of Directors is showing an interest in the classes is to make money for the museum. Gibbs is doing it mainly because he loves the sport and Wally’s "legacy" museum.  The rest of them are involved mainly for the money and very little else!

The turning of the calendar January 1 marking the passing of yet another year served to remind me that Drag Racing’s overriding problem in taking drag racing as a sport to a higher level isn't necessarily safety, tires or the escalating cost of racing.  Although those issues are all very important the real issue I think, my friends, for corporate advertisers and sponsors is the “graying” of drag racing’s participants and fan base.  Last year, the NHRA claimed the average age of a reader of National Dragster was 47. DRO’s own 2007 reader survey indicates the average age of our readers is 48. Corporate America’s target customer is the 18-35 group. The sport has to find a way to attract more 18-35 year fans and participants if it is going to get and retain non-automotive sponsorship. Those in charge have to re-invent the sport in a way so as to attract the young auto enthusiast who is into drifting and sports compact.

What this sport needs desperately is a price controlled, entry level, heads-up class that will attract the 18-25 year old that only goes to the drags on test and tune nights. These young racers for the most part don’t like, understand or just plain won’t bracket race. What I think might work is a class that allows any brand or year of stock, all-steel doorslammer, 3000lb minimum weight, no tube frame of any form,  nine-inch tires, no trans-brakes. Any brand engine with a max of 358 cubic inches!, no aluminum blocks or heads. Stock/Stock replacement heads only, any aluminum intake manifold, headers, a single carb, gas or alky for fuel and OEM style transmissions.  The class would be heads-ups first to the finish line for trophies with a  reasonable entry fee and just win lights no speed or ET display. You could only race in that class with your car on the day/night of the race. I’ve already talked to my buddy Scott Gardner who owns three tracks here in the Midwest who says he would give the class a try. Maybe I’m full of it but I think a class of racing like that would attract some younger racers. Let me know what you guys think.

Here are my resolutions for the New Year.

I’m going to attend more races where race teams are having fun as opposed to races where they are just doing their jobs.

I’m going to continue to ignore chat rooms and bulletin boards where unnamed, mean people can write or say anything about anyone regardless of the damage it may do and use the internet to hide their real identity.

I will get my El Camino to the dragstrip on a regular basis this year and race it more.

I will attend the “March Meet” at Bakersfield this year.

I won’t be so skeptical about the motives of the board of directors for the NHRA and the IHRA…. suuuuure I won’t.

I will keep hammering all of the sanctioning bodies to make Hans type devices a mandatory safety item for all classes. It was proven that when Dale Earnhardt hit the wall at a forward speed of around 30mph and it resulted in the impact that caused his death.

I’m going to try and understand the attraction a non-official, exhibition series for Pro Mods in the NHRA has for professional racers and wonder what will happen to the NHRA series when HDP takes possession of NHRA’s Pro Assets.

I will not refer to the IHRA events as a Nitro Jam! It’s an IHRA National Event dragrace for Chrissakes! Not a monster truck race.  


jeffburk@dragracingonline.com