Notes scribbled on my cocktail napkin from the Boston Fish House in Orlando, Florida

At the PRI Show I noticed that for the first time in many consecutive years of attending this event there were a lot fewer people in the hall on Friday and Saturday. It was actually easy to walk the aisles and talk to the manufacturers. On Saturday I didn’t see the folks trolling the aisles with roller suitcases full of catalogs as I have seen so often in the past. I don’t know if the number of racers that attended this year’s show was down, but it sure appeared that way to me.

If you take a cold, hard look at the sanctioning body’s history, the IHRA hasn’t had a real legitimate sponsor that didn’t have a financial stake in the sanctioning body since RJ Reynolds Tobacco (Winston) was the series sponsor. Despite the upbeat news concerning the IHRA coming out of the PRI Show about a new series sponsor, nothing concrete has yet been announced on that front yet.

The ADRL is basically holding their races when it suits them regardless of the fact they may racing on the same weekend as an IHRA or NHRA event. ADRL major domo Kenny Nowling dropped the bomb that he not only would have four or five of his national events on the same weekend as the IHRA, but to rub a little salt in the wound at the same time, announced that the ADRL could be running an Extreme Pro Stock class next year at races that conflict with the IHRA schedule. I don’t think there are enough IHRA Pro Stock teams to support two races on the same weekend.

On that same subject, Nowling told an assembled crowd at the ADRL press conference that if he couldn’t find a sponsor for the Pro Extreme class he would pay for it out of his own pocket. That whirring sound you hear is former AHRA head Jim Tice, IHRA founder Larry Carrier, and the late Wally Parks spinning in their graves at the thought of a promoter funding a points fund out of his own pocket!

Midwest promoters Scott Gardner and John Troxel were seen huddling at the PRI Show. Look for these two to announce their own Midwest Series soon with races at St. Louis, Kansas City, Cordova, IL, and perhaps Cedar Falls, IA. The races would feature nostalgic nitro-burning AA/FC and AA/FD along with Nostalgia Super Stockers and the NPCA classes. The idea is to have races featuring classes with the same rules at four or five races in the Midwest and crown champions in each class. Details are being worked out but it is looking promising and talks with a potential rights sponsor are in the beginning stages.

I heard a lot of rumors at the PRI Show about the Goodguys changing the format of their Midwest events and dropping the eight-car AA/FD and AA/FC shows that have been a part of their Midwest events the past few years. This rumor doesn’t appear to make sense, but repeated phone calls to the Goodguys management with messages left have yet to illicet a call back.

The announcements that Honda and Audi were withdrawing their factory support from various international racing series sent some shock waves through the industry, but nothing was more shocking than the news that Caterpillar had pulled out of its contract with the David Powers/ Rod Fuller Top Fuel team. The news came at the same time that Cat renewed its contract with its current NASCAR Cup team.  Looks to me like the folks at Caterpillar had to make a decision and the drag racing program just didn’t fill the bill for them.

ADRL pres Kenny Nowling had his annual press conference/mob scene in the Flowmaster booth that spreads out and virtually stops traffic in that area. During the press conference he let it slip that as many as four races on his 2009 schedule could be at NHRA owned tracks. Now that is truly a mind-boggling turn of events considering the ADRL and NHRA’s past skirmishes.

I was thinking I would hear some news regarding a series sponsor for the IHRA and perhaps some news regarding a series sponsor for the NHRA Pro Mod series. As far as I know both series are still looking although rumor has it that the owner of BrakeSafe has a proposal on NHRA’s desk. So far the IHRA has none.

I think it is a sign of the times that at the PRI Show I saw exactly one Top Fuel car, one Fuel Funny Car, two Pro Stock cars and two Super Stock cars  as booth displays while there were many, many more supercharged or  turbocharged drag racing doorslammers used in various booths to attract people.

Apparently, so-called “Street Legal National Events” with big purses are regaining some popularity. At PRI, in addition to the well-established races of Carl Weisinger  (World Street Nationals) and Mel Roth (Street Car SuperNationals) similar type races at Englishtown, NJ, and Valdosta, GA, were being hyped. Since many of the “Street Legal” racers struggle making one or two of those races in a year, Iwonder if the Pro Street racing community can support four or fiveof these races a year.

Finally, the best news I heard at the PRI Show was regarding the future health of the ADRL when at their banquet Master of Ceremonies Bret Kepner opined that ADRL had an edge on the rest of the drag racing series since they didn’t depend on ticket sales in any way to make a profit and their major sponsor, the National Guard, didn’t need to make any sales to justify their investment with the ADRL. 

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