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Wonderings from the aisles of the SEMA show

Just Wondering What’s a sanctioning body president got to do to make some people happy? It’s been just over a week since NHRA President Tom Compton stood in front of a crowd of Pro Mod racers at the SEMA Show and announced in no uncertain terms that Pro Mod would be granted “professional” status in the NHRA for next year. Already I’ve heard from racers and fans questioning whether Pro Mods are really going to be a part of the NHRA professional race series. What if the class isn’t covered on the ESPN2 “big broadcast” with the other pro classes? Will they share the stage with the other pro classes for those interminable pre-race introductions and other “perks” the current pro class racers enjoy?

Listen, if the President of the NHRA says they are a pro class then they are a professional class! Pro Mod race winners are going to get the NHRA professional version Wally when they win a race. There is an NHRA-sanctioned points program, so it stands to reason they will be treated as a professional class by the folks that work for the NHRA president. If that doesn’t happen, Tom Compton will look pretty foolish and, more importantly, not in charge -- and I don’t think that will happen. 

Now NHRA Pro Mod teams will be able to go to potential sponsors and tell them they are part of the NHRA professional racing program along with the Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle classes and, by the way, they will have their own stand-alone 30-minute TV show produced by the ESPN crew and run on that network! I’m not sure that a stand-alone show dedicated to the Pro Mod class isn’t better than being a small part of the NHRA race broadcast that already has a hard time covering three and sometimes four classes of pro cars. 

Aside from the 30-minute TV show, Pro Mods are going to have their own T-shirt trailer on the midway and they will be allowed their own hospitality area. To be fair, a lot of these perks were in place when now ADRL president Kenny Nowling was working for Dave Wood, who spent millions of dollars sponsoring the NHRA Pro Mod series early on, but getting a Wally for winning and public acknowledgement of the class as “professional” by Tom Compton was something the class never had before. Trust me, those benefits alone are going to help Pro Mod teams new and old get sponsorships.

And while I’m on this little rant, I want to address the drag racing myth that NHRA pro teams don’t have to pay to run at NHRA national events so the Pro Mod racers are getting screwed because they will have to pay a $500 entry fee. 

Even though many an old nitro racer will tell you they have never had to pay to race at the NHRA, that simply isn’t the truth today and hasn’t been for a long time. All racers have to pay a “registration” fee, including the fuel cars, to cover insurance and other items. Now it may not be much money relatively speaking but nevertheless they have to pay. So if the NHRA has to charge the Pro Mod teams $500 entry fee, what’s the big deal?

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