The NMCA, the NHRA, IHRA’s Thunder Jam and Ashley Force

There was a lot of good drag racing (i.e. drama and fast cars) happening last weekend. I attended one race, watched another on the tube, and got an in-person report on another -- and there were noteworthy items about them all that I would like to make note of. 

I attended the NMCA World Street Finals, which might be the last major drag race at soon-to-be-shuttered Gateway International Raceway. My old friend and second-generation promoter, Charlie Harmon, brought the NMCA’s World Street Finals to St. Louis this year and it was a success by anyone’s standards. There were around 600 race teams entered at the NMCA event including 200 cars powered by GM’s new LSX small block.

Two things really impressed me at the race. The first was that for the first time in my memory, the race cars in attendance that were built using 1995 or later cars far outnumbered those that were built before 1995. I also noted that there was an abundance of late model, Detroit-built cars that didn’t have a big hood scoop or a blower sticking through their hood. Fuel injection, under-hood compressors, flat hoods and minimum of decals were the rule, not the exception at this race.

I didn’t see one NHRA class car there with twenty years of NHRA contestant stickers plastered on it and a sixty year old driver. There were young people involved in this race, and for the most part the NHRA wasn’t even on their radar screen.

For the first time in many years I saw racers buying hard parts on the Manufacturer’s Midway! The whole race atmosphere reminded me of the way NHRA national events used to be.

I spent some time with Dr. Jamie Meyer from GM High Performance. GM has a very aggressive aftermarket program, and they were ecstatic over the fact that more than 200 LSX small- block Chevy-powered cars came to the Gateway event.

As a race promoter, Charlie Harmon had to be happy with the 12-15,000 spectators they had for the three-day race.

Between the younger demographic of spectators and racers and the number of late model Detroit hot rods, it was a breath of fresh air.

Now if they just had a class for those of us who like to see nitro cars as well as fast door cars, I’d pay to watch these races.


I watched the NHRA race broadcast from Maple Grove on ESPN. I decided to limit my viewing to just the race broadcast this week and not watch the qualifying show.  I’m glad I did it that way. I thought the race broadcast of Maple Grove was one of the ESPN production crew’s better efforts. 

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