Emptying out the Burkster’s cluttered notebook

It’s been a bad two weeks for the National Hot Rod Association. They had, through no fault of their own, a fatality at the second stop on the NHRA Full Throttle tour when the rear wheelstuds sheared, and the wheel came off of the DSR-owned T/F car driven by Antron Brown, and went into the pits, fatally injuring a woman. Instantly the drag racing media went into panic mode, demanding a fix.

Now, you know that no one is more ardent than I am about safety in drag racing or quicker to call out a sanctioning body if I think there’s the slightest reason to do so, but honestly I don’t think there is reason for anyone to panic or for the sanctioning bodies to make drastic, expensive, and immediate changes such as higher guard walls or installing 30-foot catch nets at all tracks.  From the video I saw of the Phoenix incident, a catch fence wouldn’t have prevented that tragedy from happening.

As for the wheel issue, I believe that NHRA will soon have a new spec for the bolt pattern for Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Mod, Pro Stock and alky car rear wheels. Either NHRA tech will make new rules or the rear-end and wheel manufacturers will change the standard bolt pattern on their own without being forced to do so. ______________________________________________________________________

The late Steve Collison used to say to me, “Friction is where you find it!” (He applied that saying to a variety of issues including, but not limited to, drag racing.)

Almost a half-dozen crashes and near crashes on Firebird International Raceway’s track -- mostly in the much maligned left lane -- during the NHRA national event and the LODRS race that followed evidently shows that the NHRA and their racers couldn’t find any traction (friction) on the track.

The nearly two-week effort to fix the traction issue at FIR finally came to an ignominious conclusion when the NHRA announced they were suspending racing at the track due to the discovery that the traction compound they had been applying was the wrong stuff.

It didn’t take long for them to throw their supplier of traction compound “under the bus.” On NHRA.com a press release was issued saying “According to officials, the manufacturer of the traction compound had supplied a pallet of products that contained a compound that was not suitable for drag racing purposes…”

My question is, with all of the experience in track prep the NHRA crew has, how could it take two weeks and six cars crashing in the left lane to decide the problem was the traction compound? And why, if the traction compound was the wrong stuff and definitely not the right stuff, weren’t there any complaints about or crashes in Firebird’s right lane? I’m betting these are some questions that the company lawyers for the NHRA, Firebird International Raceway and the company that makes JP1 TrackBite may have to answer in court.

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