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NHRA isn’t the only game in town anymore

Almost every week I get an email lamenting the state of NHRA nitro racing or NHRA doorslammer racing. The content of those emails is fairly consistent.
Most of them say the same thing: Not enough cars, qualifying just doesn’t mean anything, the race distance is too short, NHRA nitro racers can’t be innovative anymore, the cars all look the same, the price of a ticket is too high,” and so on.

Most, if not all, of the readers sending me those emails direct their angst at NHRA national event drag racing. Were I to answer each of those emails (and I admit I don’t) I would probably ask the writers, What do you expect when you attend an NHRA national event?

The NHRA experience hasn’t changed much in the last decade. The cost of tickets, food and parking has steadily risen to the levels they are now. To the disappointment of many fans, the NHRA shortened the track for nitro burners to 1,000 feet. The number of professional class entries have dwindled until it is not unusual for a Top Fuel or Funny Car class to have just enough cars to fill the field.

Despite those issues, NHRA pro classes still offer the quickest and fastest (and arguably the  best) drivers, cars and teams in all of drag racing. I think the NHRA pro classes (Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Mod included) offer great entertainment if you can afford the price of the parking, tickets, and food, as you can easily burn through a Benjamin before you get to your seat.

So what’s your point, Burkster, I can hear you asking.

Well, my point is -- and I’ve said this before -- that if you crave nitro racing but can’t afford to attend an NHRA Full Throttle series event, there is an alternative for you fast doorslammer and nitro junkies. There are actually several alternatives.

One is the IHRA’s Nitro Jam, where the fans can see a wide variety of nitro-burning vehicles including AA/FCs, Nitro Harleys, Fuel Altereds, and Injected Fuel Dragsters -- and they race on a quarter-mile track. The only drawback that series has for the hardcore fan and racer is that all cars are “booked in” and there is no qualifying. Regardless of that small issue, the IHRA shows still offer fans a GA ticket for around $25-$35 per day and a show with two to four nitro classes.

If fast heads-up doorslamer racing is your choice, then the ADRL is for you. Even though they race on eighth-mile tracks exclusively, the ADRL’s fast classes regularly exceed 200 mph with ETs in the threes for that distance. And starting this year a ticket will cost you about $15. That is a bargain.

If you are one of those nitro purists and want a qualified field and a bump spot, then the DRO AA/FC Challenge or NHRA Hot Rod Heritage series are for you. The Heritage series features qualified fields for both front-motored AA/FDs and AA/FCs and the Mickey Thompson Tire DRO AA/FC Challenge features eight-car qualified nitro Funny Cars fields only. Thankfully, 99 percent of the time at either of these series there are many more teams trying to qualify than there are spots in the field available to them.

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