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The big news in motorsports during the 2016-17 off season came from NASCAR management who, in an attempt to boost their lagging attendance both on TV and at the track, made a radical change and broke their Cup races into three segments. There were a lot of reasons given for the change but the main reason was that they felt they needed to make the race more interesting to fans over the course of a three- or four-hour race. At least that is how I interpreted the announcements.
During that same period NHRA president Peter Clifford’s management team announced a change in their long standing and quirky qualifying rule for the pros that disallowed some Friday qualifying laps if they ran slower than an arbitrary ET. This year every qualifying lap counts towards qualifying. The NHRA also decided to multiply the total points pro racers earn at the NHRA Finals by 1.5 in an admirable attempt to increase the odds the NHRA championships will come down to the last race of the season in Pomona (Los Angeles).
Would professional drag racing (and all of auto racing for that matter) be more popular with fans if qualifying were a real contest that eliminated 20-30% of those trying to qualify instead of basically meaningless practice?
How about two days of qualifying where as many as half of the teams trying to qualify wouldn’t be racing on Sunday? A couple of the sessions featuring nitro qualifying under the lights would make great TV! Give me a couple hours of nitro under the lights on Saturday night plus tape from Friday. I’d be glad to pay-per-view for that show.
One last word about the lack of ticket sales at some NHRA events. One thing I have absolutely learned in the promotion business is that just two things decide whether people will buy tickets to an event: The nature of the act they are paying to see and the price of a ticket.
Just Wondering ... If the NHRA decides to (or is forced to) reduce the pro qualifying fields from sixteen-car fields to eight due to lack of entries, wouldn’t NHRA pro qualifying become the most intense, dramatic, and brutally entertaining qualifying in professional motorsports? Wouldn’t more fans attend Friday and Saturday at national events if qualifying was a contest?
Just Wondering ... Speaking of full fields, will the PDRA Pro Extreme class (my all-time favorite “unlimited” doorslammer class) have any 16-car fields this year?
Just Wondering ... Is nitro a legal fuel in the Pro Extreme door slammer class and if not why not?
Just Wondering ... Was the 15-car Top Fuel field at the Winternationals the first time in the history of national events at the Fairplex that there was a short Top Fuel field? According to drag racing historian Dave Densmore that had never happened in the 57-year history of the race. What does that say about the future of that class always having a 16-car qualified field?
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