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Cleaning out the notebook after a snow-bound weekend

Everybody bitches about the cost of racing but nobody does anything to fix the problem. No sanctioning body that I am aware of has ever made rules that actually lowered the cost of racing, especially in the professional classes.

In fact, despite the mouthwash about making rules that reduce the cost of racing, the NHRA has basically done just the opposite especially in the nitro classes. Think not? Consider the following examples:

The NHRA awarded a monopoly to the tire and fuel suppliers for the nitro classes. The  race team owners have to pay whatever those product monopolies want to charge despite the fact that there are other major manufacturers of both products who would like to break into the market.

The NHRA made a rule (at the racers’ insistence) that only qualifies pro class cars with the 12 quickest ET’s during the first qualifying rounds. That rule basically forces four or more teams to make two laps that count for nothing. Not a great idea for teams’ budgets when one lap reportedly can cost $10,000 to $15,000 in consumable parts and  much more if they blow an engine.

So if budget racers like Chris Karamesines, Bill Miller, Scott Palmer or Steve Chrisman make a pass or even two on Friday that would easily qualify them for the 16-car field Sunday but it isn’t one of the quickest 12 ET’s, then those ET’s are thrown out and the budget teams have to literally go for broke on Saturday. Can you say explosions, fires and oil-downs?

And now the NHRA apparently -- in an effort to increase the Nielsen rating numbers for their race broadcasts -- want to do live TV for qualifying and race day starting at Houston. I can find no data that connects higher rating numbers to a live race broadcast. And besides, isn’t the broadcast on ESPN3 already a live broadcast of NHRA race?  

Additionally, from what I can gather from talking to Big Show crew chiefs, the new 50-minute turnaround may eventually force the fully funded teams to have two or three complete (pan to injector) engine and clutch assemblies ready for race day. that’s something I don’t think the medium- to low-budget teams have the money, parts or crew to do.

And as if the current atmosphere at an NHRA national event doesn’t already favor the teams with the most money, this program tilts the odds even more. Just wondering … what happens if the ratings don’t increase dramatically? Or what if they do?

The Daytona 500 was a totally live broadcast of one of the great auto races in the world and, in my opinion, it was a crashing bore. Single file racing, no matter how fast the cars are going or who is driving, is boring live or on video tape. Come to think of it, so are single car nitro laps, which is a distinct possibility with a hard 50-minute turnaround.

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