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Notes scribbled on the tablecloth at Charlie Gitto’s saloon in downtown St. Louis

No one can accuse me of cutting the NHRA management any slack. Don’t believe me? Just ask them. That said, I’ll  give Tom Compton and his management team credit for keeping the NHRA afloat the last five years. Like all automotive entertainment series, including NASCAR,  the NHRA has seen drastically decreasing income and profit since at least 2008. There is little doubt that in order to keep the NHRA viable as a business during the time the U.S. economy has been in a financial recession/depression, Compton was forced to to take drastic measures.

The truth is that as the President of the NHRA he had absolutely no choice in the matter. To accomplish that he was forced  to cut programs, expenses, jobs and, for a short time, salaries.  Speaking from my own experience, telling people you know, like and may have hired that to keep the company going you have to eliminate their job is the most difficult and thankless job a CEO has. Likewise telling someone that they will have to take on more responsibility and maybe work more hours for the same pay isn’t always easy or pleasant..

Do I support every decision the NHRA prez and his management team has made? Absolutely not.  But I will say that while some other motorsports series and businesses have suffered or even failed in the last decade Tom Compton and his staff deserve credit and even a little gratitude for keeping the NHRA in business and some friends of mine with jobs. He doesn’t get much sympathy, credit or respect from many racers and fans for literally saving the NHRA from going bankrupt and out of business.

I believe that Vice President of Technical Operations (that’s corporate speak for the head of the NHRA Tech department), Glen Gray, after five years or so of learning the sport of drag racing is taking charge and putting his stamp on the hardest job in the company and in a positive way. I believe that going forward Mr. Gray will cap the technological advances in regards to teams developing proprietary performance-improving parts and will standardize the engine, drivetrain, aero packages for the professional classes and even sportsman classes to stop the continually escalating cost of racing.

I know there is a program in place to slow down at least the Top Fuel cars a little, and there is a group consisting of owners, tuners and drivers to review and approve any new parts for these cars. But perhaps the most telling example of change in that department is demonstrated by NHRA tech officials determining  that over a period of time the Hemi-cylinder heads used in various Stock and Super Stock classes (but specifically in the glamorous and expensive SS/AH class) had been gradually changed and cleared tech inspection despite the fact that according to the NHRA rule book they were illegal! But rather than cost all of the racers that have the illegally modifieds heads by making them change right away, Gray gave them a year to use the heads evidently a lot of racers bought. I can see that method working in other classes of the NHRA.

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