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For the spectators that came to the track and those that watched at home on ESPN2 or ESPN3, the just completed Route 66 Nationals was a great race. Unfortunately the trend of smaller crowds on premium ticket Saturdays and Sundays at NHRA national events continues. It is an embarrassment to the National Hot Rod Association that -- when they have a day in the middle of the Midwest summer with temperatures in the 70s, and a field of nitro- and gas-powered race cars that were setting performance records, where arguably the most popular driver in the sport was on a roll -- the event couldn’t get a decent crowd for race day. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I’d say what has been going on at NHRA national events for the last three to five years satisfies the definition of insanity.
By most observers’ opinions, the best crowd of the weekend at Joliet was the Friday night qualifying session. Nitro qualifying under the lights and the cheapest ticket of the weekend probably contributed to the good crowd. So, despite a weather delay, the NHRA gets the first round completed just after 8 p.m.. As I understand from a former employee at the track, Route 66 has a hard 10 p.m. curfew. So why did the NHRA management cancel the second qualifying session and piss off a bunch of their fans again? I’m sure somebody in NHRA management thought it was a good idea and had their reasons but shouldn’t they have run cars until the curfew and treated fans that shelled out hard money for tickets what they came to see?
For the second race in a row, Troy Coughlin brought his turbocharged NHRA Pro Mod Vette to the Friday free ADRL test session and told ADRL majordomo Kenny Nowling and members of the press that he would be staying and racing. For the second race in a row Coughlin then, citing reasons from blowing up all of his motors to a root canal, has packed up his stuff and gone home. That certainly seems a bush league move from what is a normally very classy and straightforward racing team and family.
There are plenty of regional drag races around the country that draw 400-500 race teams or more that aren’t NHRA or IHRA national events. At many of these events the major manufacturers have no presence other than some banners or a wall sign, so there is no personal connection between the racers and speed part manufacturers. As a result the non-national event sporrsman racers have no brand loyalty and buy the least expensive product they can. Often those parts are clones of major manufacturers’ products made by the larger mail order companies and sold using their name.
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