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Wondering out in the cold

It’s 10 below zero outside of the Burkster’s luxe Phlegm Building office yet ­­­here I sit staring out the window at the 7 inches of snow in the parking lot and longing for the rumble of a 900-inch Pro Mod motor and the accompanying odor of unburned racing fuel or the fragrance of nitro in the air combined with the calliope sound the pipes of a nitro motor make when it is shut down. In other words, I’m already Jonesing for racing and it’s at least a month away. So while I’m in a bad mood (hehehe) let’s get to the first Burk’s Blast of the New Year. And away we go!

Finally, after years of drag racing sanctioning bodies and racing series promoting or putting people with little or no real hands-on experience in critical management positions, the newest owners of the IHRA broke with recent history by hiring Scott Gardner as the new President of that organization to replace Aaron Polburn.

Gardner is not only a very successful drag racing promoter but also a track owner and former Pro Stock team owner and racer. In recent history there hasn’t been a management position in drag racing filled with a better-qualified candidate in my opinion. The only question is will he have the long-term backing of the ownership that will allow him to use that experience and knowledge to return the International Hot Rod Association as a viable option to the NHRA for racers, fans and sponsors.

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The hiring by NHRA management with (I assume) the blessing of VP Glen Gray of hall of fame tuner/crew chief Lee Beard could be a game changer for the future of the NHRA nitro classes. The last time a major auto sanctioning body hired the likes of Beard to police a professional class was when NASCAR hired former superstar crew chief Gary Nelson as its VP of Competition and Research & Development.

Although not officially acknowledged by NASCAR, Nelson’s job was to put a stop to Cup teams “bending” the rules and at the same time cut down on the rampant and very expensive research and development being embraced and budgeted for by the premier teams. A Daytona 500-winning crew chief who once worked for the Hendrick organization, Nelson knew what to look for and was given the power by NASCAR to enforce the rules. He didn’t stop the escalating cost of racing a NASCAR Cup team but he slowed it way down and actually made the class affordable for the back marker teams.

Let’s hope that by hiring Lee Beard the NHRA accomplishes the same and at least slows the insanely expensive cost of nitro racing in the NHRA.

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I must be missing something. As far as I can tell not one of the three or four multi-millionaire/billionaire past investors in professional Pro Mod series -- whether they were racing eighth or quarter mile -- ever made a profit or even broke even.

Dave Wood, Tommy Lipar, Sheikh Khalid Al-Thani, Roger Burgess, and Jeff Mitchell never got a return on their investment. The truth is they all volunteered their support and they all lost money!

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