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As far as I’m concerned, the six races that made up the 2014 NHRA Countdown delivered the best drag racing I have seen in my 60+ years as a fan of NHRA drag racing. There was plenty of exceptional professional racing in all six of the Countdown races. Even with a three-week pause between the fourth race and the fifth, the series was both entertaining and compelling.
I have to admit that I’ve changed my mind about the Countdown that until this year I really didn’t care for. But I have to admit that the racing at the last six races in the 2014 Countdown were excellent and delivered some high racing drama. The Countdown races showcased professional NHRA drag racing at its very best in every class. I got so wrapped up in the Mello Yello Championship that I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning to watch the ESPN2 qualifying broadcasts for both the Las Vegas and Pomona races and was glued to the screen later that same day to watch the Sunday broadcasts of the elimination rounds.
My sincere congratulations to Tom Compton, the ESPN production crew reporters and anchors and especially the racers for delivering great racing and TV during the Countdown!
While I do enjoy eighth-mile drag racing both as a racer and a spectator I still feel like the ultimate test in the sport is quarter-mile racing (I would have loved to have seen some of the half-mile drag races at the old Riverside track in California). So with that in mind my vote for the most impressive pass of the 2014 season has be the 5.46 /272+ mph passes made by the turbo Pro Mod driven by Turky al Zafiri at the PSCA race at Gateway International -- and he repeated that speed at the October PSCA race at the Strip at Las Vegas.
That is 13 mph faster than the NHRA Pro Mod record of 257 set by Melanie Troxel in 2011 and three-tenths quicker than the 5.77 ET also held by Troxel.
It should be noted that the PSCA’s only restriction for their Outlaw Pro Mod class is no nitro and Ms. Troxel ran her numbers under restrictive NHRA rules regarding minimum weight, type of supercharger and other rules.
My NHRA sources tell me that the NHRA is concerned (and rightfully so) about not having enough Pro Stock teams to support a 16-car qualified field for the 2015 NHRA season. Apparently in the NHRA meetings with track operators at the SEMA Show the NHRA execs made it known that they only count nine Pro Stock teams that will commit to attending the full 24-race schedule.
If true, that would obviously have a serious impact on the NHRA’s Pro Stock Class. The main problem is that it reportedly costs competitive teams upwards of $1.5 million a year to race NHRA Pro Stock and, unlike the nitro classes that have a few corporate sponsors that will pay team owners a couple of million dollars or more to race, the Pro Stock class hasn’t been able to attract corporate sponsorship willing to spend that kind of money.
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