Story continues below this advertisement
I was there for the ordeal of the ’09 Winternationals at Pomona Raceway from the Wednesday press conference of last week, through rain on Thursday, Friday and the only round of Professional qualifying on Saturday, then the attempted eliminations on Sunday. In my opinion NHRA did the absolute best they could have done, regardless a possible scheduling conflict for the following weekend.
Sadly, I saw the sportsman trailers heading out of the pits in the rain on Sunday night. Sportsman Racers had given all they could and rightfully needed to go back to their jobs or businesses for the beginning of the new workweek. Considering the economy there were more sportsman racecars than I expected but there were less than 25 cars in Comp Eliminator. That is a good thing
Sadly, I saw the disappointment of eight nostalgia teams who sat waiting in the rain to put on their nitro sideshow taking up slack in the Saturday and Sunday Big Show on-track festivities. None of them made a pass, but incurred lodging, transportation and food costs. I didn’t hear any of them whining when Steve Gibbs walked the nostalgia pits on Sunday morning to thank all of them for coming and inviting each of them back to run at the World Finals.
Sadly, I saw multiple times when a half dozen Pomona track workers had broomed off standing water from the first 300 feet of the racetrack only to wander back to the sidelines with brooms resting on their shoulders to watch rain or drizzle undo what they had just done with their hard labor. The track was cleaned and ready to go a dozen times and wrecked by drizzle or outright downpours.
What would any of you done differently? It’s the National Hot Rod Association who has their 501(C)(6) wallet and ass on the line and will take the hit financially for the Acts of Nature that doomed the event. Do they have weather insurance? I hope so, but no amount of insurance can make up for this mess and it was nobody’s fault. And understand this clearly: no one, from the premiere professional teams to the true sportsman racers, can afford the cost of waiting around an extra week to race.
I’m not sure where the notion that “rich event promoters” are somehow evil, or the idea that losing money on an event like the Winternationals is OK because of the millions made on everything else came from. While the NHRA has been shown on their tax return to be profitable, those profits, by percentage are in line with the rest of corporate America. I know that NHRA has made numerous bonehead decisions in the past including the Sport Compact and Pro Stock Truck failures and the games they’ve played with the Pay-to-play Pro Mod owners including not recognizing them as a full professional class.
I overheard one fan say that the weekend delays and postponements were payback, karma for new higher ticket prices on additional crewmember event tickets. In my book every crewmember should be able to get an event ticket for half of the face value, but again it isn’t my sanctioning body.
In my opinion NHRA did everything within their power to put on the 49th Winternationals in an orderly manner, the next best plan was to go for it on consecutive weekdays to finish the event ASAP. No contingency plan can foresee this kind of chaos, and no decision is going to be immune from second-guessing.
I saw what they did at every possible opportunity to resume racing, moving the event to another questionable weekend with another lousy weather report was even riskier. It was a pain in the ass, but NHRA did the right thing and I was there for every boring, exhausting minute. Ultimately the NHRA didn’t make any decisions aimed at infuriating rabid spectators or racers, they just made the best call they could with the cards they were dealt.