Stock Eliminator: time for a change, maybe?

ome of you watch Stock Eliminator with interest and find the concept of working on your car and engine combination under some strict rules very interesting. Then again, some of you find Stock Eliminator as interesting as watching paint dry. I get both opinions but lean more toward respecting the dedication it takes to spend years to get the car a couple tenths of a second faster.

I watched almost every qualifying and class elimination round for Stock and Super Stock at the 56TH U.S. Nationals. To say it was enlightening would be an understatement.

The buzz in the staging lanes was how fast the Cobra Jet Mustangs and the Drag Pak Mopars would be. The Stock Eliminator racers knew they could be fast but I think everyone was shocked by just how fast all of them were. Remember, these cars are factory produced by Ford and Mopar with all the race equipment, including drivetrain, to go to the track and win.

Here is where the “rub” begins: The factory reps provided technical information and what they felt was a correct horsepower rating to NHRA officials. I guess NHRA bought their B.S. and classified the cars accordingly. Instantly these “factory cars” could run far under their Class Index.

I really became aware of this when several of my friends could not qualify for the U.S. Nationals as the Cobra Jets and Drag Paks all were at least .80 under their Index (some a lot more than that!) With about 20 or 30 Ford Cobra Jets and Mopar Drag Paks in attendance, they ate up a lot of open spots that conventional Stock racers could have filled.

So, instead of punishing racers, who have in some cases worked for decades to get their cars under the index, by making them run the new factory hot rods heads-up in Eliminations, why not make Indy an all-run field for eliminations? It would only add one round to the entire event and everyone who tossed $300 to $600 for entry and pit passes would AT LEAST GET TO RACE!

When you consider that Stock Eliminator was designed for “production vehicles” that have been modified, one could conclude this is a class for true production cars. The new Fords do not have a DOT-approved VIN tag but instead have a serial number (that information was provided to me by an owner of one of the Factory Ford Cobra Jets). I am not sure about the Mopar Drag Pak cars but let’s say they do NOT have a valid VIN. This makes them a non-production car and should not be classified in Stock Eliminator with cars that are real production cars.

This is an EASY FIX. Establish classes for these Factory Experimental Cars. A-B-C-D-E/FXA (automatics) and A-B-C-D-E/FX for stick cars. A simple stroke of the pen will do it. It will ease a lot of tension among racers and the BEST REASON is simply IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

None of these issues are the fault of any racer or car owner. Rather, I think the blame, not that they will admit it, is on the back of the NHRA officials who “laid down” for the Ford and Mopar factory executives and turned their backs on hundreds of loyal racers who have spent years of work and thousands of dollars on their Stock Eliminator cars only to fall victim of a “factory experiment” that has gone wrong.

I hope this will be resolved so the Factory Experimental Fords and Mopars will have classes to themselves and the longtime Stock racers will not get thrown under the bus to accommodate a few “special cars.”

I raced several years in Stock Eliminator and I realize it is a performance-oriented class and heads-up runs occur when cars in the same class get paired up during elimination rounds. That is the way it is designed, but when some of the “factory experimental cars” end up in your class and can run .3 to .6 of a second faster, isn’t it the NHRA’s responsibility to “level the playing field” as monitors of the sport?

I hope they work this out before a lot of Stock Eliminator racers just park their cars. Without a doubt the ball is in the NHRA court. Since I do not own a Stock Eliminator car anymore I can sit back and watch, thank goodness for that. What do you say NHRA? Going to deal with this or just ignore it and hope Ford and Mopar keep buying ads in National Dragster and setting up huge displays on your shrinking Manufacturer’s Midway? Just wondering, that’s all.