If I was the Czar of Drag Racing....
photo courtesy Berserko Bob
Editors note: "Berserko" Bobby Doerrer has been hooked on drag racing since his uncle took him to the first NHRA Safety Safari event at the Linden (N.J.) airport in 1956. He's been involved in the sport since 1964and is a cult hero for his exploits during the raucous era of 1970s drag racing. He's currently the PR flack for Bob Gilbertson's nitro Funny Car and we've been after him for quite a long time to put something down on paper for our readers. Lo and behold what did we find in our inbox? This missive from the Weird One. Enjoy...
Drag racing fans, get ready, this is what you've haven't been waiting for. Not that anybody asked or gives a shit what I think but here is how I would fix the sport of drag racing and bring it into the 21st century.
There's a lot of issues facing drag racing right now, safety of course is the biggest concern with the recent death of Eric Medlen and the escalating speeds make both Goodyear and the insurance companies nervous and jerky.
Add to that the growing costs, waning interest in the sportsman classes and a very weak TV package here's what I'd do if I was the head muckety-muck. Now I know that I'm going to catch a lot of shit for some of these ideas but I really think that they just might work.
1,000 foot drag races...I know that 1,320 is the tradition but WTF. Can't things change for the better? It would save the nitro teams a lot of $$$, the biggest thing being the parts attrition at the top end, less speed makes Goodyear happy, less oil-downs to slow the action, it's a no brainer. It adds another 320 feet of shutdown area (think Pomona) and there's hardly any expense to make the change. Plus it will put most of the race in front of the fans in the stands and even save a little time during eliminations.
Sportsman racing...Now here's how I'd make the sportsman show a lot better at national events. Replace every sportsman class (Super categories, Stock and Super Stock and Competition eliminator) with a series of weight to cubic inch classes, all run heads up, no handicap, no breakout just flat out racing. No throttle stops, no delay boxes, no crossover stuff, no electronics at all including trans brakes. Remember the old AHRA GT classes or the original Super Modified class in NHRA? Think about it, a three pound class, a four pound class, a five pound class and so on. Heads-up all the time, I guarantee you that the fans would stay in the stands to watch this kind of racing instead of watching handicap starts and index cars that fall flat on their face after they leave the line. Most current class cars (Comp, SS and Stk.) could be easily modified to fit these new classes and the index classes could just take off their electronics and we'd see just who the best cars and drivers are. There'd be some restrictions to keep the costs to a minimum but if sportsman racers can afford a $200,000 motorcoach and a $100,000 stacker trailer I'm sure they can afford to spend some $$$ on their race car to fit a class.
TV package...It's got to be live to draw any interest. Yeah I know that ESPN has the rights and blah blah but they could still produce their tape delayed show for broadcast and also put live coverage on pay-per-view TV or streaming video on the internet and show the whole event, the cameras are there anyway so why not? This would produce some additional income from the subscribers and additional revenue from added commercial time.
Racing under the lights...I don't care what anyone says, racing at night is the best way to watch a drag race. If you're reading this you know what I mean. Run the four pro categories on Saturday starting eliminations at let's say four in the afternoon and finish up about 10:30. This gives you Sunday as a rain date and run the sportsman cars on Sunday and offer a highly discounted ticket for those spectators who want to return to see the Sunday action.
Now I know that these ideas are a little radical but it's just my opinion. Think about it, we all love the sport and to see it grow and prosper in the near future will take some changes and I believe that these ideas are viable solution to some of the problems facing drag racing.
--"Berserko" Bob Doerrer