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Stock Eliminator: Are they really footbrake bracket racers?

Nothing is sacred in one of my columns and this monthís "Dead-On" should prove that. I have had e-mail from every possible kind of racer and several from Legal Class racers. One racer challenged me to spend some time discussing whether Stock Eliminator racers are the best footbrakers around or not. I added a little to that challenge by going a few steps further and asked the "never-ending question." Are Stock and Super Stock racers good bracket racers? Most bracket racers say Stock racers are average bracket racers and Stock racers say they are more than just bracket racers. I will use this monthís column to give you my opinion and why I think I am right. Feel free to respond and give us your opinion.I have bracket raced a long time but I also have been a class racer off and on for about six of my thirty years of racing. Not only have I shown about every possible level of skill and lack of, I have witnessed the same. Owning and managing drag strips from 1979 to 1996 offered me the opportunity to witness thousands upon thousands of rounds of eliminations and time trials.

I had the opportunity to drive a Stock Eliminator car in 1992. Gene Mosbeck and I struck a deal that I would haul it around and we would split any winnings. We started off pretty good when I got a runner-up at my first event, the NHRA NorthStar Nationals at Brainerd, MN. We made it to the semis at the next event, the NHRA National event at Topeka, KS and won class. I got the "stocker bug" pretty bad by then so we set our sights on the following season.

My first event was the points meet at Indy and we won that one. In July we won another in Wyoming and finished 3rd in Division 5 points. I still have a lot of friends from my Stocker racing days. My bracket racing practice made my success possible and gave me the edge in competition.The first thing I learned was there are at least two distinct types of racers in Stock. The ones who are there to win bust their butts to run fast, cut good lights and drive the finish line. The others are there because they have a Stock eliminator car and like the class. They usually are always changing their car or combination to try to run a bit faster. They donít practice much so their start line and finish line skills are just not there. The unique thing is they donít really care. They are content to do their best within the rules of Stock eliminator. While winning is one of their goals, it is NOT their main goal. How the car runs against their Index or compared to another similar car is what keeps them interested. This is the unique difference between Stock racers and footbrake bracket racers.Are Stock racers really just a different version of footbrake bracket racers? In my opinion, YES. They both share the basic dislike for the current trend of electronics in drag racing. They like to race in the "old fashioned way," racer against racer with no electronics involved. Both Stock racers and Footbrakers get to dial in their cars for each round. The catch for Stock racers is the dial-in must be lower than the Index for their class. Once you run under the Index it REALLY becomes a bracket race.

The other exception for Stock racers is if they get paired up with a car in the same class. When that happens they run "heads-up" with no dial-in and no breakout. The problem with this is that NHRA classifies the cars and if a car has an incorrect horsepower rating they can easily dominate these heads-up runs until NHRA and other racers notice the problem. This is the BIGGEST difference between the two groups of racers and I think the heads-up deal is so political it should be eliminated. Let them run class eliminations and see who wins but during regular eliminations let the better racers win, not the guy with the most bogus horsepower rating.In Stock you see several established bracket racers beginning to dominate the class, such as Edmond Richardson, Jeff Hefler, Dan Fletcher, Tommy Phillips and many more. They are not your dyed in the wool Stock racers but rather Footbrake Experts that see the big cash awards available at National events and less experienced racers to compete against. That is not an easy statement to make, but wanting to win is not the same as the professional approach being made by some ex-bracket racers in Stock.

The other racers in Stock need to get out and do a lot more footbrake racing if they hope to compete with these guys. The B&M Racer Series is now rewarding Footbrake racers with two $1,000 races and a $5,000 race at their events. These guys are drop-dead good and if the dominant players from that series get their hands on a good running Stocker LOOK OUT! In closing, I still think Stock racers are just Footbrake racers in disguise. They have their legality issues like horsepower factors, minimum car weight ,certain parts they must use on the engine and suspension, and that darn "heads-up" issue to deal with. Footbrake racers deal with unlimited car preparation like trick suspensions, any fuel systems, etc. This makes the Footbrake cars a bit easier to get consistent, but when everyone can be consistent the competition is intense.

My final opinion is that Footbrake bracket racers are usually better at getting their "package" tighter than Stock racers, due in no small part to the fact that they have a wider choice of parts. Stock racers fall a little short in the driving skills but mechanically may have the edge in car preparation over the average Footbrake racer. So, in the final analysis, are Stock racers really Footbrake racers in disguise? YES, they just have to deal with more rules. Both leave off the bottom bulb, no delay boxes, they shoe polish the dial-ins on, live and die with .001 breakouts and red lights. Bracket racing lives on, whether it is Footbrake, Stock or Super Stock. The shoe polish dial-in tells it all when the cars line up and turn on the Stage Light. The one with the best light and closest to the dial-in is the WINNER. Simple and easy to understand. Got a problem with that??? E-mail us:



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