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I further say that racers -- be they weekend bracket/ test and tune racers or Don Schumacher's teams and drivers – don’t determine what is great racing; it is the fans! Fans tell racers what they are willing to buy a ticket for or watch on TV and that in my mind defines great racing versus SCCA racing where in some cases spectators aren't allowed.
By the way when George Howard was putting on the $1,000,000 drag race each year he did not sell spectator tickets. Nobody would pay to see that racing so it couldn’t have been so great, huh?
Why ‘Street Outlaws’ beats NHRA TV coverage
I just finished reading your (December Burk’s Blast) article regarding NHRA and the Street Outlaws, and as usual, I agree with the majority of your comments. If NHRA has a current fault, which I happen to think that they do, it is that there are no racers, or ex-racers, in any management positions within the NHRA that I am aware of, and it appears as if suggestions from outside sources such as yourself and other writers, apparently go completely unheeded. The definition of insanity is when you keep doing the same things over and over, hoping to achieve different results, which appears to be the track that NHRA is on. I've watched some of the Street Outlaws on TV, and I have to say it is interesting, a lot more than NHRA coverage is a lot of the time, they're racing, and they're interesting.
I don't think street racing is the answer, but we all did it, and here in Southern California, where we have almost a complete absence of drag strips now, it's easy to see why there is a definite interest in this type of racing. Like it or hate it, that's just one ugly fact of why NHRA attendance is down at places like Pomona for Winternationals and World Finals.
I think that another reason that there is a definite interest in Street Outlaws is the types of cars that they run; they're real hot rods, although the cars like Big Chief's Firebird and Jeff Lutz's Camaro are really Pro Mod cars under their respective skins, but these guys, like "Daddy Dave" on Street Outlaws, build real, honest to goodness, home brew hot rods. Their cars are somewhat reminiscent of the old Modified Production and Gas class cars that used to run in Modified Eliminator (and before that, Street Eliminator), where a lot of the older generations got their starts in drag racing.
There was a young guy from Texas named Carroll Caudle who ran a '55 Chevy Bel Air hardtop in Modified Production, and he was one of the early heroes, mostly because his car looked like what a lot of the spectators had sitting down in the parking lot, and while their car was never going to run like Carroll's car did, they liked to imagine that it would. Same goes for Paul Blevins, who ran a '55 Nomad in Modified Production, and was a very famous car back in the day. Blevins went on to race a variety of different cars in various classes, but the Nomad was what put his name out there in the first place, and was instantly recognizable. I was always a Mopar guy, but credit has to go to where credit is due, and these two racers, although largely forgotten by NHRA history now, were very instrumental in getting and keeping people interested in NHRA drag racing. It seems as if NHRA, unless it burns nitro, appears to have little to no interest in promoting anything other than Top Fuel and Funny Car, while Street Outlaws promotes people and cars that the average guy could and would build.
I remember running my Super Stock Plymouth at Bakersfield one year, and one of the NHRA guys told us that if it were up to him, NHRA racing would consist of Top Fuel and Funny Car, and everything else could just run a big ET Bracket. Looks like that's where they're headed. Goodbye drag racing, hello street racing.
I realize that the nitro cars are the main show, and it will always be that way, but, if the NHRA continues to treat their Sportsman racers like they are nothing more than something to be grudgingly tolerated, I wouldn't be too surprised if they found an alternative venue.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to the maniacal ramblings of an old man.
Has Been NHRA Super Stock Racer Of No Particular Renown