Dead on

VOLUME XIX,  NUMBER 5 - May  2017

Fishing and thinking about drag racing…


It has been a few months -- did you guys miss me?


OK, probably not! But I found out I missed expressing my opinions about a sport that has been a huge part of my life for over 40 years. Actually closer to 45 years. WOW, I am getting old. One of the many things I have figured out though, old doesn’t mean you lose your passion for things in your life.


I have rediscovered how much I enjoy golf and fishing. Who would have thought that? Maybe golfed one or two rounds a year for 25 years and for the last year or so I am probably playing 72 to 90 holes a week. Fishing? I had hardly ever fished since I was maybe 10 years old. Couple years ago I bought an old fishing boat at an auction and now I fish three or four times a week when we are in Florida.


All right, that probably about put you to sleep but I wanted to mention what I had been up to and why I needed a “cooling off period” from writing my columns and tech articles, and sharing my opinions of our favorite sport, drag racing.


What got me all stirred up over a month ago was the disqualification of the Emmons’ brothers Stock Eliminator Camaro at the Phoenix National event. I watched the video about 20 times, tried taking several points of view on what I was seeing, and came to the conclusion that the NHRA stole that race from him for no reason. Did he drop the nose down, rub the brakes pretty hard? YES, and he did it perfectly. Did he lose control, cross the center line or hit a barrier? Not even close.


NHRA’s own rule book says he must lose control, cross the centerline and contact a boundary (retaining wall). He did NONE of that. The driver in the other lane did exactly what Emmons did but a little bit later. I heard stories he had been warned and the normal Blah, Blah, Blah winners usually get. He did a masterful job of driving in a class that has a break-out rule, just like bracket racing. If the NHRA is going to disqualify a driver for breaking out by .0001 of a second then they should expect drivers to get very skilled at taking as little margin of victory as possible to prevent themselves from losing via the break-out rule.


I think it was possibly the worse call I have ever seen at a drag race that could have ramifications on a World Championship. Sad day for Sportsman racing. Seems the NHRA wants the “non-drivers” to be the winners. I like the saying, “Suck it up Buttercup.” It’s a bracket race within an NHRA Sportsman category and racers with skills at the finish line will win a lot more often than the guys who just look straight ahead and HOPE they see the win light.


Now for the other “observations” I have made the last few months:


1. Does it seem there is a $10,000, $20,000, $50,000 or $100,00 bracket race almost every weekend now? Is that a good thing? Does it make bracket racers “save their parts” for the Big Money and not attend local races?


2. I have always wondered how the same guys seem to always come to the top at these Big Bucks races. I know they have skills and composure but I think their “secret weapon” is preparation, testing, and the finances to have the absolute best equipment.


3. While I am talking about “perennial winners” I want to give a shout-out to Luke Bogacki and Jared Pennington for their “Sportsman Drag Racing Podcast”. WELL DONE, guys! Excellent opinions and input. If you haven’t tuned in for their show, Google it and take a few minutes to hear two of the best in the business of Sportsman drag racing “tell it like it is.”


4. Are the NHRA pro categories officially “dead in the water” yet? I try to watch National events, for some unknown reason, and there are basically three teams competing, getting all the interviews and never mentioning things like #1 Qualifier gets a bye because this nitro class is so strong and exciting we can’t get 16 cars to show up! Half of the runs are tire shaking, chutes out early, coasting 9.00-second runs with ATVs pushing them all off the track. Pro Stock is like watching paint dry; same cars, same shift points, same ETs. Pretty much an over-controlled class that the winning is done by reaction times or not shaking the tires. What are there…three competitive teams that bring nine or 10 of the 15 cars that show up for a 16-car show? Again, a great opportunity for NHRA to make Pro Stock a real pro stock class with the super nasty factory muscle cars, but they are hung up on hand-made 500-inch V-8s that nobody can identify. Getting rid of big scoops did nothing to help except cost teams a couple hundred thousand dollars in intake manifold development.


5. I watched the Gatornationals on NHRA All-Access (which after 20 minutes of junk, actually worked OK). WHY does a Stock Eliminator driver need a crewman help them find pre-stage? It looks stupid to have to help a guy in Stock or Super Stock find the pre-stage light. That sort of answers the question why a good finish line driver can turn on win lights with ease, doesn’t it? Some of the guys can’t find the pre-stage bulb, let alone the finish line at 140 mph.


6. Do bracket racers really like races that the winner earns $10,000 or $20,000 and runner-up earns $1,500? Yes, I KNOW THEY SPLIT THE PURSE UP! Why do tracks accommodate that splitting? I have been on both sides of the split and I have changed my mind as to what the track responsibilities should be. You don’t have to go any farther than try watching a race like the Million Dollar Race, Spring Million, Powerball of Bracket Racing on streaming to see what happens. Race goes along pretty good, gets to about 16 cars and BOOM, 20 to 30 minutes before anyone shows up in staging for the next round…Negotiations start for the SPLIT. It continues every round until about two hours later we are in a final for $240,000, NOT! The remaining racers have cut, sliced and diced the money left for payout into much smaller pieces. I don’t care what racers do with the money they are racing for, but I feel the track should not be involved. Call the cars back, they have 15 minutes like every other round and if they are late due to “negotiating a split” they might miss the round and are out. SOLVE THE ISSUE, PLEASE! Keep a great race moving along. Lower the winner’s money that nobody gets anyway and set up a great payout for the final four or final eight racers. It is getting ridiculous in my opinion. You need a calculator in staging instead of a helmet.


7. Instead, why not make a $10,000 to win, $2,000 R/U and $500 semifinals race purse $5,000 winner, $3,500 R/U and $2,250 for each semifinalist? Racers are going to do it anyway.


Do you bracket racers really go to a $10,000 to win race thinking you will take $10,000 home? You know it will be split up, right? What if the track doesn’t split it up? They simply hand out checks as advertised and the racers have to write each their “split checks” and give them the IRS 1099s they need.


Racers that know me also know I am usually willing to split the purse. I think we all went down the wrong path. We should just race for a better structured purse and prevent the pressures we put on each other figuring out a “split” when in reality we knew the payout when we entered the gate.


OK, enough is enough. Thanks for reading this version of “Dead-On”, I appreciate it. If you have a “Counterpoint” or an “Opinion” on my column, feel free to send us an email to We might print it but for sure we will answer it.


Be safe out there! 


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