BURK'S BLAST w/editor Jeff Burk

The Once and Future NHRA

For decades NHRA management has added a variety of professional classes to its national event line-up in an effort to find a class other than the nitro-burning Top Fuel and Funny car classes to attract new sponsors, racers, and most importantly ticket-buying fans.


Over the years the NHRA added classes like Pro Stock Truck, Pro Modified, Factory Modified, Sport Compact, Pro Stock Motorcycle, and most recently Factory Stock. The fact is, none of those new classes have significantly increased the number of new fans or major sponsors or increased ticket sales or Nielsen ratings. (Which remain in the tank as evidenced by the latest broadcast from Brainerd which had under the 300,000 viewer threshold required to be listed in the weekly rankings.)


On the other hand, the most popular drag racing on TV is based on “Outlaw” street racing and street racers. For over a decade -- first the “Pinks” series and multiple “Street Outlaw/ No Prep” shows on the Discovery channel constantly get 10 times as many viewers as any NHRA broadcast according to the Nielsen folks. NHRA not finding a way to bring those cars, hero drivers and their fans into the NHRA makes no sense from a business, marketing, or growth standpoint.


The fans and racers have spoken: Give me nitro or give me outlaw street/no prep if you want me to buy tickets to your events, watch your racing on TV or support your sponsors.


So, I’m just wondering why the president of the NHRA hasn’t instructed his management team to add a street outlaw/no prep professional class to selected NHRA national events? The management team wouldn’t have to wonder about adding the class and its hero drivers. The last decade of highly rated cable TV shows and sold out venues featuring those cars and drivers have proven that point over and over.


If the NHRA is to survive (much less grow) it must embrace the most popular grassroots racing movement in drag racing history. The next generation of potential NHRA racers aren’t interested in the program the NHRA currently offers. But that is not to say they wouldn’t be if the NHRA gave them and their racing some respect and a place to race.


It seems a “no-brainer” for the NHRA to me. Outlaw/no prep racing and its classes are about as low maintenance as a new pro class could possibly be. The only rules the NHRA would have to enforce would be tire size and basic safety rules.



There is precedent in NHRA history for doing what I am suggesting. After all, when Wally Parks started the NHRA the racers he did it for were in reality a bunch of outlaw street/no prep racers from the streets of Southern California.  

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