BURK'S BLAST w/editor Jeff Burk

More wondering after Indy

Just Wondering ... Does NHRA president Glen Cromwell have the right idea in wanting to return pro nitro classes to quarter-mile racing? I absolutely believe he does. Although I was originally opposed, I'm now is favor of quarter-mile pro nitro class racing AND a 300-mph speed limit for the cars.  Here is why I think I speak for all fans of nitro when we say that 3.5-4 seconds of racing down a 1,000-foot track just isn't enough smoke, fumes, flames or racing. Current NHRA Drag Racing is 4 seconds of entertainment followed by 5 minutes (on a good day) of fans forced to watch track prep! So any rule/decision NHRA makes that will keep nitro-burning race cars on the track racing for more than 3.75 seconds has to be better than what the fans have now. When NHRA's fans almost never return for the "second act" whether it happens after the first round of Saturday qualifying or after the first round of eliminations on Sunday, the current entertainment isn't enough to keep them in the stands for a second helping.




Just Wondering ... If the NHRA and the racers involved want the Factory Stock classes to be anything other than just another NHRA pay-to-play doorslammer class that sends fans to the pits as soon as it rolls out from underneath the tower, then they better get back to the rules that Bret Kepner spent a year researching and writing. One rule he wrote was: No wheelie bars. He knows that without giant wheelstands most NHRA door-car classes are boring to 99% of the ticket-buying fans. NHRA rules don’t have that “no wheelie bar” rule because the racers wanted it that way. Now the Factory Stock Showdown cars all leave like the bracket cars they look like.




Just Wondering ... Have the NHRA and the racers forgotten what made the Hemi Shootout a fan favorite at the U.S. Nationals? Real factory hot rods that did giant wheelstands! I watched the Factory Stock class closely at St Louis and not one car in the field was doing big wheelstands or long burnouts. Are fans and sponsors really excited by or clamoring for an 8-second/170-mph door car class that looks and acts like a version of NHRA Pro Stock? I think if the NHRA really wants the class to have fan appeal they should re-instate the no wheelie bar rule and try to make the class entertaining for the fans as well as the racers.




Just Wondering ... So why make ‘em wear head and neck restraint devices? Apparently the NHRA concussion protocol at their national events, as it was explained to me, is they check a driver for a concussion if the attending trauma doctor judges the situation requires one or if the driver asks for or appears to require one. “Grenading” a motor on the starting line with an explosion that destroyed a motor, chassis and body during a live TV broadcast didn’t meet the threshold that requires a doctor to check the driver; they didn’t know the driver had a concussion! (This is what happened to Justin Schriefer at the U.S. Nationals.) Drivers I talked to at St. Louis generally weren’t really concerned about the issue -- much like when DRO helped lead the charge for mandatory head and neck devices for NHRA pro classes 25 years ago.




Just Wondering ... Is it possible that the NHRA easily sells more spectator tickets in 2019 than they ever did “back in the day” as critics often claim when referring to the packed-grandstand covers of National Dragster and Drag News compared to the sometimes sparsely populated grandstands we often see on the NHRA/FOX shows. Part of the problem is that NHRA national event tracks of the late 1970’s and early pre-Winston Cigarette sponsorship ’80s with a few exceptions had grandstands that held 10-15,000 fans at one time. Then drag racing was booming and in quick succession mega-tracks with legitimate 20,000+ seat grandstands like the Texas Motorplex, Houston Raceway Park, Chicago’s Route 66 and others followed, adding as much seating as they could afford. The problem is that all of those tracks had near sold-out crowds in their early couple of years of racing. I was there then, but those crowds of 20,000+ fans in the stands didn’t last past those early years. So, now tracks whose grandstands can hold 20-25,000 fans look half full or worse if they put 12-15,000 fans in the seats. 

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