Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 4, Page

Our Mission
DRAG RACING Online will be published monthly with new stories and features. Some columns will be updated throughout the month.
owes allegiance to no sanctioning body and will call 'em like we see 'em. We strive for truth, integrity, irreverence, and the betterment of drag racing. We have no agenda other than providing the drag racing public with unbiased information and view points they can't get in any other drag racing publication.

Jeff Burk
Managing Editor
Kay Burk
Senior Editor
Ian Tocher
Matt Schramel
Asst. Managing Editor
Marissa Gaither
Bracket Racing
Jok Nicholson
Mike Bumbeck
Cole Coonce
Cliff Gromer

Darr Hawthorne

Bret Kepner
Jeff Leonard

Dave Wallace
Dale Wilson

Editor at Large
Bret Kepner
Senior Photographer
Ron Lewis
Adam Cranmer
James Drew
Todd Dziadosz
Steve Embling
Steve Gruenwald
Zak Hawthorne
Bret Kepner
Tim Marshall
Mark Rebilas
Ivan Sansom
Jon Van Daal
Tech Contributors
Dave Koehler
Jay Roeder
Jim Salemi
Wayne Scraba
Mike Stewart

European Correspondent
Ivan Sansom
Jon Van Daal
Poet Laureate
Bob Fisher
Director of Advertising
Darr Hawthorne
Accounts Manager
Casey Araiza
Editor at Large Emeritus
Chris Martin
Website Hosting
Website &
Ad Design
Matt Schramel
Technology Consultant & Site Programmer
Adrienne Travis

Sportsnationals, bad sports and funny business


Although I had a ticket and a hotel room booked to attend the IHRA national event at Rockingham, NC, when I got up at 5:30 a.m. Friday and peered through bleary eyes at the Weather Channel and saw nothing but a red box over the Carolinas I decided to option my trip. Since American Airlines abandoned St. Louis as a hub about all I can fly on to get to tracks like Rockingham are small prop-liners and commuter jets and I just won’t fly on those little planes into bad weather. So, I stayed at home and followed the drag races on the Internet, over the phones and on the tube. I actually enjoyed following the racing like many of you do who read DRO instead of traveling. It also gave me some time to get scribble some notes, observations and opinions on the back of my Modelo Especial beer bottle label.

I enjoyed following the SPORTSnationals at No Problem Dragway via Ian Tocher’s live update reports, but I’ve got a few bones to pick about that event.

First, what happened to the Comp racer support of that “national event” for Sportsman racers? Only 17 racers showed for Comp Eliminator at the race. What a slap in the face to those who labored long and hard for that race to take place. One racer told DRO that the reason was that many of the Comp racers went to the Division 3 race at Indy because they couldn’t afford the gas. About 80 or more super stock and stock racers could afford to go, but Comp racers couldn't? Instead, they supported a Division 3 race instead of their own national event? I can't think of any good excuse for Comp racers to not support their national event. Shame on them!

While I’m on the subject of the SPORTSnationals, how could the NHRA management allow their Division 3 director, Jay Hullinger, to schedule a race on top of the SPORTSnationals? Especially after all of the time and money they’ve spent promoting SPORTSnationals events.

I’ve asked before and I’ll ask again. How can you have a SPORTSnationals and not include T/AD and T/AF? If the purse for these cars is too much for the track to shoulder, why doesn’t the NHRA underwrite it? According to their own tax returns for 2004 they ended the year with $3-5 million in the bank, and Tom Compton told me that the numbers were better last year. So how much would it cost the NHRA to subsidize eight-car fields for the funny cars and dragsters at selected SPORTSnationals. Has to be less than they are spending on luxury boxes for Pomona and Gainesville.

As yes, Virginia, NHRA does subsidize professional classes. This kind of non-support of the Sportsman classes re-enforces my belief that NHRA will eventually/inevitably cut way down or completely do away with sportsman racing at national events.

Speaking of Sportsman classes being done away with at certain races or being rotated from year to year, I heard from a very well informed NHRA source who has to remain unnamed for fear of reprisals that NHRA’s main reason for limiting Sportsman participation is the rapidly increasing amount of pit space required by the Professional teams and the Manufacturer’s Midway.  The Sportsman racers don’t help their own cause as more and more of them have larger and larger tow rigs. The real problem for the NHRA is the fact that they can’t expand the pits at most of the tracks. In the end something has to go and you know it won’t be the Pros.

Don’t think that Fuel Funny Cars affect the attendance at a drag race? At Steve Earwood’s IHRA race this weekend fuel floppers were part of the show for the first time since the mid-1990's. With good weather the track attendance was up 22 percent on Friday and 25 percent on Sunday.

Speaking of IHRA Funny Cars, they had just eight cars at Rockingham despite predictions of many more than that from IHRA. They believed that NHRA teams on their way to Bristol would go to the “Rock” but that didn’t happen.

My opinion: Most NHRA hitters don’t have the funding or inclination to run IHRA events unless the races are held in their hometown. Such as was the case with the Pedregon Brothers at San Antonio. The IHRA fuel Funny Car class will need to mimic the Top Fuel class and develop their own IHRA-dedicated teams over a period of years. Don’t be surprised if some races have a short nitro funny car fields. It will take a couple of years to develop the class.

The John Powers lawsuit filed in Arizona and directed at the Goodguys can’t be a good sign for the just emerging nostalgia funny car scene. As I understand it, Powers' attorneys forced the Goodguys to cave and allow Mr. Powers to compete for at least two years with bodies that were thought to be illegal. I’ll bet the Meador family who own the Goodguys organization won’t forget they got bullied by one of the nostalgia funny car guys when the two-year agreement is up. I’m betting the Goodguys won’t be going out of their way to promote the nostalgia floppers for the next two years and John Powers' suit gives them good reason. Even though Mr. Powers may have thought he had the Goodguys okay for the bodies, sanctioning bodies [NHRA, IHRA, NASCAR] approve bodies then change their mind, that's just racing. You talk about a bad sport.

I watched as much of the live CBS broadcast of the F-1 race as I could stand. I’m sorry, but they just don’t satisfy my need for speed. When one of the announcers said that 1. Tires would decide the race and 2. It was more important to many of the big teams that they win the manufacturer's (constructor's) championship instead of their driver winning the World Championship I hit the remote and started watching Seinfeld reruns.

Speaking of funny business, whatever happened to the Paul Smith/Jeff Arend deal? They were supposed to be racing the IHRA circuit and so far haven’t made the first race.

What do you have to say?

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Burk's Blast "the publisher's corner" [4-13-06]
Diapers, Britney Spears and pay-per-view

The great attraction for me as a fan at IHRA events is that there is always a chance that someone totally unexpected will win a professional class and that you never know who will roll through the gate on Friday. Jack Wyatt’s first ever win in a nitro funny car, Vinnie Arcadia’s runner-up to him at the same Rockingham event and Paul Lee’s runner-up at San Antonio are prime examples of what I mean. I just love it.