A new Project Car to fill our "Fun-o-Meter"
Ever since I mentioned that most of us need to increase our FUN at the drag strip the response from readers of DRO has been incredible. Thanks so much for the input and ideas. I got a few e-mails that were outstanding. They dealt with REAL ISSUES and REAL ANSWERS. Some of these answers won't be popular with everyone, but you have to admit, "sometimes reality really bites."
Don't worry; I haven't forgotten the Project Car I mentioned in the title of this month's column. I will get into that (literally, I hope) very soon.
I just have to take a few paragraphs to respond to a letter I received from a friend and fellow track operator, Carl Weisinger of Orlando Speed World Dragway. He told me I was right on when I said the FUN has started to disappear from S / Pro races, particularly the Big Bucks events. He hosts a three day $10,000 to win each day event at this track the week before the Moroso 5 Day Event. He told me in his letter he was canceling this race after what he has been through the last few years. He also said the events made money but the hassle for him and his track crew was "just not worth it anymore." Rather than the three $10,000 races he is thinking a test & tune night, regular Saturday night program and a War of the Imports race will be more FUN for MORE PEOPLE.
In no particular order the things that he (and a lot of other track owners) are tired of are:
Carl asked me to consider doing a feature on the "Motor Home Problem" facing racers and track owners. I might just do that, but I want to call a lot of track owners first. Stay tuned.
As a former track owner and a current motor home owner it is time to start dealing with the pit parking issue. It is NOT a problem for the track owner. What if more track owners feel like Carl? Are the traveling Big Bucks racers and the events they attend becoming more trouble than they are worth? Usually a non-national event type track has only so many pit spaces that have access to roads for race cars. Is it right that if the big rigs get there early they can hog all the good spots? Should each track have a width limit for pit areas? If the big rigs stay away, is that a BAD THING? I have a few ideas about this.
First, let me tell you all that I am a motor home owner with a 26-ft trailer and I have "hogged" my fair share of parking spots. Recently, I have realized that this is not the way to handle it. I feel the tracks should hand out a flyer that tells WHERE the longer rigs MUST PARK, how wide the spot can be and rules about dumping holding tanks. There are some tracks that CANNOT get everyone in if they allow motor homes or trailers to have their side awnings open. These tracks could require five feet between rigs for walking space and trailer doors. The race vehicle would have to be serviced behind the trailer between rounds. Convenient? Probably not, but it may be necessary.
Does a track owe the motor home owners a level parking spot with a paved road? NO, the track gets pit passes and entry fees from all racers. The tracks' most efficient racers are the guys who drive their car in or use an open trailer. More cars and people in a lot less space PLUS these are the racers that spend money at the concession stand. Have you motor home owners out there bought anything from the track concession stand lately????? I didn't think so. All motor home owners need to figure out ways to make it work better for everyone, including other racers, before we are no longer welcome at local tracks. What if a track said no rigs longer than 50 ft will be allowed, they just don't have enough spots. Where would you go then? With more motor homes showing up every week it is something we need to consider.
Now, about that Project Car, "Two Tons o'Fun." The editor of DRO, Jeff Burk, and I were talking about the FUN we have had in drag racing and we started talking about different cars. Well, here is what our twisted minds came up with. We are going to build an IHRA Crate Motor Stock eliminator car that will be 100% street drivable and also a FUN footbrake car. We have chosen as our "weapon" a 1963 Chevrolet Impala wagon. We need room to carry the necessary race equipment like pop coolers, awning, picnic basket full of goodies, tools, etc. Engine choice is the toughest but we are leaning towards the GM 454-inch / 425HP crate motor. Transmission will be either Powerglide or Turbo. (I know, a 4 speed Jerico would be more fun but Jeff said he doesn't do laying in the dirt swapping ring and pinions anymore!! Wimp.)
We will keep readers abreast on the buildup details and the race results of a bunch of OLD RACERS jumping into IHRA Stock and some Footbrake action. I can see it now, Chris Martin at the wheel, Jeff Burk setting down his golf clubs to pick a dial-in, Chris rolling into the stage beams and preparing to cut a light when "ZAP!!" he remembers back to his first race…ah, deja vu! Ain't it coooooool.
STAY TUNED - Two Tons o'Fun is coming to a track near you (maybe)!!
The other subject I want to discuss in this month's DEAD-ON column is a subject I mentioned last month - that it seemed the No-Electronic racers looked like they have more FUN at the races. I heard from every conceivable type of racer on that one. The strange thing was 99% of them AGREED with me. I only heard from one S / Pro racer who disagreed that No-Electronic racers had more fun than he did. You know what I think now? I was right, and that kind of scares me. Without a doubt the FUN word is something many racers, track owners and families have not used enough lately. Sure we can be serious and try our hardest to win, but winning is difficult to say the least.
I have a saying taped to the dash of my race car and I have tried to improve my racing by using it. It says: "Winning isn't everything, but wanting to win is." I try to run my race program according to that little saying. I want to win and I love the competition, the preparation, the planning and the friends I have made from racing. But as much as I hate losing, I like the sport even more. Now I want to start bumping up my own "FUN FACTOR" at every event I attend.
I hope you found this column thought-provoking. If you have an opinion I want to hear it and so does the Big Kahuna here at Drag Racing Online. Just email me at Jok@racingnetsource.com.
Copyright 1999-2001, Drag Racing Online and Racing Net Source