"I really DO have a crystal ball and here is what I see in 2001"
Most of you who read this column each month know I am not a big Nitro fan or even a "look-a-like Stock" oops, I mean Pro Stock fan. The sportsman racers intrigue me; their desire to follow strict rules and undergo teardowns reveals how dedicated they are. Now they have a new horsepower-factoring system to get accustomed to. The Super Class racer fields are always growing and it is getting harder to get an entry form to NHRA national events. I think this month's Dead-On will deal with my theory on what I think will happen in drag racing in 2001 and what I see that I don't like and the stuff I do like.
The Professional Class car owners are beginning to act like professional baseball, football or basketball team owners. No loyalty among team owners, members or crew chiefs, just a "follow the money" attitude. I feel that will be the final blow to an already diminishing turnout of fuel cars. If the rich car owners "buy" all the talented crew chiefs they will win but at what cost? The smaller budgeted teams will just fold up and disappear or race at only a few events.
Is NHRA doing anything about this? No, they are turning their heads and saying everything is O.K. At least IHRA jumped in there and made some reasonable rules in an attempt to keep millionaires from dominating just because they have more money. I applaud IHRA for their National Event TV coverage as well. It blows away the NHRA attempts. IHRA shows almost every class and the announcers sound interested and actually ask different questions.
I think the Pro Mods will be a kick-ass deal at the NHRA National Events they will be showcased at. As a matter of fact, they might as well ask the Pro Stocks to finish up Saturday with the Sportsman racers. Talk about lack of fan appeal! NHRA Pro-Stock needs to pitch the 500-inch deal into the toilet and let them go "mountain motor" and EFI. They always bring up budget costs, but please…what do you think it costs to make a 500-inch engine run 6.80s? When the Pro Mods go 6.30s, Pro Stock will look wimpy.
As far as Sportsman racing goes, there will be some "Super Teams" showing up at National events. Scotty Richardson appears to be putting together an eight-car team! Can you believe that? With his preparation and top-flight hired drivers like Jeff and Don Strickland and Shane Carr I predict at least one World Championship for this team and if they win three it would not surprise me.
But what about calling an eight-car team a "Sportsman" operation? I really think it will make them too dominant. When you have all week to prepare and all the time it takes to prepare every car for every event the "Super Teams" will continue to dominate. Of course they can't win them all, but wait and see who fills out the Top 10 at season's end. Don't take me wrong, I can appreciate all the work it takes to field and maintain multiple racecar teams. I just wonder if it isn't time for NHRA to step in and say "bring all the cars you want but you can only drive in one class at an event". Will it happen? I doubt it; they need the entry fees and the big teams know how to work the "system" so NHRA and IHRA put up with them.
I see that an independent Stock/Super Stock event called the U.S. Class Nationals is planned for Byron Dragway July 20th-22nd. This is the brainchild of Alex Denysenko and with help of friends and sponsors this race could really change the face of class racing in the future. They have guaranteed purses that are larger than those at National events. They are running Top Stock, a heads-up class of the nation's fastest legal Stockers, Super Stock, Stock, Outlaw Super Stock and Nostalgia Super Stock. This event will be one to watch in 2001. Could there be more of these events popping up in the near future? I hope so.
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