Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 4, Page

Engine diapers may solve the oil-down problem


Is drag racing only ONE DIAPER AWAY from being a much better spectator and participant sport? I think so and after you read this you may agree.

If you read my column from time to time or check DRO every day to see if a new column is up yet (Kudos to you who do that!) you are probably an active racer or an enthusiast of the sport.

I am in the middle of preparing two dragsters for this year, working a 55-hour per week job, selling Trailer Toads, rebuilding transmissions for customers and spending evenings with our newest grandson (until he and mom Kelli leave to be with his Coast Guard daddy at his new station in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida). To that end I am still constantly thinking about why drag racing just can’t pull a consistently large crowd. I guess that once you have been a drag strip owner for 15 years it is hard to get rid of the desire that burns in you to see a sport you love continue to grow for the next generation.

NHRA and IHRA dream of the day they can bring live TV to drag racing events. The main reason they can’t do it is simple: OIL-DOWNS! They cause long delays to get them cleaned up and maintain a fair and equal racing surface for the next pair. Spectators get bored, racers get bored, and the entire event is on hold until it is cleaned up. That WILL NOT WORK for TV.

This sport cannot grow much more until there is “live TV,” period. Sure they can figure out how to get another 5,000 people in the stands, get ESPN2 or Speed Channel to show replays at 3 a.m., but the fan base will always be the same. People who either have raced or have always wanted to race.

Do they show drag races at your local sports bar? Do you see people driving around with decals of their favorite drag racer in the window? Do you see race fans wearing coats, hats and other clothing featuring their favorite drag racer? NOT VERY OFTEN! If you are at an event, you see it but the overall population is pretty much unaware of NHRA and IHRA drag racing. LIVE TV could help conquer that problem and oil-downs are the biggest obstacle in the way.

Oil downs happen at every drag strip in the country. If you are a racer you know the frustration of sitting in staging or the pit area for an hour or longer while a local track crew does their best to clean up 1500 feet of nicely sprayed race oil or transmission fluid. Most tracks do not have 15 Safety Safari guys, three trucks, a jet dryer and a tractor equipped with tanks full of VHT to clean up an oil-down in 20 minutes. It is simply not affordable for the local track.

Do you want to know what is affordable? Engine diapers. These are now available at very affordable prices. I have seen them advertised for $159.00 for non-SFI units. Who cares if they are SFI certified for sportsman racers; we are not trying to contain red-hot shrapnel from an 8,000 horsepower, nitro-burning engine like a Top Fuel dragster is. What we need to do is “keep the event going.” Can you imagine a drag race without the one- or two-hour delays that happen at almost every event? Do you think people might be more interested in watching if they aren’t forced to sit through an hour or two of watching a bunch of guys sweep oil-dry into a fine mist of oil that they can’t even see? If we are ever going to draw spectators, which will raise our purses and improve the facilities without having to pay for it every race with higher and higher entry fees, we MUST get some “butts in the bleachers.”

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