Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 6, Page

A View from Inside my Helmet


f you race as much as you can, you might like this column. If you don’t race but like racing, you might like this column. If you are a pit crewmember for a Sportsman racer, you might like this column. If you are a spectator and go to bracket races ……… you are tougher than I am! It has been a crazy but fun month so far as our season gets underway.

Bracket racing has always been an interesting part of drag racing for me. I was a “class racer” back before bracket racing existed. I was one of the first people to support bracket racing around here when we leased Eddyville Dragway and replaced AHRA classes with three different bracket classes. We were able to maintain about the same interest, although the entire process was not without its “moments.” Spectators still came out on Saturday nights and enjoyed a wide variety of cars and good racing.

So why is it that when you go to a bracket race today there are practically ZERO people in the stands? The racecars get better every year. The average ET for a S/Pro car is getting faster and faster every year. (Here is just how fast today’s bracket cars have gotten: When I owned Eddyville Dragway and Cedar Falls Raceway we used to have Funny Car shows with booked-in groups of Funny Cars and Outlaw Pro Stockers. Some of the Funny Cars struggled to run 7.70s (4.80s 1/8th mile) and the Pro Stockers back then could barely get to the 7-second zone (and barely into the 4-second zone on the 1/8th mile) consistently. We used to get 1,500 to 2,000 people to watch those races!)

Why are the stands empty now? The cars are far faster, more consistent, better appearing and the racing is closer than anyone would have imagined several years ago. When I get the chance to go to a bracket race I actually enjoy watching the races. There are a few things that drive me crazy though:

  1. An announcer that reads the ET and speeds (hey genius, they are on the scoreboards!) Why not mention the car’s sponsors, recent wins, is it a family race team, where are they in the points, etc.
  2. How about explaining exactly WHAT is going on. Reaction times, what difference they make and what a great job the racers are doing.
  3. Promote the next events coming up, thank the racers who actually did come out. Make it a racer- and fan-friendly place.
  4. The announcer has all the controls. If there is a timing equipment problem he needs to know how to explain it. If there is an oil-down...why not interview a couple of local racers to kill some time rather than a static-filled radio station over the PA.

Is it lack of promotion or is it complacency by track owners? That’s a tough question. As long as the entry fees cover the payouts and leave a little profit the track owners can live with it BUT can the racers maintain that system?

By the looks of a lot of bracket races around this area, my answer to that is NO. Car counts are dwindling even when there is $2,000-to-win purses and good round money. The IHRA Pro-Am wasn’t a complete failure at my local track but the two-day, two-event format should have brought in a lot more cars than it did.

SURVIVAL TACTICS: Will track owners start promoting bracket races and the great competition? Why couldn’t they promote a Quick 16 show like we used to promote the Funny Car circuits? I think it is just a matter of time until the bracket racers quit tolerating $75 to $100 entry fees for a local $1,000- or $2,000-to-win race. I hope the tracks can survive when only 20 racers show up, but I think it is getting closer to reality in some areas.

WILL THE ECONOMY MAKE THE RULES? Unfortunately the economy controls too much and it will likely have a grip on drag racing too. It is too bad, but the reality is that the economy controls all of us and what we get to do in our free time. The days of slamming 50 gallons of gas into the tow vehicle and driving like crazy to the next race is becoming more rare all the time due to the phony fuel price gouging taking place.

I think at national events, regional points meets and local race attendance, both race cars and spectators will continue to fall until they get fuel prices stabilized or we all get a big juicy raise at work. . .like that will happen!

I sure wish things would change and maybe it is more of an obvious problem here in the Midwest or possibly I am looking at things with too much negativity.

On a little bit different note, I want to answer a couple of questions I have received lately. One of the most common is: “What is going on in your bracket racing world?”

Good question, here’s the answer: I race almost every weekend from mid-April to mid-October. I love the sport of bracket racing and I feel the winning drivers have reaction times and concentration that is as good as anyone in motor sports. I race locally most of the time, thanks to a general lack of money, but the competition is excellent. “Project 4-Link” has been acting normal this season and we are off to a great start. We are leading the points at Cedar Falls Raceway (two runner-ups in Top and a semi-final); the car was stellar at Eddyville’s Memorial Weekend race winning a $2,000 check in Top. I am racing against some of the best racers in the country and their skills make me work hard to get to the winner’s circle. I am proud to call these guys my friends and proud of my accomplishments when I can beat them.

Question: “Why do you seem to jump all over NHRA or IHRA if they do something a little wacko?”

Answer: WHY NOT? They are the standard by which we have to measure things. The more these companies turn management over to non-racing people the more stupid things they will do. I am in this sport for the racing; I don’t care about TV packages, major sponsors or how the millionaire “super teams” are struggling this weekend. What about the $250 entry fee to race in a sportsman class at a national event…. Doesn’t that seem a little wacko to you?

I know, it was a strange “Dead-On” this month, but maybe it was just the alignment of the stars or that streak of good reaction times I have had on the track. Whatever it was or is THANK YOU for reading the column and for reading DRO.

Have a great start to the summer and we will be back in July, hopefully still knocking off the competition like we have in May.



Dead-On [5/8/06]
Weather, Fuel Prices, Economics 707

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