BURK'S BLAST w/editor Jeff Burk

Clearing Out a Cluttered Notebook


Just Wondering ... I’m a fan of Tony Pedregon in his role as  the NHRA’s expert commentator in the broadcast booth of the FOX/NHRA broadcasts but I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when he posited on the air that Steve Torrence’s opponent in the first round at the 2019 World Finals at Pomona, Cameron Ferre, should have deferred to Torrence when he raced against him since Torrence was a lock to win the championship and Ferre wasn’t even in the Countdown. Wasn’t that the same Tony Pedregon that was going to punch John Force at the Top End when he accused Force of doing what he wanted Ferre to do for Torrence? Can’t have it both ways, Tony.




Just Wondering ... The NHRA’s 2018 tax returns show that fired former NHRA president Tom Compton got yet another payment from the NHRA to the tune of $200,000. M.r Compton also was the recipient of a $500,000 payment in 2017. I wonder how many more payments Mr. Compton could be in line for?




Just Wondering ... Although the NHRA doorslammer classes are almost 100% populated with sedans and coupes, an overwhelming number of  Americans are buying and driving SUVs and Detroit’s big three are clearly getting out of the sedan production business why the NHRA management think about starting some SUV-only SPORTSMAN classes and see if there is any interest?




Just Wondering ... Will the NHRA change the schedule and format in 2021? The six-race, season-ending NHRA Countdown to the Championship had so little attraction to the motorsports viewing public that not one of the broadcasts attracted enough viewers to get on the Nielsen rating list. That many races in a row with no ratings had not happened at any time during the previous 18 events.




Just Wondering … Will someone please explain to me what has not convinced the NHRA management and president Glen Cromwell that the Countdown championship has been an abject failure that can be blamed on the architect of a championship format that mimicked NASCAR, former president Tom Compton and his management team, which at that time included current NHRA CEO Peter Clifford? I don’t think anyone can show Cromwell any real benefit the sport has gained from changing to a traditional season-long points championship where every race counted to a “play off” system that hasn’t yet been fully embraced by sponsors, racers or fans, and certainly not any of the mainstream media.




Just Wondering ... Wouldn’t it make for more drama and a better test of a World Champion team if NHRA had three races in a row, took a week off, and then three to the championship instead of a race every two weeks from the middle of September to the middle of November? One of the reasons the NHRA championship get almost zero national media attention and terrible TV ratings is the absolute fact that in September,October and November of any year pro and college baseball, football, and basketball dominate the sports news, TV broadcasts and sports fans.




Drag racing’s Manufacturers need to step up!


Professional drag racing used to have three professional leagues: The NHRA, IHRA, and AHRA. At one time in history all three organizations had their own series of races, sponsors, sportsman series and pro teams. Now there is just the NHRA on a national level and a myriad of regional doorslammer and open wheel series.  A made-for-cable TV drag racing melodrama consistently attracts two or three times the Nielsen viewers that NHRA national event broadcasts attract.


You don’t have to be a Wharton School of Business graduate to realize that if you’re a speed equipment manufacturer whose customer base is drag racing and aren’t owned by a venture capital group you have to be concerned about your future in a world where electric cars are a reality.


I think part of that decline is the lack of promotion of the sport and its participants by the current group of speed equipment manufacturers. NASCAR and Detroit embraced  “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday!” as the battle cry of the Big Three automakers in the go-go 1960’s. To accomplish that end Ford, GM, and Chrysler made sure race winners and the brand of car they drove were made known to the public through every print and electronic media they could access.


So, what does the above mean to the sport of drag racing and its racers? Simply this: Drag racing manufacturers in the early days of the sport, when they were trying to get customers depended on “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” to grow their business. Pioneer drag racing manufacturers like Iskenderian, Crower, Donovan, Engle and others in the 1960’s ran ads in National Dragster, Drag News, and monthly drag magazines like SS&DI and others featuring photos of the cars and drivers who were winning or setting records. Isky was famous for using racer/customers in his ads who might otherwise never get any recognition for their efforts. For many racers being in Isky’s ads was almost as good as winning a “Wally” to them and their friends.  In the 1970’s and 80’s Mike Thermos built NOS into a hugely successful company and his huge (for the time) advertising campaign always used “hero” racers endorsing the product. I think those ads probably made lifetime customers and drag racers out of some of those featured in the "hero" ads.


The current management team at the new NHRA is dominated by accountants whose primary task, in my opinion, is to make the NHRA profitable. They know that their nitro classes are what sell tickets and attract Fortune 500 sponsors and that is who they will spend time and money on.


So, I am suggesting that for drag racing to just maintain its current level of success, the legacy manufacturers that haven't been bought out or forced out start promoting the sport and their racer customers through the electronic media with ads that reward their customers and promote grass level racing.  

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