Before we begin, the importance of this topic resulted in our consulting a half dozen others, seeking their input on these topics. The people who provided that input are anything but in complete agreement with everything, and we’re good with that. Even though this is an editorial, seeking wide-ranging opinions has helped set the tone while also helping to clarify our own thoughts.
After our last editorial (http://www.competitionplus.com/drag-racing/editorials/26057-up-front-racing-is-killing-drag-racing1) we were overwhelmed by the support it received. In addition to e-mails and calls, the number of Facebook and on-site “Likes” topped 4,500, while the “Didn’t Likes” numbered less than one percent of the total respondents, or less than 50. During a recent national event we heard a number of strong supporting comments, some from surprising sources, which included NHRA executives, race team owners, track operators, corporate sponsors, mechanics and drivers. The only conclusion we can draw is there’s widespread belief that the current “show” aspects of NHRA Drag Racing are sadly lacking, and something must be done about it to not only attract new fans, but keep the ones we already have.
With three events left in its eight-race inaugural season the X-treme Drag Racing League ran into “X-treme” trouble. Late purse payments to racers plagued the upstart eighth-mile organization almost from the start and promises from series president Jeff Mitchell to make good are now looking about as empty as—well, as empty as the grandstands on race day at an X-DRL event.
Whether this mess—and make no mistake about it, the X-DRL experiment can now officially be referred to as a mess—is self-inflicted or the X-DRL is at the mercy of its own non-paying “sponsors,” the credibility of the series is destroyed. Time after time racers, fans and media alike this year heard reassurances, statements of solvency, pledges of support and offers of excuse, but with the outright cancellation late in August of events at Indianapolis and Montgomery, Alabama, and the season-ending X-DRL World Finals at Charlotte in October left as little more than an underfunded dream, it’s time to get the forks out; the X-DRL is done.
After a decent debut at Tulsa in April, through no fault of its own the X-DRL suffered through a rainout at Bristol later that month at an event that attracted only about 80 race teams and perhaps as many spectators. During one of several rain showers I sat down with Mitchell and asked how much of a setback—financially—a race like that would be to the fledgling X-DRL and he assured me it was none. “The money is not at the track,” he said, explaining he wasn’t relying on racer entry fees or spectator admissions to keep the series afloat. “We have a three-year plan and there’s enough (money) lined up right now to see it through those three years.”
While Jimmy Prock was tuning John Force to his 136th Funny Car victory Sunday at St. Louis, his and wife Jill's 18-year-old son Austin was racing in California with four-time NHRA champion Gary Scelzi and his family.
The younger Prock, a midget racer and the 2012 STARS (Short Track Auto Racing Series) Rookie of the Year, reconnected with longtime buddies Dominic and Giovanni Scelzi, now 16 and 11 years old.
And they crammed their visit with -- what else? Racing.
The youngsters went Thursday night to a town near the Scelzis' home at Fresno for some go-kart racing. They were back in the shop the next morning to finish prepping the micro sprint cars to race in that night at Plaza Park Raceway at Visalia. The following night they raced at Lemoore.
Jim Hughes is both a successful super class racer and business owner. His Hughes Performance brand is recognized worldwide as one of the leaders in his industries. He has also won many national events both as a driver and team owner. This year, Hughes has been a vocal proponent for safety in super class racing and has at times taken the NHRA to task for their policies regarding this style of racing. Recently, Hughes and K&N Filers President Steve Williams offered their opinions in a CompetitionPlus.com article asking if the three-decade's old Super Comp and Super Gas indexes should be made quicker. The topic quickly became a lightning rod of controversy. In this guest editorial, Hughes offers his insight and ideas to help Super style racing.
A recent article published here in CompetitionPlus.com regarding the viability of changing the indexes for the Super classes generated input and healthy debate. There is no doubt, certain aspects of our style of racing need to be updated and/or reorganized, if only to keep up with the changing times and increase of horsepower our industry has developed.
When Winston sponsored the NHRA professional series, it sponsored the No-Bull Showdown between Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars at Bristol, Tenn. But Lex Dudas' Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa., can top that.
The dragstrip that last October produced national records in all pro classes . . . the dragstrip on which the sport's best set performance milestones . . . will see more than horsepower. It will be the site next June 7 of the Northeast Great Bull Run.