BROGDON'S NHRA DIV. 4 COMP CASH INFLUX MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Pro Stock racer and Competition Eliminator alumni Rodger Brogdon had a clear cut goal when he created the prestigious RBR Machine D-4 Comp Shootout. He wanted to breathe new life through a large cash influx into the top of the food chain for class racing in NHRA sportsman competition.
Only the two races into the program, mission accomplished.
This weekend, following the opening session at the NHRA Div. 4 divisional event at the Texas Motorplex, just outside of Dallas, 39 entries made the call for Q-1. Only one run has already created a -.403 bump spot for the 32-car field.
"Way back in the day when I raced Comp we used to have a good turnout all the time," Brogdon said. "That last couple years it’s been down. I can’t tell you the last time it’s had a full field at a points race or a national for that matter."
This season, through his RBR Machine program, Brogdon has infused $150,000 in additional cash in the Div. 4 Comp Eliminator program.
"Comp is still my favorite class," said Brogdon, a past NHRA Div. 4 Comp Eliminator divisional champion from Tomball, Tex. "Seeing all the guys participate and to come out and get some of my money, it’s kind of cool. Somebody’s going to get it, and everybody’s got a chance. You don’t have to be the fastest guy or the number one qualifier to win."
Longtime Comp racer Keith Mawhee pocketed the first award in Houston, adding $7500 to his regular winnings.
Mawhee, who runs a clutch-equipped, small-block powered D/Altered Cavalier, wasn't the quickest nor the fastest car at Houston Raceway Park but scored the win as Craig Bourgeois fouled in the final round.
For Mawhee, the win was a magical one.
"I’ve just done it so long, and I’ve had some days where I thought I was really doing a great job and it didn’t work out," Mawhee explained. "I wouldn’t say Houston was the absolute best weekend I’ve ever had and it did [work out].
"The car I’m in, we built that for Comp back in 2001. It’s damn near a 20-year-old car. We have spent a fortune on it. It’s got some really nice components in it. I’ve been in that car for a long time. I’ve only been driving stick shift a few years now and still learning. I would say I feel like a very humble winner. I get it that if we lined up and did that ten times, then Craig [Bourgeois] would beat me more times than not, but he didn’t, and I’ll for damn sure take that."
The victory has renewed Mawhee's spirit; the extra cash didn't hurt either. It has revived the enthusiasm for Comp Eliminator.
"It’s no secret that the class was on life support there for a while," Mawhee admitted. "I feel like we’re better than we were but still not anywhere near what it was, and it may never be that way again. There are so many other options for guys who’ve got the money that want to go racing. I’ve seen guys advertising cars specifically for ‘hey, this would be a great way to chase Rodger’s money down in Texas."
"I think it made a lot of people excited about getting out here. One of the things I said when I sent a thank you to him was, “man if someone out there is on the fence about whether or not they can do this, you can do it.” I feel like the fact that we would win it is kind of cool because we are not one of the faster cars, this is not some esoteric, space-age combination.
"To me, it’s almost like a great way to encourage people because it’s not just the same five or six guys who win most of the time to have the only shot. It’s worth trying. To me, that’s where the boost comes from."
Brogdon went to the Houston divisional and left with a strong sense of pride in seeing this niche market rebound.
"The fans are loving it," Brogdon said. "Comp Eliminator is one of the coolest classes ever put together and to have 35 or 40 cars at a points race, you will probably never see that at a National this year, so this will be great for them [fans]."
The NHRA, who is usually slow to recognize programs administered outside of their wheelhouse, has credited Brogdon for his efforts.
"The little bit of response I’ve got has been positive," Brogdon said. "Nobody has come up and given me an “attaboy” or nothing but they’re appreciating what I’m doing I’m thinking. Again, I’m just trying to prove a point and help the racers out and get my company some notoriety."
Case in point, Brogdon revealed when he won the 1987 divisional at the Texas Motorplex, he pocketed $12,000 for a Super Stock win.
"It just shows how the payout has not kept up with the times," Brogdon said. "It’s way, way behind."
Brogdon's RBR Machine infuses $25,000 into each NHRA Div. 4 Comp event, with the runner-up also scoring $3500, with the balance of the money dispersed amongst the other finalist. The winner's share of the advertised purse is in the $1,200 range.
Mawhee agrees Brogdon is clearly reaching his objective.
"What Rodger did was make the points races here feel darn near like a national event," Mawhee said. "I think a lot of guys are excited about it. I was reading what people said online about wanting to come down here and race for that.
"To me, it’s not about the money. It’s just about a guy like Rodger wanting to give a boost to the class and people wanting to be a part of that."