Rumor Mill

:::::: Editorials ::::::

UP FRONT WITH JON ASHER: NO POINTS FOR RECORDS? WHY NOT?

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At a moment in time that may be the most critical ever for the National Hot Rod Association a decision has been made by management, one that escapes logic. We’re talking about the abandonment of providing championship points for national elapsed time records in the professional classes.

Think, for just a moment, about “where” NHRA is as the 2016 season dawns. A brand new and seemingly promising television package with FOX Sports is about the debut with at least one untried studio commentator. There's also a new Pro Stock. Meanwhile, outside of the broadcast center there’s the ascension of Peter Clifford to the top management position. While that promotion came more than six months ago, this year will mark the first time Clifford has been the sole decision-maker, so this puts him squarely in the spotlight.

 

 

BOBBY BENNETT: I CHOOSE TO BE OPTIMISTIC

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Optimism, op·ti·mism, /ˈäptəˌmizəm/ - hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.

While I have written professionally now for almost three decades, the upcoming NHRA season marks the most optimistic new season in a long time. 

While there are those who find fault in the Glendora gang regardless of what they do or attempt to do, in looking at the recent moves being made behind the scenes, I see a genuine attempt to fix wrongs perpetrated over the last decade. 

 

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT - TOP TEN BUSINESS OF DRAG RACING STORIES FROM 2015

MKhead12A hearty Happy New Year’s to all CompetitionPlus.com readers.

That being said, it’s time for this column’s annual listing of the year’s Top 10 stories in the Business and Politics of Drag Racing.

COMMENTARY: SUSAN WADE - THEY’RE RACERS (HOLD THE ASTERISKS)

 
 

susan_01.jpgDiversity in NHRA drag racing, taken in the historic sense, undeniably is a right fulfilled, a blessing, a mark of acceptance, welcome, and forward-thinking.

 

But frankly, in its practical sense, diversity has become an exhausted buzzword.

 

With Top Fuel’s Antron Brown and Pro Stock’s Erica Enders clinching their respective series championships last weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the tattered old blanket has been hauled out of the closet and paraded around again.

DAVE DENSMORE SPEAKS (COMMENTARY): DON'T LET PARANOIA DESTROY YOU

 

Contrary to the dictates of conventional wisdom, I believe that paranoia is contagious, just like the flu.  I suspect this because there was a time when I didn’t have it – but now I do.  Mine, I’ve decided, is the result of years of exposure to the most potent natural source of the paranoia virus: John Force.

The 16-time Champ never has given an interview after which he hasn’t expressed concerns that he might have offended someone.  I call it “interview remorse,” the day after need to call everyone in your phonebook and apologize. The problem is that while he is paranoid about offending fellow racers, the NHRA, fans, sponsors, vendors, the occasional midget (i.e., ‘little person” for the PC-sensitive), he just can’t stop talking.  

SUSAN WADE - MULDOWNEY AMONG THOSE IRKED BY ESPN’S SNUB OF DRAG-RACING WOMEN

 
 

susan_01.jpgAnytime a panel of so-called experts undertakes a project to name “the best” athlete in any kind of category, it inevitably encounters both unbiased and unjust criticism.  

But ESPN’s recent attempt at identifying the Best Female Athlete Ever is at best incomplete without the mention of three-time NHRA champions Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey or Pro Stock champion Erica Enders.

However, the National Hot Rod Association also has missed a golden opportunity. Perhaps NHRA officials have missed it for the same reason "Street Outlaws" producers and participating NHRA member racers have ignited the controversy: the NHRA has been a poor judge of how to attract a crowd and a TV audience.

UP FRONT WITH JON ASHER: A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES OR SELLING YOUR SOUL FOR $1,250

asher05.jpgA relatively minor activity that was part of the California Nationals in Sonoma may ultimately become a major factor in the future of NHRA Drag Racing. That activity was the Pro Bike Battle, which included the eight competitors who had amassed the most points during qualifying at a year’s worth of previous national events. The race was to have been sponsored by Miramonte Records, the same firm which backed the program last year, but when they apparently failed to provide NHRA with the funding for the Battle, their name was removed from the program’s publicity. More importantly, the purse for the race, which was originally posted as $61,000, was dramatically reduced by NHRA to $10,000, half of which came from Sonoma Raceway. The total payout including the qualifying money was to have been $75,000.

 

 

DAVE DENSMORE SPEAKS (COMMENTARY): NEW TV PACKAGE CAN DO NHRA A LOT OF GOOD

 

It’s no secret that new NHRA president Peter Clifford inherited a litany of problems that for years were ignored in the apparent hope that they would fix themselves.

As a result, at his first press conference, he identified six initiatives he wants to address during his presidency.  Not unexpectedly, his No. 1 priority was NOT doing away with 1,000 foot racing.  It was putting in place a workable TV package.

BOBBY BENNETT: PETER CLIFFORD, IT’S ALL ON YOU BRO

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Coming into his new leadership role, newly appointed NHRA President Peter Clifford knew he needed to make an impact.

Two weeks into his administration, he's made two key moves which have done just what the NHRA needed.

Right now it looks all good on paper and computer screens.

 

 

DAVE DENSMORE SPEAKS (COMMENTARY): YES, THERE’S A POSITIVE COMING FROM GLENDORA

 

Finally!  Something positive.

Kudos to new NHRA president Peter Clifford for making his first big decision a universally positive one.  NHRA’s hiring this week of writer, columnist and commentator Terry Blount as its new vice-president of Communications and Public Relations was a huge step forward for the sanctioning body and the sport.

That said, it’s not a move that immediately will restore any of the credibility lost in the debacle of the previous four months when no one, at least no one in a position of authority, saw fit to provide racers, fans, the media or anyone else an explanation for the extended absence of the company’s then president, Tom Compton.  

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