There are some who never accept change and those who see change as growth.
Those unwilling to accept change will never embrace 1,000-foot drag racing, nor will the Countdown to the championship be a source of pride. And, don’t mention drag racing while running four abreast, the once a year style of racing is a definite jolt to those willing to fight for the past and never defend the future.
Throughout their history, professional baseball has changed; professional football has changed. And, their fans aren’t staging boycotts just because big league baseball has adopted interleague play; or, pro football changed the format of the overtime session.
Granted the National Football League never shortened the football field but if we are going to compare apples to oranges, in the interest of fair reporting, they never had a football player run off the end of the field and lose their life; not that I am aware of. They did, when players were coming up in later life mentally incapacitated because of head injuries, implement new rules controlling tackling. In fact, they are discussing doing away with the age old tradition of kick-offs in the name of safety.
In drag racing, for many it is safety be damned in the name of tradition.
Based on what has transpired to this point, I think we can safely say 1,000-foot big show nitro racing will forever be the norm. Just because of this, there are some drag racing fans who will never attend another event because they refuse to adapt and change.
Many fans have decided to follow the NHRA’s Heritage Series to get their fix of quarter-mile nitro and to be honest; I now enjoy this style of racing. I, like many on the east coast, who were not in the hot bed of this style of racing, learned to appreciate this racing of the past. I adapted. I took the time to understand what a good run was and wasn’t. For several weekends of each year, I’ve managed to immerse myself in the past while maintaining a grasp of the present terms of my reporting job.
I fully understand the past is a nice place to visit but not to live.
Drag racing is still the greatest sport in the world. It is thunderous, a blast and the kind of horsepower sport where going quicker and faster is the name of the game whether it’s to 1320 feet, 1000 feet or even just 660 feet. The goal in a professional division is to run the quickest and fastest from start to finish, not just for the sake of going a specified length.
I must admit I often wonder how much faster a 332 mph run would be to the quarter-mile and while I understand why the NHRA shortened to 1,000 feet, I still wonder why in the world we can’t find a compromise at some tracks. NASCAR does it. Why can’t we have 1320 feet tracks and 1000 foot tracks with events in the same season? We do run four-wide and two-wide, don’t we?
Where the NFL made many of their changes of tradition for safety, major league baseball has changed their format of interleague play and other tradition-breakers for the sake of media coverage and putting more butts in the seats.
This is where the Countdown comes into the non-traditional debate. I applaud the NHRA for making this change. Not to give the folks at the NHRA a bigger ego, but this was a good idea if only to generate more excitement at the end of the season. Sure, it’s manufactured drama but really, the practice of resetting a season is nothing new in sports. It happened in our grandfather’s baseball via the playoffs, and until NASCAR tried it with their Chase early in the last decade, we never believed it could work in any motorsports application.
Some call it a gimmick; just like four-wide drag racing. But, in a complex economy, gimmickry could be the difference between success and failure.
When the first four-wide race was exhibited, I thought it was a neat concept just like when the dragsters used to run the funny cars in Bristol in the latter part of the 1990s. But, it could never run as a national event … maybe as a specialty race was my prevalent thought.
As a journalist, I hated the racing because from my vantage point, behind the dragsters, it seemed like there was too much action to keep up. I watched the run on television and thought it was terrible. Then, last weekend in Charlotte, thanks to Brandon Mudd covering the first two rounds of the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals, I was able to sit in the grandstands about 800 feet down track. I got just as excited at seeing 32,000 horsepower thunder by me as the first-time race attendees sitting alongside me.
Going back to my perch for the final round opened my eyes to a newfound appreciation for the concept and the understanding change is inevitable if drag racing is to keep up in this day of the increasing demands for the entertainment dollar.
The growth of CompetitionPlus.com is a prime example of how quickly communication and the distribution of news has changed. When the website was started in 1999 those addicted to printed magazines were quick to say, “It’ll never catch on because you can’t take it to the crapper.”
They are right, you can't take CompetitionPlus.com to the crapper, but it is also getting tougher and tougher to take a newspaper or magazine as well. One thing you can do while on the toilet is read CompetitionPlus.com on your I-phone, of which there are millions in use every day of the week.
Life today is so different from the lives are parents, their parents, and even the parents of parents who are parents now, lived.
Those who adjust and work to adapt with change move forever forward in life, those who don't slip away and finish their lives in silence.
Oh, and just in case you think everything I have said is easy – wrong! It's not easy. It is possible. Now if I could embrace Nitro Jam show as a true form of drag racing, I might move forward even easier. Or maybe, some of you, there are just times when remaining a traditionalist seems like the right thing do.
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