BOBBY BENNETT: IT’S NOT GOING TO FIX ITSELF

Written by Bobby Bennett.

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0730-03697The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Unless a major gaffe by NHRA is corrected, this is where the Pro Stock Motorcycle division is headed – to hell.

The gaffe, which clearly has stabbed the division right in the heart, is the fact Harley-Davidson sought exclusivity with one team, which they got in exchange for their status and eventually money.

If the aim in the NHRA’s bending of the rules to suit Harley-Davidson’s activation plan was to improve the class by leveraging the brand name, attracting other manufacturers and inspiring additional sponsorship, it has failed miserably.

The lofty goals envisioned with inking the deal have been replaced with sinking racer morale, distrust of the sanctioning body and a tech department struggling to maintain pseudo parity.

Brokering the deal essentially gives the perception the NHRA is playing favorites, and for many, the perception became reality.

This unethical behavior by NHRA executives betrays the very rule book the sanctioning body created with the intent of exacting fair play. Until the wrong is righted, the problems the NHRA has in the bike division will continue to compound until racers cease to show up for the events.

It is likely the NHRA will continually present equality via their statistics and so-called parity review, but all this lip service, as the racers put it, creates more disdain. When the NHRA declares a level playing field, as they did prior to Dallas, then says there are changes coming forth in the present and the future, their actions create more contempt between racers, fans and the sanctioning body.

A tacit admission, like NHRA officials made last month, sends a message to the masses either the sanctioning body has been lying to protect an unjust alliance or hasn’t been doing the due diligence required of sanctioning bodies.

Prior to Dallas there was nearly an organized revolt until the NHRA stepped up with a timely rules change announcement. However, as time goes on, this situation will likely present itself as the divide between the so-called elites and peasants which will only grow wider.

One might ask, why not build your own Harley? The NHRA has already made the point clear if someone attempts to reproduce a Harley-Davidson bike or the engine, it will not gain approval by the sanctioning body.

One of the victims in this mess might just be the Vance & Hines team.

In many instances they have been unfairly branded as a group who needs tainted rules to win. Nothing could be further from the truth. Vance & Hines could race a moped in this class and win. Instead each accolade is bombarded with accusations of sandbagging, an allegation which cannot be proven or disproven. They cannot truly race without fear of performance eliciting penalties instead of due praise.

If you think their four-valve engine created a firestorm of controversy, just wait until they successfully introduce a new two-valve engine configuration in 2013, as required by newly issued rules.  

No one is asking Harley-Davidson to unveil data the Vance & Hines team worked tirelessly to acquire, but to gain honorable success, the clear answer is to open availability for other teams to purchase similar parts/chassis at a fair and reasonable price.

NHRA doesn’t want to hear this, I’m sure, but it’s time to either adopt a unified engine configuration such as Pro Stock car, inform Harley-Davidson they intend to quit enforcing their exclusivity request or be prepared to watch the class die a slow death.

The bottom line is Harley-Davidson, by placing the stipulation it’s their way or the highway, is acting like a spoiled child with the NHRA acting as the enabling parent.

NHRA, the problem isn’t going to fix itself.

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