BOBBY BENNETT: NHRA GOT THE RESTART RIGHT
The NHRA's effort last weekend reminded me a lot of something which took place in United States history.
On April 18, 1942, roughly 132 days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle led 16 B-25B Mitchell medium bombers in a raid on Japan's mainland. It served as initial retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor and provided an essential boost to American morale. The raid itself didn't win the war, but it sent a strong message.
The NHRA staged its own Doolittle raid against the pandemic while in Indianapolis last weekend.
After major-league drag racing shut down a little over 120 days ago, it was important NHRA made a return for its community, which in itself wouldn't save the whole season financially. Still, it would go along way toward a morale boost.
As someone who lived through the hell of the coronavirus, the E3 Spark Plugs Nationals was something I needed badly. This was the first time I'd been to a drag race since the Bakersfield March Meet back on March 8.
For all of their sometimes overbearing precautions ahead of the event, the NHRA did it right. And an equal partner in the "rightness" was the drivers and those limited fans who attended.
Regardless of how I might feel about what works and doesn't work against the coronavirus, everyone did their part in such a way that they were doing what they had to do to keep one another safe.
Nevermind what the world is trying to say you need to do to remain safe, if you want to remain critical of NHRA’s protocol, that’s your right, of course. But when you’ve had a terrible case of COVID-19, maybe you’d understand why they did what they did a little better.”
Maybe a mask protects me; maybe it doesn't. But if in some way it could protect someone else from a week of 104-degree temperatures, body aches, debilitating headaches, digestive issues and lung diminishment, I'd rather be safe than sorry. I'm speaking on experience, not some embellished account of someone who never had it.
There will be some who will call me on the carpet and say I am just carrying on the narrative such as those who picked up on two words out of 2,400 in an article I wrote back in May. My mistake? I referred to it as the "often-deadly" COVID-19. Nevermind the fact the whole story was about a man who fought for his life from the coronavirus.
But, I digress.
I believe what NHRA did last weekend was to show major sports entertainment that drag racing, which was built on human interaction and sensory overload, could entertain in what has become today's new normal. There was nothing political about the weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway. It was a prime example of where there's a will, there's a way.
As I see it, the NHRA has dates coming up, which I seriously doubt can be run largely because of local health regulations. These races are important. Whether we realize it or not, some teams are struggling to keep sponsors which could affect the landscape of 2021.
If NHRA can successfully pull off these pair of impromptu events, why couldn't they pull off more consecutive dates at Indianapolis in case races in pandemic hot spots cannot be run? A real drag racing fan would rather see three or five races run at the same facility than five races cancelled.
Additionally, I believe NHRA could use these Indy events to work with local officials to ramp up the number of attendees.
For all the things myself and my media colleagues have taken NHRA to task for, it only fits we give them credit for what they do right.
When I first escaped what felt like my dungeon of despair after 18 days or so in confinement back in March, it was done seeking a sense of normalcy.
Last Friday, when walking up to the starting line, greeted by friends I never thought I'd ever congregate with again, a measure of life as it used to be returned for me.
Life for me, a COVID-19 survivor will never be the same. Drag racing likely won't either.
But for two days in a warm July Indianapolis climate, there was a measure of normalcy, even if it was spent six feet apart from those whom I consider my other family.
Think you're invincible? You're only invincible if you see the threat coming. In the case of our https://t.co/Reh86n8GFm founder Bobby Bennett, he never saw it coming. - #DragRacingNews - https://t.co/0URy0UkcPd pic.twitter.com/RFXfsPYtdj— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) March 26, 2020