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

DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: KING FOR A DAY

06_02_2011_knightOne man dictatorial rule hasn’t fared too well in the Middle East in recent months, but the daydream of “King for a Day” has been a popular wandering in America for generations.

Who among us hasn’t sat back and thought: “What would I do if I had all the power for 24 hours?”

Yes, in NHRA, Kenny Bernstein is the “King of Speed.” But just for fun, at a recent Full Throttle series national event, I walked the pits and asked some of my drag racing friends the obvious question:

“What would you do if you were King of NHRA for one day?”

DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: GETTING TO KNOW PAUL PAGE

I met Paul Page for the first time in the late 1970s at the old Trenton Speedway in New Jersey. We got to talking while waiting for the crossover gate to open at a USAC Championship Trail race. A couple of years later, when I became CART’s communications director, we started working closely together and developed a long-term friendship.

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Michael Knight

Page began at WIBC Radio in Indianapolis in 1968. In 1977, while on assignment, he was almost killed in a helicopter crash near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That same year he took over as anchor of the worldwide Indy 500 Radio Network on short notice when the legendary Sid Collins died in May; in fact, he was Sid's hand-picked successor. Paul was the race's "voice" for 15 years and also called the action on NBC's early CART telecasts.

BOBBY BENNETT: THE ADRL WILL SURVIVE

 3-31-11bobbyonADRLDrag racing has a way of separating the wheat from the chaffe, which is why this news outlet spoke little publicly about the off-season turmoil swirling around the ADRL.

It was our belief as a staff, the first race in Houston would tell the story without having to offer our opinion.

The results are in – the ADRL is moving forward in a strong and healthy manner.

We couldn’t make the same statement in December. No one really could either considering the ADRL’s cone of silence eminating from the management level.

After two very successful events, Houston and Palm Beach, those who reserved judgement made the right decision.

UP FRONT: IT’S THE WORLD WE LIVE IN

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Who would have thought sex could kill you? Considering the virulent STDs of the 21st Century, it definitely can. It’s the world we live in.

Who would have thought some school districts would be trying to institute drug-testing programs for middle schoolers? It’s the world we live in.

Who would have thought those nascent testing programs would have expanded to the point of being a part of every day American life? It’s the world we live in.

And who would have thought we’d see the day when our sports heroes would be vilified for their alleged use of PEDs, and iconic athletes with names like Bonds, Armstrong and Clemens would be facing trial for lying about it? It’s the world we live in.

The drug testing of competitors on the NHRA Full Throttle Series has been in effect for so long that it’s an accepted part of drag racing. It’s the world we live in.

DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: THE NHRA DID THE RIGHT THING WITH NEWEST BOARD MEMBERS

I’m one of those who, in the interest of good corporate governance, had been saying for years NHRA needed to add “outsiders” to its Board of Directors. That is, people not dependent on checks mailed from Glendora, Calif., to pay the mortgage and feed the family. As opposed to the “insiders” like Tom Compton, Dallas Gardner, Peter Clifford and Graham Light.

That said, I’m sure I’m not the only one who said, “What?!” when Ken Clapp and Michael C. Cohen were elected to the Board last December.

I’ve never met Cohen, a Los Angeles attorney. But I’ve known Clapp a bit over the years, as a key NASCAR West Coast operative, and confidant of Bill France Sr. and Jr. Clapp -- an energetic 72 -- has owned as many as a dozen short tracks and says he’s promoted more than 8,000 days of events ranging from stocks to drags to AMA, World of Outlaws, Indy Cars and just about everything in-between.

UPDATED: DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: TOYOTA MISSED THE BOAT

Roger Burgess bought three new Solara bodies for Melanie Troxel's Funny Car team but then declined a proposal from Toyota's motorsports marketing department for a formal affiliation based on "cost benefit."
 
In a pre-season interview with CompetitionPlus.com presented by Attitude Apparel, Troxel said of the team's possible relationship with Toyota, "We're hoping it will grow into something" from a technical, marketing and publicity standpoint.
 
During a telephone interview Tuesday, owner Burgess explained his position.
 
"The Toyota agreement, like any manufacturer agreement, says if we do business with you and put our sticker on your car you can't put another manufacturer sticker on your car," Burgess said. "For the amount of money they were offering, or shall I say the amount of value they were offering, I could not commit to going exclusive and not talk to other manufacturers."

BOBBY BENNETT: IS NOW THE TIME TO CHANGE PRO STOCK?

02_25_2011_prostock_commentarySheryl Crow sang a song which suggested, “A change will do you good”.

As a lifelong drag racing fan and respecter of the technical attributes of a Pro Stock car and what it takes to race one competitively, I wonder if Crow’s song could or would be appropriate for the NHRA’s Pro Stock division.

After all, the last time a significant engine rules package was introduced was 30 years ago.

Following a 1981 season where the NHRA Pro Stocks were continually upstaged by their lesser known IHRA mountain motor brethren [i.e. Warren Johnson, Rickie Smith and Ronnie Sox] the sanctioning body brass decided the time had come for a change. Out was the pounds per cubic inch formula structure and in was the IHRA’s basic premise of big inch motors at 2,350 pounds.

DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: NHRA MISSES ITS ACTIVATION

Man, does NHRA miss Budweiser.

No, I don’t mean because of the free beer.

I mean because of the massive activation Bud bought and brought to its sponsorships of Kenny Bernstein and the sanctioning organization. As I explained in my January column, activation is what a sponsor does to capitalize on having its name on a car, race or series. I’m amplifying activation this month because it’s the essential Business of Racing word you need to understand to be a more knowledgeable fan.

Yes, my friends, those were the days. Those 30 record-setting years when the King of Beers helped make Bernstein the King of Speed. You knew the NHRA circus was coming to town because, if for no other reason, those colorful Bernstein cutout-standups would be positioned where the Budweiser was in supermarkets, convenience and liquor stores, bars and restaurants. And who can forget the TV commercials showing Bernstein’s Top Fueler launching off an aircraft carrier and Shuttle-like from Cape Canaveral?

DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: THE IMPORTANCE OF ACTIVATION

 
Make this a New Year’s resolution:

Add the word “activation” to your drag racing vocabulary.  

It’s as important as “holeshot” and “horsepower” to understanding what makes drag racing work. In fact, it’s so important, I’ll focus two columns on activation: Some of the experts explain the basics and tell case studies this month; in February, I’ll  say why it’s something NHRA needs a lot more of – and I mean a LOT more.

Simply put, activation is what a sponsor does to capitalize on having its name on a car, race or series. A high-speed billboard is no longer enough to spread the news. The days of sports marketing being little more than slapping on a decal or sewing on a patch are as long-gone as the Cajun Nationals.

AS WE SEE IT: D. O. Y. SNUB INEXCUSABLE

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You don’t have to be a Larry Dixon, Top Fuel or even a drag racing fan to feel very bleeped-off right now.

You just have to have a basic sense of respect for the sport.

Jimmie Johnson was announced Wednesday as Driver of the Year, as determined by an 18-member national media panel. The five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion received 10 votes. John Force got seven nods and Kyle Busch one.

Dixon didn’t get a single vote. Not one.

This is a much bigger deal than Santa leaving NHRAers a lump of coal.

It is an outrage.
 

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