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

UP FRONT: A NOTE TO OUR “CRITICS”

 

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Since the conclusion of the NHRA AAA Finals in Pomona the management of CompetitionPlus.com has received a number of complaints and accusations from some of our readers regarding our coverage of that event. While I’m aware of the fact that Editor/Publisher Bobby Bennett has personally responded to a number of those missives, I think it’s time we clear the air on this topic, and state our position once and for all.

The complaints and accusations surround a suspicion on the part of some readers that one of the pro teams may have actively worked to tip the competitive scales in favor of the ultimate Funny Car champion, Matt Hagan. What’s most bothersome about this situation is the direction these complaints have taken, which is to accuse CompetitionPlus.com of covering up what took place on the track. Not only were these accusations directed at those journalists who filled our Pomona Notebook with exceptional, detailed reportage, but were also directed at my Asher’s Pomona Insider feature stories, so let’s be crystal clear right from the start. At no point did anyone working for CompetitionPlus.com cover up anything that took place at the Finals. If we knew about it, and could prove it, we reported about it.

What those readers who complained fail to realize is exactly what our responsibilities are as reporters, and they’re really quite simple. If we can’t confirm a rumor, we don’t write about it, and “confirmation” can’t come from someone who says he was walking by So-And-So’s pits and heard them say they were going to do this or that in the next round. That is anything but confirmation from a reliable source.

 

 

 

UP FRONT: IT'S ABOUT FIXING THE SHOW

 

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Before we begin, the importance of this topic resulted in our consulting a half dozen others, seeking their input on these topics. The people who provided that input are anything but in complete agreement with everything, and we’re good with that. Even though this is an editorial, seeking wide-ranging opinions has helped set the tone while also helping to clarify our own thoughts.

After our last editorial (http://www.competitionplus.com/drag-racing/editorials/26057-up-front-racing-is-killing-drag-racing1) we were overwhelmed by the support it received. In addition to e-mails and calls, the number of Facebook and on-site “Likes” topped 4,500, while the “Didn’t Likes” numbered less than one percent of the total respondents, or less than 50. During a recent national event we heard a number of strong supporting comments, some from surprising sources, which included NHRA executives, race team owners, track operators, corporate sponsors, mechanics and drivers. The only conclusion we can draw is there’s widespread belief that the current “show” aspects of NHRA Drag Racing are sadly lacking, and something must be done about it to not only attract new fans, but keep the ones we already have.

 

 

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: PUTTING EINSTEIN TO THE TEST

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Albert Einstein is widely credited with observing that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

NHRA and ESPN might be about to put Einstein’s theory to the test.

That is, if they continue in 2014 with a TV model that is as broken as an exploded nitro engine. It’s leaking oil. Big time.
 

 

 

 

 

IAN TOCHER: SAFE TO SAY X-DRL EXPERIMENT IS OVER

tocherWith three events left in its eight-race inaugural season the X-treme Drag Racing League ran into “X-treme” trouble. Late purse payments to racers plagued the upstart eighth-mile organization almost from the start and promises from series president Jeff Mitchell to make good are now looking about as empty as—well, as empty as the grandstands on race day at an X-DRL event.

Whether this mess—and make no mistake about it, the X-DRL experiment can now officially be referred to as a mess—is self-inflicted or the X-DRL is at the mercy of its own non-paying “sponsors,” the credibility of the series is destroyed. Time after time racers, fans and media alike this year heard reassurances, statements of solvency, pledges of support and offers of excuse, but with the outright cancellation late in August of events at Indianapolis and Montgomery, Alabama, and the season-ending X-DRL World Finals at Charlotte in October left as little more than an underfunded dream, it’s time to get the forks out; the X-DRL is done.  

After a decent debut at Tulsa in April, through no fault of its own the X-DRL suffered through a rainout at Bristol later that month at an event that attracted only about 80 race teams and perhaps as many spectators. During one of several rain showers I sat down with Mitchell and asked how much of a setback—financially—a race like that would be to the fledgling X-DRL and he assured me it was none. “The money is not at the track,” he said, explaining he wasn’t relying on racer entry fees or spectator admissions to keep the series afloat. “We have a three-year plan and there’s enough (money) lined up right now to see it through those three years.”

GUEST COMMENTARY – JIM HUGHES: THE PROCESS ONLY IMPROVES WITH INPUT

jim hughesJim Hughes is both a successful super class racer and business owner. His Hughes Performance brand is recognized worldwide as one of the leaders in his industries. He has also won many national events both as a driver and team owner. This year, Hughes has been a vocal proponent for safety in super class racing and has at times taken the NHRA to task for their policies regarding this style of racing. Recently, Hughes and K&N Filers President Steve Williams offered their opinions in a CompetitionPlus.com article asking if the three-decade's old Super Comp and Super Gas indexes should be made quicker. The topic quickly became a lightning rod of controversy. In this guest editorial, Hughes offers his insight and ideas to help Super style racing.  

A recent article published here in CompetitionPlus.com regarding the viability of changing the indexes for the Super classes generated input and healthy debate. There is no doubt, certain aspects of our style of racing need to be updated and/or reorganized, if only to keep up with the changing times and increase of horsepower our industry has developed.

STRAIGHT UP: PROCK PRODIGY, SCELZI SENSATIONS REUNITE ON WEST COAST

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While Jimmy Prock was tuning John Force to his 136th Funny Car victory Sunday at St. Louis, his and wife Jill's 18-year-old son Austin was racing in California with four-time NHRA champion Gary Scelzi and his family.
 
The younger Prock, a midget racer and the 2012 STARS (Short Track Auto Racing Series) Rookie of the Year, reconnected with longtime buddies Dominic and Giovanni Scelzi, now 16 and 11 years old.
 
And they crammed their visit with -- what else? Racing.
 
The youngsters went Thursday night to a town near the Scelzis' home at Fresno for some go-kart racing. They were back in the shop the next morning to finish prepping the micro sprint cars to race in that night at Plaza Park Raceway at Visalia. The following night they raced at Lemoore.

 

 

 

STRAIGHT UP: WILL KIA OR MAYBE HONDA INVEST IN NHRA FUNNY CAR RACING?

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Drag racing grew out of the American post-World War II car culture, when gearheads gravitated to muscle cars and domestic manufacturers. That heyday for Detroit is just a memory -- like that of Southern California dragstrips Orange County and Lions -- both at the racetrack and on U.S. highways.

The National Hot Rod Association could see a bigger presence of Asian automakers in its Funny Car ranks, with once-entrenched Ford souring on its return-on-investment prospects in the sport and Chevrolet having walked away from its considerable influence years before. Mopar/Chrysler still will shoulder the American connection in the pro ranks.

But John Force is courting Kia and Honda in the wake of Ford's departure from the Funny Car class at the end of the 2014 season.

 

 

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: IMPROVING FAN EXPERIENCE MANDATORY FOR NHRA

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What’s the most important trend in American sports right now?

Improving the Fan Experience.

That should be -- MUST be -- the highest priority for NHRA, series sponsor Mello Yello, track operators, event promoters, and other Business of Drag Racing partners.

When even the 10,000-pound gorilla of U.S. sports -- the National Football League -- understands this New Reality of the marketplace, you know the NHRA industry had best get with it, too. 

 

 

 

 

STRAIGHT UP - BIKE LEADER ARANA JR. HAS SECRET COUNTDOWN WEAPON

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No one else except non-Countdown-driver Brandon Bernstein has the advantage, but Pro Stock Motorcycle leader Hector Arana Jr. only has to look across the dinner table to get championship advice.

Dad Hector Arana Sr. won the bike-class crown in 2009, and the son said he already has received valuable advice on the eve of the six-race playoff.

"He's been there; he's done that. So in a way I have all of his 20 years of experience in racing underneath my belt with only three years. Because he has told me everything and he's there [each] step of the way.  Sometimes he's even there going down a track right beside me. So definitely, it is a good tool to have," he said. "I'm definitely going to use him to my advantage for going for this championship this year."

 

 

 

STRAIGHT UP - BIKE LEADER ARANA JR. HAS SECRET COUNTDOWN WEAPON

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No one else except non-Countdown-driver Brandon Bernstein has the advantage, but Pro Stock Motorcycle leader Hector Arana Jr. only has to look across the dinner table to get championship advice.

Dad Hector Arana Sr. won the bike-class crown in 2009, and the son said he already has received valuable advice on the eve of the six-race playoff.

"He's been there; he's done that. So in a way I have all of his 20 years of experience in racing underneath my belt with only three years. Because he has told me everything and he's there [each] step of the way.  Sometimes he's even there going down a track right beside me. So definitely, it is a good tool to have," he said. "I'm definitely going to use him to my advantage for going for this championship this year."

 

 

 

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