When the economy went south in 2008 almost every American went through at least some emotional and/or financial anguish. Some lost their homes and retirement savings, while on the business side some companies were forced to close their doors. Most tightened their belts and continued moving forward. Some of the nation’s largest financial institutions continued to rake in huge profits while going to great lengths to hide their legal and ethical transgressions, some of which were the tipping point for the financial crisis in the first place. It could be said of at least some of those institutions that greed caused them to lose sight of their publicly stated ethical standards. The result is they may never recover the trust the public once had in them. The National Hot Rod Association has acted in the same manner.
The result of the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing that the NHRA has undertaken with at least three companies has resulted in an ethical lapse of astounding proportions. They’re the kind of lapses that were unlikely to have happened under the leadership of founder Wally Parks. If anything, Parks had a pristine vision for the NHRA that included high standards, fair competition and honesty in dealing with the racers, sponsors, media and fans. Those standards have been effectively trashed by recent developments.
The first ethical lapse was an indicator of things to come when carburetor manufacturer Barry Grant bought legality for his products by sponsoring the Pro Stock Challenge. Grant’s Demon Carburetors had been deemed illegal time and time again by the NHRA Tech Department and the suspicion is that a rival aftermarket manufacturer was behind the banning of Grant’s carburetors. There’s no doubt that they viewed Grant as a threat to its Pro Stock racing business, with a lawsuit partially based on an alleged patent infringement ultimately playing a role in Grant’s business going under.