FEEDBACK ARTICLE: DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: KING FOR A DAY
I don't necessarily think there was one truly poor idea in the bunch. A few that stood out, however, were speeding up the show, cutting costs, and making things more competitive.
The most surprising aspect of the article, quite frankly, was the number of NASCAR references.
Ironically, all of my top three ideas noted above could be accomplished by following NASCAR's lead.
You can create a (relatively) more affordable sport that runs more smoothly by doing one thing: slowing down the nitro guys.
There are a thousand ways to accomplish this - use one magneto, limit the nitro percentage, use smaller fuel pumps, mandate a minimum compression ratio - do what needs to be done to get more consistent racing and bring back the full quarter mile.
The reality is that slowing these guys down will drive down costs, make breakage and oil downs less of an issue, and make the sport more appropriate for live television.
Having been to three Heritage Series races this year, I can tell you that two nostalgia top fuel dragsters or funny cars going 260 mph make for great racing.
By the way, if I were king for a day, I'd stop cheating Pro Stock out of quality television coverage. - Tom Toruek
Thanks for the provocative subject matter, some great ideas have already been shared. If I was King of NHRA for a day, I'd voice some suggestions for revitalizing the spectacular sport of drag racing.
These suggestions would rebuild the sport from almost the ground up, building on the tested foundations laid down in the earliest days of the sport, yet modernized to meet today's expectations.
A first step would be to return the sport to the quarter mile. Certainly there are some tracks with run-offs long enough where slowing safely from 300+ miles per hour runs is not an issue. Substantial length for shut down should be mandatory and tracks should be required to make modifications. Where this is not possible, those events should be run at shorter distances. Fans will decide if this is an acceptable alternative, and tracks will react accordingly, or meet their demise.
Secondly, Top Fuel should be the one and only class competing for the crown of Drag Racing World Champion, the Kings of the Sport (as a competitive sport). The one and only class earning points over a season to determine the best in the world. Points funds and winning purses would grow substantially, providing these participants with the best opportunity to exist as profitable, professional businesses.
The Funny Car class would be promoted to the Kings of the Show. This class would be the premier show class running for the entertainment of the fans, with diversity in shapes, colors, and show styles. The sky would be the limit (within safety limits of course!) in creativity. Funny cars would run at night whenever possible, the event winner voted on by the fans, perhaps through their smart phones or by a simple, thundering ovation. Would the fans most appreciate the driver's attitude? The most spectacular burnout? The quickest et? The underdog who upset the reigning King? Or all of the above? Gone would be performance obligations, open would be the floodgates of creative ideas to excite the fans.
Allow that idea grow on you a little bit. Anyone who has attended Norwalk's Night of Fire will appreciate the possibilities of this opportunity, perhaps the best show value left in drag racing today.
Other classes would be support to these two unique yet diverse offerings, classes open to ideas. But for each additional class, consideration should be first and foremost, their supporting value to the growth and experience of the sport. A training ground for the pros and a grass-roots and affordable entry for participation in the sport. A way to participate hands on.
As drag racing is a unique experience seen first hand, it is unreasonable to believe that the sport will ever become as popular on television as it is to experience it live. Thankfully, the tradition of network television and monthly publications that most of us grew up on, and consider the media by which our sport's popularity is measured, is now old school and dating itself at an alarming rate. And with that shift in paradigm, so too are the connections with Fortune 500 companies who's need for exposure once found value in advertising in them. Big corporate sponsorships are becoming harder to find for race teams, the value of TV or magazine exposure pales by the opportunities found in the new media of the Internet. It might be in NHRA's interest to cut it's ties, or at least modify it's commitment to ESPN2 and let it's event coverage find a new home on the Internet first and foremost. This would be a huge paradigm shift once more, and upend a lot of plans initially. But it would take the sport into the next era of media and force the participants to adapt to the new way of connecting with fans unable to attend events first hand.
Drag racing covered in any media, be it print, TV or webcast will never, ever, equal the experience of being there live. So it's not reasonable to assume that it can be made to happen, given the restrictions of today's media anyway. Speed of information, breadth of world-wide coverage and quality of sight and sound need to be the foremost focus.
To facilitate live, quick action entertainment on the strip, the NHRA might consider this idea intended to speed up the show. Top Fuel teams would have two cars for each driver's use, at each event. An A car and an identical B car. Both cars could be used for qualifying to find the proper set up, then in eliminations, the team would choose from either A or B for first round of eliminations. After a night of preparation, both cars would be ready. A winning team from round one would then bring out their second car for round two, almost as soon as the first round has been completed. As that round is being run, a portion of the team is servicing the car from the first round, preparing it for round 3. And this would continue through the duration of the event, should a team be so lucky and continue to win.
The additional cost of equipments would be minimal as most teams are almost equipped to this level already, and there is no alternative possible to speed up the necessary service that teams have become accustomed to.
All of these ideas are radical measures, and non of them can be implemented immediately. There will need to be several years of notice given to the changes for the culture and business to prepare. But all of the ideas are feasible, all geared to enhance the show, build the sport and grow it's popularity. - Eddie Ray
John hit the nail on the head!! and the best part was get the glasses off and the cap off their ears.Thanks for a great interview! - Vic Raupe
As usual, John Force is mostly full of hot air...didn't address the question until the end of his "rambling." And then, focusing on Sun Glasses... no wonder he's such a blowhard (small brain but good at BSing and promoting sponsorships). - Dale Hilgenbrinck
If Paul Page wants good TV, try resigning his position live during a telecast and letting someone with talent and personality take over. - Chris Pile
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