With my son, "Fast Jack" Beckman, poised to become 2009 Fuel Funny Car Champion I can only hope and pray that GOOD WISE MEN make the correct business decisions.
NHRA has provided the stage.
Don Schumacher and Rodger & Karen Comstock have handed Jack the script.
I will be in the front row of the audience.
May the PLAY go on. - Bob Beckman





With my son, "Fast Jack" Beckman, poised to become 2009 Fuel Funny Car Champion I can only hope and pray that GOOD WISE MEN make the correct business decisions.
NHRA has provided the stage.
Don Schumacher and Rodger & Karen Comstock have handed Jack the script.
I will be in the front row of the audience.
May the PLAY go on. - Bob Beckman

Let's see, the entire world is in a financial crisis, race teams are dropping like flies and NHRA's answer is to raise prices to the racers and sponsors and not cut ticket prices to spectators.  Gee, that's smart!  Heaven forbid they should have to cut any of their precious over-inflated salaries. - Pat "Ma" Green

I really think that the NHRA is going to go under with the way they do the racers. After all with no racers you have no show for the fans to watch. I go to two events a year and it looks like with everything going on that the fields will not even be close to full. I will not be making the trip if the fields are not full. Maybe the racers should look at the IHRA. - Danny Steven

I stopped racing with NHRA back in 1995 because of the way they treat sportsman racers, even though I stopped racing with them I have maintained my membership.

My membership renewal is due this March, if they are stupid enough to increase the cost at this time I think I'll just pass on them.

Like a liberal government who thinks increasing taxes is a way to increase revenue. NHRA thinks increasing the cost of membership is a way to increase membership...Like Larry Morgan said "Can't fix Stupid" - Dave Covey

We all know that the economy is going to play major roles in the pro ranks.  But, don't forget that the "SPORT" is healthy, and its strength is and always will be the real racers, the sportsman guys.  Maybe this will give the match race and local quick 8 / 16 shows real energy like things use to bee in the 80's. - Brian Riggs

Thanks for this great piece. I as a fan of drag racing have felt that the NHRA has forgotten about what they started out to do. You are 100% correct, if the powers that are the NHRA don't "do something" and quickly as you stated there will be no sport to enjoy. The management in the organization over the last few years has made some really poor decisions. I hope that you forwarded this great article on the ALL of the NHRA's management and sponsors, so that they may (and hopefully) see the damage that they are causing buy their actions before it's too late to recover. - Gary Winkler

It doesn’t seem if the NHRA is even acknowledged the loss of teams. Will they be able to fill some of the classes? The sportsman racer advisory committee is a JOKE. No help there for alcohol classes. It seems all NHRA wants to do is collect money and you’re on your own. They won't address the issues with A/Fuel and blown cars as far as the chilling of fuel goes. They did lower the percentage to 94 but talked to no one before doing it. Why do you have an advisory committee if they don't talk to them? - Geno Tumbarello



At the risk of sounding terribly negative, Mr. Bennett has a tremendous amount of understanding when it comes to being familiar with NHRA's mode of operation.  

So what's the beef?  You along with many of your constituents know full well how the NHRA operates, and has operated over the past few years, and it is only now that you are sending out an alarm that something needs to be done? As a race team manager, and long time fan, I am deeply troubled by the direction the sport is headed.  I along with thousands of other fans are concerned, you are concerned, the sportsman sponsors are concerned, the professional teams are concerned, the drivers are concerned.  Guess what organization is whistling in the graveyard?  

When Mr. Bennett and all of his fellow journalists who currently cover the "NHRA beat" decide to conduct a concerted media investigation regarding the foibles of the current NHRA Administration, and why Mr. Bennett's sensible suggestions aren't being considered, only then will things begin to change.  You will all be at the risk of losing your media credentials when that happens, but if you are truly interested in standing up for the sport and putting at risk your paycheck, only then will things begin to change.  You have the power of the pen and keyboard at your disposal and know who to direct our concerns at. So what are you waiting for?

What's holding you back...fear? -- Dave Gutierrez-GBR Racing - Detroit, MI


Mr. Gutierrez:

We read your comments with interest, but in all fairness we must point out that while we, as well as a few other members of the media, would like to think we have a pretty good understanding of how the NHRA operates, their management council operates in a virtual media vacuum.  In other words, generally speaking, what takes place behind their closed doors during a Board of Directors meeting usually stays there.  We only see the results of their decision-making after the fact.  As to how they come to the conclusions that result in those decisions is usually, but not always, beyond our knowledge.

Sorry, but we’ve been sending out “alarm messages” about some of the things NHRA has done for years in both reportage articles and editorials.  While those efforts have often generated a positive response from our readers, the racer and sponsorship communities, the NHRA management team knows full well that we are powerless to bring about any meaningful changes, or any changes whatsoever, for that matter, so they are free to ignore anything and everything we and others write about.  Only a massive letter writing campaign to this and other online or on-paper publications as well as to the various NHRA Board members individually might be able to force some changes, but even that’s doubtful.  The NHRA management group literally has to answer to no one but themselves.  “Membership” in NHRA is a gross misnomer, for no “member” has any rights whatsoever when it comes to the operation of the organization, and anyone who thinks otherwise is being incredibly naïve.

It doesn’t take a “concerted media investigation” to uncover the “foibles of the current NHRA administration” because the errors in judgment and missed opportunities are out there in plain sight for all to see.  All we can do is report and/or editorialize on what we see taking place or not taking place.  The rest – the huge outcry of protest, or even shouting from the rooftops about the “right moves” – is up to you. – Ed.

Spot on with your suggestions, costs must come down, but who's going to sacrifice?  Personally, I'd rather see fields of thirty-two 5.50 - 6.00 second cars. Yeah, like that's going to happen again.

Eighteen races? Don't drop Route 66.  That's *MY* hometown race.  Anyone else want to see their race go?  

Maybe if we do drop to 12 these teams will launch match race circuits?  Wouldn't that be nice?

More time between rounds?  Due to complexities crew members are specialists, hence they will have to double duty.  Just like the old days.

The crisscrossing can be minimized, across the south in the spring, the north in the summer, and down the west coast to finish in Pomona.

Hospitality rigs are a huge cost, real estate hogs, and often sit empty.  If sponsors want to reduce costs they can be much wiser with this.

Leave the US Nationals alone, that has to continue to stand as the Big Go.

You left out the NHRA membership price.  Boy have they mushroomed that in recent years.  At some point the average member will drop off.

I agree that something has to happen.  Let's hope the money crunch chain reaction eventually has a beneficial effect for the teams and fans.  That's the heart and blood.  The sanctioning body may coordinate and sponsors bring money, but the racers and fans started this whole sport and sustained it for years. - Bill Anderson

I agree very much with your bullet points at the end of a fine article.  
I have asking about the "friendlier schedule" for a couple of years and no one at NHRA has ever written back.

But there is a very big point you didn't bullet at the end. Open up the sponsorship qualifications.  Get rid of the "exclusivity".  Allow teams to pursue whomever they need to for funding.  We need more corporate involvement, not less.  There should be Bud, Miller, and Coors. Hell, even Heinekin!  There should be UPS, DHL, FedEx;  all kinds of sport drinks (and yes, let the liquour companies in big). Nothing should be off limits. Just keep it clean and decent and fun.

Also, I love the idea of one day qualifying for the pros (3 runs, EVERY ONE COUNTS in a cumulative average ET for placing); and please, please, please, STOP saying you can't slow them down with mechanical restrictions because it hurts the manufacturers!  Go to one magneto or one fuel pump, less compression or blower speed.  The guys know how to slow it down. Get them back to 300 mph and quarter mile racing. The manufacturers spent plenty of dough to build the wild parts; now they can spend less to re-tool and bring the sport back to sanity levels, allowing more teams to participate. I'm sick of short fields and long oil downs. - Lee Hunsaker

I agree 110% with Bobby. I am skipping Gatornationals this year because of what is going on in the world. I can only imagine the short fields NHRA will have at national events. Imagine this. Short fields, then they will cut back on the 4 runs to qualify as their attempt to save teams money but not lower the price of admission.

NHRA management has no clue. - Dave Schopp


Why not split the nation into two sections, like east and west and run a twelve race schedule in each division, take the top eight points earners in each division, make a final race for the championship. That would help with travel and racing expenses. - Leslie Edmo

I agree as a fan I didn’t make a single race last season. Maybe next year? - Robert Shilling

I couldn't agree more. The gang at Glendora are all about what they can have as individuals, there is no sense of fair play, understanding  or a team spirit. Simply put; they are out for themselves regardless of the consequences.

What a shame Wally left them in charge. We may have to forget them; move to another association (or create one) and begin the rebuilding process now. Thanks for a great and well deserved article. - Bob Mencel


I enjoyed your article with regards to the current climate in the world of NHRA Drag Racing. I myself have wondered for a long time why the schedule is as complicated as it is. Why go from Phoenix to Gainesville, then to Houston and back to Vegas before going to Atlanta? I mean what the hell? It is simple. Run the southern part of the tour in the early spring and the northern part in the summer when temperatures are a little more manageable. I think the racing will be better, the tracks a little tighter, (not as much one lane racing, nobody likes to see that). I would also like to see them do away with their asinine grade point system. If you have a car capable of passing tech for whatever class you are running and that you can AFFORD to compete, then by god get out there and have fun. Some people don't get to race at a national meet because they don't have a certain grade point. Well, who cares?! Just think some little nobody guy steps out and knocks a heavy hitter out of the championship. Oh boy cry me a river. That is the breaks of racing. And like I have heard so many
times before, a blind squirrel will find an acorn every once in awhile.

Fields will be smaller at many races this year, but nobody seems to worry about that too much. The economic crunch does not affect just the "pros", it also hits the little guy just as hard. Wake up NHRA, your time is coming. Do you want to end up like the IHRA? Eight-car fields? 1000 foot racing? I guess that is it for me. Thanks for giving me the opportunity and space for me rant. - Jeff Thompson

I have to agree with the NHRA not being in touch with the whole racing experience. I have been to many national events and see the same show every time. So now I just record it and fast forward through the commercials.

I've said in many blogs that the throttle stop has to leave. What is more boring than watching 150 Super Comp dragsters run on the stop. If everyone will remember, the schedule used to be Stock, Super Stock then the super classes.

After Super Stock the stands would empty until Comp came into the lanes. The fans had a long break to check out the other happenings at the track. Now the schedule has changed to Stock, Super Gas, Super Stock, and then Super Comp. Look at the stands at a national event when Super Comp comes to the line. I hate it and I refuse to watch a car that idles for three seconds in a race on the stop. Make it a bracket race so the driver has to dial it in. Just another way NHRA is clueless with running a national event. - Lamar Crosby

I could not agree more on your take of next season. I have watched both T/F and F/C teams park their cars. If NHRA does not make it easier on the teams in a financial way, we are going to lose more and that will make the situation even worse.  

I, for one, am not going to NHRA events with less than a full nitro field and I have been to over 40 events in the last 10 or 12 years. Your suggestions are good, but I am sure the teams themselves could come up with more ideas. I think the best thing you could is to keep letting everyone know your thoughts. I wonder if the majority of fans have any idea how many parked teams there actually are. Perhaps a list should be published.

I have written enough, so I will close by saying "Keep up the good work". - Steve Lightfoot

NHRA is not and hasn't been in the real racing world for some years; there were a number of events this past year which didn't have full fields. Their treatment of the sportsman racers leaves MUCH to be desired....that's why IHRA and the ADRL are growing...they adjust for the times (economy) and the needs of the racers. - Greg Fedak

Thank you for this story. It hurts me right in the heart that NHRA or the teams don’t talk more open of this big and really dangerous problem we have. Please do something now for otherwise we would not have any NHRA Drag Racing soon. They will kill themselves with all the stuff that do or don’t do. Please save the sport I love so much. - Anders Ahl, Sweden

Bennett’s article was right on the money. It seems like a easy fix until you realize the powers that be wish everything to remain the same. Just like everything that is going on in our financial world today the big companies are only interested in making their money and don't care about the racers or their sponsors. UPS is a perfect example, if they no longer want to sponsor a race team (which is their choice) then the NHRA should show them the door. - Merl Holt

I agree with you as far as the NHRA forcing sponsors out. Yes, they need to take a long hard look at the number of competitive teams that have lost their sponsors already. Some are because of the poor economy and some are because of NHRA just out and out running them out because of sponsor conflicts. I have been a loyal spectator for almost forty years. I remember the thirty- two car Top Fuel and Funny Car fields they used to have; now they are having a hard time filling a sixteen car field. If they decide to cut them to eight, I think I will be saving my money so I can find something else to enjoy. It's time NHRA sees the writing on the wall. I want the "Good Old Days" back! - Dennis Lippert

I think the self correcting has already started by the fans.  There has been a slow to start but a tide that is gathering steam and that is switching away from the NHRA and into the smaller venues.  I can think of two right now that are growing at a remarkable rate -- Nostalgia racing and the ADRL.  These are a good example of what is taking place as people are fed up with decisions out of California.  

Another point is people are starting to go back to the local and regional tracks for local series to run.  

The world has economic issues and everyone sees this and does what they can.  One can only hope that it will eventually happen at NHRA but if it does will it be too late? - Jim Burke

Well thought out and written along with being extremely timely. The changes from when I was active (1959 through 1972) are mind boggling. The technology, the safety, and unfortunately the money. Seems as though it's all about the money any more. Sad! - Fred Fischbach

Amen brother. I wish you would have said on Divisional level that the mighty NHRA should lower their rate of $14,500 plus the purse which is about $40K and if you have over 300 cars the NHRA charges the track and extra $15 per car. Bruton Smith doesn't have a Divisional race at Bristol and why? Likely it’s because these races DO NOT BRING SPECTATORS.

I don't know why every track owner I've talked with said these races don't make money but nobody speaks up! I'm not bashing the NHRA because they are the best show in town, but in these times I feel that every local track will probably see a decrease in their Test & Tune numbers since I talk quite a few track owners and and everybody said year said their numbers where down. You take a small track and if test and tune, and brackets are down 10 to 15% that is huge while trying to pay the bank off and have money left to do improvements.

I just don't see it happening and I hope I'm wrong because if not then a whole bunch of tracks could be going out of business. - Tim Bodrey, Silver Dollar Dragway

Bobby, for a "young" guy you are right on the money!  Our corporate leadership at NHRA has not had to live with the realities that have effected and will continue to affect the great majority of drag racers.  Things like all night workfests to get your car ready for the track, spending money for race parts that you were supposed to pay bills with, towing through the night to get to the track early enough to get extra time runs at a big race, etc. We could sure use an executive staff that understands first hand, and is sympathetic to the sacrifices that racers endure to "enjoy" the sport of drag racing.  Keep up the good work.  Someone is bound to pay attention sooner or later. - Ollie Volpe


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