Volume X, Issue 1, Page 47

News and Analysis

NHRA Set To Establish Parameters For Weather,
Track Prep Relating To Fuel Tires?!

here’s been a lot of internet-based rumors concerning the NHRA’s “de-sanctioning” of the annual test session at the Strip at Las Vegas. Most of the rumors had a rift occurring between the NHRA and the management of the Bruton Smith owned facility.

As it turns out, after DRO talked to both parties, the real issue was and is about safety and especially about tire safety. The NHRA making a pro-active decision based upon their concern that a combination of the Strip’s normal excellent track prep and cool or cold weather and track surface temp in January might lead to conditions that could lead to tire failure similar to the incident that occurred with Hillary Will at last year’s February test at Vegas.

Unfortunately this issue was handled poorly from a PR point of view by both the NHRA and PRO resulting in a lot of misunderstanding by the racers and public, many of whom thought the NHRA and Pro teams were saying the track was unsafe. Letters followed letters attempting to do damage control from both sides.

You have to read between the lines a little but in a letter to his fellow members PRO President Kenny Bernstein referenced track prep and tires as part of the concern for those that choose to attend the Vegas test.

Another issue apparently is whether the track would be prepped to the liking of the Pro Stock racers who like less traction compound on the top end of the track as opposed to the Nitro racers who want the track as sticky as possible from the start line to the finish.

In his letter PRO President Kenny Bernstein went out of his way to praise the Las Vegas dragstrip as did the NHRA folks we talked to. Then came a letter saying that the second test session at Vegas is when the GM backed Pro Stock race is ran. It will go on as scheduled and the track will be prepped to give the Pro Stockers the best track conditions. Followed by a clarification letter from PRO.
What was lost in all of this sturm und drang on the internet was the most important point. NHRA and PRO letters stated defacto that they felt too much track prep combined with too good of atmospheric conditions and a cold track surface can contribute to tire failure. So the next question is; Will NHRA establish regulations that require specific track and ambient air temps and a limit on track prep? Will this mean that the next time that tracks such as Chicago, Englishtown, Dallas or Houston have too cold of air, too good of track prep that the races will be canceled or postponed due to weather? How will the tracks and the NHRA officials decide to prep the tracks; to favor the Pro Stocks/Pro Mods or the Nitro burners?

One thing is sure though NHRA and Graham Light in particular get high marks for making a pro-active decision to make racing safer no matter who they might piss off.

In the mean time both test sessions at the fabulous, immaculately prepared, Strip at Las Vegas will go off on schedule with or without a “Sanction” from the NHRA.