Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 10, Page

We're about to face another big change that is designed to heighten interest, I'd like to get your opinion on the Countdown to a Championship. What do you think of that idea?

DM: I understand totally why it was done.  I was part of the team that put together the original points change when it moved from a divisional to a national points structure. From the transition from running divisional races to only running national events, I was there for that.  I was there for the switch from qualifying at the divisional level to race the World Finals and whoever won that single race was your world championship. 

I can remember the big cry that was raised then, “Oh the sport's dead, it's over, it's finished, it's gone.“  That was 1974-75, we are now 30 years down the road and we are

still here.  I can understand their (NHRA’s) reasoning because having been in the position of trying to sell the product of drag racing to a stick and ball sports writer, I cannot name a more difficult task.  One, it's very difficult to capture their interest.  They don't understand and they don't want to spend the time learning it.  They are probably forced to cover it.  You would probably find 10 motorsports writers in the country, in my thought that are really conversant with drag racing,  that know and understand it, that have the capability of discerning what is happening on the racetrack. In a lot of cases it takes a huge amount of one on one effort to help them learn the sport and that's sometimes very difficult to do. 

Let's say at a national event you could have a new sport's writer every time you go back to that town because in the business of print or broadcast, the turn over can be and always has been fairly frequent.

And as you said, you're probably going to be getting the junior guy that gets sent out to the dragstrip, and doesn't really want to do it because he likes golf or would rather be covering major league baseball.

DM: Exactly.  So, from that point of view, I can understand the reason for the Countdown to the Championship.  Is it going to work?  I think history is going to answer that question.  I give the NHRA folks credit for trying something.  I think they came to the understanding that they needed to do something that might capture the attention of the media people and a fan as a result.  I give them all the credit in the world for having the foresight and the courage to go out there and try it, knowing full well it was going to create a lot of discussion. 

I'm a little more down the middle and I'm not playing any politically correct thing, this is from the bottom of my heart.  History is going to tell you how it's going to work.  Is it going to stay exactly the same?  I doubt that.  I think there is a strong possibility that after they get into it the first year, you'll find they need to tweak it a little bit.  As long as they are willing to say, fine, it's not cut in stone, which I understand is a quote that came, then it has the opportunity to be modified if need be.  But I understand why they did it and I commend them for it.  I think that it gives the media person, whoever is responsible for the event, a whole lot more to take in and sell to somebody. I know there's been a lot of criticism that has been forthcoming that, well, what's this mean, that the race isn't important?  No, to the racer it is, but you have to understand the mentality of the media person.  If you operated on the philosophy that there should be no playoff system, there would be no Super Bowl, no World Series, you would have nothing in line that is designed to find an overall champion.  Does it penalize the guy that had a great first 2/3 of a season and then falls on his face?  Yes, but you know what you're getting into when you start.

And that can happen in any sport.

DM: It has, look at the Baltimore Colts last year, what, 15-1 in regular season and lost in game two of the playoffs.  They arguably were the best team in pro football.  Were they the Super Bowl champs?  No, they were not.  But they knew the way the game was played.  Just give them credit for trying and I think history is going to tell us. Is it going to work? Is it going to be modified?  I'm interested in it and I know the excitement that was generated by the change.  I picked up my complimentary weekend edition of USA Today here at the hotel and here's a whole section of USA Today for the chance for the championship. 

Now, trust me, when it ended up that it was decided before the last four races who was going to be your cup champion, you didn’t get full sections in there.  You were lucky to get a two-page insert if the promoter bought the insert or went out and sold it on his own and took the money to the paper.  So, we'll see how it works.  I'm optimistic about it. I am not a negative person.

In the next installment Big Mac talks about everything from what he would change about the sport to Pro Mods to Dragstock III and much more.

 

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