Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 9, Page

Does the loss of the NHRA national event at Columbus have any effect on the JEGS-backed SPORTSnationals that is held there?

WOODY:  Yes, and believe it or not this will work for the benefit of the JEGS Northern SPORTSnationals.  With the NHRA national event moving to Norwalk, the JEGS SPORTSnational event now moves up on the totem pole.  I had a really great meeting Saturday at Indy with Dick Wells (member NHRA Board of Directors), Len Imbrogno (Director of Sportsman Racing & Member Tracks), Jay Hullinger (North Central Division Director), Bill Holland (a manufacturer advisor), and Eric Lotz (Director of Field Marketing).  We left that meeting with everyone agreeing to make the serious changes that need to be made to make the event a success.  What if the event had no grading points to enter, you left with a grading point, up the payout from NHRA, up the payouts from contingency sponsors to a national event level and have strong vendor support and education programs for vocational students and racers.  These are type of things we ALL want to see happen.  Maybe even have a four-car pro shootout for lack of a better word.  Get some life back into these events and make them more of a priority.  I think it's all good and everyone will like the changes, and we can all keep building the event.

Is there any chance JEGS might have interest in sponsoring an IHRA version of the SPORTSnationals if they had them?  

WOODY: It's something we would review...that's for sure. 

 How would you compare the IHRA to the NHRA as far as strengths and weaknesses?

WOODY: The IHRA seems more in touch with their sportsman racers and providing more of a carnival approach of entertainment to the fans in the seats.  The NHRA is very professional class oriented and looks to TV as the priority. 

 JEGS sponsors the so-called NHRA SPORTSnational races held at tracks in Louisiana and Ohio, but not the one in California. Why did your company decide to get involved in those races? Are you satisfied with how they are going and why don’t these “national events” for sportsman racers include Alcohol Funny Car and Alky dragster fields?  Would you like to see those classes added in the future?

WOODY: We sponsor two of the three SPORTSnational events.  As far as why the TAD and TAFC cars aren't part of the events you will have to ask Len Imbrogno at the NHRA about that.  I have long taken the approach with sanctioning bodies that it's their sandbox and we get to bring our shovels.  The only problem with that is that companies like JEGS and many others are the ones paying for the sand. 

I think these events are great.  They need some attention before additional events are added, which is the reason we decided not to sponsor the third event in California.  Let's get the first two right, which are two totally different events from a spectator aspect, before adding any more.  I like to take the approach of walking before you run.  Test things along the way and see what works.  It's a lot easier to stomach a wrong move if you only have your foot in the water rather than your whole body.

 Do you ever see the NHRA SPORTSnationals  races actually attaining true national event status?

WOODY: No, I think you make the event the best it can be, taking what pieces work from a national event, Lucas Oil event, car show, tech fair, hot rod reunions, night under fire type of event, and a bracket race and apply them to this model.  It doesn't have to fit in the mold of a national event.  It's not a national event, it's a SPORTSnational event. It can be what ever you want it to be.

These events are here to make peoples’ dreams come true...race for a Wally.  Maybe someone comes to the gate to enter the car for their first ever race...should they be turned away? I don't think so -- treat people the way you want to be treated.