Jim Hughes talks sportsman racing 

Jim Hughes is owner of Hughes Performance in Phoenix, Arizona, and a serious Sportsman racer in his own right. He won the NHRA Super Comp World Championship in 2002 and has won numerous other races. As a manufacturer, sponsor, and racer, he has a unique perspective and he has some strong opinions about the NHRA sportsman racing series. In this interview he shares them with us. Darr Hawthorne conducted the interview at the JEGS Pacific SPORTSnationals.

: As one of the premier supporters of NHRA Sportsman racing, what’s your view of the health of both the NHRA and NHRA sportsman racing?

Jim Hughes: I think the future of NHRA with the sportsmen is to get with the times and take a look at what’s going on around us. Right now we’ve got Super Gas and Super Comp, but nothing has changed in the rules in the last 20, 25 years. Indices haven’t been changed even though we now have engines that used to cost $100,000 to build can now be built for $18 to 25,000. So NHRA, in my opinion, needs to get with the times and run more Top Sportsman, Top Dragster categories. Throttle stop racing: When guys come out here with their cars, and put them on the throttle stop for four to five seconds, there’s no spectator appeal. The racers themselves don’t like sitting on the throttle stop for five seconds. It’s not entertaining.

: I can remember a time when Super Gas first came around, you had to hit 9.90 without a box. Now everyone has a sophisticated electronic suite. What do you think of that?

JH: I think that what’s happened over the years is that you take the rules we’ve been given and you work within those parameters to build a better mousetrap. Hence the throttle stops and delay boxes. But now pretty much every competitor can go out there and, with the right transmission converter setup, they’re going full out on the tree, and with all the timers and electronics, you can go 9.90. So it’s a crapshoot. It used to be you had a fifty/fifty roll; now I think you’ve got to have about eighty percent luck on your side, and pushing closer to ninety in these categories.