Volume X, Issue 10, Page 76

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Wondering again in these economic times

Just Wondering … What programming genius at ESPN decided that what the viewers of the Sunday morning NHRA show covering the quickest and fastest drag race so far this season -- a race that had tremendous significance on the Countdown to One -- that what the home viewer really wanted to see was Kenny Koretsky’s Rolls Royce and a tour of his multi-million dollar motor coach? Does anyone but me think that aside from being boring and self-serving for Koretsky that feature didn’t do Kenny or the sport any favor?

Just Wondering … Will the insurance carriers for the NHRA, IHRA. NMCA and the rest of the ASO’s  that still run quarter-mile racing make the decision for those sanctioning bodies as to what distance the tracks will be? They won’t directly, but what they charge to insure quarter-mile racing could … especially if the sport has more fatalities in the near future.

Just Wondering … Which is more appealing: $20 for a one-day ticket to the Hot Rod Reunion to see 40-50 or more nitro cars plus the rest of the show or a $50-60 ticket to see 32 nitro cars and the rest of the NHRA show at Virginia Motorsports Park?

Just Wondering … Was the management at Feld Entertainment consulted before the IHRA management’s decision to drop Fuel Funny Cars from the IHRA program? 

Just Wondering … Whom do we trust? Bruton Smith says in a press conference that his company SMI no longer has an interest in buying the NHRA but his son, Marcus, said in a recent interview appearing in the National Speed Sport News that purchasing the NHRA was still on the table and the only issue was finding a number that made sense financially to both parties.

Just Wondering … Will the plunging stock market and the resulting drop in oil and gas prices actually be beneficial for the drag racing industry? I say it will.  I actually bought gas in Kansas City during the Muscle Car Reunion for $2.85 a gallon.

Just Wondering … Would anyone be surprised if the IHRA -- in light of the loss of Evan Knoll’s money, it’s sale to Feld Entertainment and a possible recession economy -- places more emphasis on its sportsman racer programs in the future?

Just Wondering … Will Feld Entertainment be as bottom-line-oriented regarding the IHRA as Live Nation was?  If they are, will there be other budget/program cuts at the IHRA designed to make it more profitable?  The Burkster says: Undoubtedly!

Just Wondering … Why NHRA pres Tom Compton doesn’t give we NHRA members who pony up our $50+ a year for the privilege a state-of-the-union letter each year to let us know how and wherethe NHRA  is doing with our membership money and how it benefits the company? I know he doesn’t have to, but it would be a refreshing change from the NHRA bunker mentality if he would. Same thing applies to the IHRA and its president Aaron Polburn.

Just Wondering … Did you hear that when Prudhomme sold some of his original Funny Cars and Top Fuelers  to a collector starting a new car museum in Nevada he reportedly got between $750,000 and $1,000,000 each? That makes some sense when you consider some vintage road racing, oval track, and muscle cars sell for those kinds of numbers at auction. And Prudhomme’s cars are all “one-of-one”.

Just Wondering … Remember when some things, like water and air, were free at a gas station? Not any more. I went to my local Mobil station the other day and paid nearly $20 for five gallons of premium gas.  I needed to air up the tires and that cost me 75 cents, and since they didn’t have a water fountain and I was thirsty, a bottle of water supposedly imported from the Fiji islands (We’re importing water from Fiji?)  cost me $1.75. Sigh! It’s times like this that I really do long for the good old days.

Just Wondering … Whatever happened to the Funny Car “dry hop”?

Just Wondering … As a nitro Funny Car fan, what would you rather see: Danny Miller’s Maverick vs John Dunn’s Nova AA/FC cars or a John Force Mustang vs  a Monte Carlo NHRA Funny Car race?

Just Wondering … Isn’t $25 about the “no pain” limit for the price of a  ticket for the average fan these days?

Just Wondering … Why are some racers in NHRA Comp Eliminator suddenly whining so much about turbocharged cars being too good? Racing history proves that turbocharged engines properly sorted out are the most powerful and low maintenance engines you can build. It should be no surprise they are doing well in Comp.

Just Wondering … Is there a more entertaining, diverse, and fast doorslammer class than the ADRL’s Extreme Ten-Five class?

Just Wondering … How much longer can the Detroit automakers, Ford, Chevrolet and Chrysler, can justify to stockholders and their lenders spending money and resources supporting auto racing teams? Economic reality will force the Big Three automakers to massively scale back at some point and my belief is that drag racing will represent a better value when those decisions are made.

Just Wondering … How long can the millionaire team owners in drag racing continue to subsidize the Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock classes given the current economic status? I hate to beat this issue again but the cost of professional racing is completely insane and out of control. In many cases the so-called major sponsorships aren’t for enough money for an owner to completely finance a 24 race season  without going into his or her wallet. Given the reality of today’s economy, how much longer can drag racing benefactors like Connie Kalitta, Ken Black and Don Schumacher among others keep propping up the pro series?

Just Wondering … Where is the business leadership drag racing needs so desperately at this time?  Who can’t see that the cost of fielding a nitro or Pro Stock car has become completely insane? The dirty little secret in drag racing that no one wants to talk about is that for every pro team that pays their bills promptly there is one that doesn’t and the industry that sells the parts are carrying these guys. There are plenty of teams out there that live from one qualifying check to the next, indeed, some major-sponsored teams today are living on credit cards and 90-day billing. Businesses carrying racers on the books has a long tradition in this sport and part of its fraternal core. Drag racing’s network of racer-owned businesses can and do that when the economy is booming but it becomes a lot harder if not impossible for them in bad times.  Only so much can be deferred.

Tom Compton needs to put the skills he has used so successfully to turn the NHRA into a very profitable company mostly by cost cutting measure and use them to return some fiscal sanity to Top Fuel, Fuel Funny Car and Pro Stock racing before the only people who can afford to compete have an unlimited supply of petro-dollars.

Drastic times call for drastic measures and leadership. For the drag racing professional classes that time is now. Step up to the plate, Mr. President.