Notes scribbled on the back of a coaster from Jumbo’s Clown Room on Hollywood Blvd.

Don’t know if it’s just wishful thinking on my part, but I’m beginning to have some hope for drag racing. The ADRL, IHRA, and the NMCA all had great opening season races.

I sitting here (on Mar. 15) watching the NHRA Gatornationals where they had a great crowds Friday and Saturday. There were fewer than 20 entries in Top Fuel and Funny Car fields at Gainesville but at least the fields weren’t short. If they get the Sportsman racers to return in large numbers as the season winds on the NHRA and drag racing might survive and indeed thrive … and Tom Compton might be able to restore that 10% pay reduction.
Let’s all hope so, but let’s also remember one important fact: The manufacturing community of drag racing that supports the NHRA, companies the like Edelbrock, MSD, Fram, Comp Cams, K&N, Summit, JEGS, and especially the auto parts stores do not depend on the professional racers for sales; they sell predominately to the sportsman racer. I believe that during the go-go years many of us -- the sanctioning bodies included -- believed otherwise. I’m now convinced that professional drag racing as we know it simply cannot survive as a Pro Show alone.

I’m of the opinion that more and more track operators, including the NHRA, in view of the current decline in spectator attendance, will once more court the sportsman racers and their entry fees. If they don’t then drag racing events could come to be more like monster truck “racing” … and, friends, to me that just isn’t racing.

I flayed the ESPN broadcast crew after the last televised event for their heavy-handed, all-John Force, all-established stars broadcast. I thought it was lousy TV and I said so. Well, I’m not vain enough to think my opinion holds  any sway with the ESPN folks but nevertheless the broadcast of the Gainesville race, in my opinion, was not only different from previous broadcasts but absolutely more entertaining and better television.

There were much fewer cutesy-poo interviews, obligatory Force family interviews and drivers trying out their stand-up comedy acts. John and Ashley were a presence as they should be but they weren’t the dominant “force” that they had been previously.

I don’t know the director responsible for the change in the TV production but he or she gets my Kudos and I hope what I saw today represents a change to the kind of coverage a major sport warrants and deserves.


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