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Too much drama
Just once I wish that they (whoever they are) would delete the drama from professional drag racing. I don’t mean the suck-in-your-breath drama of a record-setting run, or a single unreal driving job where a driver turns a crash into just a bad lap, or that first nitro pass on a warm summer night when the flames shoot out of the pipes and the nitro fumes fill the air, or even a big nitro explosion and fire.
No, my fellow drag racing junkies, I mean the political, financial, ego-laden drama that seems to plague this sport in the best and worst of times. So I need to get a few things off of my chest, if you don’t mind.
When will the current crop of AA/FC and AA/FD racers understand four important facts?
1. With the NHRA and IHRA series, most of the major racing markets have at least one race where a nitro junkie can get a fix. And if that wasn’t enough exposure, ESPN2 broadcasts all of the NHRA races on both Saturday and Sunday. The fact is, nitro-burning racecars simply aren’t the unique experience to race fans that they were in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
2. If AA/FC or AA/FD were guaranteed proven fan attractions, track promoters would be bidding against each other to book them. They aren’t. At Las Vegas, after one year, promoter Chris Blair cancelled both the AA/FC and AA/FD classes for his Hot Rod Heritage race and instead will go with a booked-in four-car AA/FC exhibition.
3. So far the AA/FC and AA/FD classes have yet to develop even one bankable star.
4. Understand that owning and racing an AA/FC or AA/FD is an expensive hobby not a profession. If you are going to do it then understand you WILL NOT make money; you can’t and won’t break even. That is a matter of fact.
It’s time for the nostalgia nitro racers to get off of the promoters’ backs. Some of you act as if promoters should be “bailing out” the nitro racers. Let’s have a little reality check here. Successful nostalgia races that didn’t include an AA/FC or AA/FD class were doing fine without those classes and in reality they don’t need the added expense or the risk of investing $30-40,000 in purse money for an eight-car AA/FC or AA/FD, betting on a good crowd and good weather. A promoter with a $40,000 nitro investment and a $20 ticket price has to sell 2,000 tickets just to cover the purse for his nitro show. God only knows how many more tickets he has to sell to cover the expenses of opening the track for business.
But thankfully and fortunately for nostalgia nitro racers and fans, promoters like John Troxel, Scott Gardner, and Marc Meadors are all also racers who love the nitro classes and are willing to gamble their money that those cars can and will draw a crowd.
I’m a big, big fan of AA/FC and AA/FD, so much so that I’ve put together a six-race series for AA/FC at nostalgia races in the Midwest made possible by the promoters named above, who have put up all the money. I’ve just invested my time and contacts, and I’m not on anyone’s payroll.
But I have to tell you the amount of grief this project has brought me and the race promoters almost caused me to start feeling sorry for myself and them. Then I remembered my own admonition: we all volunteered so we can’t be victims. I just wish the racers and critics realized what a crap shoot these races are and appreciate the amount of money these promoters commit and pay to racers even when the race is a disaster and they lose their butts financially.