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Some observations, thoughts and questions from the Editor's Notebook
I don't know if it is the shorter racetrack or a better engineered tire and I don't care which really. All I know is that tire failure, which has plagued the NHRA nitro burning cars for almost two decades, thankfully seems no longer to be an issue. I can't remember the last time I witnessed or heard of a fuel car tire failing. In fact, I no longer see tires that are chunking or delaminating.
Kudos to Carolyn Ashbee of Goodyear and her engineers for helping to solve the tire issue. I saw Ms. Ashbee say on the ESPN2 broadcast from Joliet, Ill., that some teams are getting 8-10 laps on a set of Top Fuel or Funny Car tires. If that tire wear is now typical on a nitro car it represents a massive improvement over the days when many tuners mounted new tires every lap.
At the time I regularly took the Goodyear Tire and Rubber folks to task for building tires that were, in my opinion, dangerous and caused many crashes. I want to give credit and kudos to the Goodyear drag tire engineers and Ms. Ashbee for supplying the racer with a redesigned, tire that is not only safer but more durable.
The NHRA deserves some of the credit too for shortening the course. The benefits of the 1,000-foot track speaks for themselves. We have not had a tire shred or fail on a Top Fuel or Funny Car that I know of since the NHRA went to 1,000 feet.
Just Wondering … NHRA just announced that the fuel cars would be racing to 1,000 feet for the rest of the 2009 season. So how long is NHRA going to continue the asinine practice of not setting official ET and Speed records? Will someone please explain the NHRA's reasoning for depriving the sport of one of its cornerstones, record setting.
I've noticed that this year NHRA's crowds often (but not always) seem to be larger on Fridays than Saturdays and Sundays. The Chicago race is just one example of that. The crowd on Sunday was abysmal by any standard. I think that there is no doubt that in today's economy NHRA's fans are taking advantage of the cheaper Friday ticket. They can see all of the cars and stars for a fraction of a Saturday or Sunday ducket. I think fewer and fewer fans are attending all three days of an NHRA race because of the cost.
Just Wondering … When are NHRA race promoters and the NHRA going to come to grips with the reality that there are too many National events and tickets are too expensive even with the discounts that are being offered? Why not sell tickets for $20-25 every day and fill the house instead of charging $50 or more for Saturday and Sunday tickets? The drop in NHRA attendance overall can't all be blamed on weather troubles!
The race at Route 66 near Chicago had a rain delay Sunday morning. I believe that all but two NHRA races this year have suffered from either bad weather or actual race delays due to weather. Believe me, NHRA is suffering financially this year. We won't know for a couple of years because NHRA's tax returns are always filed in October, but I would be very surprised if NHRA Prez Tom Compton isn't forced to borrow money against some of NHRA's properties to keep the company financially solvent this year. Good thing for all involved that Compton's management plan included paying off the loans that were outstanding when he assumed control. (See NHRA tax returns from five years back for proof)