Expensive, Unexpected New Rules for NHRA PM and AA/FC Racers in 2011!?

Usually at this time of the season the major topic of conversation at the industry’s big three trade shows (the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the IMIS show at Indy and this week’s PRI Show in Orlando) is about new teams and new sponsors.

After attending the first two of these gatherings of fans, racers, sponsors, and manufacturers I can tell you that the major topic of most conversations were, in order of importance: the economy, rules changes and the future of the American Drag Racing League.

The economy will do what it will do, and it seems to be getting better. As racers and fans we have little or no control of that subject other than to talk about it.

The future of the newest sanctioning body, the ADRL, was subject of a lot of conversation but in the end (like the economy) there is little racers and fans can do to influence what happens. It is almost totally controlled and funded by businessman/team owner/racer Sheikh K.H. Al Thani and its survival at present depends directly on his whims, in my opinion. 

So, that just leaves the subject of rules pertaining to NHRA racing that we racers, fans and business owners might hope to have some influence on.

Let’s visit some new and revised rules that, while they haven’t been officially announced by the NHRA, have either been proposed or allegedly written and leaked to some racers and manufacturers prior to becoming official. I suspect that was done to see what reaction the new rules would illicit from the racing community.
Let’s start the discussion with the proposed rule change put forth by Steve Gibbs, the de facto head of NHRA’s Hot Rod Heritage Series and one of the most respected and influential figures in drag racing. Mr. Gibbs sent a blanket email just before Thanksgiving regarding the issue of oil-downs in both the NHRA Full Throttle Series and the Hot Rod Heritage Series.
His opinion is that nitro class oil-downs and the time required to repair the track represent one of, if not the most pressing problem drag racing as a major league spectator sport faces. His solution is kind of a “death penalty” where oiling the track would get a racer the same penalty as crossing the centerline or hitting the wall: a disqualification and the run erased.

The rule would apply both in qualifying and eliminations. Gibbs advocated this rule change for both the HRH races and the NHRA Big Show as a way to cut down on oil-downs resulting from tuners just trying to make a field or win a race and “grenading” an engine in the process.

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