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NHRA: Not for me anymore, but maybe good for some

I opened my last column with this note: Is NHRA drag racing actually a lot healthier than many of us seem to think? I don’t see any of the NHRA’s national event venues up for sale (as far as we know) or closing. The track owners keep paying the NHRA fees to have national events so they must be making money. So let’s assume that the NHRA is doing just fine, thank you, and move on. I’m trying to myself.

I’d add that many of the racers who complain bitterly about the NHRA just keep going to their races and pay to race, so NHRA must be doing something right, right?

Bret Kepner, whom I have worked with for more than 30 years, occasionally reads my screeds regarding the NHRA but seldom comments on what I write. But a couple of days after my last Burk’s Blast he called me and asked me half-jokingly, “Are you on some new meds?”  (Nope, I still take a small daily dose of Lexapro for my sanity.) “It reads nothing like the stuff you have written about the NHRA for the last 10 years,” he said, “ It just didn’t sound like the Jeff Burk I know.”

Well, he is right, but there is good reason for my recent conciliatory writings regarding what continues to be the premier sanctioning body in the world for drag racing.  And that is that I’ve finally come to the realization that no matter what I’ve written in the past or will write in the future concerning the NHRA , none of it is likely to change the way today’s NHRA is going to be run.  Wally is dead and so is the NHRA that I fell in love with as a teenager some 50 years ago. I don’t know why I finally came to this realization or how. Maybe I overmedicated myself, but more likely it was a combination of events that finally convinced me to give up trying to change the NHRA.

For example, despite overwhelming evidence that most fans (those that can and will write or participate in an online opinion pole) were vehemently opposed to four-wide racing, the NHRA management ignored those fans and instead told us that the fans they talked to indicated they not only liked four-wide racing but wanted more.  What a steaming pile of propaganda that is.

Or maybe it was the realization that despite over 10 years of wrecks, crashes and deaths, the tire issue still seems to not be totally resolved. Or that after four years of testing and instituting expensive and sometime misguided rule changes, the problems persist. While NHRA acknowledges the nitro cars to be too fast for most of the current tracks, they still haven’t figured out a way to slow them down after four years or more of trying.  (I wonder why they haven’t just turned the rev-limiter down to make the fuel cars slower? They are a mandatory part and controlled by the NHRA.)

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