Cleaning out a cluttered notebook

Sometimes I really wish that drag racers paid more attention to the world outside of their own pit area. It really pains me when they protest a new NHRA policy regulation after the fact -- especially when the NHRA “telegraphs” their punch at least a year in advance of actually making the new regulation.

A case in point is the rage and indignation we are hearing from a relatively small group of racers vehemently opposed to being forced to upgrade AA/FD and AA/FC braking systems to carbon fiber discs instead of the steel that many of them now have.

Immediately after the deaths of TAD driver Mark Niver and TAF driver Neal Parker the NHRA tech department let it be known they were going to address the issue of better braking systems for those cars.

Evidently the racers that these proposed rule changes would have the harshest effect on just couldn’t be bothered to officially voice their opposition to the possible new rules. You know what I mean: Pick up the phone and call or email Danny Gracia or Glen Gray at NHRA. And the sad thing is the racers had several points they could have made to keep the rules the way they were: 1. Brakes weren’t proven to be the issue in either tragedy; 2. Implementing the changes could put a lot of hobby nitro racers out of racing due to the cost; and 3. Statistics pretty much proved that the AA/FC drivers, at least, were having no issue stopping their cars.

When I heard that there was a very good chance that the NHRA tech committee was considering requiring carbon fiber disc brakes front and rear on the AA/FC cars, I had a conversation with NHRA’s Glen Gray regarding the matter. I told him my research indicated that it would cost most AA/FC guys $6,000 or more to make the change. He was amazed at the cost figures that I gave him, and we talked about just limiting the changes to carbon fiber for the rear brakes only. He agreed to look at the cost and as a result that may be why the rules only require carbon fiber brakes on the rear. The cost of making that change is around $3,000 or less. 

Now, after the rules were announced (and after many of the teams that will compete on the DRO AA/FC Challenge in 2011 have already made the necessary changes to meet the new safety specs), I understand that some racers have an attorney and plan to take the NHRA to court.

What is their point of doing this? Are they going to sue the NHRA for making the AA/FC and AA/FD cars too safe? Good luck winning that battle.

In the meantime, the TAD and TAF guys just made the changes and went back to racing, which I believe is what the AA/FD and AA/FC racers should do instead of dragging the sport and the NHRA through yet another lawsuit. In my opinion, all that is going to accomplish is to make NHRA raise the entry fees again to cover the cost of yet more lawyers. That’s just what the sport doesn’t need, more lawyers and lawsuits.

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