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Notes scribbled on the back of my NHRA press parking sticker for the 57th annual U.S. Nats

(John Troxel photo)

If you are wondering, as some racers and fans are, why the NHRA 2012 schedule hasn’t yet been released as it has in the past by this time of the season, the reason is that the NHRA is waiting until the ongoing situations at St. Louis and New England Dragway are resolved. One, both, or neither of those venues could be added to the 2012 schedule. I know that the NHRA wants to expand its schedule, and in all probability those two tracks would attract sell-out crowds if they were added to the schedule. But with both professional and sportsman racer’s travel and race budgets already stretched to their limits, does adding two more races to the schedule make any sense from a racing or financial point of view?

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Had a long talk with the always-interesting Bill Simpson at Indy and I was both surprised and delighted when he told me that he is doing R&D at this time to develop an improved helmet using technology he developed to protect auto racers from brain trauma in a crash to make a better helmet for pro football players who are suffering more and more concussions.  He is currently working with the Indianapolis Colts. According to Mr. Simpson, when he “drop tested” a current NFL helmet he was appalled at the lack of protection it provided. When he completes his new helmet and it is approved,  football players of all ages and levels of competition should benefit from better protection for their head and brain. 

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It was never more evident that NHRA’s oil-down penalties and fines are only hurting the lesser-funded pro nitro teams after the legal shafting that budget Top Fuel racer Terry McMillen got on Monday at the U.S. Nationals. He qualified for the Countdown by winning in the first round but because he “grenaded” his engine and oiled the track he was penalized 10 points and fined. As a result his team went from qualifying for the Countdown to not qualifying, plus they lost an engine and money. You talk about a triple whammy.

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