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With a heat index in the triple digits, you might expect racers and fans to stay home and out of the heat, but evidently Midwestern fans and racers are a hardy lot. On consecutive weekends your intellect-challenged editor visited both the newly renovated “outlaw” 1/8th mile drag strip at Sikeston, MO, and what I think is one of the finest-run and maintained drag strips in the country, the Bader family’s track in Norwalk, Ohio. Heat or no heat, I had a great time and saw great racing at both facilities -- both of which are staffed with people that really make their fans and racers feel welcome.
Top Fuel privateer Brady Kalivoda had an engine failure during qualifying at the Norwalk race and he ended up with a cockpit full of flames before the fire went out. Fifteen years ago (at least) we had a series of big Top Fuel fires at Sonoma and I have photos of the cockpits being full of flame because of the low pressure area that is the cockpit. Funny thing is that I believe at least one car at that Sonoma event had a full canopy.
How in the hell can NHRA approve and allow ANY new parts (cylinder heads, injectors, etc.) for T/F that might make the cars go faster or make more power after shortening the track to restrict speed, and yet not approve the use of a canopy for the driver’s safety? It is just one more of the bizarre decisions the NHRA tech department continues to make.
I stood in the 100+ heat Friday, Saturday and Sunday and on all three days saw too much of the NHRA track crew prepping the Norwalk track. Every time there was an oil-down -- and there were many last weekend -- fans and racers had to sit in the blistering sun on aluminum bleacher seats with heat indexes above 105 and watch the track being repaired or prepped. Thankfully it was somewhat cooler on Sunday, but still it took 52 minutes to clean up after one Top Fuel oil-down. But on Saturday there were more than a few oil-downs and the loyal fans who braved the oppressive heat were forced to endure long waits while the track was being repaired and re-prepped. And to make matters worse they rolled the tractors and re-prepped the track between classes!
This insanity has to stop! Making paying customers risk heat stroke to please a few racers is nothing short of insanity and no doubt contributes to fewer paying customers in hot weather. I would suggest that in the future, in consideration of those paying customers, the tractors should roll ONLY after the track has been oiled and not between every pro class. Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars buying glue, rice-hull ash, and other track prep materials (not to mention paying for hundreds of man-hours trying to give pro racer a perfect track that won’t allow tires to spin) why not just make traction control devices legal and save everyone a lot of time and money? Pro Stock, Pro Mod, and any class that allows EFT already have enough legal electronics to give them some type of traction control.
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