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The aftermath of the NHRA’s decision to delete the sportsman racing from their rain-plagued Houston national event and not reschedule the sportsman portion of the race is that action so enraged some in the NHRA sportsman racer/sponsor community that they are calling for the formation of another sanctioning body for sportsman racers totally separate from the NHRA.
Sportsman racers as a group seem to feel disrespected, used and abused by the NHRA, and over the last month have made those feelings perfectly clear. Some of the racers feel -- and they are correct -- that NHRA views them as “filler” for that period of time during a national event when the professional classes aren’t on the track.
I’m sorry to say that bit of info isn’t news and is basically the norm for the NHRA even when I first raced in Stock Eliminator back in 1961 when it was known as ‘Little Eliminator' and Wally Parks was still alive and running the sanctioning body.
Every promoter, track operator, and employee associated with NHRA drag racing knows the pro car classes sell the tickets and the sportsman classes are to fill the time when the pros aren’t racing or qualifying. They also know (and the racers SHOULD know) that the NHRA isn’t making big profits riding the backs of their sportsman racers. NHRA does need classes other than the big two of Top Fuel and Funny Car at national events to provide entertainment for the ticket-buying fans when the nitro classes aren’t on the track. That is why they occasionally have Pro Mod, Pro Stock Bikes, and exhibition cars.
So now, apparently tired of being abused and used by the NHRA for almost 60 years, some sportsman racers and sponsors are talking seriously about buying the existing LODRS sportsman series and separating it from the NHRA.
Actually I believe it wouldn’t be too hard for a serious buyer with cash to buy the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series from the NHRA. I think that the current NHRA management team has no real emotional attachment to Sportsman racing and would likely welcome an opportunity to be rid of it. Just my opinion.
Ten years ago or more before HD Partners and Bruton Smith both made a run at buying the NHRA, a very high ranking member of the NHRA’s management team told me, as we looked out over the sportsman staging lanes from the tower at a national event, that the NHRA doesn’t make any money off of the sportsman racers at national events and in fact those classes actually cost the NHRA money to keep going even with the Lucas Oil sponsorship.
He went on to say that if a business ever bought the NHRA most likely the first thing its leadership would do is try to sell the sportsman series or, if they couldn’t sell it, eliminate the sportsman program altogether.
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