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"Midnight Madness" races aren't new to drag racing. As far back as 25 years ago Gerald Pritchard held events at Tulsa that started at midnight and ended when the sun came up. Sometimes these races would be held on the same weekend as an IHRA national event. I noted at the time that almost none of the racers and fans at the track for the national event participated in the Midnight Madness and, vice-versa, the racers and fans that came to the track for the "Midnight Madness" event had no interest in the IHRA national event.
In recent years with declining interest in bracket racing or attending national events more and more promoters are adding these kinds of events to the weekly schedules. These events generally combine "test and tune" racing where no ET's or speeds are put up on the scoreboard and at some events competitors don't even get a time slip after the race. Most of these "races" also offer bands, beer, bikini contests and dedicated drift courses. These events often draw 400 and up entries and 1000+ paying spectators at every event, but almost everyone agrees that almost none of the racers and fans that attend "midnight madness" events have any interest in attending NHRA or IHRA big shows.
So, my question is, why don't the NHRA/IHRA have a presence at these events to try and develop new fans and competitors for themselves? Most of the quickest and fastest cars at the MM events are late model Ford Mustangs, Chevy Camaros, and Dodge Challengers. Why not pay someone like Roy Hill to bring his Factory Stock Mustangs or Garlits with his Challenger to an event and make some laps? Why not hire a nostalgia nitro fuel racer to bring in a car and cackle it three or four time during the event?
My point is that the management teams at the NHRA and IHRA are disconnected from the current 18-25 year-old gear heads and are disconnected from what that generation likes. Professional Drag Racing today offers the current generation basically the same entertainment they've offered for over 60 years. What was entertainment for drag racers and drag racing fans 40-50 years ago obviously doesn't entertain them today and that is the biggest problem Tom Compton and his team have to solve.
There was no doubt beginning with the very first rounds of Eliminations at the NHRA's recent national event held at Atlanta Dragway that there was a good lane and a sh*t lane and lane choice was absolutely critical if a racer wanted to win. It was also obvious from the first round on Sunday that even the best track crew in the world of drag racing couldn't fix the traction issues that Atlanta's left lane had.
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