Volume IX, Issue 1, Page 12

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What if. .


Damn, it was quiet during this off-season. 

There was nothing going on, no So-Cal racing until the highly controversial LACR Hangover Nationals where the nostalgia set was all a-twitter that a funny car nobody expected, made the quickest and fastest pass ever for a Nostalgia Nitro Funny Car. 

My God, you would have thought someone was anointing this single quarter-mile race against a jet dragster as an official, uncontested, set in stone world record or something.  It happened, I saw the timeslip - although I did not have my vintage Minerva stopwatch in hand to back up the high-altitude LACR clocks that some pundits questioned.  But you know the “Predator” flopper, with nitro veteran Jim Holtz in the seat, was on quite a pass with the wheels in the air at the green and that day the team corrected a pervasive problem that had been plaguing them.  A world record, nope, but a damn good pass, the best I’ve ever seen from that car or any other N/FC!  What if… Holtz actually ran a 5.61, 5.71 or 5.81?  We’ll find that out at the March Meet.

During the quiet time I also began regularly listening to the SIRIUS Satellite’s NASCAR Channel 128 and had to shut it off in frustration while lots of callers asked repeated inane, yahoo-questions, but I did find some tidbits of down-to-earth entertainment on Tony Stewart’s new weekly show.  Actually it made me want to dust off my orange #20 parka, but it’s been too warm out here on the left coast to wear it. 

As my mind wandered around, I pondered, What if…

What if… NHRA Prez Tom Compton sat down before a microphone on a pre-season or even quarterly, hour-long, call-in talk show format to answer unscreened drag fan questions - just as NASCAR’s Mike Helton did earlier this month on SIRIUS Satellite Radio?  Could you imagine?

What if… NHRA bought two hours of Satellite radio time to push the POWERade version of drag racing’s personalities in a regularly scheduled timeslot, but didn’t bring in a “happy talk,” sanitized-for-your-protection ESPN-ish host.  Naw, that’s really thinking outside the box.

What if… a major sponsor like GM, Mopar, Budweiser, CSK, Coca-Cola or POWERade stepped up and bought a sponsored two-hour Satellite radio strip every Wednesday night, a show that is dedicated exclusively to drag racing talk? 

What if… there was a live Satellite radio show on Sunday morning of the 2007 Winternationals, ending long before driver intros?

What if… they still handed out free event posters at the Winternationals instead of having to hang onto your ticket stub as the souvenir?

What if… NHRA’s ESPN TV show actually got a regularly scheduled time where fans and potential fans could always find weekend event coverage?  It’s kinda sad what $10 million will buy these days.

What if… there were real professional driver rivalries instead of contrived “beer wars”, “oil wars” or “tool wars”.  Anybody remember the Al Hofmann and John Force rivalry?

What if… with the new Detroit factory interest in bringing back the modern pony car, that interest evolved into a real factory Super Stock brand war?  I’m sure a lot of you saw the photos of the new red, white & blue Dodge Challenger factory Super Stocker on display at SEMA and the PRI shows.  What if… with new Detroit factory interest, spectators found more interest in the Super Stock category the way Sox and Martin, Grumpy Jenkins and the Fairlane and Comets did it in the 1960’s and ‘70s.

What if… Sportsman racers adopted the SFI 38.1 Spec before the sanctioning body makes it mandatory?  There are four different SFI approved manufacturers of head and neck restraints.  Please find a unit that fits you this year - modern science can’t fix a basal skull fracture if you crash.

What if… there were actually racer and fan outrage or a protest mounted about Los Angeles County Raceway closing down, instead of the ho-hum whimper?

What if… you took a kid or two to the drags this year that has never been before, just for the future of our drag racing addiction?

What if… you skipped a National event and got out to a SportsNationals, Divisional, ADRL, PSCA or Super Chevy event this year?

What if… you took the family and the family car out to compete at a test-n-tune Thursday night at Irwindale’s 1/8-mile dragstrip and bought some of those tasty Martins BBQ sausages?

What if… California Speedway’s NASCAR-centric management actually promoted a Saturday night drag race on their dragway instead of keeping its rental facility for outside promoters?  It’s a first-class track.

What if… sand drag racing actually caught on at San Jacinto Raceway or at Primm, Nevada?  You haven’t been yet, have you?

What if… NHRA finally admitted the total failure of their Sport Compact series and handed over the remains of the show to NOPI?

What if… your membership in NHRA actually gave you a voting share in the organization and you could decide on raises for the Board of Directors based upon the previous year’s decisions?  What if… there were an alternate slate of officers running for NHRA office and voted upon by the membership?  Would you vote to retain the current leadership?

What if… NHRA just handed over a copy of the report on Darrell Russell’s tragic death to Julie Russell as Graham Light promised on ESPN2 a long while ago?

What if… the same eye problems that sidelined Joe Amato and Don Garlits become an issue for 62-year-old Kenny Bernstein’s Funny Car re-dux?

What if… Brandon Bernstein got his name on the Top Fuel dragster he drives this year?

What if... “Dedicated to Safety” were added back into the letterhead of the National Hot Rod Association?

What if… Tony Schumacher was disqualified from an event for ignoring the cut-off sign from the NHRA Chief Starter or starting line crew this year?

What if… NHRA supported DRAW the way that NASCAR fans, drivers and owners embrace the Victory Junction Gang or Speedway Charities?  Did you know that, according to their 2005 Form 990 Tax Return, NHRA gave a measly $750 to DRAW, but the American Red Cross netted a $15,000 contribution earmarked for Hurricane Katrina Relief?

What if… the new NHRA points system is an absolute hit and the NHRA Media department needs to add more square footage to the Shav Glick Media Center at the Pomona Finals to accommodate the new-found interest from the New York Times, USA Today, Christian Science Monitor and Sports Illustrated?  All right, it is getting late around here, but the Vegas Nitro Warm-ups are coming… ROAD TRIP! 

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