CHANGE SOMETHING. I don’t see this working that well.
I just read a letter from a friend that has some inside information about Bruton Smith. Smith wants to change his national event tracks layout so LIVE TV can become a reality and not a dream. How would he do it? Make two drag strips next to each other. There would be three walls, two timing equipment computers and one set of scoreboards. If one “side” gets oiled the competitors are simply guided to the other “side” and racing continues while the cleanup can be completed. As soon as one pair clears the traps the next pair does their burnout on the other side. There is plenty of room to do it now. No grandstands would be moved, they would just offer a better view.
I am glad a person as important as Bruton Smith is considering that type of major change. I think it would be awesome. Hopefully the HD Partners that are buying the professional side of NHRA will agree to give it a try. You could cut the time for sportsman eliminations by at least 50% and maybe save a sportsman racer a couple days of the expense to participate at a national event.
Why does NHRA just sit back and still let their super stars of the sport drive racecars built with tubing that was mandated in the 1970s? Have they not looked into soft walls, monocoque driver cockpits, better alloys, or even an NHRA Tech Center similar to NASCAR’s? Probably not, because the suits at NHRA have never sat in a 200-mph drag car let alone a 330-mph bullet with tires that chunk away and tubing that seemingly is over-stressed.
Until they (NHRA and IHRA) face the facts and deal with the speeds and lack of enforceable safety rules they could injure a lot of quality people, possibly needlessly.
One thing both sanctioning bodies should do -- and should have done about two years ago -- is switch the events to 1/8th mile. How many serious accidents have occurred in the first 66 feet’? Then soft walls could be used from 660 to 1320 feet and all the tracks automatically have triple the shutdown area they would normally need. It is a win-win change.
Local tracks should follow suit and make the switch to 1/8 mile as well. Then the safety equipment can be closer to where it should be. The speeds attained aren’t much different but the amount of time a racer is “carrying that speed” is reduced dramatically. Overall it is a safer environment and one that can sustain the sport for a longer time.
I know it’s a big change for some of us. Not for all of us, though, as most racing in the Southern and Eastern part of the country is done on 1/8-mile tracks. There are only a couple major bracket races left that run 1/4 mile. The reason is the events are completed quicker, there are fewer oil-downs, and more participation as the race cars themselves become more durable because they aren’t subjected to the extended high rpm’s of the 1/4-mile race and resulting shutdown time at higher rpm’s.