The NHRA is Listening
First, I want to thank the many readers who sent opinions, comments and only a couple death threats (just kidding!) about the delay “device” articles I have written lately. We got some great input and ideas, and we also got the same whining and sniveling all editorials get. Most of that came from people who either didn’t identify themselves or probably had no idea what a transbrake solenoid even is. That’s OK; it was an editorial feature not a tech column.
I might not have everything that I think is both RIGHT and WRONG with sportsman drag racing written in the right order but these are topics that I think need to be dealt with and given some thought.
The feature story about the Delay Box Crisis in S/Stock and Comp stirred up a lot of raw feelings from many sportsman racers. Some thought it was way overdue to bring these concerns out into the open. Others told me to mind my own business and the switches were “legal.” I had no argument with either side EXCEPT for some of the switches. Any switch you can adjust to create delay between the driver motion and the car moving is a “delay device.” That is just a fact that NHRA and IHRA are going to have to deal with.
I found out in conversations with some NHRA officials that they weren’t really aware of what these switches were capable of doing (delay) and why they are being used. This brings me to the subject of why aren’t NHRA and IHRA officials more in tune with the racing that they sanction? It isn’t because they don’t care; I could tell that they were genuinely concerned by the conversation I had with them. They have very strict technical rules about everything on the car in S/Stock and Comp but the transbrake switch “development” had just been overlooked.
Not any more. The NHRA has posted a tech department poll on their website and is asking current S/Stock and Comp racers to vote whether they want to allow delay boxes or not. They also said there will be a “spec switch” for 2008 regardless of the vote.
What is really important about this poll and the results is this: First they are asking, that is the best news. Second, they actually didn’t need to ask if they just enforced the rulebook. I’ll take the first action to ask racers as the win-win deal for now. The racers get to let NHRA know what they want and NHRA can then set a better rule in front of them for 2008.
This is important for a couple reasons. The trend is S/Stock and Comp in recent years is to build faster and faster cars. They are not being built just because the owners want to go faster (at least not always!). They are built because the additional horsepower of a sheet metal intake, good hood scoops, and highly efficient engines provide a better “race package” which is more consistent. When a racer has the faster car in a race he or she can’t red-light first and it is much easier to judge the finish line if they are coming from behind.
Another reason more and more faster cars are showing up in the Stock/Super Stock and Comp Eliminator classes is it is easy to control reaction times with “long-throw” buttons or hydraulic-controlled release buttons. Now that there is going to be an NHRA spec transbrake button coming in 2008 it’ll be interesting to see if the trend to eight-second Super/Stock cars continues.
I know there is resentment towards delay boxes in S/Stock and Comp because these are “pure” class racers doing what interests them the most. They build cars under strict rules and compete against others who have to go through engine teardowns and much more to prove their cars and engines are “legal” for competition.
I love S/Stock racecars and admire the determination these guys bring to the table. There’re all sorts of things you can do other than using a switch to slow down drivers’ reaction times. You could apply the same technology used in the transbrake switch to transbrake solenoids, internal valve bodies, etc. If you can do all of this and somehow it is deemed legal for the guys who can afford to, why not make a rule that allows the use of a simple .000 to 1.000 second delay box. It would be a very cost-effective way to put both fast and slow S/Stockers on a level playing field and it could be done for under $200. Instead of money being the factor between good lights and better racing, let the drivers decide it. (Trust me, the driver still has to release the button and late lights, red-lights are still part of delay box racing, I know because I have raced with delay boxes for 20 years and messed up every possible way.)