Volume X, Issue 8, Page 95

Looks like the 'Fun Police' are at it again

At this point of the season I guess I am one of the lucky ones who isn’t bothered by mid-season rule changes and the things that racers who attend national events have to deal with. The latest “Important Rule” to come out of the NHRA pertains to the use and control of those wild, dangerous and difficult to control “Auxiliary Pit Vehicles”.

I was going to do a column this month on ways we try to reduce our towing expenses so we can still go to as many races as possible. I am sure everyone is looking at ways to conserve a few bucks during the week but instead of that I want to look into the new “Auxiliary Pit Vehicle Rules”.

Before I get into the how-comes and the whys for such rules I think it might be appropriate to share one of my thoughts on this problem first. Auxiliary Pit Vehicles have been with us for about 30 years. At first it was used Mopeds, small home-built mini-bikes with 5 hp Briggs & Stratton engines. Simple little ways racers and fans could get from one end of the pit area to the other to see friends, watch the events or whatever.

Now when you go to an event you can see golf carts that are jacked up, have more powerful engines in them, sound systems, coolers and auxiliary seating for four to six people. Some of the “golf carts” have become as big as a medium-sized car, weigh in excess of 800 lbs and can run 25 mph. Things have changed.

But, are these a problem that needs a new set of rules? I don’t think so, and here’s why.

The basic rules at most tracks have always been:

  1. Driver must be 16 and have Driver’s License. If they aren’t, the owner can be removed from the event or the auxiliary pit vehicle can be impounded until the event is over.

  2. The auxiliary pit vehicle had to have a “Competition Number” on it. That assures the officials it is a piece of race equipment and tells them who is responsible for it.

  3. The auxiliary pit vehicle had to have a taillight and headlight for night operation to prevent getting hit in the pit area when it is dark.

What went wrong with those basic rules?

  1. The auxiliary pit vehicle became a “baby-sitter” for parents. Put the kids on the golf cart and tell them to be careful. Great idea -- doesn’t work!

  2. The auxiliary pit vehicle has become faster and heavier, and can cause a lot of damage if it hits something or someone. Used to be if you hit something with a 49cc Moped you got a bump on your own forehead (that will make you more careful next time, right?)

  3. RESPONSIBILITY, or actually, the lack of it. Parents did not want to be responsible and stupid adults did not accept responsibility either. Whatever happened to “personal responsibility”?

  4. ENFORCEMENT of EXISTING RULES. Same thing here. There were already rules pertaining to auxiliary pit vehicles. It was not uncommon to see four Jr. Dragster drivers pile on a golf cart and take off into the pit area. There is probably not a track manager on the planet that wants to kick out a customer or confront a parent about underage drivers on pit vehicles. THEY SHOULDN’T HAVE TO. The parents should stop it before it even started!

Highlights of the new NHRA-mandated Auxiliary Pit Vehicle Rules: (aka: Fun Police Guidelines)

    • Non-motorized vehicles such as skateboards, roller skates, scooters, go-peds, etc. (does etc. mean bicycles too?) may not be ridden in the pit area.

    • Auxiliary Pit Vehicles may be used for necessary transportation only. Joyriding (this means No Fun in case you are wondering), cruising (we all know how dangerous that is! Does that mean John Force can’t “cruise” up and down the return road waving at fans either? I didn’t think it applied to him!) or recreational riding is prohibited (what do you think; you are not here to enjoy yourself are you?) Vehicles are only permitted on the grounds when the owner is actually competing in the event (that should cut the use of the nasty machines down by 50% every round). Spectators, guests (you remember these guys right? They pay the bill for the entire event!) and non-participants are not allowed to bring pit vehicles onto the property. (You mean if I have a golf cart in my trailer, I lose first round and I am pitted ¾ of a mile from the bleachers I cannot unload the golf cart because I am not participating in the event anymore? That must be what they mean, they wrote the rules.) More stuff for the Fun Police!

    • All vehicles, whenever possible, are to use perimeter roadways and are to avoid high traffic areas, such as the Pro Pits and Manufacturer Midway. (Won’t the perimeter roadways now become high-traffic areas and thus need to be avoided?)

    • Maximum speed limit is 15 mph. (Does this mean the Pro teams that zoom through the pits in the high traffic areas due to the 75-minute turn around will be exempt?)

    • ALL operators must be at least 16 years old, have a valid driver’s license (will an NHRA Competition License work, if your regular driver’s license has been suspended?) and must be covered by adequate liability insurance (does that mean “adequate” to replace a $60,000 Super Stocker that wasn’t insured in the first place or $1,000 worth of liability insurance to cover a skinned knee if you bump into someone?) All operators shall provide proof of such insurance, a driver’s license and any other applicable credentials upon request of an NHRA or event official (what’s next martial law?) It’s Fun Police time again!

    • All auxiliary pit vehicles MUST display the pit vehicle sticker issued at Racer Registration. You are permitted one (1) sticker per race car entry. Additional stickers will not be issued. (What if one driver runs two cars? Does he get two stickers? Is that fair to the driver who has two guys that own his car and pay the bills?) The Fun Police can sort it out!

    • Pit vehicles operated after dusk/sunset (I think that is Californian for when it’s dark out) must have working headlight. Taillights may also be required on an individual basis depending on vehicle design. (Can any of you think of a design where a taillight could not be installed? Just curious.)

    • ONLY 2008 Pit Auxiliary Stickers are to be affixed to your pit auxiliary vehicle. Any stickers from previous seasons must be removed. (Why? Couldn’t they come up with a different color for 2008?) Fun Police Strike again!

    • (This one I REALLY like) NOTE: Unsafe or improper operation of any vehicle and/or any violations of these rules may, at the sole discretion of NHRA, result in penalties against the owner and/or operator, including, but not limited to, immediate impoundment of the vehicle, loss of racing privileges, and/or expulsion from the NHRA. (WOW! Kicked out of the NHRA for an auxiliary pit rule violation, I forget my insurance card---BOOM—“you are outta here!” Fun Police strike again

    • Where do I see this as just being WRONG? From about every angle imaginable.

      Did the guy writing this set out to prove he had been to insurance adjuster school or law school?

  1. Did the guy writing these rules ever enter a drag race at these new facilities? Topeka for example. If you bring three people with you and you pit on the south end of the paved pits you are about a ¾-mile drive from staging lanes. Maybe the guys writing these rules should go racing sometime and get out of the tower.

  2. Do they think they can really enforce rules like these? You ride your golf cart -- excuse me, Auxiliary Pit Vehicle -- after the event to visit another racer who is pitted a mile away. You get busted because you don’t have your Driver’s License, your insurance card and your headlight is burnt out. WOW, guess you might as well burn your NHRA membership card; you are probably going to busted by the FUN POLICE!

I am not kidding, these are the NHRA Rules for Auxiliary Pit Vehicles! Support your local Fun Police and you too can go racing, sit in the pits and just be glad they took your money and let you into their little “club”.  

 

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