A functional 2008 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series schedule
The NHRA just released its 2008 POWERade Drag Racing Series schedule. We all know every other racing series’ schedule revolves around that. Unfortunately, over the past few years the scheduling for sportsman racers has gotten worse and worse.
This past season was the worst. Granted there are a lot of agendas that conflict when trying to make a schedule this big, but at some level of NHRA management, there has to be a standard set, and when a schedule like the one we had this year is sent up the chain, someone should reject it. Talking to some division directors, the process is to ask the tracks which weekend they would like to have their divisional. It doesn’t appear the racer is getting much consideration these days.
While catering to the racer’s needs may not get the track’s attention, higher car counts should. Stacking races on top of other races is hard on racers and it definitely has a negative impact on car counts, which reduces a track’s bottom line at a divisional. I devoted an entire column to this, but I’m going to touch base on a few points in reference to scheduling.
Time away from work is a big factor. A racer or crewmember may get two weeks of vacation a year or more. They’re probably going to have a hard time taking most of that within a few months as many of the race schedules are this year. Spreading the races out as much as possible helps lighten the burden for teams.
Cash flow and parts are another overlooked piece of the puzzle. It may cost $100,000 to run 10 races. It’s much harder to run six of those races within a few months rather than spread out evenly due to cash flow. Whether you’re funding your racing from sponsor dollars or personal income, either way, you probably need time to recoup expenses. This is especially true if you’re running out of your own pocket. Not to mention that some parts take time to get. Cranks and blowers come to mind, among other things. It’s much easier on any budget to race spread out over the year.
Time between races is another factor. This may sound somewhat redundant, but it’s a valid point in itself. It’s very hard for the non-full-time racer to hit two races in a row, much less three or four. An alcohol team needs at least a weekend to service the car for an event. If you have back-to-back races, you more than likely have to take even more time off to get the car ready for the next race. Many racers are self-employed, and when we’re not at work, things probably aren’t happening as efficiently as they should. In many ways, that makes racing cost even more money.
Another factor that hurts car counts is close geographical divisions stacking races on top of each other. Who wins when there are four or five divisionals going on in one weekend? Two or three is too many when they are neighboring divisions. We’ve taken that into consideration and eliminated most of it. Our schedule gives you the choice of going out of division.
From a promotional standpoint, it’s just dumb to put a divisional close to a national on the schedule. Except for rare circumstances, a divisional at a national-event track should be several months removed from the national event. We’ve done that in our mock schedule.
Night racing is another element we’ve stepped up. Why try to run a race in the heat of the day? I’ve shifted quite a few races to night races during the summer months. I haven’t been to every track yet, but I’ve been to many. I may have missed on a few facilities giving them night races.
The schedule below takes the above points into consideration. Having a tighter schedule is just a fact of life in the northern divisions, but I’ve put together a schedule that has nearly no back-to-back events. That includes divisionals and nationals within a region or division.
The tracks submit their schedules based on their agendas. On behalf of the sportsman racer, I’m submitting this schedule based on their agenda – More Time! Granted, I wouldn’t expect NHRA to accept this totally, but I think most of you will agree this schedule is a hell of a lot better than what we’ve seen in recent years. As a disclaimer, I realize there are other events such as IHRA I haven’t taken into consideration, but this is a good starting point. I think tracks should at least take a look at this schedule and see if it works. There may be scheduling hardships that are just realities. As I mentioned above, there has to be a standard. At some point, when a BS schedule like we’re racing this year comes out, someone needs to kick it back and tell everyone to try harder and resubmit something better. We, the racers are their customers, and need to make our voices heard!