Volume IX, Issue 1, Page 8

1/8/07

AND THIS SURPRISES YOU?

Maybe it's my age (52). Maybe it's the 26 years I've spent observing the insides and outsides of drag racing, as a fan, crew member, writer/photographer and opinion monger. Maybe I have just grown overly cynical in general. Whatever the case may be, it surprises me on a regular basis what people choose to rant about regarding the state of affairs in drag racing. More correctly, I find it amusing that those who are commenting on any of several recurring issues seem surprised that things are as they are, if you follow me.

After all, there is a pretty substantial body of evidence out there to examine. Say, in excess of fifty year’s worth of bygones, in some cases. I prefer specifics to the generalities I've poured out so far, so let's proceed to the specifics, post haste.

NHRA DOES NOT LIKE COMPETITION.
And this surprises you? Say what you will about the Guys in Glendora, they have always remained true to themselves and how they see themselves. And they see themselves as the originators, controllers, and absolute rulers of the sport. They do what they do because they can. They are a not-for-profit entity, and they have the court decisions to legitimize their chosen method of operation. The membership, outside of the Board of Directors, has no say in things, and they never will. Those who are in a position to make money are making plenty of it -- that's what the not-for-profit structure makes possible. The only enemy they have is competition. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that from time to time, NHRA flexes its muscles, real or perceived, and seeks to damage anyone seeking to get a piece of the rock.

Ask anyone who used to be involved with the American Hot Rod Association. During the time those two groups were in play, NHRA did whatever it could to deep-six the AHRA group, with AHRA responding in kind. In a way, it continues on today, with the ongoing snub of Don Garlits, he of the AHRA and PRO background. If you ever have any doubts on whether NHRA is interested in "the good of the sport," just keep in mind how they treat Garlits, arguably the most important drag racer of all time. And quit acting surprised when they step up to the bully pulpit. That's what they are, sports fans.

FEARING A "CONFLICT," GREG ENDERS NIXS A MAJOR DEAL.
And this surprises you? I just couldn't let this one go without a comment or two. As hard as major marketing partners are to come by, you would think Mr. Enders would welcome the Revive brand into his operation. That the deal was announced indicates he did. That he changed his mind and turned down the money indicates pressure from "outside" dictated his course of action. Maybe it wasn't even an overt act that influenced him. Drag racing is a small community, even more so within the confines of a given sanctioning group's pit area. Think this doesn't happen? Reference Coors Beer with Tom McEwen, Miller Beer with the Top Fuel Challenge, Winston with IHRA - three examples from a long list of companies who sought to compete with brands favored by NHRA. There will be more; just see it for what it is -- business as it has always been. No worries, mate, and no surprise.

HEY, THE GOODGUYS ARE OUT OF THE DRAG RACING BIZ.
And this surprises you? I actually like this organization. They have done a lot for Nostalgia Top Fuel racing, and the resurgent Nostalgia Funny Car movement as well. We should not forget their contributions in those two areas. And they have done a lot to revitalize the custom car and street rod industry nationwide as well. Once they lost control of the March Meet at Famoso, California, that was pretty much it for their interest in conducting drag racing events. It was their big money maker, nitro racing-wise, so without it there was little reason to put up with the rules hassles, insurance problems and sheer amount of time and effort and expenditure of resources required to continue on. Besides, The Goodguys are show car guys at heart, not drag racers. So we shouldn't hold it against them or be surprised when they do what they really want to do.

THE NHRA XPLOD SPORTS COMPACT TOUR LIVES ON. 
If this surprises you, count yourself in good company. No one, save those who get a paycheck from this thing thinks this is a series with any life expectancy at all! I don't care what anybody says, this is not the future of drag racing. If it is, I see a NASCAR truck series commitment in my future. If NHRA thinks this is such a killer deal, bring it on over to the POWERade tour so all can see. That ought to be interesting. And it would surprise me to my dying days if it worked.

HEY, THE VRA NOSTALGIA FUNNY CARS HAVE A FIVE-SECOND CLUB.
And this surprises you? Given how drag racing is promoted, it shouldn't. Seriously, big kudos to Auto Meter for sponsoring the Five-Second Club. If guys want to burn their stuff to the ground in pursuit of the ring or whatever is at stake, have at it! It's their stuff, after all. I do think it points out a problem with the current nostalgia scene, though. I believe most fans who have an interest in buying a ticket to see nostalgia floppers just want to see nostalgia floppers run. They don't give a hoot how fast they are or how quick. As long as the nitro fumes are in the nose, and the "cack" is in the ears, almost everyone is gonna be happy. I just don't want to see large numbers of these racers drive themselves out of business chasing membership in The Club. But at the end of the day, it remains their beeswax if that's what turns them on. And it wouldn't surprise me one iota if it is.

As to surprises in general, I hope the 2007 drag racing season has a whole bunch of them. National event drag racing has gotten a tad predictable to my way of thinking. Maybe that's what The Chase is for. We can only hope. Later!  

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