“It’s Force, of Course”
At Seattle International Raceway just prior to the 1988 season we negotiated a long-term contract for the first NHRA Northwest Nationals. NHRA expanded the national event schedule that year and included Seattle and Sears Point (now Infineon Raceway). That event, the NHRA Seafair Nationals, was scheduled for the first weekend of August and that meant changing the location on the calendar for 64 Funny Cars.
I certainly wanted to continue our most important event, but the date would have to be moved and that can be a real problem in the Seattle market. One of the hardest things track operators do is schedule events so they don’t conflict with other events in and around the local area.
Relocating the “mainstay event” like 64 Funny Cars would require a totally different location on the SIR calendar that wouldn’t conflict with NHRA and one of their national events (so we could get the frontlinefunny cars). And then there is always much concern about the weather in the Northwest. The second-best location (first weekend of August is number one) was the last weekend in June. The percent of possible rain goes up significantly in late June and the financial risk can be a huge concern. One good shower on that event can eliminate the whole thing and the financial hardship can be big-time for the company.
I decided to make it a three-day event knowing that it wouldn’t have the impact that it had as a Saturday night only event but if a little rain showed up we could probably get the event done during the longer time period. As the NHRA continued to expand its national event schedule every few years, we all knew the future of 64 Funny Cars was limited.
You just can’t get the frontline cars by attempting to run on the same weekend as NHRA national events. The modern-day NHRA schedule has national events on three weekends out of four in some months.
It has become nearly impossible to produce a huge event like 64 Funny Cars when you are competing against NHRA for cars. In these instances, NHRA is our biggest competitor.