Racing and the NFCA
BZZZZRR…POP! BZZZZRR…POP! BZZZZRR…POP!
What is that annoying sound? It could only be a broken record... or the sound of me swatting flies from that dead horse carcass that has been in my living room for the past year or so. With that intro, those who have been frequenting the nostalgia themed message boards recently know where this is headed…straight into the NFCA zone. Or as Don Henley called them in one of his lesser known B-sides: "The Boys of Bummer."
I was going to ignore this round of blunders from the NFCA regarding the second race for the Funny Cars in the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage series, which took place in Las Vegas just days before this column goes live. But I can't; it's gotten too ridiculous to ignore.
This latest drama-filled episode reads like a telemundo novela with all of the pointless plot turns and twists, rumors, innuendo, and threats…yes, that's right, threats. And all of this without one hot Latina in the bunch to make it at least appealing to the eyes. No bueno.
The nuts and bolts of this mess goes like this: LVMS announces a purse for the Funny Cars that was a little light. Grumbling starts. A third party steps in to try and help the situation by negotiating free entry for car-driver and some crew, plus an additional break on hotel rooms. This happens and seems to quiet some of the grumbles but only pisses off the NFCA more. The NFCA decides to boycott. The phone campaign begins with members calling the teams who are pre-entered for the event and telling them "If you go, you risk being kicked out of the 'club'" meaning being excluded from future NFCA-sanctioned events.
Even though my car owner and I are not members of the group, I received a few phone calls from members asking me to think about not going. They were cordial and by no means in the tone that I have been told was used by some of the other members. It's too bad if they are getting nasty with their own. Also there are accounts of the NFCA attempting to negotiate the purse with Steve Gibbs or Chris Blair. Both Gibbs and Blair have said no one has contacted them regarding the purse. That's too bad also.
So it looks like a power-play to see “who is with us or against us.” At the beginning of the year, we gave Steve Gibbs and the Heritage series our support. We ran at the Winternationals as a kickoff and a sign of our support. We'll be there. [This was written before the May 2-4 event – Ed.]
Here is my 'Head in the Clouds' scenerio of how I wish it could go. Accept that the purse is a little light, but don't boycott the event. At some point during the event, maybe schedule a meeting with Lee Jennings Sr. and Chris Blair that could have dialog along the lines of "Chris, you proved to yourself that LVMS can have a successful spring nostalgia event with Funny Cars as the headliners. We proved to you that we can bring you a full field of quality cars. We appreciate your efforts but next year we won't be back for this kind of purse." I'm dreaming, I know.
Last year all the experts said if we ran at Boise for the light purse they had it would ruin AA/FC racing for all in the future by giving the tracks a reason to offer puny payouts. This year at Boise… 16 car show with a very generous purse. I would like to believe the same could happen with LVMS.
I guess it's easier to boycott when you're running a club race at Tucson the weekend after the LVMS event. That's fine too. Run where you want, when you want. That's something I totally agree with. If the money is not good enough, stay home. Stop with the threats. Are you so insecure with your association that you need to revert to threats to get your members NOT to show up at an event? We said it last year and a few more owners are saying it now: "I didn't build this car to have someone else tell me where or where not to race."
This will shock some of you. I applaud the NFCA for their recent success at Sacramento and for their securing the financing to offer such generous purses at their, what I call, 'club' events. I also applaud them for continuing to secure new sponsors for their events. Should I repeat that for those of you who will 'mf' me regardless?
I've seen the "let's draw a line in the sand!" stuff floating around and it's unnecessary. Don't like the payout? Stay home. Don't like the NHRA coming into the scene and running a series? Stay home. But please don't try to save me from myself because I choose to run the Heritage series.
I talked to some AA/FD folks on how they deal with this kind of power-play and guess what? They don't go there. The teams pretty much do what they want. They're all tired of arguing about it, I guess. Someday maybe the AA/FC guys can get there too.