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Nobody ever talks about what's really wrong with NHRA Drag Racing: it's not car count, it's not safety, it's not speed; it's tire smoke. NHRA nitro cars smoke the tires and shut off around 60% of the time. If the sun is out, the percentage is much, much higher. This makes for a terrible show. I am a 40-year fan and I don't go to many NHRA events anymore because of this issue. In other motorsports the cars always go down or around the track. Who would go to NASCAR if the cars shut off and coasted all the time?
I've taken many people to the races and wound up spending most of my time explaining why the cars went 300 feet and shut off. They almost never come back to the races. We long-time fans understand why this happens and patiently wait for better conditions so they will go down the track and make decent runs. First-timers or new fans aren't so patient and don't understand why they paid $60 to see such a disappointing show. I go to the Bakersfield March meet and the CHRR and it's like old times. Nitro cars in huge numbers making full runs almost all the time - the show is fantastic. The NHRA cars are grossly overpowered and can hardly ever use all of the power.
If the races were held at night, with 75-degree track temp, I wouldn't be writing this letter, but most races are held during the day with the dreaded sun out. Sponsors are not interested in cars that don't perform. I believe many cars have lost their sponsors due to lack of full runs over a long period of time.
I understand how hard it is to make a fuel car go down the track. There are many brilliant people trying to do it but under many conditions it's almost impossible. If something doesn't work, you change it. You don't keep trying the same thing over and over and over.
NHRA needs to take away enough power to make the cars go down the track on a regular basis and return to the 1/4 mile. The current 3-second race is over before it starts. I don't know what the speeds and ETs will be but 4.70's for Top Fuel and 4.95 for Funny Car at around 300 mph would be more than entertaining.
As I was writing this letter, I went on the Internet to check out the first round of qualifying from Las Vegas. Out of 40 fuel cars, only 4 or 5 made it down the track. Now how do you think the fans in the stands felt after seeing that? This is just not a good enough show to compete with NASCAR and other sports.
I think the solution to slowing the cars down is already in place in rookie testing. There is a restrictor plate on the car which usually makes Top Fuel cars and Funny Cars run about 2- or 3-tenths of a second and around 20 mph slower than the current cars. If everyone were forced to run this restrictor plate I think it would solve a lot of the current problems.
Thanks for reading this.
Jeff, Asher and I talk about this sort of thing all the time, and especially when were at an NHRA Major Race together.... We look at the stands every single day and surmise what must be done!
Vegas-1 had the addition of Nitro Harleys which was a welcome sight for me, personally as well as photographically! They were also two jet cars and Ed Jones with his stagecoach. I'm going out on a limb here because one of the things we have discussed to get the NHRA Sunday Show to be shorter, is to run the Pro Stock cars to a final on Saturday, which would shorten the Sunday Show as far as time! This also gives the Pro Stock cars their own due, what with television shooting them to a final, but also they would get ink from the daily newspapers because they did race to a final, and the NHRA could hold their final until after the nitro cars’ last qualifying session or you could run them in between FC and TF! The pro Stock cars would get all these benefits and more if they ran to a final on Saturday and you could still the run the jet cars as the last thing down the track that evening!
I do want to go on record and tell you most of this is Asher's idea with a few twists from me, but it is something that could be tried? Maybe it might work and maybe it wouldn't, but sometimes ya just have to try and go in a different direction to achieve success!
Richard Brady (with help from Jon Asher)