NHRA’S DIVISION 2 TO RUN 1/8-MILE SCHEDULE AT NATIONAL OPEN
When the IHRA recently dropped its Pro-Am Sportsman Race Series it didn’t go unnoticed by NHRA Division 2 director Richard Schaefer.
So, at the Division 2’s National Open events this season Shaefer is going to try and fill the void left by IHRA’s move.
Schaefer said at seven Division 2 National Open events, Super Street, Super Gas, Super Comp, Stock, Super Stock, Top Sportsman, Top Dragster and Junior Dragster classes will compete on the eighth-mile. There will no Comp cars and Top Alcohol cars running the eighth-mile at the Division 2 National Open events.
Schaefer also acknowledged the eighth-mile racing also made sense for the racers in the Southeast where Division 2 is based.
“The Southeast has always been heavily saturated with drag racing with IHRA having such a strong presence and with the (NHRA) being here,” Schaefer said. “Then, you figure all the big-money bracket racing like the Million and the Flings and all that stuff. With IHRA dropping their Pro-Am class this year, I just didn’t want those racers who were traditionally IHRA eighth-mile racers, I didn’t want them to be lost without an event to go to.
We just started talking to some of the tracks out there and basically told them that we would create an eighth-mile series that will have a division championship and they still will get the big Wally. They will be earning grade points for national events and they are getting the jacket at the end of the year. We are treating them the same way we would the Lucas Oil champions.”
Schaefer said Division 2’s first National Open 1/8-mile event will be held June 9-10 at Music City Raceway in Goodlettsville, Tenn.
“The reason we are starting it so late is because in the Southeast we have so many division races in the Lucas Series and so many Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events from February through May,” Schaefer said. “Once that starts to slow down a little bit for us in June, that’s when we will start coming out with the eighth-mile stuff.”
The other eighth-mile race will be at Atlanta (Ga.) Dragway, Piedmont (N.C.) Dragway, South Carolina Motorplex in Orangeburg, Carolina Dragway in Aiken, S.C., Mooresville (N.C.) Dragway and the final event will take place the weekend of Oct. 21 at Rockingham (N.C.) Dragway.
“Essentially the IHRA racer is basically just putting the NHRA sticker on the car and really not a whole lot has changed in his life,” Schaefer said. “At the final event, we will bring the guys from the Lucas Oil Series and the eighth-mile guys from the National Open Series and it will be a double-event weekend, that basically will be our championship weekend for the Southeast Division (Division 2) where both series come together for a finale. All the (NHRA) divisions kind of operate like their own independent small business to an extent so we have to do what fits our division and this just seemed like this was a good fit for us right now because we are just trying to fill a void that opened for the racers. Eighth-mile racers aren’t necessarily going to run a quarter-mile, it is just not in their blood. We just want to make sure they still had a home. My job is to give the racers what they want and if there is that many that want eighth-mile, we will give it to them.”
Shaefer said the feedback he has received from racers about implementing the National Open eighth-mile class has been overwhelming.
“I don’t think my phone has ever been busier as an NHRA employee since it has been since we said we were going to do this on Jan. 13,” Schaefer said. “In the last two weeks I haven’t been able to put my phone down for the night until about midnight. It’s primarily answering emails, text messages and Facebook messages about this specifically. It seems like it’s a pretty good gamble I’m taking here, that there are a lot of racers who want this and need this right now. That’s what we want.”