SUSAN WADE - 20 WISHES FOR 2020
In no particular order, here are some wishes for the new year in NHRA drag racing:
A return of nitro shootouts at the U.S. Nationals – It has helped put the “Big” in “Big Go.”
A successful return to Funny Car for Alexis De Joria – The class needs her energy.
A Top Fuel championship for Doug Kalitta – If anybody has paid his dues, it’s Doug Kalitta.
Fewer engine explosions – We want our racers safer and their bosses’ pockets fuller.
Creativity for marketing teams to help build the sport – It’s the most thrilling sport on Earth – let’s share the excitement!
Lower costs for pro and sportsman racers – We’re making progress, but we can keep improving.
Return of drivers to Pro Stock and a few new faces for Top Fuel – The Pro Stock class has no trouble filling its field. But in the past few years, we have lost participation from an alarming number of regulars: Warren Johnson, Kurt Johnson, Allen Johnson, Johnny Gray, Shane Gray, Tanner Gray, Mike Edwards, Rodger Brogdon, V Gaines, Larry Morgan, John Gaydosh, Vincent Nobile, Greg Stanfield, Ron Krisher, and Ronnie Humphrey. Yikes. The Top Fuel class had just 12 fulltime drivers, not all of whom entered every single race in 2019 – and Richie Crampton isn’t expected back on tour immediately. The Funny Car class fared slightly better last season, with 13 full-timers – and it’s expected to miss Shawn Langdon, who reportedly will be back in a dragster this year. Alexis De Joria will rejoin the Funny Car class, but it needs more fresh entrants in the mix.
Resolution of the Larry Dixon lawsuit in a manner that will put the three-time champion back in action and allow him to boost interest in the sport with his two-seat exhibition dragster – The sport needs him, and this legal wrangling can be settled really simply, actually. Just do it.
Larger purse for everyone – Do we have to call in Don Garlits again?
A sponsor for Tony Schumacher – Somebody, c’mon, step up. This eight-time Top Fuel champion can motivate like nobody else and can help build your brand.
More TV exposure for the Pro Stock class – They work as hard as the nitro gang, and it’s probably the most technical pro class. Give ‘em some help. It’d be a swell 50th birthday present.
Higher profile for the sport in national media – All these stick-and-ball-sports folks need to do is experience the phenomenon.
Another Legends showdown, this time for charity – Joe Amato suggested it, and it’s a great suggestion.
A full-time sponsor for Jordan Vandergriff – Let’s keep this kid on the track.
A less-defensive posture from the NHRA – Please be open to new ideas.
Advancement in the development of new materials in race-car construction that make the cars safer and more cost-efficient – It’s an ongoing quest. May it continue in 2020.
Continued success for drag-racing-related charities – Kudos to Darrell Gwynn, Make A Wish, Infinite Hero, DRAW, B.R.A.K.E.S., and others – keep it up!
A general consensus about what distinguishes a keen and sometimes rugged rivalry from a legally actionable offense – A rumble or two keeps the buzz going, but some behaviors aren’t helpful. Let’s keep the latter to a minimum and learn to separate the actions from the persons when we’re judging.
A racetrack for Northeast racers – It’s a vital area for the racing community, and it would be a roaring success.
Safe racing for everyone!