:::::: Editorials ::::::

DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: WILL THEY DO THE RIGHT THING?

Almost 10 years ago, in another forum, I wrote a column about NHRA’s 50th anniversary commemoration. The banner headline:
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“A Golden Opportunity, Up In Smoke”.

I asked this question:

“When’s the party going to start?”

I said that the promised season-long celebration of speed reminded me of a host who entices guests to attend a dinner with a fancy engraved invitation, then turns cheap by trying to pass off weak tea as bourbon. One Top Fuel champion whispered to me the 50th was a “flop.” When I expressed my disappointment to someone with multi-decades of experience dealing with the sanctioning group, the response was: "You're not surprised, are you?" 

DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: NHRA DID WHAT IT HAD TO DO

Sometimes, as a child, I’d speak out maybe a little too strongly in family settings. It was, I guess a sign of what was to come later in life.

Anyway, when I stepped over the line, my grandmother would issue me a loving but stern directive - “Remember your place, young man.”

Her words raced back into my mind as I reported – and reflected – on NHRA’s maneuvering in response to NASCAR’s major schedule realignment for 2011.

Let’s be honest about it: What we have just witnessed was NASCAR reminding NHRA of its place on the U.S. motorsports map.

DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: SOMETIMES CONTROVERSY ISN'T THE BEST SELL

Can’t we all just get along?

Tensions have been running as high as revs lately in NHRA. I guess it’s to be expected considering the season has included: Two alcohol class driver fatalities, a spectator killed, a couple of Pro Stock track issues, and an economy sputtering like a Funny Car on six cylinders.

“I see the fighting on the starting line,” John Force said to me after the event that was anything but Speechless in Seattle. “I know they’re frustrated -- some Pro Stock guys and Warren Johnson’s statements about Ray Charles (being able to see bumps). He made a lot of people mad (Bob Tasca III and Jim Head, to name two), but he didn’t mean it that way.

UP FRONT: HAVING NO RESPECT FOR THAT WHICH CAN KILL YOU

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Let’s acknowledge that Attitude Apparel’s CompetitionPlus.com is largely devoted to the professional categories of drag racing.  Let me also acknowledge that my primary areas of interest are those same pro classes and participants.  That does not mean, however, that I don’t have the utmost respect for sportsman racers, because by and large, it’s considerably more difficult to win in some of the sportsman classes than it may be in the pros.  As much as this might surprise some people, I actually know a bunch of sportsman racers, and they’ve been flooding my inbox with emails, and overloading my message machine with rants about what’s going on in their classes.

Making it as a sportsman racer is an iffy proposition.  The costs of competing are depressingly high when measured against the potential rewards, and 12 hours after you’ve run the quickest elapsed time ever in your class you’re going to find out that three other guys already ran quicker.  Your odds against obtaining a truly meaningful sponsor – one that’ll cover all your costs – are astronomically high.  So all in all, if you’re going to be a sportsman racer it’s going to have to be because you love it.  You love the work, the travel, the hassles, the cancelled qualifying sessions, the after midnight Sunday eliminations, the time away from the family, the lost jobs because you just had to be at that points meet at the other end of your division or the bracket race 700 miles south – all of it.  Because at the end of the day you get to climb into the car and try to prove you’re better than the other guy.

SUSAN WADE: SEATTLE RACE DIDN'T LIVE UP TO THE STANDARD

Ironic, isn't it?
 
Pacific means peaceful, calm, serene, soothing. Pacific Raceways this past Sunday during the Northwest Nationals was chaotic, catastrophic, and risky for the racers and still shabby for the fans.
 
So many troubles marred the 14th of 23 stops on the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series tour that victories by Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car), and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) nearly became footnotes. 
 

BOBBY BENNETT: IT’S TIME FOR ALL 1000

One by one, the Pro Stock cars exited the staging lanes at Pacific Raceways, destined for a return 

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to their pit areas in protest of a track they allege hadn’t been prepped properly. This transpired on Sunday at the NHRA Northwest Nationals after just two pairs had run in first round.

The Pro Stock drivers alleged the NHRA didn’t put any spray down in the last half of the track. The NHRA contends they did. In Seattle, the issue wasn’t one of declined performances. It was about safety, or as the Pro Stock drivers contend – a difference in opinion of what the cars need for the last 320 feet of the quarter-mile run.

DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: IT'S THE JOHN FORCE SHOW, AND RIGHTFULLY SO

7-9-10michaelknightHalfway through the 2010 racing season, John Force stands as the most significant driver in all of American motorsports.

Think about that, drag racing fans.

And be PROUD.

This is the star-spangled reality as of July 4:

DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: RACING TO THE MAX

The Blue Max is a legendary part of drag racing’s past.

Mad Max could be an exciting part of its future.

“Before I end up my career, you’re definitely going to see me at least doing a test in a dragster,” says Formula One/Le Mans/Indy 500/sports car/Champ Car/now NASCAR driver Max Papis.

Don’t laugh.

DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: WONDERING WHAT WALLY WOULD SAY

What would Wally say?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

Wally Parks, NHRA’s founder, has been gone for almost three years now. The sport he loved has changed in that time – not for the better, according to some – and that’s what has gotten my mind to racing.

BOBBY BENNETT: WHERE HAS THE MUSCLECAR PRO STOCKER GONE?

03_17_2010_muscleThere was a time when Pro Stock was about the muscle car, the epitome of Super Stock on steroids.

It was the highest level of doorslammer racing in the early 1970s.

When Pro Stock first burst onto the NHRA scene in 1970, the class was a healthy mix of the muscle cars Detroit offered. Chevrolet had the Camaro, Chrysler the Barracudas and Challengers and Ford the Mustangs and to a lesser degree, the Maverick.

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