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

SUSAN WADE: FOUR-WIDE RACING IS PERILOUS PAGEANTRY

The spectacle of four-wide racing is a memory for drag-racing fans with the rain-delayed finish of the National Hot Rod Association race at Charlotte's zMAX Dragway.
 
And racetrack owner Bruton Smith and the NHRA are lucky to have escaped with no serious injuries to anyone. The potential certainly was there.

Matt Hagan's shrapnel-spraying bomb and Jeff Diehl's body-blowing concussion in the same qualifying foursome first gave proof that this pageantry was more than bit perilous. Cory McClenathan lost a tire at high speed during eliminations, and a piece of it punctured the front wing of Rhonda Hartman-Smith's Hartley Family dragster in the next lane. And in Funny Car runoffs, Robert Hight's Mustang went amok and banged into Jeff Arend's Toyota at the top end. The concussions, tire explosions, and line-crossing runs, of course, can occur and have occurred in the traditional two-lane format. But the grace of God kept any of those accidents from being worse.

DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: OF CRISIS MANAGEMENT AND COMMUNICATION

The unfortunate realities of life mean that, in a down-a-couple-of-cylinders economy, one business is off-to-the-races like Tony Schumacher and the U.S. 04_15_2010_knightArmy Top Fuel team. 

Crisis Communications.

Just ask Tiger Woods. Toyota. Jesse James.  Mark McGwire. Alex Rodriguez. Or other names-of-note forced to hire experts to help formulate a message – and a strategy to convey it – following unhappy news.

The NHRA organization, however, is in the midst of something else:

THE ADVENTURES OF THE PIT PET, ADRL HOUSTON

lisa_headshotI’ve been fortunate enough to attend several drag races this year and I have such a great time that I like to write about my experiences.  I’m definitely not enough of a motorhead to be able to report on the technical aspects of racing, but I do like sharing the interesting things I see and hear while hanging out with the teams.  I was very surprised to learn that many of the teams don’t know each other very well unless they’ve been racing together for years.  They recognize the other drivers’ names and their cars and they wave as they pass in the staging lanes, but often that’s as far as it goes.  After spending time with various teams, I understand how that happens.  There is a lot to focus on throughout the day to ensure that your car makes it down the track in the manner that you expect and walking next door to see if your neighbor likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain is not part of it.  So we’ve decided it’s time to devote a corner of the web to getting to know the teams!  And since the teams do such a great job of taking care of me, giving me water, and patting me on the head, my dad has started referring to me as the Pit Pet.

BOBBY BENNETT: IS DRAG RACING ACTING BUSCH LEAGUE?

03_03_2010_busch_leagueThe Lucas Oil NHRA Drag Racing Series and Super Gas division in particular, are sitting on a potential media home run.

To hear some of the discussions in drag racing circles, the prospect has flown over the heads of many who profess to be drag racing experts.

This potential media payday is the prospect of NASCAR star Kurt Busch racing Super Gas at the upcoming NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.

DRAGS, DOLLARS & SENSE: IT’S ALL ABOUT MAINTAINING THE RELATIONSHIP

03_03_2010_michael_knightCountless racers – and the NHRA organization itself – should learn this nitro-powerful lesson from Melanie Troxel:

The Business of Drag Racing is all about building, and maintaining, one-on-one relationships.

Melanie is back where she belongs, in Funny Car, in the In-N-Out Burger Dodge Charger R/T, because she understands that BoDR 101 basic fact.

BOBBY BENNETT: DOES FIREBIRD HAVE TO GO?

02_24_2009_nhra_phoenix If Firebird International Raceway were home to a professional football or baseball team, the team wouldn’t have walked out in the middle of the night. They would walk out in broad daylight for a better deal. Children play in sand boxes, not professionals.

If conditions are that bad, and they are, why does the Firebird International Raceway event remain on the NHRA Full Throttle tour?

Market. Nothing more. Nothing less.

THE ADVENTURES OF THE PIT PET: INSIDE THE R2B2 COMPOUND

02_16_2009_pitpetI’ve been fortunate enough to attend several drag races this year and I have such a great time that I like to write about my experiences.  I’m definitely not enough of a motorhead to be able to report on the technical aspects of racing, but I do like sharing the interesting things I see and hear while hanging out with the teams.  I was very surprised to learn that many of the teams don’t know each other very well unless they’ve been racing together for years.  They recognize the other drivers’ names and their cars and they wave as they pass in the staging lanes, but often that’s as far as it goes.  After spending time with various teams, I understand how that happens.  There is a lot to focus on throughout the day to ensure that your car makes it down the track in the manner that you expect and walking next door to see if your neighbor likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain is not part of it.  So we’ve decided it’s time to devote a corner of the web to getting to know the teams!  And since the teams do such a great job of taking care of me, giving me water, and patting me on the head, my dad has started referring to me as the Pit Pet.

DRAGS, DOLLARS AND SENSE - THE NATIONAL TIME TRIALS DAYS HAVE COME AND GONE

02_05_2009_michael_knightGo ahead and put the National Time Trials on the endangered list. Right there alongside the African wild dog, polar ice cap, and NASCAR’s rear wing.

Honestly, that’s where it belongs. Thanks to Firebird International Raceway’s tin-ear management and NHRA’s hands-off attitude toward the traditional pre-Pomona test and tune session.

The Trials used to be a useful chance to catch-up, tune-up and warm-up in the Chandler, Arizona sun after a cold winter’s break in Brownsburg, Indiana. But its worthiness pretty much was all wet even before January rain storms of historic proportions washed-out opening day.

UP FRONT: IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT

02_03_2009_up_front Whether or not we’ll admit it, we live in a world of transition, and that certainly includes our little niche of drag racing.  But, to see and read the vitriol, angst and woe-is-me rants that are flying around the Internet you would think that everything we know and cherish is about to come to an end, all because of the mutual announcement from NHRA and zMax Dragway that their March race will feature qualifying and eliminations racing in all four lanes of the showplace facility.

Regardless of what happens in North Carolina on Sunday, March 28th, drag racing will survive, and for all we know now, the concept of four-lane racing might actually help the sport grow.

We need to consider a little history before we start collectively slitting our wrists, because if you think this is the first time some have suggested drag racing was headed into the abyss, you’re sadly mistaken.

DRAGS, DOLLARS AND SENSE - A NEW COLUMN

01_07_2010_michael_knightMay I please begin the New Year – and my new column – with this most-respectful observation:

You can’t be a good race fan without knowing about the Business of Racing.

Fortunately, for me, editor Bobby Bennett must agree. Thus, his kind invitation to join the nitro-powerful Attitude's Competition Plus.com team.

I don’t claim to be any more than a drop of Valvoline in the CP.com news machine. But, straight off the line, you’re entitled to an introduction – at least 1,320 feet of my 500-mile saga.

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