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

BOBBY BENNETT: IT’S TIME FOR A DIVORCE

0730-03697

Is the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series flirting with disaster for a better future with 50 minute turnarounds for live television broadcasts?

Until this year, 75-minute turnarounds have been the norm for the last decade or so, and while the time limit was a challenge at first, teams adapted. Even though they were rushed at times after sustaining major damage in a previous run, they managed to do so in a reasonably safe manner. Impending weather often crunched the time to 60 minutes, a challenging and accepted proposition, was on the ragged edge of doable.

Fifty minute turnarounds have been attained already this year, however observing the process reveals potential danger lurks in the most routine of procedures. While none of these endangerments have become realities after just two events doesn’t mean reality isn’t waiting for the most inopportune time to attack.

You can only play with fire so many times before you get burned.

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: WILL SOME EVERY TRULY UNDERSTAND JOURNALISTIC FREEDOM?

mikehead2

I gave a Big Time NHRA team owner a home-made chocolate chip cookie a few years ago.

He was up in the media room watching final eliminations. It had been a bad day. “You look like you could use this,” I said, politely, extending my cookie tin toward him.

I hope he remembers. Because, now, I’m going to give him -- and a lot of others in the drag racing industry -- something else: Strong, blunt and very sincere advice.

It’s time people in the NHRA pit area man-up and accept legitimate criticism as not an evil, but something that can be appropriate, valid and, yes, necessary.

 

 

 

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: WHAT LIVE TV MEANS TO DRAG RACING

mikehead2

I’ve wanted it. You’ve wanted it. Now we’ve got it.

Live NHRA Mello Yello series drag racing on ESPN2. The Great Experiment starts with the O’Reilly Auto Parts Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway, near Houston. The final qualifying session will be presented as-it-happens Saturday, April 27, from 3-5 p.m. EDT. On Sunday, the pro class semifinals will go at 2 p.m.

I’ll admit it: I’m a little nervous.

All of us who care about the growth and success of the straight-line sport probably should be. Sure, there’s been live TV racing before (and, other than the U.S. Nationals, it’s not guaranteed there will be more if the Spring Nationals don’t go well), but not in such a calculated way. And, certainly, not with the stakes this high.

The positives are obvious: Try to increase the audience. Honestly, that’s the only reason to even give this a go. In the age of Twitter and other instant communications tools, expecting the public to accept delayed information about anything is as unrealistic as a driver asking Don Schumacher for a $10 million salary.

 

 

 

 

SUSAN WADE: ARE DRAG RACERS NICER THAN NASCAR DRIVERS?

susan_01.jpg

Well, now, who doesn't like an old-fashioned fight with a few haymakers flying around? And it's always entertaining when somebody pops off and says something others might want to say and don't have the guts to do it.

But it's a whole new ballgame when it's fisticuffs in the fast lane, as with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 aftermath at Fontana, Calif., featuring -- in this corner -- heavyweight Tony Stewart and -- in the opposite corner -- lightweight Joey Logano.

Hey-hey-hey -- don't send in any letters defending Logano. Even FOX TV analyst Darrell Waltrip advertised that all Logano will do when he's in fight-or-flight mode is stomp his foot and start tweeting tough messages on the social medium Twitter. That clearly doesn't have as much sting as a right cross from an angry Smoke, who might as well have saved his energy in last Sunday's instance by running over, waving his arms, and yelling, "Boo!"

 

 

 

SUSAN WADE: SEE HOW SILLY THIS LOOKS?

susan_01.jpg

M E M O
TO:  ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Associated Press, The Sporting News, USA Today, ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC, Jim Rome, AOL, Yahoo, MSN
 
FROM: Susan Wade
 
RE: Ron Capps winning the NHRA's Arizona Nationals

 

 

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: WHY DRAG RACING FANS OUGHT TO BE MAD

mikehead2

Drag racing fans should be mad as hell and they shouldn’t take it anymore.

I’m sure you know why.

Danica!

DANICA!!

More accurately: The fawning, sweet-as-maple syrup and sometimes TMZesque media coverage of Danica Patrick, her historic Daytona 500 pole position and her boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

 

 

 

 

BOBBY BENNETT: WE NEED TO RETHINK 50-MINUTE TURNAROUNDS

0730-03697

Is the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series flirting with disaster for a better future with 50 minute turnarounds for live television broadcasts?

Until this year, 75-minute turnarounds have been the norm for the last decade or so, and while the time limit was a challenge at first, teams adapted. Even though they were rushed at times after sustaining major damage in a previous run, they managed to do so in a reasonably safe manner. Impending weather often crunched the time to 60 minutes, a challenging and accepted proposition, was on the ragged edge of doable.

Fifty minute turnarounds have been attained already this year, however observing the process reveals potential danger lurks in the most routine of procedures. While none of these endangerments have become realities after just two events doesn’t mean reality isn’t waiting for the most inopportune time to attack.

You can only play with fire so many times before you get burned.

 

SUSAN WADE: MURKY MASSEY DRAMA KEEPS ADDING CONFUSING CHAPTERS

susan_01.jpg

He had the megawatt smile.
 
He drove an incredibly quick and fast ground-pounding Top Fuel dragster -- the coolest, most extreme race car on Earth -- first for legendary boss Don "The Snake" Prudhomme then for another drag-racing pioneer, Don Schumacher, with the National Hot Rod Association's biggest team.
 
He won 10 races and set the national speed record at 332.18 mph.
 
He even earned the 2008 International Hot Rod Association Top Fuel championship, getting his license just six days before the season started, then winning the first two events within 20 days.
 
He exuded an almost childlike enthusiasm for the sport, a passion for rolling up his sleeves and helping his racer friends -- sportsman and pro alike -- work on their cars on a day off.

 

 

 

MICHAEL KNIGHT: PROMISES, PROMISES

mikehead2

Promises, Promises.   

Those two words have come to mind two times in recent weeks, for two dramatically different reasons.

Once was when one of my musical favorites, Oscar and Grammy award-winning lyricist Hal David, died. David was famous for his collaborations with composer Burt Bacharach and singer Dionne Warwick. All of us of a certain age have sung along: “What’s It All About, Alfie?,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?,” “What Do You Get When You Fall in Love?,” and other classics like “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

And, yes, there also was his Broadway hit, “Promises, Promises.”

 

 

 

 

UP FRONT: THE SELLOUT TIMES THREE

 

asher05.jpgWhen the economy went south in 2008 almost every American went through at least some emotional and/or financial anguish. Some lost their homes and retirement savings, while on the business side some companies were forced to close their doors. Most tightened their belts and continued moving forward. Some of the nation’s largest financial institutions continued to rake in huge profits while going to great lengths to hide their legal and ethical transgressions, some of which were the tipping point for the financial crisis in the first place. It could be said of at least some of those institutions that greed caused them to lose sight of their publicly stated ethical standards. The result is they may never recover the trust the public once had in them. The National Hot Rod Association has acted in the same manner.

The result of the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing that the NHRA has undertaken with at least three companies has resulted in an ethical lapse of astounding proportions. They’re the kind of lapses that were unlikely to have happened under the leadership of founder Wally Parks. If anything, Parks had a pristine vision for the NHRA that included high standards, fair competition and honesty in dealing with the racers, sponsors, media and fans. Those standards have been effectively trashed by recent developments.

The first ethical lapse was an indicator of things to come when carburetor manufacturer Barry Grant bought legality for his products by sponsoring the Pro Stock Challenge. Grant’s Demon Carburetors had been deemed illegal time and time again by the NHRA Tech Department and the suspicion is that a rival aftermarket manufacturer was behind the banning of Grant’s carburetors. There’s no doubt that they viewed Grant as a threat to its Pro Stock racing business, with a lawsuit partially based on an alleged patent infringement ultimately playing a role in Grant’s business going under.

 

 

 

Pages