BREAKING NEWS - NHRA TO ANNOUNCE 18-RACE PS SCHEDULE FOR 2019
CompetitionPlus.com has learned NHRA is expected to formally announce the series will reduce the number of races for Pro Stock to 18 events in 2019 instead of the widely speculated 16-race tour.
This speculation was fueled mostly by the distribution of a letter to the Pro Stock teams at the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas where the sanctioning body informed the competitors it was looking to reduce the number of events for the following season. The letter suggested a 16-race schedule for 2019. NHRA officials acknowledged the memo was to seek feedback before making the final decision.
"While we handed the letter out to those that were on site in Vegas, we also sent the letter to all the participants that were not in Las Vegas," said Josh Peterson, incoming Vice President of Operations for NHRA. "We wanted to make sure we got the letter and the plan in front of everybody to give them the opportunity to get back to us because we hadn’t had the opportunity to see and talk to everybody and between those two events we knew we were not going to be able to.
"I think that’s really what the letter gave us the opportunity to do was to get it in front of them and give them the opportunity to give us feedback, so they felt like they were a part of the process."
NHRA took the feedback seriously; reportedly using multiple suggestions to increase the proposed 16-race schedule by two events. The 18-race schedule is not set in stone for beyond 2019 as it will likely reduce to 16 events.
A source close to the situation told CompetitionPlus.com Pro Stock will not compete during the 2019 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in Houston, the spring Charlotte event, Atlanta, Topeka, Bristol, or Epping.
CompetitionPlus.com learned NHRA officials held onto the hope for a 24-race tour for Pro Stock counting on the integration of the Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars as a value adder to the class. However, this idea quickly dissolved once it became apparent the two diverse combinations couldn't compete as one.
In front of a packed house at North Carolina's historic Shadyside Dragway, the South East Gassers Association (SEGA) wrapped up an 11-event season Nov. 3, with fans witnessing two sets of race wins and celebrating champions crowned in three official... https://t.co/rd7iBVPuDT— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) November 7, 2018
Ned Walliser, NHRA Vice President of Competition, told CompetitionPlus.com in an article published on October 17, 2018, the sanctioning body was looking at possibly bringing the Mountain Motor Pro Stock to race on an exhibition basis much like the Mickey Thompson Top Fuel Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Walliser said there could be a dynamic between the different Pro Stock styles much like there is with the Pro Stock Bikes and Top Fuel motorcycles.
"We are in conversations about that," Walliser confirmed. "Nothing has been solidified as of now, but we are in the midst of talking with the Mountain Motor guys and seeing if we can put something together."
Peterson said time will tell if NHRA will ever return to a full 24-race schedule.
"I think it’s going to be an evaluation year after year to see where the right venues are to run Pro Stock," Peterson explained. "Is it the right thing to do at the time to go back to 24 events with Pro Stock looking at the makeup of the teams and the financials for them to do it, et cetera. It’s within the realm of possibilities, sure, but I think there’s a lot of things to take into consideration, which I think is why there is a lot of interest to reduce the number of events going into next year."
Peterson said the NHRA's intent is not to hurt Pro Stock, but instead use the shortened schedule to make the factory hot rod division better for years to come.
"I think this is a great step in the right direction to help the category," Peterson said. "We’ve heard rumors, nothing solidified, but rumors of teams that have been sitting on the sidelines that are now interested in coming back because of the reduced schedule, which is great because it’s going to add car count, which is going to add to the entertainment value and competition value on site.
"I think it’s pretty well known we’ve consistently had full fields this year, but the onsite entertainment if you will is somewhat lacking because you don’t have notable names on the outside looking in going into Q4 potentially on Saturday. I think there’s opportunity there for a lot more excitement, drama within the category that I think everybody’s going to like at the end of the day, from both the entertainment and competition standpoint."
CompetitionPlus.com will have more on this story is it becomes available.