Volume III, Issue 5, Page 17

Watching it from my side of the guardrail

f you have been following the escapades of the NHRA and the professional racers lately you are probably thinking they are having some sort of an "election" this November too. The management team getting front of cameras, making statements, etc. Slapping a $100,000 fine on Don Schumacher Racing for having some extra nitro in one of his many trailers. Sounds to me like it wasn't being used and the drums were sealed and new. What are they trying to prove? Is fining the largest pro team owner really necessary? What if Schumacher just decides to quit putting up with this stuff and takes a couple months off? It would look pretty strange with partial fields in most of the pro categories wouldn't it? Why would the management challenge Schumacher Racing in front of the TV cameras like that? Did they see NASCAR do it and decide "they" better do the same thing so they look like they are in control? I couldn't believe the entire event wasn't kept behind closed doors.

What about those track surfaces at Houston and Las Vegas? WOW! That was some ugly television coverage to be sure. It's bad enough when the tracks are "one-lane specials" and a chance to watch side-by-side runs are rare, but when both lanes are junk it is hard to watch. They sure miss Steve Gibbs and his approach to taking care of "problems." That Houston track should have been fixed long before NHRA racers got there.

I want to commend the NHRA and the crew at Atlanta Dragway for turning around the track preparation problems. That race was a pleasure to watch. Side-by-side runs in every class. The NHRA pros should have learned to take an active part of track prep and hopefully NHRA will welcome their input. If they could get events to showcase competition like Atlanta did, they might save the TV ratings.

Maybe I am being overly concerned about something I can't do anything about. But hey, that's how I roll! I do think NHRA drag racing is a viable TV product. It just needs to be fixed with some rule changes. Take some power away -- less blower, less tire, less wing, less fuel pump -- and all the nitro (any brand you have on the truck is OK). Flip for lane choice every round, rub the outside wall in your lane you are NOT eliminated (who cares if you scratch up your car, just get to the stripe first!). Cross the centerline, you are eliminated.

Can we really help make our sport stronger? I think so.

The other thing that is on my mind is, How can we all help our sport survive what will be some difficult times? I think we are all tired of hearing about the Dow-Jones Industrial Average, the price of crude oil going up, mortgage foreclosures and all the other "gleaming, upbeat" stories the news media lays out in front of us every day.

I was wondering, does the Dow-Jones Average really affect us people who like racing? If General Electric stock goes down 3 points, does that mean we can't buy groceries or fill our fuel tank to get to work? If the NASDAQ tech stocks take a dive do we all go hide in the basement and worry about it? Man, I hope not! Life is short and this is not a dress rehearsal, it is the real deal. You only get one chance to live life, so give it your best shot.

We all know that fuel costs more and that is taking more money from our "racing fun money." I am guessing we will travel a little less and plan our events more carefully. I hope the local dragstrip owners take this as an opportunity to get back some of the customers (racers) they lost to regional points races, out of state big-bucks bracket races and other area tracks.

If we choose to support our local tracks we might find out we have a lot more fun at a sport we all enjoy. I know, this has been a pretty crazy column but sometimes that's just how it ends up. It is difficult for me to remove my passion for the sport when I write. Sometimes it is good and sometimes it stirs things up. The one thing I hope you all take from columns is that we all have a part in our sport and we can make a difference.

I hope you turn on some win-lights at the strip this season!