Larry Dixon Rediscovers Passion for Drag Racing.... - Page 2

Larry Dixon Rediscovers Passion for Drag Racing....

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  • WillyWilly Administrator
    edited November 2017
    Larry Dixon himself provides some clarity to CompetitionPlus' readers.....

    http://competitionplus.com/drag-racing/news/dixon-on-nhra-suspension-crushed-first-now-embarrassed

    "Dixon's innovative two-seat dragster was built from a modern Top Fuel dragster (ex-Vandergriff, Hadman built) which he had chassis builder Murf McKinney alter to add an extra cockpit."

    "It was a two-year-old expired sticker, and so I didn’t really think anything more than that other than it was an expired sticker."

    "Dixon had run the car several passes at a couple of tracks, one of those included Edgewater Sports Park outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, an NHRA sanctioned facility."

    That's a problem. The car was not certified or approved as configured and still made passes, including at NHRA tracks.

    Dixon said he understood the importance of a chassis needing a certification for competition, but with this being an exhibition vehicle, he believed it fell inside of a gray area and wouldn't necessarily require a certification. "Everything that runs in exhibition: wheel-standers, jet cars, jet trucks, two-seat gas dragsters, two-seat top fuel dragster – there is no SFI spec to get in," Dixon explained.

    Dixon is wrong about that. Every classification of exhibition vehicle Dixon mentions has specific requirements (except two-seat top fuel dragster. It's not approved), including SFI specs. Jet dragster chassis for instance must meet SFI 2.1 and be recertified every two years. There is a Rulebook specific to Exhibition Vehicles.

    Also, the main Rulebook states....


    Anyone considering construction of a vehicle for one of these
    categories must submit renderings and designs to the NHRA
    Technical Services Department. Concepts will be analyzed on
    an individual basis by the NHRA Exhibition Committee and
    criteria will be established for concepts gaining NHRA
    acceptance.
    As not all concepts are accepted, proposals and inquiries
    should be forwarded to the NHRA Technical Services
    Department before beginning construction.


    Much if not all of this embarrassment could have been avoided by picking up the Rulebooks, reading them, and going through established procedure.
    Hopefully his pleas of ignorance get Dixon his competition licenses returned to good standing.
  • dragzilladragzilla Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Let me make clear I'm a Dixon fan and think the idea and concept is great. The only question I have is why go to Edgewater? It's 100 miles away, Lucas oil Raceway is 5 minutes from his shop. Could it be the division directors office is there?
  • ThecapnredfishThecapnredfish Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    de31168 wrote: »
    I don't think the NHRA wants any part of that thing at their events or at their tracks. I can't say that I blame them. The unpredictable nature of a Top Fuel dragster - even when everything is over prepared - would be enough to make me say no thanks. Do you think when a slick blows and that thing hits the wall like Torrence did at Dallas that you want to be in the cockpit? Who knows if the cockpits would break away from each other. How about when a camshaft breaks or an intake valve hangs open and the thing explodes into the back of your head? There are just certain things that can't and shouldn't be a ride along experience. Great in theory and a cool promo tool, but let IHRA or unsanctioned tracks have it.

    The bangshift article added a few more tidbits...

    Sadly, more people died and were injured on one morning going to church than would be injured by this car. I don't think this car is unsafe considering or comparing it to other dangers we now face. Let's pray for those involved.
    Imagine if a terminally ill person had a life long wish to take a ride. Could you imagine how that person would feel after that? Better than a trip to Disney. I'm no expert, but I assume you can de tune it far enough off the edge of disaster and get the effect.
  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Willy wrote: »

    ............dead link
  • mossybackmossyback Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    ^ Link works fine for me
  • anotheridiotanotheridiot Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    I dont know why Dixon still continues to act like he does. The only people currently in the sport that should feel like they "belong" in the sport are Forces daughters and Tony Shumacher since dad is footing any shortage of the bill.

    Ever since Snake retired it seems like he feels someone should give up their seat so he can continue in the sport. I just dont get it. Maybe the brass feel the same way.

    I just cannot agree with this "competition" spec part of the deal. Was he going to have two teams and race these people around? Its clearly exhibition and exhibition means you do not mess with the piece.
  • Marc WhiteMarc White Member
    edited November 2017
    dragzilla wrote: »
    Let me make clear I'm a Dixon fan and think the idea and concept is great. The only question I have is why go to Edgewater? It's 100 miles away, Lucas oil Raceway is 5 minutes from his shop. Could it be the division directors office is there?

    I would think the track rental cost for a closed test session between Indy and Edgewater is quite significant.
  • de31168de31168 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    I dont know why Dixon still continues to act like he does. The only people currently in the sport that should feel like they "belong" in the sport are Forces daughters and Tony Shumacher since dad is footing any shortage of the bill.

    Ever since Snake retired it seems like he feels someone should give up their seat so he can continue in the sport. I just dont get it. Maybe the brass feel the same way.

    I just cannot agree with this "competition" spec part of the deal. Was he going to have two teams and race these people around? Its clearly exhibition and exhibition means you do not mess with the piece.

    I have never gotten that impression from Larry. :confused:

    He has started his own team and spent his own money to try to stay part of the sport that he loves and has a passion for. He is trying to promote the sport. He is trying to bring awareness to the sport. I don't think he has ever given off any arrogance or entitlement.

    I respect your opinion but I don't understand where it is coming from.
  • southerncomfortsoutherncomfort Junior Member
    edited November 2017
    NHRA is not the only show in town, take it over to IHRA and ask for their permission and then run the mother on their tracks.
  • Tim CharletTim Charlet Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Willy wrote: »
    Larry Dixon himself provides some clarity to CompetitionPlus' readers.....

    Dixon said he understood the importance of a chassis needing a certification for competition, but with this being an exhibition vehicle, he believed it fell inside of a gray area and wouldn't necessarily require a certification. "Everything that runs in exhibition: wheel-standers, jet cars, jet trucks, two-seat gas dragsters, two-seat top fuel dragster – there is no SFI spec to get in," Dixon explained.

    Dixon is wrong about that. Every classification of exhibition vehicle Dixon mentions has specific requirements (except two-seat top fuel dragster. It's not approved), including SFI specs. Jet dragster chassis for instance must meet SFI 2.1 and be recertified every two years. There is a Rulebook specific to Exhibition Vehicles.

    Also, the main Rulebook states....


    Anyone considering construction of a vehicle for one of these
    categories must submit renderings and designs to the NHRA
    Technical Services Department. Concepts will be analyzed on
    an individual basis by the NHRA Exhibition Committee and
    criteria will be established for concepts gaining NHRA
    acceptance.
    As not all concepts are accepted, proposals and inquiries
    should be forwarded to the NHRA Technical Services
    Department before beginning construction.


    To be honest, his statement kinda supports his "ignorance" defense.
  • GolfRacerGolfRacer Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    I guess I'm on the minority side of this issue - I still don't see any problem with it.
    You can ride in an Indy car with Mario Andretti (he's 77)
    You can ride in a NASCAR 2 seat with a variety of drivers
    You can rent supercars (and there was a recent fatality in Vegas)
    I've been in a demo car with Ron Fellows (wow!)

    An 1/8 mile spurt with Larry would have "some risk" but so do the others.

    I'll bet there are more injuries and fatalities in theme parks than any other form of auto exhibition vehicles.

    I get the NHRA rules and Larry screwed that up. But the idea is great.
  • mossybackmossyback Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    ^^ I completely agree !
  • RVT1000RVT1000 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    You left out that civilians also get rides with the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds. If I was loaded, I would be all over that thing!

    But, based upon my limited knowledge, it does not seem like Larry was trying to pull a stunt or be deceitful. And the punishment seems very heavy-handed.
  • surfer121surfer121 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Easier to ask for forgivness then it is for permission

    underlying fact and how it applies is the medical condition of the passenger, a fat slob like me prob wouldnt make it to the tree. Is an FAA physical required?
  • surfer121surfer121 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    RVT1000 wrote: »
    You left out that civilians also get rides with the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds.

    only if they are in front of a supermarket. not your everyday civilians off the street, very select few are invited
  • Yvonne*Yvonne* Super Moderator
    edited November 2017
    Willy wrote: »
    Dixon is wrong about that. Every classification of exhibition vehicle Dixon mentions has specific requirements (except two-seat top fuel dragster. It's not approved), including SFI specs. Jet dragster chassis for instance must meet SFI 2.1 and be recertified every two years. There is a Rulebook specific to Exhibition Vehicles.


    Much if not all of this embarrassment could have been avoided by picking up the Rulebooks, reading them, and going through established procedure.
    Hopefully his pleas of ignorance get Dixon his competition licenses returned to good standing.

    Well, you'd be surprised how many race participants do not read the rule book. But Dixon is smart enough to know that when you put nitro into ANYTHING there are rules. I like Dixon but he knew the tag was not current and he knew what and where he was doing it when he made those test passes. NHRA does not hand down indefinite suspensions on a whim, especially for an accomplished veteran racer. If Dixon is going to plea ignorance than he better get McKinney there to help with that.

    Frankly, I don't understand why Dixon is spending so much time with this in the first place. I thought he wanted to get back to real competition in TF? This is like Musk and Branson wanting their own rocket ship and charging people for trips into space. I mean really.. Is that really going to happen for anyone including the uber wealthy on a regular basis? There is no way to make money on that or this idea here. I'm pretty sure NASA does not think that will "help" the space program either. LOL
  • mossybackmossyback Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Yvonne* wrote: »
    Frankly, I don't understand why Dixon is spending so much time with this in the first place. I thought he wanted to get back to real competition in TF? This is like Musk and Branson wanting their own rocket ship and charging people for trips into space. I mean really.. Is that really going to happen for anyone including the uber wealthy on a regular basis? There is no way to make money on that or this idea here. I'm pretty sure NASA does not think that will "help" the space program either. LOL

    I would imagine that Larry was hoping to generate sponsorship interest from the goodwill created thru hosting corporate events, and marketing promotions.
  • RVT1000RVT1000 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    surfer121 wrote: »
    Easier to ask for forgivness then it is for permission

    That is one of the Golden Rules in my lab. That and Safety Third!!
  • Grampy96Grampy96 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Yvonne* wrote: »
    Well, you'd be surprised how many race participants do not read the rule book. But Dixon is smart enough to know that when you put nitro into ANYTHING there are rules. I like Dixon but he knew the tag was not current and he knew what and where he was doing it when he made those test passes. NHRA does not hand down indefinite suspensions on a whim, especially for an accomplished veteran racer. If Dixon is going to plea ignorance than he better get McKinney there to help with that.

    Frankly, I don't understand why Dixon is spending so much time with this in the first place. I thought he wanted to get back to real competition in TF? This is like Musk and Branson wanting their own rocket ship and charging people for trips into space. I mean really.. Is that really going to happen for anyone including the uber wealthy on a regular basis? There is no way to make money on that or this idea here. I'm pretty sure NASA does not think that will "help" the space program either. LOL

    Actually the Russians used ride along to help fund their program until they needed the seat for expedition members and the retirement of the Space Shuttle. 7 people flew on Soyuz with the Russians and went to the Space Station. Russia is now charging NASA 70 million a ride. :eek: So yes, there is money to be made in commercial space tourism. In fact Russia still operates edge of space rides in a Mig-29.
  • Tim CharletTim Charlet Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Yvonne* wrote: »
    Frankly, I don't understand why Dixon is spending so much time with this in the first place. I thought he wanted to get back to real competition in TF? This is like Musk and Branson wanting their own rocket ship and charging people for trips into space. I mean really.. Is that really going to happen for anyone including the uber wealthy on a regular basis? There is no way to make money on that or this idea here. I'm pretty sure NASA does not think that will "help" the space program either. LOL


    I don't think this is a "money making business". I do believe it is intended to be an 'added benefit' of a marketing partnership for an existing Top Fuel team - or a racing series. Why do you think hospitality areas were introduced in the first place? So the company sponsoring could have an up-close and intimate experience to host their employees (OR CLIENTS / CUSTOMERS).

    Now, take that to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL of Corporate Hospitality by offering an extended package - where for only $10,000 more per lap, you can put your best customer, top sales associate, or someone you are courting as a potential customer in the seat of a 10,000 HP Top Fuel Dragster. Hell, the thrill-seeking 1%'s alone would probably book this opportunity just to say that they've done it.

    And in regards to being for the 'ultra-rich' - uh yeah....that's who owns or runs Fortune 500 companies big enough to sponsor today's modern racing team. It's said that the best way to set the hook is to get someone to the track. Imagine taking a Richard Branson for example and putting him in a Top Fuel car.....? I wouldn't doubt you'd see a Virgin Airlines sponsored car sooner than later.

    Just for comparison - here is something interesting I picked up while at SEMA. I was staying at the Luxor - an AVERAGE Las Vegas Strip property - not as opulent as the Bellagio or Wynn or Venetian - but nice. ON Tuesday night of SEMA, I was on my way to my room at around 9pm - and walked by a CRAPS table. Mind you - this is Luxor, where the average table limit is $10 min on a weekday - but not $25 - $100 like the Bellagio.

    There were (3) LIVE craps tables - one of which was a $25.00 table and was full. Each player (about 6 per side of each table so 12 total) had AT LEAST $5,000 in chips in their rack. So, that's a dozen people at one hotel property (most of them wearing automotive related collared shirts and dress slacks) willing to risk $5,000 on the roll of dice. THAT is the target consumer for this deal.
  • Roger GatesRoger Gates Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    This is very confusing. First - Larry is very knowledgeable, he was at the races when he was less than 6 months old. It has been his life. Pretty sure he only figured that since he was just shaking this thing down it didn't really matter; BUT there are a lot of questions here.
    1.How does one of if not the premiere chassis builders there is who is on the SFI rules committee modify another builders chassis and not take off an expired Tag knowing that it would be known that he did the work?
    2.How did this car at an NHRA track get past tech with an expired Tag? It doesn't matter if it is a race or test & tune you still have to go through tech. 3. Why did the track not question the whole deal knowing that this was not a normal car that surely had to meet some kind of special specs?
    4.Did NHRA choose to make this a "Front Page" item instead of just going to Larry - McKinney - the Track (and its Tech guy(s)) unless this was for reasons more than just running the car?
    5.Did the incident with the AF/C have anything to do with it.
    6.Since their is signage on the car how does that affect things between NHRA - Larry and the sponsor?
    7.Is it probable that since NHRA didn't want this thing and told him that they were against it earlier in the year they are going to show him and everybody else that you better Stay In Line or pay the price?
    Larry can probably get his license back with a generous amount of lip impressions on some posteriors and some groveling, but one has to wonder if it is really worth it. It certainly looks like Larry is taking the fall for everyone involved in this deal!
  • Tim CharletTim Charlet Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    This is very confusing. First - Larry is very knowledgeable, he was at the races when he was less than 6 months old. It has been his life. Pretty sure he only figured that since he was just shaking this thing down it didn't really matter; BUT there are a lot of questions here

    Well - let's look into each question and come up with plausible answers.

    1.How does one of if not the premier chassis builders there is who is on the SFI rules committee modify another builders chassis and not take off an expired Tag knowing that it would be known that he did the work?


    To me, this is the biggest issue. It's either the biggest case of 'whoops' ever - or (and I hate to say it) - bypassing the rule because "he is one of the premier chassis builders out there...."


    2.How did this car at an NHRA track get past tech with an expired Tag? It doesn't matter if it is a race or test & tune you still have to go through tech.

    Remember that scene in Star Wars - where Obi-Wan uses the Jedi Mind trick to convince the stormtroopers that "these are not the droids you're looking for....".....that....;)

    Let me back that up with a personal experience. When I was starting my JET CAR LICENSING, the track we went to had a rather new track manager. We pulled the car out and went through tech (at a PRIVATE TEST SESSION - only us there). The guy completing the tech and the track manager said, "We really don't know what we're looking for - so we're counting on your judgment...." I KID YOU NOT. We went over each bullet in the EXTENSIVE JET CAR TECH SECTION of the NHRA RULEBOOK and educated them.

    Just because an NHRA Sanctioned track exists, doesn't always mean the individuals at the track are qualified to complete a tech inspection. I wouldn't be shocked if the whole tech process was 'overlooked' because it was Larry Dixon Jr.


    3. Why did the track not question the whole deal knowing that this was not a normal car that surely had to meet some kind of special specs?



    "These are not the chassis certs you're looking for...." :cool:

    4.Did NHRA choose to make this a "Front Page" item instead of just going to Larry - McKinney - the Track (and its Tech guy(s)) unless this was for reasons more than just running the car?


    Actually - I think they tried to keep it as under wraps as possible. I don't think they initially put out a press release. I believe this all came up because it was posted on their NHRARacer.com site - somebody posted it - and all hell broke loose.

    5.Did the incident with the AF/C have anything to do with it?

    You mean in Vegas? Doubtful. That wasn't Larry's fault. In fact, it's the third time a TAFC has had this type of quick move towards the tree in Vegas. Not the track's fault either - just dumb luck.

    6.Since their is signage on the car how does that affect things between NHRA - Larry and the sponsor?


    I don't think the Traxxas "deal" was much more than an allure to their booth - so likely just a one-off "deal" for SEMA. However, if Traxxas isn't coming back as an NHRA sponsor onsite next season - that might have something to do with NHRA's actions. Pretty pathetic if that's the case.

    7.Is it probable that since NHRA didn't want this thing and told him that they were against it earlier in the year they are going to show him and everybody else that you better Stay In Line or pay the price?

    That's kind of my thinking as well. However, that car should NEVER have seen the track. That's REALLY at the heart of this matter. Like you said, the car shouldn't have left Murf's shop with the existing tag from the previous chassis - then - it shouldn't have shown up to an NHRA sanctioned track - then - it shouldn't have been allowed to touch that track - then - it shouldn't have made test runs - then - it shouldn't have showed up to SEMA with that expired chassis tag on it....

    In regards to Larry "falling on his sword" - that's the best play here. Larry has a HUGE fan following and NHRA executives don't. The best solution here is for Larry and NHRA to develop a tech certification for THIS TYPE OF CHASSIS - have it certified and move forward. Lesson learned.
  • TwostepTwostep Senior Member
    edited November 2017

    In regards to Larry "falling on his sword" - that's the best play here. Larry has a HUGE fan following and NHRA executives don't. The best solution here is for Larry and NHRA to develop a tech certification for THIS TYPE OF CHASSIS - have it certified and move forward. Lesson learned.

    Tim, use a different color font next time when you respond to questions asked...geezus, my eyes....:eek: :)

    Agreed; that's about all Larry can do...it's NHRA's ball park, like it or not...as for certifying the 2 seater, it wasn't considered for approval when Dixon first showed it to NHRA tech, and it sure as hell won't be approved now. I don't think the problem is the safety of the car itself..McKinney knows his business..the problem is the physical safety of the passenger. The pass itself, even a straight, uneventful one, is capable of causing serious, even fatal, issues with someone who's body isn't in the greatest of shape. And in the unfortunate event of a mishap, I can see Dixon, McKinney, the NHRA and my dead great grandfather being sued for millions of dollars.

    Neat idea, and there's people who would probably pay 10K to take a lap, but it's just too risky in my opinion. If lay people want the feel of a fuel dragster, how about letting them simply warm the car? That in itself would be a huge thrill, a whole lot cheaper, safer and still a good publicity event....let the CEO of Matco, or Monster Energy, or Papa John himself warm a fuel dragster, with the cameras rolling...
  • Roger GatesRoger Gates Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Tim, use a different color font next time when you respond to questions asked...geezus, my eyes....

    Had the same problem until I figured that if you highlight it everything becomes brighter than the normal text.
  • Tim CharletTim Charlet Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Fixed it for y'all....:cool:
  • Yvonne*Yvonne* Super Moderator
    edited November 2017
    mossyback wrote: »
    I would imagine that Larry was hoping to generate sponsorship interest from the goodwill created thru hosting corporate events, and marketing promotions.

    Probably true but you'd think he would've known to do it right, jump through all the hoops and make the car legal. Its pretty counter productive to get yourself in hot water with the very series you want to race in. Look at the efforts made on behalf of the canopy design in our sport and F1. You do not just build something and sidestep the tech department.
    Grampy96 wrote: »
    Actually the Russians used ride along to help fund their program until they needed the seat for expedition members and the retirement of the Space Shuttle. 7 people flew on Soyuz with the Russians and went to the Space Station. Russia is now charging NASA 70 million a ride. :eek: So yes, there is money to be made in commercial space tourism. In fact Russia still operates edge of space rides in a Mig-29.

    Interesting info! I'd point out that those are both government based established space programs. I don't think Russia would want a billionaire to go off on their own space program anymore than NASA does. Although I do think that you're right that eventually somebody is going to make money off space travel.
  • Yvonne*Yvonne* Super Moderator
    edited November 2017
    I don't think this is a "money making business". I do believe it is intended to be an 'added benefit' of a marketing partnership for an existing Top Fuel team - or a racing series. Why do you think hospitality areas were introduced in the first place? So the company sponsoring could have an up-close and intimate experience to host their employees (OR CLIENTS / CUSTOMERS).

    Now, take that to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL of Corporate Hospitality by offering an extended package - where for only $10,000 more per lap, you can put your best customer, top sales associate, or someone you are courting as a potential customer in the seat of a 10,000 HP Top Fuel Dragster. Hell, the thrill-seeking 1%'s alone would probably book this opportunity just to say that they've done it.

    And in regards to being for the 'ultra-rich' - uh yeah....that's who owns or runs Fortune 500 companies big enough to sponsor today's modern racing team. It's said that the best way to set the hook is to get someone to the track. Imagine taking a Richard Branson for example and putting him in a Top Fuel car.....? I wouldn't doubt you'd see a Virgin Airlines sponsored car sooner than later.

    Again, if this was part of grand scheme to expand the "hospitality" program, Dixon needed to do due diligence in all areas with NHRA to make that happen properly. This car is a downright experiment on many levels. Cutting corners on key aspects would bring an automatic disqualification on the whole project. I can't imagine Traxaas is happy about that at all.

    Branson is in a class by himself because he is a known thrill seeker. BUT its a misconception that wealthy people will just throw money at something because it exciting or extreme. The majority are very shrewd with their money in business and drag racing is a very niche sport. I'm not convinced giving them rides would seal the deal on sponsorships. Frank Hawley's school already provides corporate days at the track. I guess he'd be the one to ask if this is a big money-maker or sponsor-getting venture. Granted those are not TF cars but its the same principle.
  • Roger GatesRoger Gates Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Twostep:If lay people want the feel of a fuel dragster, how about letting them simply warm the car? That in itself would be a huge thrill, a whole lot cheaper, safer and still a good publicity event....let the CEO of Matco, or Monster Energy, or Papa John himself warm a fuel dragster, with the cameras rolling...

    There is no feel when warming after you launch in a T/F car. That said - you can believe that if it ever happens there will NOT be an Alan Johnson or Jimmy Prock tune up going on. You would likely have to furnish "Depends" to some of the customers.:eek:
  • slugbelchslugbelch Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    If lay people want the feel of a fuel dragster, how about letting them simply warm the car? That in itself would be a huge thrill, a whole lot cheaper, safer and still a good publicity event....let the CEO of Matco, or Monster Energy, or Papa John himself warm a fuel dragster, with the cameras rolling...
    That and do a burnout!
  • surfer121surfer121 Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Another aspect is that if they let Dixon do this, what is to stop somebody else from whoring in an do the same thing. The corporate pie now has smaller pieces to serve or any disaster kills the entire venture for everybody. Dollars to donuts, I bet when this deal first popped up (before SEMA) at least 3 racers started to make plans to build 2 seaters out of their cars

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