ARP Question of The Week: "What About One Day Pro Qualifying & Eliminations at Night?"

ARP Question of The Week: "What About One Day Pro Qualifying & Eliminations at Night?"

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Comments

  • SWPMFANSWPMFAN Senior Member
    edited July 16

    There's no way the tracks and NHRA are going to lose a day of gate, parking, merchandise, and food sales.

    WTBS, if you are going to go to a 2 day event, have 3 qualifying rounds on the 1st day and eliminations on the following day.

    Night racing would be great but to many of the racers cry about racing at night,

    I think they should have testing on Friday with Q1 at night. Saturday should be Q2&3, with E1 in late afternoon or early evening. With only 3 rounds to run on Sunday you could start at 1pm and still be done by 4:30. This timeframe would be the same as stick and ball games.

  • oddyhahnoddyhahn Senior Member

    Four rounds is too much in my opinion. Half the time it’s a peddle feast.

  • mossybackmossyback Senior Member

    Four rounds of qualifying for the small pro fields (we have been seeing for the last several years) just does not make sense, and really serves no purpose other than providing testing opportunities. Qualifying used to be a show unto itself with the drama of bumping into the show, and getting to see runs by all the different competitors on the grounds. But not anymore. It has become rather mundane, and the qualifying sessions are selectively participated by the teams in attendance. It is time to change the "qualifying" format to one that is more appropriate for the current pro field size.

  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member

    Another poll I can't take part in for too few choices. It could have at least had "Other".

    Leave it alone but with the 4th Q on Sat, night

  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member
    edited July 16

    Many times if it wasn't for 4 rounds, eliminations would have a lot more peddle fests.

  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member
    edited July 16

    *Qualifying used to be a show unto itself with the drama of bumping into the show, and getting to see runs by all the different competitors on the grounds*


    That excitement could come back with the 4th rub at night.

  • A big Yes from me for select events. However, time of day and eliminations should be the same, at night. One complaint in the past is that racers race Friday night and then have to be at the track early Saturday morning. If both sessions run at night at least they don't have a short night before heading back to the track. I know V Gaines hated night sessions because he is an early riser so racing later in the day resulted in a really long day for him as he would be up early anyway. (In his case, really early!)

    Short term losing a day would probably result in a lose of revenue for NHRA. But long term it could be a good answer to increase popularity, especially since night racing is fun to watch. Why not try it next season for several events like Joliet, Phoenix, St Louis, Charlotte,

    Seems to me this is a winner for fans. Would be interested to see what people who are investing the big bucks like Force, Kalitta, Schumacher feel about it.

  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member

    One complaint in the past is that racers race Friday night and then have to be at the track early Saturday morning.


    At most events, 3rd round isn't until 2:00 or 3:00 PM.

  • oddyhahnoddyhahn Senior Member

    Keep on doing what their doing and lose folks. Why do they need four rounds.

  • a21studa21stud Senior Member

    The issue isn't too many days and the 4 day event makes money. The issue is each day is too long a day. Currently it's hard to replace downtime due to rain/wrecks/other issues as the day is already a 12 hour day. NHRA's current leadership is sharp and I have a feeling they see a logical cure and are setting up for a profitable change. A change where they can increase profit for the track owners and themselves while offering a better racing experience for racers and ticket buyers.

    Many thought going to fewer races for Pro Stock would spell Pro Stock's final demise. But the racing is very good and apparently more cars are being added. If your a Pro Stock fan, it's now more important to not miss any race when it runs. So take it one step further and improve interest in every class going down the track.

    Reduce the day by only offering 60-70% of the classes run during the 2018 season at all races other than the US Nationals and World FInals by adding a second National Event at each of the other 22 tracks. Have one National Event for Top Fuel, Pro Mod, T/F Harley and 1/2 the sportsman classes and then a second National Event at the same track for Nitro Funny Car, Alky Funny Car, Pro Stock and the other 1/2 of the sportsman classes. I don't care about the details of what the mix of classes is, but reduce the number of classes per racing day and bring the racing program closer to the 3-1/2 hour window that the pro stick and ball people have figured out is the ideal maximum time for spectators to enjoy their day. It's why you don't have 6 hour football, basketball and baseball games.

    Sure, stick and ball games would sell more food in a longer game but they also have empty seats at the final buzzer even on close games. It's why the seats at any NHRA national event are only 2/3 full for the final round when it's a sellout day. The ticket buyers are worn out and go home before the final. Fan apathy for the finals tells the national media, NHRA is a freak show and not a real sport. NHRA would pick up concession sales lost with a shorter day by having the second National Event at the same track. If the track is having a hard time getting a major title sponsor to coff up the big bucks, they could lower the price by having two different races to sell. Along with two different event t-shirts to sell,

    Additional plus's would be that the pits would be less crowded and could be reorganize for better spectator viewing rather than just looking at the backend of a trailer and it's awning. It would make the trip from spectator parking to the bleachers less of death march. With two NHRA National Events per year to promote, a major rainout financial blow would be softened for the track owner.

    For those typically at the track from gate opening to gate closing, we would have an easier time of seeing everything at an event. Ticket price for each event could come down a few bucks as each events payout is reduced making it more attractive to the new spectator. People who go to both events would buy twice as much food and double the number of t-shirts. Starting cars going down the track a couple hours later than they do now while opening the gates at the same time as now would be easier on the "on track" staff while allowing spectators to hit the pits and not miss a single pass if they wanted to.

    From a professional racer's standpoint, if Nitro Funny Car is the only nitro class run at the event, each driver would have 1/2 the number of nitro competitors to compete with for the spectators in the pits attention. Same racer/sponsor plus for the races where Top Fuel is the headlining class.

    Don't cut the number of days of an event, cut the exceedingly long hours of the days schedule and allow the crowd to enjoy seeing the final round. Spectators should go home wowed and never just hearing semi-final round burnouts as they pull out of the track exhausted.

  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member
    edited July 17

    NHRA's current leadership is sharp and I have a feeling they see a logical cure and are setting up for a profitable change. A change where they can increase profit for the track owners and themselves while offering a better racing experience for racers and ticket buyers.

    There was no mention in the question of NHRA considering any changes. Are you aware them considering any?

  • a21studa21stud Senior Member
    edited July 17

    No, I've just been impressed with Clifford and crew's moves since he took over. But if he didn't do anything he would still look brilliant compared to the guy before him. He's at least been proactive in trying stuff. While I disagree with his removal of Pro Stock scoops, he at least tried to do something to help rather than just sit and watch the class continue to die. When Pro Stock didn't pick up the number of qualifiers with his changes, he made the bold move to fewer races and it eliminated the short fields while allowing fans to enjoy seeing MM/PS from time to time.

    He understands they are in the entertainment business and need to adjust with our changing automotive world as ignoring it will eventually put NHRA out of business. The fact that they are obviously working to make things better gives me the hope that they aren't just taking home a fat check and intending to retire before NHRA becomes financially obsolete. I feel positive that this year's Tax Return will show continued improvement verses the Compton years.

    Look at how much better the national event announcing crew is! I have the volume back on and haven't fell asleep once this year! Used to have to tape it even if I was watching so I could go back and see a particular run after I woke up.

    No, I don't have any inside information. I've just developed some faith in the directions the NHRA leadership is going. I believe they will keep making sound decisions and changes as needed without waiting for the bleachers to empty first. The "NHRA ostrich" has pulled his head out of the sand. (or whatever)

    Disclaimer... I am not related to any of them, past or present. I am not on anyone involved in motorsports payroll. (Willing to be.) I'm just an interested party who has zero opinions of stick and ball sports other than they need to stand for the National Anthem and I do have lots of opinions about drag racing.

  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member

    The thing is..... attendance at events hasn't been an issue and I think last year had at least 6 sell outs.

  • SWPMFANSWPMFAN Senior Member

    <<>Reduce the day by only offering 60-70% of the classes run during the 2018 season at all races other than the US Nationals and World FInals by adding a second National Event at each of the other 22 tracks. Have one National Event for Top Fuel, Pro Mod, T/F Harley and 1/2 the sportsman classes and then a second National Event at the same track for Nitro Funny Car, Alky Funny Car, Pro Stock and the other 1/2 of the sportsman classes. I don't care about the details of what the mix of classes is, but reduce the number of classes per racing day and bring the racing program closer to the 3-1/2 hour window that the pro stick and ball people have figured out is the ideal maximum time for spectators to enjoy their day. It's why you don't have 6 hour football, basketball and baseball games.>>>


    Are you calling for over 40 national events a year?

  • Make qualifying number 1 important again. How you ask, Higher qualified car gets lane choice all the way thru eliminations. Now #1 only means lane choice for 1 round. Same with 2 thru 8. So you can qualify #16 and still have lane choice in rounds 2 thru 4 if you can win 1st round and have lower et than your competitor the rest of the day. I hate when I hear a driver say we are in testing mode, they should be trying to run their fastest on every run.

  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member

    Make qualifying number 1 important again.


    You mean like when it was #1 vs, #8 / #9 vs. #16?

  • RVT1000RVT1000 Senior Member

    If the point is to shorten the events, then eliminate everything at a National event except the pros and alcohol classes. And yes, I can already hear the yells about how the sportsman classes are the backbone of the NHRA. But if you well and truly want to shorten the events, something has to go.

    That just made me wonder how much shorter the events that don't have Pro Stock wind up being? I DVR the races and use the fast-forward a lot so I really don't have an idea. Is it noticeable?

  • a21studa21stud Senior Member

    Yep, 40+ NHRA National Events! If you look at those same track schedules you will see they also have NMRA, NMCA, Night of Fire/Nat'l Opens, Diesel races, Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, Pro Mod and Import only races. The track owner's goal is to make money and have an ever growing number of drag racing fans and competitors. He or she is going to have the gates open as much as they profitably can and NHRA NITRO shows make money.

    If the super long days are making fans leave before the finals, they are also leaving without a craving to see more. Shortening the race day for the "TYPICAL FAN" (not the ones reading this) means they leave loving what they saw and not totally worn out with a wife like mine... She NEVER wants to see another drag race. She won't even go to see her beloved son race a low 8 sec. car! I made the mistake many, many years ago of totally burning her out on drag racing and there isn't a track owner in the country that will get any ticket money from her. (No problem for me as now she doesn't know how many burgers, hot dogs, funnel cakes, etc. I eat.)

    But... take a brand new spectator, wow them with nitro's smoke and thunder show while not wearing them out and they will come back just a month later. Even the women! I have some family members that love to go to the monster truck races. There are tons of little kids there who cannot handle a NHRA style long day and yet they absolutely love the Monster Trucks. Their show is time frame controlled for maximum spectator enjoyment and they fill up some large stadiums.

    It's my opinion that the spectacle of NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Cars is just as strong, but when the bleachers are about 1/2 full to see who wins in the finals, something is seriously wrong with the presentation. This isn't bracket racing where the money comes from the entry fees. (Well... except Pro Mod. But that's a whole different subject.)

    Having two different NHRA National Events at the same track each year doubles the potential sponsorship dollars, sells more food, sells more t--shirts, cuts the rainout gamble in half and lets the spectators go home still hungry for more. The spectators also saw the final and know who the heck won!

    If this didn't work, Major League Baseball wouldn't have 100+ baseball games and be able to pay their players millions of dollars. The fans that show up for a bottom tier team's 100th game still leave smiling after buying their ticket. They had a good time and didn't get burnt out. Many of them buy tickets to multiple baseball games and also buy tickets to their cities NFL and NBA games. It boils down to how much fun you had that day, not how many hours you were out in the sun.

    NHRA would do well to look at what their fans race day requires to see the whole show. With NHRA's Pro Stock Bike, Pro Stock Car, Nitro Harley and Pro Mod classes already running partial seasons, why not take a serious look at how to convert spectator apathy for final rounds into a profit center?

  • mossybackmossyback Senior Member

    a21stud, you have some good ideas and they are definitely food for thought. It is evident that you have fervent passion and concern for the sport. One of the challenges to keep the fans enthusiasm and interest is the down time between rounds, and particularly during the late rounds, and oil downs. The Mello Yello guy shooting tee shirts and ranting and raving is an embarrassing skit and diminishes from the professional presentation of the race. Surely there is a better way. Wheelstanders and other exhibitions were a great fill in for down time.

  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member
    edited July 19

    It's my opinion that the spectacle of NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Cars is just as strong, but when the bleachers are about 1/2 full to see who wins in the finals, something is seriously wrong with the presentation.

    And yet they keep coming back year after year. For starters, I think the biggest portion of those fans aren't burnt-out, they're just trying to beat traffic. I can't say I've never don'e that. In fact I just did it at Norwalk this year. Secondly, they know they can go home and watch the finals or whatever on TV. lol... maybe NHRA / FOX could do black-outs like the NFL does or has done.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Football_League_television_blackout_policies

  • SWPMFANSWPMFAN Senior Member
    edited July 19

    Only Duck X and a handful of events have respectable crowds. The track hold events if there are spectators or not because the promoter or sanctioning body pays the track a fee. The exception would be NHRA that charges the track a flat fee to hold the event.

    In Vegas I was speaking to a promoter that puts on a large street car race. He did not give the exact amount he had to pay the track for a week rental, but he said it was north of 100K.

    Exactly how much would you charge for only half a show at each track 2 times a year? It would not be half the cost it is now.

    Do you really think the casual fan that makes up 80% of the National event audience will go to both races? Double gas, hotel, and food costs for a good percentage of the fans attending.

    Do you think this idea would be a logistics nightmare for Force, Shoe, and Connie that would send half of their cars to each event?

    Do not take this as an arguement, just a friendly conversation.

  • a21studa21stud Senior Member

    I'm a big fan of the Duck and Ozzie Moya's promotions but their stands won't hold 1/2 a Gainesville Sat. or Sun. crowd. At the same time, their type of races are seriously profitable for the promoter & track owners who keeps the cost to produce an event in line with the crowd they can pull. NHRA's big shows are many times more expensive than the Duck's races or NMRA/NMCA races yet are still turning a profit.

    I would imagine the contracts between NHRA and track owners are all over the place as some tracks have a tremendous location and drawing area like St. Louis and Indy others require a significant % of their crowd to drive to get there like Atlanta and Topeka. Some may be renting the track to NHRA and some may be 50-50 partners and some tracks contracting for something in-between.

    If a ticket for Sat. or Sun. is $65. now, I would imagine NHRA could easily charge $45. to $50. for a Top Fuel plus other classes show or the same $$ for a Nitro Funny Car plus other classes show. I have travelled to just be a spectator from FL to California, Washington, Indy, Atlanta and others but I'm an old hardcore fan and not your typical butt on the boards. It used to be that about 80% of a national event audience traveled less than 90 minutes to see the race and over 60% traveled less than 60 minutes. The 60 minute and under travel time crowd could easily take in two races a year to see a great show just like major league baseball's crowd does for their 60 home games a year show.

    Using your casual fans make up 80% of the National Event audience number, they are typically the fans that don't drive that far. If they go home totally worn out and yet missing the end of the show, why would they want to do it even next year? But they would love to do it again if they leave happy, refreshed from seeing something awesome and exciting. And NHRA nitro shows are! For NHRA, there is money to be made by improving (tightening) the days show for the casual fans while still providing lots to see all day long for us hardcore drag fans.

    Force, Shoe, Kalitta would obviously just send the cars that compete at that evet. Their "Corporate Hospitality Centers" are a profit center and now they've 44 to sell instead of 24. Do the big teams really save any money by having 8 teams show up over just 4? Do they make stronger fans by having the same fan talk to four of their drivers per race than they would with just two? What about the teams income from t-shirt sales? Now the casual fan that only goes to one nitro race a year buys just one Force shirt a year rather than one Force Top Fuel shirt and one Force Funny Car shirt. Even the effect on Force's secondary sponsors would improve as PPG, Freightliner and Auto World would be on every shirt, both those sold at the T/F event and those sold at the F/C event.

    Totally agree with the friendly debat thing. I haven't had money invested in drag racing promotion for decades and nothing to gain if NHRA did any of the ideas I've thrown out. I live 90 minutes from Gainesville. I would love to see NHRA nitro shows twice a year.

  • a21studa21stud Senior Member

    Hi HEMI. I know you are one of the biggest drag racing fans on the Comp+ Forum and I always appreciate your comments. But...

    YOU.. HEMI... Go home early?? 😨 To beat the traffic?? YOU don't see the final in person after spending the big bucks for your ticket? But you're not tired? You going to turn in your "Drag Racing Man Card"? HEMI.. Say it isn't so! 😪😨

    But I'm just like you... I'm so excited to finally go to the event that I go too early so I can park closer and see more in the pits before the big crowd of rookie fans gets there and before the crews/drivers/owners get to busy to even say hi. But then the day gets super long about the beginning of the semi-finals and it becomes a drudge. Unless sunburned to toast, I hang in there just because I want to see who wins. Well.. OK, if the finals are all teams I don't root for, I'm out a there too if the sun has roasted me.

    But for the casual/rookie fan that just pulls in the parking lot as the first pair fires up for nitro first round and then had to sprint to their seat, the day gets long about 4-5 hours in. After about 5 hours those on a budget just really don't want to buy another $10 beer or dog... but they are hungry and thirsty. When they realize they can buy that beer and dog at that air conditioned restaurant they passed on the way to the track. You know... the one with the air conditioned and clean john where they could park close to the door and pay the same amount of money while leaving the cute waitress a tip. There gone and n e v e r see one pair in the final round.

    Love the drags, love nitro and just saying with way too many words what I feel would take NHRA drag racing closer to the NBA, NFL, MLB and NASCAR level of awareness and financial success. I LOVE this sport or I would be getting so much more done "off-line" like I did when the forum was down.

  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member

    YOU.. HEMI... Go home early?? 😨 To beat the traffic?? YOU don't see the final in person after spending the big bucks for your ticket? But you're not tired? You going to turn in your "Drag Racing Man Card"? HEMI.. Say it isn't so! 😪😨


    It is so. One thing I absolutely hate (and I don't use the H-word often) is sitting in a traffic jam and getting out of Norwalk is a real "B". A few other factors - I had free tickets and had been there all day Friday and Saturday. The sun was blazing all 3 days and despite using sunscreen, I was getting baked. Additionally, I didn't really care for anyone that made it to the final rounds. Back to the traffoc thing, sometimes I I'll just go hang out in the pits and wait for traffic to ease up... if I have my bicycle with me or I felt like splurging $100 for a golf cart rental and was able to sweet talk the rental people into allowing me to have one. Renting one was never a problem before McCormick sold their operation to the current owners. And Norwalk is extremely anal about having the official NHRA stickers on bikes, scooter. carts etc... I once had a racer bring it to the track in their trailer form me and I didn't make it more than 100 feet from it before i was "busted!

  • TwostepTwostep Senior Member
    edited July 20

    Fellas, I'm afraid a lot of the aforementioned and admittedly-sensible ideas are little more than window dressing. Playing with lane choice or pitting 1 vs. 16 or 1 vs. 9 or even 1000 vs 1320 will effect the racers but won't make a bit of difference to the fans. You gotta entertain 'em if you want drag racing to survive - and the biggest obstacle to that isn't what's happening at the track - it's what's happening with Samsung and Apple. Shortening events to 3-4 hours, or 2 days, whatever, won't matter if they're more interested in smartphone social media than they are in the cars going down the track. Wheelstanders. Jets. Snowmobiles. Some 4-wheeler stuff. Top Fuel motorcycles (not just the the Harleys; the Spiderman kind). Diesels. Whatever it takes. Personally I'd like to see as much racing as possible take place at night in the summer when it's not so damn hot, but I'm aware of noise issues and that some racers don't like 330mph racing at tracks with marginal lighting.

    Stock (not factory stock) and Super classes aren't fan pleasers; let's be honest. I know it's the 'backbone' and it's important, but run that stuff on Friday and finish it on Saturday. Alcohol classes, too. Ditching Q1 for the pros wouldn't be a big loss, either - the fans would rather see some 3 second runs and header flames in the cool of the evening than tire smoke in blazing sunshine and 100 degrees, anyway and it would save the nitro folks about $15 grand per team. Sunday, reserve it for nitro, PM if it's a PM event, Factory Stock eliminations rounds and exhibition. Fans will sit through 5 hours if it's enjoyable, and watching a bunch of 9 and 10 second filler isn't why fans paid $60 apiece to see the show. You can see all that you want at your local track for less than 20 bucks. And finally, put an announcer in the booth that knows how to gin up the crowd and provide useful information rather than his or her brand of 'filler'. It DOES make a difference.

    As for the racers, what will make them happy? In two words - larger purses. What would make ME happy? Figure out how to revive Comp Eliminator. Who here misses those 32-car fields, cars with some of the most outstanding variety and engineering in all of racing?

  • slugbelchslugbelch Senior Member

    Pretty much what we did at every event during the biggest growth NHRA has ever seen (according to Glendora), the late 80's-90's when it had at least 75min turn arounds, long oildowns, and a 4 day event that was packed every day, we never knew what time it was because we were having such a good time:

    Before E1:

    Walk around and take pics before the crowds block everything and get the early-bird specials (free pit junk).

    After E1 (1 hr between rounds):

    Go through and pick up more free junk and take pics in the pro pits then go to parking lot and unload, fire up the hibachi grill (while listening to CC radio and the call "TF to the staging lanes"

    After E2;

    Go get free junk in Manufacturers Midway, take pics of course, and go unload it in the car.

    After E3:

    Go to the huge sportsman pits and take pics/talk to teams, then head back to the seats to watch ALL the finals.

    Note: Oildowns were NOT a problem. Just a good opportunity to go down and get more free stuff and take pics!

    After finals:

    No hurry to get out of the track, so go back to the pro pits for just a little bit to take pics of the winners and teams loading up the trucks. Then go back to fire up the hibachi again, sit and talk with some of the crowd parked next to us about the great weekend we had, make fun of our sunburn lines, and go through some of the free pit cards. After a great meal, the parking lot is almost empty and we just casually drive out traffic free.

    Great weekends that were not once boring with great ol' friends I'll (we'll) never forget.

  • SWPMFANSWPMFAN Senior Member
    edited July 20

    Comp was one of my favorite class. I do remember 32 car fields with a bump spot. The last one I remember fondly was at the fall Vegas race maybe 10 years ago. This was during Rampy's reign of terror of the Comp field in Vegas. I think there were 43 cars and my dad and I were standing at the fence on the reserved side watching Q3 and the bumping was incredibly.

    I think when dad and I went to indy from 88-90 they had 96 car fields with bumping. It may have been 64.

    Rodger Brogden is putting some money into D4 comp and a race on D3TV had more than 32 cars.

    My biggest issue with comp currently is lack of 6 second cars. I'm really not a fan of Cobalts and Jr. Dragster looking comp cars.

    My all time favorite comp car was Tom Synder awesome D5 A/A. My most recent favorite comp car was Alan Ellis A/AP. That car was bada$$ at Phoenix national and regional running in the 6.40s and 6.50s. Larry Kopp's Opal and Buddy Ingersoll AA/AT were bada$$

    Another problem with comp is all the off the throttle runs when the other car red lights or breaks. I know about the .6 under penalty and it was to level the playing field, but the unattended result is boring eliminations.

  • Yvonne*Yvonne* Super Moderator

    Wow, good discussion guys!

  • HEMI_guyHEMI_guy Senior Member

    ditto! The quick turn around times all about killed all that. Sunday (and Monday at Indy) is my least favorite day at events.... unless I personally know someone that's going rounds.

  • a21studa21stud Senior Member

    Twostep, you are absolutely correct in saying: “You gotta entertain ‘em if you want drag racing to survive.”  But smart phones have been around for two plus decades and sports of all kind keep pulling in large numbers of ticket buying spectators. How does drag racing increase their ticket buying public over stick and ball and the other sporting events?

    I think it’s by looking at who the drag strip ticket buyers are and their different needs and wants. 

    There’s the Hardcore Fan who is only interested in specific classes although it could be all but one or two.  Remember hardcore drag racing fans turning their back on the Sport Compact classes when that was first tried?  I’ve never been a bike fan while many others are but maybe they don’t give a flip for the nostalgia gassers that ring my bell. We’re attending any event that has the type cars we want to see and length of day, bad concession food and porta potties be damned, we’re there.

    There’s the “Real Car Guy” who knows cars and is pretty familiar with drag racing but doesn’t know Bruno is a two time world champ but does know Courtney was in the ESPN Swimsuit issue.  He does know his way around the shop, car magazines/websites/tv shows and can tell you the difference between a street rod, exotic car, classic car, sports car, antique and sportsman drag car. He will buy a ticket to the NHRA National Event within a 90 minute drive most years if a buddy or two is going. He’s never raced anything quicker than 11 seconds.

    Casual Spectators are the key to drag racing’s survival as a major sport.  They don’t know much about the long skinny cars, they do think funny cars look… funny. They are there to be “wow’d” by the smells, the sounds, the action including Leeza Diehl. They say “entertain me, don’t bore me, don’t beat me up and I will come back.” THEY are the reason we have running water in the johns, they are why those same johns “flush”. Us hardcore fans and the car guys will put up with the cheaper portable toilets. Yeah, we may not like them, be they won’t keep us from coming back. 

    The Casual Spectator won’t come back unless treated somewhere near the treatment they get at an NFL or MLB game. They want to see some of everything that goes down the track but not every stinking run the sportsman cars make. They need to be told that for the next 45 minutes zero 300 mph cars will go down the track because they do want to see every “WOW” car pass. (320 mph+ nitro fire and thunder here.) They need someone to tell them when to walk “some” of the pits and get an autograph and see the crew bust butt rebuilding for next round. They won’t trek all the way to the last turnoff to see the J/SA pits. They do want to walk the Manufacturer’s Midway as it’s educational to them but they don’t want to do it when the nitro cars are running. They may like to see a Pro Stock run or two but 16 Camaros‘ of different colors aren’t why they are there.  They don’t want to sit in the hot sun/cold wind on even an aluminum bleacher board with no back for more than 3 hours total. They do want the johns close to their bleacher seat and not be hot as he11 to use.   

    The Casual Fan is very willing to pay high ticket prices for an NBA, NFL and MLB game only 3 hours long. I believe they are willing to pay even higher ticket prices to attend NHRA National Events if all the above benefits are available to them. If they are entertained properly by the long cars, they will come back to  see the wild and wooly funny cars a few weeks or more later. 


    But asking the Casual Fan pay a higher ticket price to watch a double header NFL or NBA game doesn’t  happen for good reasons and it’s too much to ask fans to do in drag racing too. If MLB double headers were sure money makers they would be scheduling more of them. For the last ten years plus double headers are only scheduled to make up a rained out game and save money, not make money. MLB’s attendance has been seriously shrinking and a couple double headers have actually been scheduled for this year. They may work as long as they are kept to one or two per year kind of like bat night. Give away bats at every game and they just become a money losing novelty. NHRA’s double headers should be Indy and the World Finals. Indy is already a longer event with an “I gotta attend at least once” draw for all Hard Core and Real Car Guys. 

    These suggestions for drag racing are aimed at increasing the draw and favorability of drag racing to the general public. Not us hardcore fans as we can be drag racing’s worst enemy if we get our way all the time.  (Example: I really didn’t care much for Jr. Dragsters when they came out and while I appreciate what they do to increase the sports draw, I still head for the concessions when they come to the line.) Improving drag racing so there are more races offering better purses at better facilities means the attendance needs to grow and that means making “the show” an entertaining spectacle that EVERYONE wants to know about and say “Yes, I was there when that happened” and “Yes, I will go to the next one”.  

    I apologize for my always lengthy comments. Drag racing isn't a short subject... even on the 1/8th mile.

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