in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of September 17, 1998
Since this "What's New" page debuted 8 months ago, it's interesting (to me at least) to look back at how my 'editorials' have evolved over time. Starting out with a "strictly the facts, ma'am" style, my writing has slowly changed into the cynical, hyperbolic, hard-edged style of a drag racing Matt Drudge. I'm not really sure why or how this has happened; there hasn't been one big event happen in my life to cause such a radical change, more like a series of small incidents building up inside until I just had to start letting loose with my true feelings about many of the issues affecting me and many other racers.
The past six weeks especially have seen me aiming my "thunder" at Seattle International Raceway, aka 'The Rockpit', the NHRA (No Hot Rods Allowed), Mission Raceway Park and the B.C. Kustom Kar Association, among others. Sometimes the attacks have been overblown and possibly even unfair, but I stand behind my words and invite any feedback or criticism from both the guilty and the innocent. I'm still receiving my copies of National Dragster (aka Pravda), still am allowed into the pits at Mission Raceway and have yet to receive any letter bombs (or worse) from Glendora or Seattle.
The feedback I am receiving indicates that my writing is being taken seriously by some officials and is generally well-received by the racing "public". So, until the process servers start knocking on the door or I find that my web host has pulled the plug on Northern Thunder, I will continue to "call 'em as I see 'em" and keep writing the truth. When the days come (and let's hope it never does) that I feel compelled to report anything less than the truth, then it will be the end of this website. Now that we've got all that noble crap out of the way, let's throw some more rocks at a few easy targets.
Dateline....Sunday, September 6, 1998...Mission Raceway Park....
Reports from the trenches indicate some serious attitude problems being displayed by an employee at the West Coast Pro Mod Association show on this date. At one point, the entire crew of an American Pro Mod car was told very loudly and profanely to leave the area and was threatened with immediate explusion from the event. Not sure if the threat was carried through, but when the crewchief of the team in question asked for a ruling from another official, he was told "all decisions by employees of this track are final -- no appeals !"
Why is that when someone is given a very small amount of authority that it immediately goes to their (already swelled) head and they turn into the proverbial "official from hell". The hiring of emotionally unstable, immature and socially challenged invididuals for positions requiring patience, tact and diplomacy is a sure recipe for disaster. The track manager should stop the hiring of friends and friends of friends and put people in place who are capable of doing a job properly and professionally.
This incident is just another example of why Mission Raceway will never come within a lightyear of achieving what it is capable of. A complete lack of marketing and promotional skills, coupled with incompetence in many areas of track operations, combined with the burden of pleasing the "old boys" in the BCCCA guarantees that the track will never progress any further than it already has. In the seven years the new track has been in operation, there have been improvements made in the facility, but the operation has been going steadily downhill.
Attendance and racer participation has fallen and unless some major changes are made for 1999, the situation will continue to deteriorate. The track must be run as a business, not as a play-toy for club members. As we near the new millenium it seems that some of the major players at Mission are still stuck in the 1970's way of thinking. Wake up and smell the goddamn tire smoke before it's too late, guys!!!
Another incident to come out of the Pro Mod weekend was the alleged "mis-interpretation" of the rules governing the race. The IHRA allows their Pro Mod cars the option of running either a high-helix blower on methanol, or nitrous oxide with gasoline, carburetors and unlimited cubic inches. Another Pro Mod association allows a third option: up to 30% nitromethane with a standard blower. The West Coast association doesn't allow the nitro option, but it seems that one of their members forgot this rule and was running "horsepower in a can".
When confronted by association officials who demanded a fuel check, the racer in question allegedly threw his firesuit into a bucket containing the suspect fuel, preventing the sampling of the contents for testing. He was still allowed to compete, but mysteriously ?!? slowed down nearly two tenths of a second from his earlier times. As I was not there to witness the incident, there is no way I'm going to report any names, but rest assured, it wasn't a local racer.
Final item for this report concerns the NHRA Federal-Mogul Series. It was very hard for me to even use the full title, as I feel the renaming of the Top Alcohol classes due to the F-M sponsorship was one of the single worst actions by the association in the last few years. F-M has bought the rights to two eliminator category titles and the divisional series events for what has been reported to be a very large (and increasing yearly) amount of money. And just what has happened to all that money?!? The racers will receive the grand total of $400,250 from F-M in 1998. The breakdown is as follows: $122,000 in National Championship award bonuses (to a total of 14 drivers) and $278,500 in Divisional Championship award bonuses (to a total of 168 drivers). Sounds like a lot of money, doesn't it?
But when it's broken down to the individual payouts, the amounts represent just a drop in the bucket for the Top Alcohol classes, with a maximum possible of $28,500 for the National Champion, who must also win a Division Championship to earn that amount. When you contrast these numbers with the budget required to win those championships, the ratio of expense to return is almost laughable.
The total payout to each alcohol class is $108,750, and remember that is split up to 23 ways! Again, I've got to ask the question: Where the hell did all the money go!?! It hasn't gone to the racers, other than the aforementioned token amounts; has it paid more than one full salary for an office spud in Glendora, or has it simply gone into that great black hole where all the association's money seems to disappear?
My next project will be to dig through the mountain of back issues of National Dragster (25 years worth!) and write something about how the NHRA changed from a non-profit association to a for-profit corporation in the 1980's. My memory on the events surrounding the change are rather hazy, but I do remember receiving a ballot on the change -- yes, there actually was some demcoracy being practiced back then -- but the arguments for and against the move are not really clear in my mind now.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks, as we present a history lesson on how and why the NHRA has become what it has. Whether the changes in the last fifteen or twenty years have been for the good of the sport (or not) is up to YOU to decide. . . As always, stay tuned for more news as it happens.