in the world of drag racing
The latest update as of May 12, 2000
Sorry about missing my planned update yesterday . . . sometimes, as has been happening so often around here lately, real life gets in the way. So for today we'll just bring everyone up to speed on some of the small and not-so-small stories in the world of drag racing.The first one to roll out of the waterbox and spin the tires is the continuing saga of the PSI supercharger. By now, everyone must be familiar with the "alphabet" blower war that occurred earlier this year. For a few months, the "C", "D" and even an alleged "E" blower were in circulation.
Due to differing interpretations of the NHRA rules concerning supercharger "innovation", the association quickly ruled that only the "D" blower was legal for use. Their first action was to issue a letter to all competitors at the Gatornationals in March, demanding that any PSI supercharger, except the "D" model, be immediately removed from their race cars.
There was a follow-up, and more detailed, letter dated April 7th, issued to the racers and published in the April 14th edition of National Dragster. This letter went into more detail, providing some background to the 1997 ruling about screw blower modifications. The letter also indicated that no further changes to the Federal-Mogul Dragster and Funny Car rules would be considered during 2000.
Shortly after the original letter, of March 15th, the president of Performance Systems, Inc., (PSI), Norm Drazy, launched an appeal of the NHRA ruling on the legality of the "C" supercharger. He based the appeal on the history of the "C" blower, which had been run in NHRA competition in 1996, prior to the NHRA "moratorium" of January 1, 1997.
For the first few weeks after the original bombshell in Gainesville, the internet was alive with news, rumours, gossip, distortions and just plain lies about the situation. Leading the charge to condemn the PSI corporation and the racers who used the now-banned blower, were Dustin Whipple and Rob Wendland. Both men had their own reasons for doing so, with Dustin's being the most obvious.
Some of the statements he made on various message boards were shocking. Shocking that a principal of a competing supercharger company would make such blatantly self-serving, vicious and incorrect statements. Shocking that someone in such a position would reveal themselves to be incapable of behaving like an adult in public.
As for Mr. Wendland . . . he has his own motives for doing what he did. NO, I'M NOT GOING TO SPECIFY WHAT HE DID. His actions are presumably still being studied by law enforcement authorities in the U.S.A. and it's just too early in the year to be slapped with a major libel action. Let's just say that he is definitely NOT on Norm's Xmas card list.
While all the flames and invective were flying in public, the NHRA tech (and legal?) department was working behind the scenes to formulate a response to PSI's appeal. Their ruling, which realistically was almost a foregone conclusion, was finally announced in the April 28th edition of National Dragster. In case you hadn't noticed it, or don't subscribe to that house organ, here it is:PSI Withdraws Appeal
Performance Systems, Inc., makers of the PSI screw superchargers, has withdrawn its Request for Appeal of a rule enforced by NHRA that restricts use of screw superchargers to those models that were generally available as of January 1, 1997. This concludes the appeals process, and no further requests from PSI in this matter will be entertained. At present, only the A, B and D models of the PSI screw supercharger are legal for use in Federal-Mogul Dragster and Federal-Mogul Funny Car competition.Bits From The Pits - Page 9
April 28, 2000 - National Dragster
So I guess that's the end of that story, for this year at least, eh? Uh, sorry, but it's NOT over . . . not by a long shot. Read between the lines of that NHRA statement. Specifically, the "no further requests from PSI" part. Yes, PSI, the company, has withdrawn the appeal. BUT, there has been at least one appeal (and probably, a few more) launched by a racer. Any names to report, Bob? Not a chance, mate!
Will we be reading more about this issue sometime soon in National Dragster? Again, not too likely. I'm not really sure how far any individual racer will go with this matter, but the legal remedies available to anyone with pockets deep enough to pursue it, are almost limitless. And when it comes to a public legal battle, NHRA has shown a distinct aversion to court proceedings over the years. For at least two reasons: (bad) publicity and expense.
The next question that has to be asked is whether this whole issue is just a proverbial "tempest in a teacup"? Reports of the performance increases available with the "C" blower are necessarily anecdotal. After all, who is going to show us their dyno sheets or run data? And in both cases, it's like trying to compare apples and oranges. The gains reported have ranged from half a tenth to a full tenth of a second. In some cases, the gains were almost negligble, while for other racers, substantial.
The key, as in most cases of performance "enhancers", was the individual racers' combination. Some, like Rick Santos, appeared to have a combo very well suited to the characteristics of the "new" blower. Witness his test session 5.3's early this year. At the time, they seemed like precursors to 5.2's on good tracks. Since then, the car really hasn't slowed down appreciably with the re-installation of a "D" blower.
Some of the other racers who ran the "C" blower during its short stint in competition this season appear to have slowed slightly when they switched back to the "D". List the names? Again, not bloody likely, mate. Every one of them ran the now-banned blower in good faith and every one of them removed it when NHRA made its ruling. And that's the end of that part of the story.
So where do we go from here? The racer appeals mentioned earlier have not been officially confirmed to this date. Did you really think NHRA would throw more fuel on the fire by announcing them? The issue will most likely remain very much behind the scene(s) until a final resolution is imminent. In the meantime, don't hold your breath waiting to hear or read anything about it. (From official sources at least).
If anyone out there on the web has any factual information about the situation and the latest developments, please let me know. I will not reveal sources, unless they specifically permit me to. I'd just like the opportunity to keep people informed, instead of relying on guesswork and supposition. (NOTE to the Oregon Funny Car Racers Association: a supposition is NOT something that has to be inserted in a person's backside -- although it has been suggested to me on a regular basis :-)
Whew, that's quite a lengthy opening item for today's update, isn't it? So much so that all those other stories waiting in the staging lanes are just going to have wait until the next session, tomorrow. Don't worry though, we will be back with lots more news tomorrow; in fact, we're starting to work on it as soon as this piece is uploaded. So, as we always say, stay tuned for the latest news from the wide, wild, weird world of drag racing.
Still waiting in the lanes: Brad Hadman - flavour of the month? . . .