(Photos by Darr Hawthorne) • With a record number of Nostalgia Top Fuel Dragsters slated to appear at NHRA’s Holley Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, KY, the Assoc. will vote this week on a possible boycott of the June NHRA Heritage Series event.
Surprisingly, the conflict and proposed boycott isn’t over the usual grievance: a lack of purse money — it’s about NHRA’s inability to accept a windfall of outside sponsorship toward an enhanced purse and a bigger field.“It breaks my heart that it has come to this with NHRA,” Bob McLennan, President of AAFD, said. “We have offered to double the Top Fuel Dragsters for this race, and NHRA wants no part of it. We have asked for a 16-car ladder versus the current 8-car ladder. We’ve even brought in a private sponsor to offset their costs, but NHRA has drawn a line in the sand, and they will not change the event structure to allow for more money and more cars.”
All American Fuel Dragsters’ impetus to double the number of nitro-dragsters is based on Nostalgia Top Fuel’s growth as a class as well as a lack of participation from the AA/Funny Cars at Bowling Green. Each year a race fan could count the Funny Car entries on one hand — and whose further participation is in doubt because recent Holley Hot Rod Reunion drew as few as three nitro Funny Car teams.
“To offset any of NHRA’s costs, (Midwestern Top Fuel racer) Jimi Young brought in Custom Floaters for an additional five figures in purse money,” McLennan explained. “This event benefits the NHRA Museum — it’s their largest fundraiser of the year. It’s just mind-boggling that NHRA will not support our effort to put on a better show and help finance their Museum.”
Still, this is a hard pill for McLennan, whose father, Jim McLennan, was inducted into the NHRA Hall of Fame in 1991, the second class of inductees. “With our family’s history with NHRA, you’d think they would know we are trying to benefit the Museum’s bottom line and make this a huge success,” McLennan said. “We want this to be a win-win.” said McLennan, he is still open to making things work, but with teams voting imminent and the sentiment of the Top Fuel racers almost unanimous in their viewpoint, the possibility of even an 8-car Top Fuel Eliminator for the Holley Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green doesn’t look promising.