Interestingly, both Chad and Brian handed in news items this week regarding the fact that the IHRA is going to hold the line at 1,320 feet for the Fuel cars while NHRA has whacked the track to 1,000 in the aftermath of the Scott Kalitta fatality at Englishtown, New Jersey, in June. Clearly, Brian is OK with the 1,000-foot rule (Hot Rod even gave him a column in which to say so) and Chad ain’t.
Because we had a disparity in opinion, I asked them both to spell it out and duke it out. Brian choked hard by copying Chad on his text, thereby giving Chad the go.
What’s your take?–DF
Unfortunately, fellow flunkie Chad’s opinion is 100-percent wrong. There are several reasons that 1,000-foot drag racing is ok and they all played themselves out over the course of the NHRA season after Scott Kalitta’s wreck. There were major reductions in operating costs for teams, zero cataclysmic finish-line explosions, and no appreciable drop in attendance to the races based on the switch.
In my opinion the best thing would be for the NHRA to run races at 1,000 feet on the shorter tracks and allow 1320 footers at the longer facilities that can safely support the speeds. Hell, throw an 1/8-mile or two in there to really make things interesting. Beefing up shutdown areas is vital as is continuing to look for ways to make the cars and tracks safer, but given the circumstances, this was the best decision that could have been made.
While Brian “Barnstormin’” Lohnes and I share the same passion for drag racing, he couldn’t be more off base in his opinion on 1,000-foot races. It’s supposed to be 1,320 feet! I applaud the research and investigations going into creating safer cars, tracks, and races in general, but the reasoning and reaction of NHRA has not taken into account the specific tracks they run at during the season. While there are tracks on the circuit, Pomona for example, that have extremely short shut down areas, there are several that have not nor will have problems with stopping cars in the available distance. Some tracks, such as the Texas Motorplex, have even gone so far as to extend the shutdown area even though it wasn’t necessary there.
Why not do it on a track-by-track basis? That way we could get what we’re used to, be able to still have national records, and not have two finish lines at the dragstrip. Oh wait, that’s what Brian is now saying so as to keep from looking bad for caving to the politically correct 1,000-foot ruling.
Brian, along with others, also argues that there is a cost savings to teams that no longer have to race that extra 320 feet, but I’m not buying it. That argument may have held water for the first few races, but once they got the tune-up right for 1,000 feet, they started pushing stuff just as hard. The top teams are still tuning the cars to make it five feet past the finish line, with many grenading engines at the lights, resulting in carnage and engine swaps that are no different than in years past And the small teams can’t compete with the big dogs’ numbers to the 1/8-mile, so if anything, they are having to push parts harder and are breaking earlier. I know, I know, that is what racing is all about, but it’s also about being 1,320 feet. And how do the current racers feel about it? We may never know, because although you hear grumblings both ways in the pits, the unofficial gag order from NHRA may keep us wondering forever.