NHRA Reverses One Ruling, Should Reverse Another

 

NHRA Reverses One Ruling, Should Reverse Another

Just when we thought it was sensible to believe dictates that come from NHRA’s Glendora, Calif. offices, the sanctioning body has reversed its proclamation to shorten fields for Pro Stock in nine races during the 2018 season.

On Sunday, during the Toyota NHRA Nationals on The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the series declared it had changed its mind; all 24 races will accommodate 16 cars and drivers next year. The series cited “a collaborative and productive meeting with several Pro Stock drivers and teams.” The group discussed a few initiatives that could serve as alternatives to NHRA’s previous decision to run eight-car fields at those nine events, all in mid-season.

To keep the category healthy, NHRA and its Pro Stock competitors are discussing the possibility of a new engine platform, one that NHRA’s tech department is currently evaluating. “NHRA will continue to work with Pro Stock teams and manufacturers this year, carefully evaluating key metrics and supporting initiates to generate interest” in the class. There were 20 Pro Stock entries at Las Vegas, all vying for 16 spots in Sunday eliminations.

“We all share a common goal to make the Pro Stock category grow,” said Peter Clifford, NHRA president. “It’s exciting to see that the teams came to us with collaborative ideas and started an open dialogue that resulted in new solutions.”

Unfortunately, they’re not discussing anything further concerning those Pro Stock initiatives.

NHRA Reverses One Ruling, Should Reverse Another

At the same time, NHRA has decided to mandate 40-degree headers for its Funny Car class next year, when most competitors are using 50+ degree settings. While some competitors say it won’t change how the cars run, others aren’t so sure. One crew chief noted the laid-back headers that have recently come into vogue actually serve as a propulsion device and allow the crew chiefs and tuners to apply added front downforce through ballast, as the current settings tend to reduce downforce to the front of the car.

Because of this increased front downforce with the laid-back headers, the rear tire doesn’t suffer as badly as it will when the 40-degree header is mandated. It might take a while, but most tuners agree they’ll be back to the times and speeds they currently achieve in the 1,000-foot floppers – however, it’s going to be more brutal on engine parts and on tires.

Sure, they might not burn the body wraps as much as they do now; 40-degree headers might also make the cars a bit easier to drive. The change might even stop the wheel-stands we’ve seen throughout this summer that have hurt some chassis – and consequently budgets – but tuners and crew chiefs don’t think it’s in the series’ best interest to continue to take away performance from a sport that thrives on innovation.

About Anne Proffit 16 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.
  • Ken Thomas

    Pro Stock Camaro is a dinosaur, just check the stands.

    • Richard Blevins

      Agree 100%. Pro stock use to have competition from all 3 auto makers ,GM , Ford and Mopar for many years. No one knew before the race which car would win. That was then but now it is easy to predict the winner, a Camaro.

      • David Lee

        They need to go back to requiring that the teams use an engine that was native to the name plate and available for the year of the car produced. No mongrels, clones, or spec motors. There would have to be leeway in the cylinder head area. The Mopars and Chevies couldn’t possibly run anything they have in use now with a four valve motor like Ford has.

        And to keep it current, allow FACTORY superchargers. All three have them. They would be a good equalizer. There would have to be volume and OD limits. Yes, of COURSE the boost limit would have to be higher than stock, and that would have to be worked out empirically.

        Might even prompt the factories to go to all screw-type blowers, all the time.

        When this started, it was about who’s motor was the best.
        Mopar won, going away. It was all Mopar, all the time. We who bleed street hemi orange loved it, but nobody else did. Then, the 26 was ruled out. It would be again, under the rules I suggest. It would remain to be seen whether a 7 litre blown G-3 motor could stay with a blown LS whatever, or a (presupposing that a 7 litre rotating assy would fit in the current Ford block) 7 litre Coyote.

        Would the cars be slower? Probably, but close racing among different marques was the key to the success Pro Stock was for so long, just as stock and super stock were
        . Would it require a big new investment? Yes. But it’s going (practically there, now) to Hell in a handbasket the way it is.

        • Richard Blevins

          I think of myself as being very lucky to have attended races in the 60’s ,70’s and even the 80’s. GM , Mophar and Ford all had their stars and winners . Drivers like Dyno Don, Grumpy , Sox , The Professor and Bob Glidden were some of the more notable winners . The cars they raced were stuffed with big racing V8’s but looked pretty much like street cars. Unfortunately those days are gone and are not coming back. The carbon fiber front end cars in prostock today look more like pro mod cars than pro stock cars. The current rules in pro stock make it almost impossible for any thing to win but Camaros. That is why there are 13 Camaros and 3 Dodges in the field. The fuel injection looks like what is on LS motors and cutting the rpms and air duct size killed the Dodge hemis. I just don’t see those in charge of NHRA changing things that much and that is a shame. I attended the race run at Bristol this summer and the best racing ,like all national NHRA events ,takes place in classes that never make it on TV.

          • David Lee

            Yeah you right. But . . . staying silent isn’t an option.

            The Association has its reasons for doing things as they have, but it is a bureaucracy and is incapable of making rapid, well-thought-out changes. They are deathly afraid that the current competitors will simply walk away rather than spend the money to participate under a new rules formula.

            NEWS FLASH: They already are. Look at the (almost) ever decreasing car counts. Look at the stands (ditto) while P/S is running. What more proof do you need?

            Drag racing should be the antithesis of boring. But it isn’t. Not even. Anymore. Part of that is the lack of showmanship, w/cookie cutter cars and on-track behavior. Was showmanship overdone in the 70s? Yup. How much rosin did it really take? So there is a reasonable limit. But none ain’t it.

            They are in a death spiral dictated by chasing corporate dollars and money from TV, where we are consistently treated like red haired step children. WAKE UP!!!

          • nekronic

            By “we” being treated like red haired step children I presume you mean the fans, and I concur. Almost every drag racing message board echos the comments being made here, but the sanctioning bodies do not listen. It makes me wonder if the fans even matter any more to them – or is all their revenue coming from TV advertisers? Kind of a rhetorical question, but it shows shortsightedness on the part of the organization…..once you alienate the majority of fans, you have no audience to advertise to.

        • nekronic

          This is exactly why the talk of a “spec” motor for Pro Stock will be the final nail in the class’s coffin. The premise of Pro Stock at its inception was competition between the manufacturers. It was all about which manufacturer was doing the winning – be it Mopar, Ford, or GM. Rule changes that disadvantaged certain car/ engine combinations while favoring other less-competitive brands caused it to morph into a class where the cars were no longer the stars, and the result is a class of look-alike Camaros that look nothing like a stock Camaro.

          • David Lee

            I think we, not to say the NHRA who are apparently all-wise and all-knowing, in adddition to being all powerful, are on the same page. Could (not will) it come to pass that they will look beyond their own policy and propaganda to see the real world? I guess it COULD. But . . .

    • Steve Penrose

      Yes, I pretty much fast forward to the final round now when watching DVR recording. Throw a couple of Fords and Chryslers in the mix and get the manufacturers back in and I might stay off the fast forward button.

  • See The Future

    Take the Force Schumacher Kalitta team cars out and there is not much left. That is how bad the economics are to compete. Economics killed Pro Stock. Pro Mod will do well until NHRA screws them too.

  • David Lee

    As to funny cars, (and TF, come to that) we need a NUMBER of changes. As as “see the future” correctly points out, take away the big three, and there is little left. of those classes. Even “also rans” depend to greater or lesser degrees on them for tuning and parts. The cars are MUCH more complicated than they once were. The Good Guys show us just how much fun can be had with yesterday’s macro technology.
    1. Take away the sleeve valves
    2. Take away the clutch cannon
    3. Take away the in cylinder head injectors

    Do that and you don’t have to worry about the engines idling at 3K gasping for air as liquid fuel, in mass quantities, puffs out of the pipes, & soaks into the engine diapers. They sound like S***!, except when they are at WOT. They used to shake your innards at idle, the world’s longest string of M-80s going off, one after the other. No more. You’re praying that they will run so you don’t have to put up with what passes for idle any longer.

    4. Extend the race track to it’s natural length.

    The fans deserve ENTERTAINMENT. Not a flash in the pan. If A spins early, and B blows up right away, A should have a decent shot at getting back after it and driving around B. At 1K feet there just isn’t room or time.
    Think how many replays there have been of the two times that has happened recently in TWO YEARS. Think about that. Twice in 2 years.
    Now if you spin early/are late at all, you’re dead. No matter WHAT the other guy does (except X the c-l or hit a wall). Not cool. A lot less fun.

    • David Lee

      Oops almost forgot. Mandate that the announcer feed be reduced to the point that you have to LISTEN to it to understand what is being said. The Cars, the ENGINES, the chirp as the tires regain traction after the burnout, the hunting whine of the blowers at idle should be the symphony soundtrack behind the racing, not banter and quips from “the booth”. They do a heckuva lot better with the sound of P/S engines during the burn-outs than they do with any part of the fuel classes. Steve, Dave, Bob and Mike each did a better job. Alan is good, but seldom heard except in the background. Mike and Tony? Now there’s an idea. Keep it short and sweet.

      Your neighbors should have to call the cops, every time the races come on, because the cars are TOO LOUD! That’s the kind of trouble I want.

      The on-line presentations are even WORSE (kinda hard to believe/didn’t think it was possible) you can BARELY hear the cars at all on those. Makes them unwatchable. TURN IT UP is how it should be all the time, except when the “background/human interest/how’s it feel to win-get your butt kicked” at the top end, interviews and features come on before the racing starts, between runs, during oil-downs, and after the show (a la the F1 coverage) makes more sense.

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