Competition Eliminator is Cool, end of story. This is one of the last bastions of true racing creativity left anywhere on the motorsports landscape. Where else can you chose any combination and do what it takes to make it work? In Comp, you can find anything from a Blown Big Block Chevy to an Air Cooled VW Bug engine. Cars, Altereds and Dragsters all competing together. Can it be confusing? Yes. The CIC system that’s necessary to level the playing field can be tricky to explain to the novice, but at the end of the day, it’s cool to see a 4 cylinder turbo Honda racing a 500 cubic inch Pro Stock motor powered dragster.
The problem is it’s obviously expensive and the fields are shrinking. For example, at the current (As I’m writing this) Regional in Gainesville There are 14 cars to fill what should be a 32 car field and the entry list for the Gatornationals event next weekend again has 14 cars entered.
But we can do better. It’s time to revise the Comp rules to be a little more inclusive. There are cars out there, some even at the track being sent home. Let’s look at the landscape and see what changes we can make to improve the Comp show.
Top Dragster and Top Sportsman. These guys run 32 car qualified fields and send home any car that does not qualify. This weekend that means 8 Top Dragsters and 2 Top Sportsman are going home without even taking a green light in competition. It should be relatively simple to make a couple accommodations in the schedule to ensure that the last qualifying session for them takes place before the first round of Comp. And whoever wants to can roll their times into the Comp field and if they make the cut run first round as a Comp car. Why send cars home that could be used to fill the field if they qualify and meet the rules? In my opinion, most of the T/S and T/D cars can be as diverse as the current Comp cars. Nitrous, Turbos and Blowers in many combinations.
Pro Stock. It’s no secret that P/S is struggling as well. Let’s introduce classes in Comp similar to the Pro Stock truck and Pro Mod rules. Some of the part-time guys could really benefit from this move. I’m thinking of guys like David RIvers and John Gaydosh. Part-timers who could almost certainly use more track time. When you can only get to a few National events a year you’re always going to be behind the 8 ball in terms of passes down the track, let’s open it up so they can at least run at the local Regional and Divisional events. Give them a chance to get the cars out on prepared tracks and work out bugs on a slightly smaller scale race.
What about the rest? I applaud the NHRA for bringing some of the other racing into the fold on an exhibition basis. The X275 and No Prep guys for example. But couldn’t we take it a step further and look at making some adjustments in the Comp rules to give them an outlet to compete on the larger NHRA stage in a “proper” class? What about looking for instance at the PDRA classes, couldn’t we make some accommodation in the rules to attract the Extreme Pro Stock guys to give the NHRA a shot? Or Pro Boost or really any of the exciting classes they have to offer.
The point here is there are plenty of drag cars out there that don’t fit into the class spectrum the NHRA currently runs and some truly amazing pieces of engineering involved, which is now and has always been at the heart of Competition Eliminator. There’s no reason to see it have short fields when the answer might be to simply open it up to a few more types of cars. They’re out there, let’s give them a place to race.
While we’re on the topic of simple rules changes to help improve car counts, how about Alcohol Funny car? We only saw 2 cars show up for the Belle Rose Regional last weekend and as of now only 15 cars on the entry list for the Gatornationals. It’s time to change the rules to allow injected nitro cars to compete in the Funny car class similar to the Alcohol Dragsters. It’s a proven combination that’s shown to be relatively safe and the parity between Alcohol and Nitro Dragsters is pretty good. There is already a history of Injected Nitro funny cars so it wouldn’t be unprecedented. Given the current state of the IHRA doing away with its pro classes (well, in truth all classes. But that’s another column) they’ve left an awful lot of funny car racers that want to run Nitro with no place to race except for a couple events through the season. Let’s consider giving them a home, even if it means no blowers on the car.
Be Safe and Have Fun.