Pro Stock, 5 points.

On this weeks WFO Radio Nitro, Joe Castello had a pretty in depth interview and discussion with Alan Reinhart and Richard Freeman about Pro Stock. (link to the show at the bottom.) The conclusion was a call out for a 5 point plan to reinvigorate the class. As you know if you follow my column, I’ve already written 2 about this issue. In response to Joe’s call, lets have a fresh go at this with some new perspective.

Dodge

#1 We need to accept the fact that Pro Stock isn’t the King of the Doorslammers class anymore, that cats out of the bag. Currently there are 2 classes that are faster. Pro Mod and Top Sportsman. If we just look at this weeks race, Pro Stocks field was stretched between a 6.564 to a 6.924 and the top 16 spread in Top Sportsman was 6.201 to 6.811. 2 different classes to be sure, but if you want quick Door cars you now have several options.

#2 Body styles. It’s been said before by many, including myself, we need to get back to stock body lines, simple as that. The drift away from using the classic “Body in white” that was the norm for so long needs to be reversed. Stock rear quarters, roof and a pillars at a minimum. The classic Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday is really hard when the cars at the top of the “Factory” class don’t resemble whats on the showroom floor.  With one caveat, conversion from a 4 door to a 2 door must be acceptable.

#3 Pro Mod or Factory Stock will never replace Pro Stock, they will always take up their own unique niche in the Drag world. As great as it is, factory stock is already in danger of drowning under ever increasing development costs, and unless the manufacturers want to keep sinking endless sums of cash into going faster and faster it will start to suffer. The Pro Mod racers have already expressed they are happy with the space in the NHRA they already have, a 24 race schedule for them would be too much.

#4 The NHRA itself. The NHRA as a sanctioning body needs to get out of the mindset that the Nitro classes are the most important class out there. Are they great? for sure, do they attract the fans? for sure, but they’re supposed to, that’s how they’re hyped; all the advertising is built around them.  At any given National event there are several classes running, and any given class could use more exposure. This goes for not just Pro Stock, but other classes as well. What about Competition eliminator? My point here is the NHRA needs to balance how they advertise and promote the races better. If they believe it or not there is a significant number of fans who attend the races for more then just the Nitro classes.

#5 Drivetrain. I see 2 options here. So pull the belts tight and hang on, don’t pull the chutes until the end.

500 cubic inch spec engine based on the DRCE(Drag Race Competition Engine) block the Chevy guys use. We already have a precedence for this; the nitro classes. They can badge it however they want, Toyota, Chevy, Ford but the reality is they’re all based on the Dodge Hemi, a variant to be sure but a Hemi nonetheless. No offence to the Dodge guys or the lone Ford guy i’m aware of but the Chevy guys are kings right now, and have been for several years. Without major corporate support the Fords and Dodges will never be competitive. It may be great when a Dodge picks up a Hundredth but if they’re still a tenth behind they have a long costly way to go. So take that all out of the equation and run a spec block and heads like the nitro guys do.

358 Small block with a spec blower. Richard Freeman floated this on the WFO radio show and when you stop and think about it, it might be a really good idea. There are already several readily available 358 combinations out there from the NASCAR guys, Ford, Chevy, Dodge and Toyota and boosted with a supercharger makes a pretty interesting possibility.  Plus it has the advantage of fitting under a more stock appearing hood line then what we have now. In my opinion, this is the way to go, coupled with a manual clutch and a 5 speed this could be cool.

Pro Stock is an iconic class, and it’s demise would be a great loss to the sport. But as you know manufacturers have drifted away for various reason. But if they don’t want to jump in as it sits now, we have got to make some wholesale changes to reinvigorate the class. If we increase participation who knows, maybe they (The manufacturers) will take a second look and if  we can make changes to welcome them back, we can address that in due course. But trying to keep them happy is part of the reason we are in this situation.

honda

Honda V8

One last thing. Lets assume for a minute we go with the body specs and 358 engines I’ve suggested as the best options, those open the doors to more then Dodge, Ford and Chevy in Pro Stock. As mentioned, Toyota has a stout 358 program and Honda had a V8 in production for Indycar until 2011. If Toyota and or Honda wanted to jump in, and Toyota in particular has shown a strong commitment to the NHRA, then I say welcome, the more the merrier.

Here’s a link to the WFO radio Nitro show.  http://wforadio.com/wfo-radio-nhra-nitro-07042017/

On a side note. If you want to have a little fun between races, be sure and follow Riki Ratchman on his ride across America this year, yes the same Riki from the Cathouse, Headbangers Ball and currently host of Racing Rocks radio. he is raising awareness for Cystic Fibrosis and raising money for the Claires Place foundation. A worthy cause that we here at Lit and Loud fully support.

@RikiRachtman

@clairewineland

clairesplacefoundation.org

#Rikisride17

@RikisRacPac

 

As always, Be Safe and Have Fun.

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Dodge Demon, Diamond or Dud?

038-Dodge-Demon-2018-gallery-desktop.jpg

You know, as a car guy you can’t help but be impressed at first glance of the Dodge Demon. It’s a very impressive piece of work, 840 horsepower, 9.60’s from the factory at over 140 MPH. But what”s the reality of this car? Is it as amazing as it seems?

Lets put the performance in terms of drag racing into perspective.  This car, off the showroom floor is faster than most Stock class cars, some Super Stock. Quicker than the Super Gas index and less than a second slower than Super Comp. In a car that you can go to a dealer and buy.

But here’s the thing. Should you be able to? It takes a Competition license to drive most of the aforementioned classes, and much more safety equipment than the car comes with, no roll cage, no 5 point harness and does come with for example, a line loc and a trans brake that are not toys, in the wrong hands or malfunctioning they can be downright dangerous. A car that can run these numbers is not a toy, and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

If they (Dodge) wanted to make a car with these capability’s why did they not go the extra step and create a car that could at least meet minimum rule standards out of the box? I know why of course, the idea is to build a sick car that could roll off an assembly line quickly, without to much inconvenience and not bother with a hand crafted roll cage or anchoring for a legit racing harness.

letter

The famous letter from the NHRA states “Don’t bring this car to our tracks” Now Dodge for some reason see’s this as a badge of honor. But it’s not. What that means is that as soon as you drive it home, you have just bought a car that is unable to compete at any NHRA sanctioned track. Unless you slow it down to slower than 10 seconds. Which is still impressive, but how do you expect a novice to know how to safely scrub a half second off his ET? I know that I would not like to be in the lane next to a novice running at or close to 140 MPH without the skills to understand the nuances of controlling a car at that speed.

Back at SLP Terry “Zeke” Maxwell had an saying about who we built the Camaro SS and Firehawks for, 1/3 of our cars were for collectors,1/3 were for racers and 1/3 were for the casual car guy to have fun with. Of the 3000 scheduled Demons to be built, 1000 to collectors=ok, 1000 to racers=ok, but the thousand to the novice are the problem.  Should the NHRA bend the rules as so many have suggested? absolutely not. These rules have been forged over the years in terms of blood and lives, they are tried and true. And while we do have an occasional incident with an injury, those rules account for a truly staggering safety record when looked at over the whole of the sport. And Just looking at the basic crash test results of a standard Challenger finds it at the bottom of the pony car list  (according to the results for the IIHS see link below) and I for one would not want to be in a Challenger at 140 MPH with no roll cage crashing. And it’s the little things, why for instance would they put a 4 point harness into the car, why not take the extra step and put the 5th point in. How do they (Dodge) know that whoever buys the car will have the skills needed to put the Skinny’s on the front properly? It seems to me that Dodge makes a lot of assumptions about the skill level of the average car buyer.

Sure you could argue that anyone can buy a Ferrari or Lamborghini and that’s true, but those cars, while they have impressive performance are unlikely to ever be used in North America to their true capability’s, but this car, any stretch of pavement could get it into trouble, not to mention cars around it.

So to get back to the first question, Is this a great car? Yes, with caveats. It’s a great car in the right hands. In the hands of a drag racer who knows what he’s doing it’s a masterpiece. A true racer will make sure the car has the safety products it needs and the experience to use it. Should the average guy buy one, even a car fan? No way. It’s too much car. In the end, if you want to buy a street pony car to have fun with, go get a nice Hellcat. I know it “only” runs 11’s with 707 Horsepower, but it’ll be a much more civilised ride for daily use.

One last question. If Dodge wants to improve it’s image to the Drag racing world, why didn’t they sink that R&D money into the Challenger Drag Pak program? At the last Factory Stock shootout event (Charlotte) only 1 of 8 cars was a Challenger. As it stands now, the Camaros and Mustangs are running away with the series.

http://www.autonews.com/article/20160530/OEM11/305309968/challenger-outmuscled-in-crash-tests

On a side note. If you want to have a little fun between races, be sure and follow Riki Ratchman on his ride across America this year, yes the same Riki from the Cathouse, Headbangers Ball and currently host of Racing Rocks radio. he is raising awareness for Cystic Fibrosis and raising money for the Claires Place foundation. A worthy cause that we here at Lit and Loud fully support.

@RikiRachtman

@clairewineland

clairesplacefoundation.org

#Rikisride17

@RikisRacPac

 

As always, Be Safe and Have Fun.

Reality Bites? NHRA

Others point their finger
If they don’t like what they see
If you live in a glass house
Don’t be throwing rocks at me “Shelter Me” Tom Keifer.

Gray

You know, in light of the recent incident between Gray and Elite Motorsports both on the top end and pits during the Houston race. It got me thinking. You will see all over social media opinions over this, pro and con. But the overwhelming thought is “we need this in Drag racing”. And maybe we do. But here’s the thing, it’s not as if we don’t have our share of reality moments, we just choose not to talk about them.  And when we do it will be a week or 2 and we move on. But behind the scenes, they’re always there.

Why for instance has Mike Dunn only driven for a relatively short span in his entire storied career for his Dad? The great Jim Dunn? Jim’s had cars on the track the whole time with various drivers. And parallel to that, what happened between Jim and Chad Head? The word was Chad stepped out to concentrate on the family business, but then we find out Chad is working at Kalitta Racing, and Jim has Jonnie Lindberg driving. Did, as the rumours say, Jim fire Chad? Awkward.

And what of our famous Funny car champ? We all know his 3 daughters, successful drivers in their own right. Respected and adored by their fans and fellow competitors. But here’s the thing. He has 4 daughters. But yet it’s the strangest thing. No one talks about her. If she wants her privacy that is of course totally fine, but it seems unfair to never even mention her name. She’s even married to the President of the company? Heck I’ve seen and heard more of her daughter than her. I have some, but you’d be really hard pressed to even find a picture of her. Weird

And the list could go on and on. But aside from the fact that these are our “Stars” it’s none of our business. And all the social media speculation serves nothing except to give some keyboard cowboys a few thrills. The reality is, there’s some real personal drama out there in our world that would rival the most gaudy reality show. And real faces behind real pain. The ones I’ve listed above are really pretty mundane in comparison to the rest.

And on track, There’s 2 problems. One is, and a completely respectable one to have. The sport went through a phase when we sadly lost a spate of our young drivers in accidents. Russell, Johnson, Medlen, Kalitta, you know the names. I noticed a definite change in attitudes after that period, a more respectful and appreciative attitude towards each other as competitors. It was as if after a period of invincibility everyone became aware that the dangers were very real and the guy in the other lane was just as vulnerable as yourself, and worthy of your respect if you liked him or not.

The second of course is the Politically correct era of corporate sponsorship. You have to wonder about the whirlwind careers of Bazemore and Cannon to name a couple. These guys came into the sport on fire (In the case of Bazemore often literally) Talking a big storm, getting in everyone’s face, not afraid to speak their minds and sure as hell not backing down to anyone. Only to fade away and rarely to be heard from again. Did the corporate world end them? Were they to controversial to keep handing money over to? Only they know for sure, but from the outside, that’s sure what it looks like. And as we all know, if you don’t have the bucks you don’t make the runs.

Talk is great, a way to attract new fans, or reinforce the ones you have, do we like to see Force and Shoemaker have words? Sure. And by the way, the best part of John Force getting into feuds is his seeming innocence that someone might be upset, in his mind if Prock went to DSR and it was “Just business” then him bringing Prock back was “Just business” as well. No harm no foul. Or driving Al Hoffman crazy, innocently unaware that he was driving Hoffman insane. How could Al possibly not like him or be angry at him? Do we like Leah Pritchett admitting she loves beating Brittany Force? Of course. But to let things escalate to throwing punches in the pits? maybe not. That’s not good for anyone. Regardless of what sponsor is on the door.

Watch at about 1:05

 

In the end I’m reminded of when Don Prudhomme ran to a burning, unconscious Don Gay Jr to get help get him out of the car, or a very concerned Khalid AlBalooshi watching a crashing Antron Brown behind him, that those moments are what make Drag racing great. And all the bickering or feuding  off the track are meaningless, that it’s what happens on the track and in the background that are whats important.

 

 

On a side note. If you want to have a little fun between races, be sure and follow Riki Ratchman on his ride across America this year, yes the same Riki from the Cathouse, Headbangers Ball and currently host of Racing Rocks radio. he is raising awareness for Cystic Fibrosis and raising money for the Claires Place foundation. A worthy cause that we here at Lit and Loud fully support.

@RikiRachtman

@clairewineland

clairesplacefoundation.org

#Rikisride17

@RikisRacPac

Be Safe and Have Fun