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.
#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.
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.
As always, Be Safe and Have Fun.