The Ready Line: Competition Eliminator


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.


Sportsman Hall of Fame.


Recently on the Sportsman Racing Podcast with Luke and Jed, they discussed and listed their picks for a first induction class for a hypothetical Sportsman Drag Racing hall of fame.  What a great idea. Sportsman racers are the back bone of drag racing and some of the most unsung heroes of our sport. For every John Force or Steve Torrence, there are a couple hundred sportsman racers slogging it out week after week around the world. Very very few people start off in the whiz-bang world of the Pros. At one point or another, we all make our first passes down our local track, running whatever we could afford.

So, let’s get started.

Track Owner/Operator/Promoter

I have to go with George Howard, how can I not? At a time when if you knew drag racing you almost certainly knew the NHRA Pros. But if you had a toe in racing at all everyone heard of the “Million Dollar Bracket Race” and for that alone, putting Bracket racing on a bigger map, not even counting his other achievements he has to be my pick.

Media Member

Dale Wilson/Bracket Racing USA This man and the magazine he created were a staple to back yard racers. columns by Dale himself, the chassis guru Dave Morgan and Frank Hawley to name a few was a godsend to the guy with an open trailer and a car. The knowledge we gained from Dale and his magazine is priceless.

Member of Automotive Aftermarket Industry

Jeg Couglin Sr. THE catalog. What do you need? Tires. intake. delay box? Jegs had and has it all. In the days before the internet and social media, Jegs was there and is still here today for whatever you need. And he’s not just here to sell you parts. A stout supporter of the Sportsman classes by sponsoring events and drivers.

“Legend” a name from the past that has either passed or is no longer in active competition.

Ronnie Davis. 5-time IHRA world champ who had more than 25 years behind the wheel, and a vocal supporter of fast bracket racing. It’s in a large part due to Ronnie’s lobbying that Top Sportsman got its start in the NHRA and spread to the rest of the country.

4 racers (past or present)

It’s easy to say guys like David Rampy and Dan Fletcher belong in, and they do. It should almost be named “The Dan Fletcher Sportsman Racing Hall of Fame presented by David Rampy” But I digress, the truth is these two guys aren’t done yet. Dan is on track to become the second winningest driver in the NHRA ever and David will certainly get over 100 wins this season. So I say let’s wait on putting them in, let’s see where they wind up in the annals of racing history and when they do get put in, let’s be able to fully recognise their achievements.


Sheldon Gecker One of the first to run with some substantial sponsorship, Who can forget his Fel-Pro King Kong cars.

Mike Federer Consistent winner spanning decades. Top notch equipment just a class act all around.

Ted Seipel Early Pioneer in Super Gas. West Coast legend in that Austin Healy.

Larry Morgan We forget that before Pro Stock Larry was a sportsman stand out in Competition Eliminator and Super Stock. He had an impressive career before he even got to Pro Stock.

There you have it. As to where to locate a possible Hall of Fame/Museum? I have to say Indy. Pretty centrally located and a mecca for any racing fan. As a proxy home of the NHRA away from California, it’s the perfect place to show the sportsman racers the support they deserve.

I’ve said it before. If you only go to the local National events during the year, then you’re missing out on some amazing racing on the Regional and Divisional level as well as the Bracket program the local track runs. Do yourselves a favor and get out and support your local tracks..

You can hear the full episode here


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The Ready Line: Pro Stock


It’s assumed that with the new “any body any engine” rule change in Pro Stock that everyone is going to go with the DRCE GM engine that is currently the dominant engine in the class. But it occurs to me that it doesn’t have to be this way. In the past, if you had a Dodge program, you were pretty much a solo single-car team. Any expense you incurred was for you and you alone. But not so anymore. Let’s say you have an engine program for your Dodge that shows promise, now you can lease those engines to anyone and defray some of the R&D work. Look at KB racing, for example, they don’t just build engines for Line and Anderson. They have 4 KB powered cars out there. (Butner and Kramer)

Is this a likely scenario? Almost certainly not. But we can hope. Maybe some enterprising engine builder will see a market to disperse the cost of a Dodge program amongst several cars. Or a Ford guy will resurrect a long-dormant Ford program. The parts are out there. I heard recently that Derec Kramer had no problem selling his Dodge engines to a couple GM guys and somewhere, someone has the remnants of Larry Morgans Ford program. And with an increased presence at the track maybe, just maybe Ford and Dodge will be enticed into investing into a Pro Stock program and reintroducing factory Pro Stock parts.

Let’s wildly speculate a minute. Let’s say that Allen and Roy Johnson are slaving away on the dyno as we speak, and they find something, they overcome the 10500 RPM limiter and are ultra competitive in the horsepower numbers. Do you think Dodge would be happy with Dodge engines winning in Chevy bodies, or would they want to come back with a factory team, and get the glory for themselves?

We can hope

On a side-note. It seems to me it would be a good idea to create classes in Competition Eliminator for Pro Stock cars similar to the classes for Pro Stock Truck and Pro Mod. Some of the low buck guys who can only get to the national events near them could really benefit from this move. Instead of only getting to hit the track a couple times a season, most Divisions have 6 or 7 events. with most being at National events tracks. This would really open up the possibility for those part-timers to get needed seat and actual on track time in race conditions. I’d set it up with a moderate index so they don’t need to kill their stuff. There’s no way that a part-time Pro Stock team can be hurt by having a 7 event divisional and 3 national event season.

Racing Rigs and you.


Ever since PRI there has been a lot of talk about the legality’s of the tow vehicles. Since Dec 18th when the new ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandate came down, a lot of people are asking questions about being in compliance with the rules and we can discuss the needs for exemptions, the law is the law for now. Since my living is made out on the road lets look at a few things that do concern you.

Lets look at some definitions here. If your rig has a weight of more than 26000lbs and or your trailer comes in over 10000lbs, you are a commercial vehicle. You can make the argument “but it’s my personal truck and I own and operate it privately” well sorry. I hate to break it to you but the laws don’t define it that way. Putting “Private, Not for Hire” on the truck means nothing to the officer or inspector at a scale. If you are on the road and you meet the definitions of a commercial vehicle, you better be legal to be safe.

The quick answer that I hear over and over again is get a CDL (Commercial Drivers License) and run an ELD. And yes, that’s what I would recommend. But hang on. it’s not that easy. IF you are going to run those things, you better be aware of the requirements that those entail. Are you aware of the HOS (Hours of Service) rules? No more crazy cross country trips to make races, unless you have more than one qualified driver to team up with (and yes, there are special rules for running as a team). Are you aware of what you need to do for a Pre Trip inspection, or a Post Trip inspection?

This looks and sounds complicated, but it’s really not. A little homework on the DOT website can answer most questions. But the fact is if you run any kind of log book and or pull out that CDL at a scale or inspection center you better know what you need to have done to be compliant with the laws. If you blindly declare on your Pre Trip that the truck is safe and sound, you better not have half the lights burned out, or bald tires. It better be as you declared. And yes, to answer the question I’ve seen debated several places, They DO have the right to inspect inside the trailer. Proper load securement is a mandate in the laws, and they have a right to ensure the load is safe.

In the era of so many Pro and Semi Pro Sportsman racers on the road it’s time to step up the game, the rigs are huge and dangerous in inexperienced hands. Is a Volvo Toterhome and a Stacker infinitely safer than a dually with a tag? Yes of course. Proper brakes, possibly an engine brake (Jake Brake) the power to climb and descend hills. But with that comes the need for responsible operation. Remember, these things can kill others as quickly as they can save your life. Are the rules regarding their safe operation heavy handed at times? Of course. But the benefits outweigh the hassle.

The appearance that more racers are getting stopped, from what I witness on the road is true. As Drag racers we look at things in a vacuum. But remember their are more than just us out there. The stock car, dirt track, road course and just anyone hauling cars in general are on the same roads with the same equipment. Just by sheer numbers I see more dirt track guys stuck at scales than drag racers, but for whatever reason their are more of them. So yes, it is a problem across the board, but then in this era of trucks being the bad guys on the road it’s tough for anyone with a big rig.

If I was advising a racer out there, I would recommend getting a CDL and an ELD. Know the laws regarding both. Get a permit service to ensure you have all the right permits for the state or states you will be travelling in. As well as checking with an accountant as to how to handle the IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) stickers. Personally when I cross a scale or inspection center I always know i’m in compliance and any document they might need is right at hand, Be nice to them and more than likely they’ll be nice to you. Those guys never want to deal with a hassle, the easier you make it, the better it will go.

A little sidenote on the inspection. I know the majority of  you are racers not truckers. But how many times do we need to see guys on the side of the road with problems that could have been easily avoided with a little maintenance. I had a guy ask me, at the track, in a toterhome I know he’s had at least 2 years, how to open the hood. This is a Freightliner based rig. You have got to be at a minimum once a week checking basics like oil and coolant. Even if you don’t put tons of mileage on your rig these things can deteriorate just sitting. Just as I would never pull a trailer out of the yard that’s been sitting a couple weeks without a detailed inspection you shouldn’t leave the track after a weekend without checking at a minimum, Tires, hubs, lights, fluids and double check the hitch or pin.  Here’s a short list of things that will take you Out of Service. Flat tires, Air Leak, Broken suspension parts. And it’s unlikely for you but overweight. And if you been driving more than 11 hours, you’re most likely getting parked for 36 hours.

Bob Glidden

bob 1I’ve always been a GM guy, grew up with my Moms daily driver a 57 Chevy. Had them my whole life. But there was a time early in my racing career that I ran a Ford Mustang. My reasoning was there were tons of them and parts were plentiful. It was seemingly simple to make it fast and a nice street/strip ride looked easy to achieve. But, I could not make that 302 live. It kept breaking connecting rods and I couldn’t figure out why. Too much compression, too many RPM’s? I was baffled and quickly sinking into a money pit.


Early Days of the Mustang. circa 91 with a short lived Capri nose.

So, I asked questions from who I thought was the go-to guy for Ford products. Bob Glidden. We had a chance to talk after Q4 at Sanair on a lazy Saturday evening. And he told me 2 things. No 1, if I was building it with a GM mindset I needed to pay more attention to the connecting rods, stock rods at higher RPM’s were a bad idea. Go with the best rods I could afford. And No 2, keep an eye on the oil pump driveshaft. It was a weak point. The rods were spot on and after I changed them I never broke another one, until I did break the oil pump driveshaft leading to another broken rod. But that was my own fault. I should’ve changed it. Shortly after I sold the car rolling and started my Vega project.

To me, what can you say about Bob Glidden that hasn’t been said? He’s a legend in the truest sense of the word. To this day more than a decade since his last Ford start when you say Ford Motorsports, I think of Bob. 85 National event wins and 10 Championships speak for themselves. But it was more than that. He was a great guy. Always nice to the kids at the rope and as I related at the start, quick with advice if you needed it. It was a sad day in Pro Stock when Ford stepped away and all but ended Bob’s career. But regardless it was always cool in the recent years to see him at the track with a quick smile and hello.

bob 2

Mr. Glidden, you will be missed, I hope wherever you are, you and Lee, Gordie, Grumpy,  Scott, Joe and all the others are bench racing up a storm.  Rest In Peace.

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.


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.





Be Safe and Have Fun


Sportsman Clarity?

emmonsI understand the vast majority of “Mainstream” Drag fans are fans of the Mello Yello Pro series with the Pro classes, but there is a whole other world of racing that happens between those cars. The last National event at Wild Horse Pass in Arizona an incident occurred that has sent shock-waves through the sportsman pits.

In the quarter final round Jerry Emmons was disqualified for “excessive braking”. Allow me explain why that is so alarming. As a driver, braking at the finish line is as much a part of index racing as cutting a light on the starting line; you have to be able to judge your opponent and decide in a fraction of a second what to do, take the stripe, ride it hard to the line or cut them loose and let the cards fall where they may. You show me a bracket racer who cannot drive the finish line and I’ll show you a driver who is always at the buyback window, or loading up after first round weekend after weekend.

If the NHRA is going to start making arbitrary judgements regarding National event runs, it throws all past knowledge up in the air. If racer X is racing hard in the late rounds the last thing they need to worry about is “If I get hard on the brakes am I going to be DQ’ed?” All while going 100+MPH. This is huge, because when I and every racer I’ve spoken to look at Jerry’s run, it’s a masterful job of driving. He was in control and at no point did he appear to have an issue. To me it was a clean run, about as good as could be done, as a matter of fact it was what I have coached people to do in that circumstance.

No one wants to see results like the run above, but Thomas Fletcher at the time was a relative newcomer, not a rookie but not with the experience as Jerry Emmons. That run, according to the rules was a disqualifying run, he crossed the centerline.

I am aware that there were “warnings” issued. OK, he was warned and according to Jerry himself (as heard on WFO Radio, Link at the bottom) he addressed the situation, checked that the car was mechanically sound and continued on. That’s all he could do, and should have been expected to do. You could no more tell John Force in the semis he had to not exceed 315 MPH then to tell a sportsman racer he had to make a wholesale change to his setup on the car for any given round.

Here’s the thing, I’ve never heard of the NHRA seeing a pedalfest between 2 Nitro funny cars and going to the drivers to issue a “warning” for dangerous driving. It could be argued that a sideways tire smoking Nitro car is exponentially more dangerous than a Stock car hard on the brakes. So if that’s the reason, it rings hollow. I’ve had a couple people tell me that it was done because the NHRA wanted to send a clear warning to the sportsman racers that on Sunday, you don’t jeopardize the show and screw up the pros when they would be live; in other words, “don’t mess up our schedule”. I have 2 problems with that, first I really really don’t want to believe the NHRA has that level of disrespect to the sportsman racers and two if that was the case would they use one of the Emmons brothers as an example, with Lucas Oil on the car the same Lucas Oil that is the series sponsor? It just seems like that would a bad business decision to me.

At the end of the day, the whole situation has many scratching their heads, and all racers who roll through the gates at a National event need to have clarity. The rule book is vague at best on this issue and literally hundreds of racers out there need to know what is and isn’t acceptable finish line driving? Clearly and without the risk of an arbitrary call.

Below is the link to the WFO radio interview with Jerry Emmons

Be Safe and Have Fun

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.