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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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.