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Are you kidding me!?


Well-Known Member
As I wrote in another post, I think it was Tim Wilkerson who said that he would like to see 1/8 mile races. He said that most of the engine damage was done in the last 1/8 mile and he figured it would be a cost savings. 1/8 mile racing is fun to watch in the comp classes and we have an 1/8 mile track about 20 miles from here that puts on a good show for the local Saturday night crowd. Drag racing would lose all of its flavor at the national level if the top pro classes shortened their runs. ETs would sure come down though. I'm waiting to hear the drivers' reactions.
I have reserved comment on this situation, but I can't any longer.

Racing, no matter what inherently dangerous. period.
it doesn't matter if you are racing short distances, or long distances. I've seen some nasty injuries from a 3-legged race:lol: granted they weren't life threatening, but, they were still nasty injuries considering the mechanism of injury. there will still be accidents. I don't care if its 1/4, 1/8, or 1 block. survivability will be better at 1/8 mile, or 1000 ft, whatever, but accidents are still gonna happen. thats part of the thrill of racing, knowing that the danger factor is off the scale. I used to race stock cars, I was an adrenalin junkie.....until the "big accident":eek: I was lucky, I was able to limp away from it, this time. if you roll the dice enough, eventually you are gonna "crap out". its sad, but its a fact of life. as long as there are folks willing to stap themselves into a 7000+ HP vehicle, accidents will happen, and people will die from it. if NHRA shortens the distance, the race teams will find some way to get the power to the track, accidents will still happen. any time you "push the envelope" accidents will happen. and isn't "pushing the envelope" what racing is all about??

sorry, got off on a tangent bad:soapbox::lol::lol:

Stay on that soapbox, Coupe. You're right and this is going to push me away from drag racing. It sucks that something like racing, can be turned into a "dog and pony" show. Like NASCAR has turned into a weekend soap opera for younger fans, who have no idea what it used to be like, now so goes NHRA.

A bunch of crap and I really can't stand it.
John Force burn outs use to be longer than 1000 feet :lol:
Keeper said:
After seeing the footage of the accident and extra 320 feet would not have made a difference. A nice sand field at the end of the track would have helped instead of a concrete barrier.

You got that right Keeper. In the 50s, 60s and 70s, there were a lot of bad accidents with absolutely no knee-jerk reactions like this one.

Fred, I couldn't agree with you more about today's pantywaist NASCAR.
I am embarrassed to admit this, but I don't follow drag racing. :eek:

But because of that, it affords me a unique perspective. I watched the ESPN video of the run that killed Scott Kalittas. Tragic doesn't even come close to describing it! :sad:

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to come to this simple question: Who was the genius that decided a concrete wall goes at the end of a drag strip? :eek:

At 300 mph, you are traveling 440 feet per second, or one mile every 12 seconds. That track looked way too short to me. I would think a minimum of three extra miles after the finish line to be able to deal with the worst of equipment failures. Less if there is sand.

Now I remember why I don't watch drag racing.

Just my two pennies.

Racings going to end up like wrestling. scripted and phoney with the fan base of people who don't know or don't care. All they want to do is to sell tickets? Fine. I won't buy into it and I don't think a lot of other people will either.
RexRod said:
I am embarrassed to admit this, but I don't follow drag racing. :eek:

But because of that, it affords me a unique perspective. I watched the ESPN video of the run that killed Scott Kalittas. Tragic doesn't even come close to describing it! :sad:

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to come to this simple question: Who was the genius that decided a concrete wall goes at the end of a drag strip? :eek:

RexRod is right on target. Having some distance from the subject gives one a clear picture of what's wrong. NHRA is running 21st century, 300+mph cars on 1950's tracks. It's insane and it's all about $$$.

I stopped following drag racing a LONG time ago. Very unfortunate the way it has turned into a money machine instead of a sport.
I stopped following drag racing a LONG time ago. Very unfortunate the way it has turned into a money machine instead of a sport.[/quote]

+1 on that!
theres something going on in the nhra that they arent letting out..

i know theres a shortage of nitro for one thing, but theres more to it than theyre letting out.. they wouldnt have shortened the races that fast..

something else they need to do is, cut out the multicar owners, period... 1 car, 1 owner... then limit the amount of money each team is allowed as a budget per car... even out the playing field a little more some how...
I have been to Englishtown several times, but way back in the early 70s. If I remember correctley, and there is a big IF. At the end of the track is a public highway, and that is the reason for the concrete barrier. Just imagine a 300 mph F/C coming into the side of a soccer mom van loaded with kids. It is very sad that Scott got killed, but NHRA had to do something to keep this from happening again. This is the same reason that all the little 1/8 track have sprung up all over the country. Most of these tracks use to be 1/4 mile, as the cars got faster and faster there just was not enough room to stop. I can remember when a T/F car only ran in the 9s at 150........Now they go twice that speed.
I guess I'm going to be the odd man out here.

I spent a lot of weekends strapping my best pal into a Competition Eliminator dragster that runs 180 MPH. And there were a l-o-t of tracks we ran on that were pretty eye-opening at the other end. Columbus being a very good example. We had trouble stopping the car at that track, even with carbon/carbon brakes. So I can only imagine what trying to pull one down from 300+ MPH must have been like. And go figure, that is no longer a national event venue. When it got to the point the sheriff's dept. was closing the county road at the end of the track and opening gates to allow cars to go across the road, if necessary, the handwriting was on the wall.

NHRA has done a pretty good job of demanding newer and more efficient safety equipment for the drivers and cars. Better firesuits, arm restraints, neck braces, HANS devices, upgraded harness systems have all helped protect the drivers. Even though these rules meant higher expenses for the drivers, we never complained about it. That was my best pal in that car and his life just wasn't worth risking. Even if we rented a track for testing, he still wore every last bit of his safety equipment. And it's not unusual to see others that figure a t-shirt and shorts are good enough at a test session.

But when is someone going to start holding NHRA's feet to the fire on track safety? Yes, there is a highway just beyond the treeline at Englishtown and race cars couldn't be allowed onto the highway. So the plan to keep errant 300+ MPH cars off the highway was to put concrete barriers and concrete-filled metal poles in place?!? PUH-leeze!

We ran at the NHRA Division 3 points meet at Martin, MI a few years back. The right lane was interesting. About 300 feet beyond the finish line, there was a pothole in the right lane. About 14-16 inches in diameter and 4-5 inches deep. How did they handle the problem? They put an orange traffic cone in the hole, that's how. Anybody feel up to dodging potholes at 170+ MPH?

At the U.S Nationals one year, we were running the first or second round of Comp and a pal from the Detroit area put out a couple of rods at about 1,200 feet. He came off the track, waving his arms and trying to get his helmet off. He started yelling that they needed to close the track as he knew he had oiled his lane. The NHRA offical (who shall remain nameless) on the scene replied by saying, "It will be OK, don't worry." Sure, it was going to be OK, because we were risking a super-star's car and/or life, it was just going to be some nameless/faceless Comp racer.

Another year at Martin, a pal from Peoria had just made a pass in an A/EA. He had some problems and coasted to a stop about 50 feet short of the finish line. Now it was dark, but his NHRA-required tailight was clearly burning. We were on our way down the return road to get Brian, so we were close enough to see this happening. The driver hit his harness release and started to come up out of the roll cage. At about that time, you could hear the next pair of cars leaving the starting line!!!! Another shining example of NHRA's safety practices.

See the type of mentalities we have calling the shots at NHRA? I could write a book, believe me.

So when I see spectators grumping about moves to keep drivers alive, I have to wonder.

The Worsham car and the Force cars have been fitted with chute release cables tied to the body burst panels. If the car bangs a blower and pops the burst panel off the body, the chutes are both released. It takes the process completely out of the driver's hands and ensures the chutes are released, even if the body folds down on the driver, preventing him from getting to the levers. Does this sound like teams that want to run unnecessary risks?

Allen Johnson, the man that tunes the Shumacher T/F car, and also builds a lot of components for the fuel and alcohol motors, was heavily in favor of shortening the tracks. He was aware, just as Jim Head mentioned, that the majority of catastrophe takes place in the back half and by shortening that distance, his driver was going to be at less risk. Of course this meant a lot of his customers wouldn't be blowing their stuff up any more, but he was still behind the move.

The NHRA-mandated rev limiters were not going to allow the cars to ever break the standing MPH record anyway, so why not eliminate a large part of the risk and make everyone breathe a little easier?

The Kalitta car was in a bad position. The intake was blown apart and was pulling engine oil into the intake tract. When a motor has compression, an air source and a fuel source, what happens? They build enough heat in the clutch that it is not a simple matter of simply stepping on the pedal to disengage the clutch. Air gap disappears in the pack when they get that hot. The body leaving the car got the chutes out, but not cleanly and the fire took care of what was left. The body coming off gave up all the downforce, so the brakes were ineffective and you could clearly see the car bouncing into the pea gravel. There were front tire skid marks all the way through the shut-down area, so it was clear Scott was doing everything he could to end the nightmare.

What ended the nightmare (and a friend's life), were concrete and metal barriers. And a boom supporting a TV camera. And we're supposed to just move on, because racing is risky business? Bob Vandergriff said it well, when he said the only danger not present in the E-Town shutdown area was a lake full of hungry sharks.

We always ran Weddle cars, until Ed lost his life to cancer. Since McKinney Corp. Race Cars is right here in town, we started working closely with Murf. I even went to work for Murf for a short time. Murf's cars are great. Our cars were always good for at least one Best Engineered award, before it was time for a new one. I used to watch Murf drive himself berserk, trying to find better ways to protect his customers' lives. It's time everyone in the sport started approaching things the same way.

The nitro shortage is very real. NHRA has stopped allowing the Monday test sessions at the national event venues, to conserve nitro. The problem is down to virtually all nitro being supplied from China. And, in an effort to look good before the world's cameras, China has shut down huge chunks of its industry until after the Olympics. They are hoping the smog will clear, so the world won't see how bad it is there. As soon as the Olympics are over, we'll have to wait for the backlogs to start filling the supply chains and things should return to normal. Things seemed to blow up over nitro, because this shortage took place at about the same time that Homeland Security issued its new regulations.
Thanks Mike for such a thoughtful reply.

I am, and always will be a huge fan of safety. I am not against people who want to partake in risky sports, but when something can be prevented, it should be.

When Scott's car hit that wall at the end of the track, it hit so hard and fast, it looked like it exploded into a million pieces. I am no expert, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was still going over 150 mph.

People should be allowed to have enough room for safely component malfunctions. Even a parachutist has a reserve chute!

I bet the legal department at NHRA is working overtime. If they aren't, they should be.

Brian always used to comment that he hated it when someone had crashed. One of my responsibilities was to strap him into the car and I was pretty brutal on the shoulder straps, once everything was hooked up. Apparently I really leaned on them after a crash had happened.

I think there is one sentence in the NHRA statement that goes over-looked. Look at what Kenny Bernstein had to say -

The board members of the Professional Racers Owners Organization (PRO) wholeheartedly and unanimously [emphasis mine M.E.] support this decision, said its president Kenny Bernstein. We want to thank NHRA for listening to our input and suggestions to incorporate these changes. It is not lost on any of us that this constitutes a change in our history of running a quarter-mile, but it's the most immediate adjustment we can make in the interest of safety which is foremost on everyone's mind. This may be a temporary change and we recognize it is not the total answer. We will continue to work hand in hand with NHRA to evaluate other methods of making Top Fuel and Funny Car competition safer so that we might return to our quarter-mile racing standard. We also want to thank Connie Kalitta for his invaluable input. He has been a rock through these difficult times.
Unanimously. That pretty much says it all, doesn't it?
seems like the nhra and track owners might need to communicate a little..

the more i think about it, it seems to me track owners dont want to spend any money on shutdown areas and thier just wiorried about overhead.

nhra needs to step in with some safety engineers and design a mandatory shutdown area and distance, if the tracks cant do it, either shorten the race to 1000ft at that track, or remove that track from event schedule until they fix it...

englishtown especially, i know that track has been around a while, but the shutdown doesnt look safe enough for a 20 second car much less a 5 second car..
It all seems so simple to me but maybe I'm just missing something. The tracks are not keeping up with the cars. Why? Money. To extend and widen the shutdown areas for many tracks would be VERY expensive and for some impossible. Track owners and the NHRA have held their breath and hoped for the best for years now. Well, the day finally came and they got the cost of a very fine man.

A safe shutdown area should be engineered and only the tracks that meet the spec should be used.
Well, there's no secret that NHRA is trying to develop a traveling circus, just like the other circuits. So they're interested in getting themselves positioned in large markets, so they can draw on as many wallets as possible. So tracks like Old Bridge are likely candidates for national events. What are they, less than an hour to downtown NYC?

The problem lies in the fact these tracks were built decades ago, when 200 MPH T/F cars were unheard of. Shumacher now holds the record at 336.15. And as development has run riot over the last 15-20 years, some of these tracks no longer have the ability to purchase more land, in order to lengthen the shutdown areas. If you can't lengthen the shutdown area, then the only other option is to shorten the racing surface.

If some of these issues are not addressed pretty quickly, the lawsuits being filed are going to weigh the entire sport down to the point where it goes away, forever.

A pal of mine was killed in an accident at the Bowling Green points meet, several years ago. It was one of those situations where Murphy decided to reign supreme. It was hotter than blazes and the humidity was nearly as high as the temperature. The Division 3 safety truck was low on fuel and the Division 3 director sent the truck into town for a fill-up. For whatever reason, it was taking them forever to get back to the track and we were melting in place, as we waited.

The track owner convinced the division director that he had safety equipment on hand and they ran races every weekend without the divisional truck being there, so the division director decided to let them go ahead and get started.

In the first couple pairs of TA/FC, my pal's car shook violently, right off the starting line and the car dove for the wall, hitting it. Whether it was the tire shake or the impact with the wall, something knocked Al unconcious. The car sidled up alongside the wall and was just idling down the track, bang, scraping and bumping the wall.

Of course the headers were damaged and caught the body on fire.

And remember, the divisional safety truck was not present, so the track owner sent his own safety guys. If you've ever been to Bowling Green, there is a grassy area between the bleachers and the track, so here goes and ancient, flat-bed truck with a water tank down the grass. Al's car finally exploded the front tires in the fire and had come to a stop, so the driver of the truck slid to a top on the other side of the wall. The fellow in the passenger seat jumped out and ran around to the rear of the truck, grabbed the fire hose and made for the blaze.

Which is when he stepped in a mole hole and snapped his fibula in two.

By the time the truck's driver sorted what was happening and ran over to grab the hose, it was just too late for Al. He passed away a couple of weeks later, from the burns suffered in the fire.

And then it got ugly. His widow (who had come from another racing family, BTW) got hooked up with an attorney and the lawsuits started. They filed suit against NHRA, against NHRA's divisional office, against the track and even against Al's major sponsor.

NHRA has had its hands full with the lawsuits brought by the Pro Stock Truck owners (sniveling crybabies) and by Julie Russell after Darrell Russell's death. They don't really need to fund too many more defense case, before they are going to be wounded.

So it's time to start seeing the problems, before they become problems. And then addressing them, before someone decides to file a lawsuit. This will be tough for NHRA to do, because they've always used the ostrich approach, whenever problems have cropped up in the past. Why do you think the videos of Scott's crash have been disappearing from Web sites as they have. It's hush-hush time, until they see how Connie is going to handle this gross dereliction of their responsibilities.

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