Tag Archives: NHRA

NHRA Sells Pro Classes?

Glendora, California:

Six years ago, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) had tentatively sold their professional operation to a consortium of investors called HD Partners.  However, that deal fell apart with the onset of the current Great Recession.  It appears a new deal with a new group … is just a hopeful rumor.Rumor

Actually, the news coming out of the NHRA is that Sunoco will become the official fuel starting in 2015 (go here for more).  VP Racing Fuels is who supplies the NHRA right now.

What if the rumors had been true?  It probably would be good news for everyone.  Television would finally be able to control the operations of an event more easily and the Pro classes would be able to rid themselves of the stagnant and sometimes confounding ways of Glendora.  I’ve mentioned this before but some years ago an influential man in sports marketing told me that if the NHRA was ever to be a major sport in the United States, one thing they would have to do is get rid of the Sportsman classes.

And speaking of Sportsman, the NHRA could finally turn their attention to the much maligned classes and help promote the grassroots of drag racing.  As far as what this might mean for Nostalgia drag racing is a bit more sketchy.  The Heritage Series is run through the NHRA Museum, which more than likely stays in the hands of the NHRA.  With the Sportsman classes and Nostalgia being the focus of the NHRA, they could start promoting the events and putting more emphasis on the the Heritage Series which gets almost no support from Glendora.

Again, we can only hope that some sort of promotion-minded business comes along to wrestle drag racing from the clutches of NHRA’s non-profit operation.  Until then, don’t expect much in the way of advancing drag racing past the midnight television slots and being delayed while the local women’s ping pong tournament from Bangladesh finishes up.

Daryle W. Hier

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Pro Mod Velocity Move A Test?

The NHRA announced that the Pro Mod Drag Racing Series schedule will be 10 races in 2014 and again will be backed by the race team owners called Real Pro Mod Association or RPM for short.  There will be a new track added to the series – Atlanta Dragway – with one of the two Charlotte events taken off the race calendar.  However, that’s not the big news.

Movinghttps://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/31/Velocitylogo.jpg

It was also announced that the series will move their television coverage from ESPN to Velocity.  The production of the half hour shows for each race will be operated by Masters Entertainment Group.  Furthermore, the shows will be taped and broadcast during a ten consecutive week period next fall.  Velocity is the old Discovery Theater channel owned by Discovery Communications and is available to a little less than half of all households in the United States.

For most folks, the idea of having drag races taken off ESPN is good news but considering the old adage, ‘careful what you wish for’, having the races shown near the end of the year, isn’t ideal.  Plus, when you consider Velocity is available in about half of the household that ESPN is, means some fans won’t be able to watch NHRA Pro Mod events at all.

The idea of having drag races on any channel other than ESPN is good news as far as this fan is concerned.  And that is what I’m wondering.  Is this move an experiment of sorts to see if a dedicated fan base – Velocity’s viewers are mainly car enthusiasts and male – is better for the sport than a broader sports channel like ESPN?

Hands offProMod-RealProModRPM

Whether this is a test or not, it will be interesting to examine how this works and whether it hurts or helps RPM or the Pro Mod group as a whole.  The class is certainly popular among those in drag racing circles but to the casual fan such as those who view ESPN, I’m not sure it matters.  The NHRA has treated the class as anything but a professional division and this move appears to be another way to sidestep getting rid of Pro Mod by having almost a hands off policy – not unlike its relationship with Nostalgia drag racing.

My bet is NHRA only keeps these others groups of racers in the fold so that another racing entity can’t come along and run with the popularity of classes like Pro Mod and Nostalgia drag racing.  Either way, the move to Velocity by the NHRA Pro Mod series may be something the Nostalgia folks can look into as well.

Here’s hoping this break from ESPN is a good one.  We’ll be watching … okay, some of us will be watching.

Contributing source: NHRA

Daryle W. Hier

Home Of Motorsports Marketing

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Rickie Smith Retires With Championship?

I have a soft spot for Pro Mod, so when I heard that retiring veteran driver Rickie Smith won the 10-race 2013 NHRA Pro Mod championship (source: NHRA), I felt a need to mentioned it here.

Rickie Smith - 2013 NHRA Pro Mod champion

Rickie Smith – 2013 NHRA Pro Mod champion

First off, Rickie Smith won the title with still one event to go – Las Vegas, near the end of October, is final event of season – beating out the likes of Mike Janis, Von Smith and defending champ Troy Coughlin.  It was a huge hurdle, but all the contenders lost in first round at Gateway Motorsports Park, while Rickie went all the way to the final before losing to Mike Castellana at the Midwest Nationals.  Including two wins this year, Smith has an insurmountable 142 point lead heading into Las Vegas.  With the win, Castellana moved into second place overall.

‘Tricky Rickie’ Smith was sponsored by IDG Supply the past three seasons – they are an industrial parts distributor.  Ironically, his sponsor would like him to race another year but 2013 will be his last.  Of note: the championship wasn’t Smith’s first in his illustrious career but amazingly he hadn’t won a title in almost 25 years.  Said Smith afterwards,

“It’s been a long time since we won a championship; we won seven titles [IHRA Pro Stock and Super Modified], but the last one was in 1989.”

What some people might not know is the 59 year old Smith once tried his hand at circle track racing including the NASCAR Busch Grand National events with a best finish of 16th at the half-mile Myrtle Beach Speedway in 1988.

King of the mountain in the IHRA

Smith is from North Carolina and started his drag racing career in the mid-70’s, racing everything from Pro Stock to Super Modified to Pro Mod.  In fact he won every IHRA Super Modified race he entered in 1977.  Most know he was king of mountain motors in the Pro Stock division of the IHRA back in the 80’s.  He was the first Pro Stocker to break the seven second barrier and also was the first to go 180 and later 200 mph.  Rickie won a total of seven IHRA championships and considers the IHRA his roots.

His first foray into Pro Mod was 1997 in the IHRA and was the first NHRA Pro Mod race winner in 2001.  He also drove in the ADRL winning multiple times.

Smith won’t actually be leaving the sport – drag racing is always in your blood – and in fact, he will continue to crew chief.  However, the daily grind and being a driver will come to an end at Las Vegas.

Congratulations are in order for Rickie Smith’s 2013 Pro Mod championship – one of the most popular classes in drag racing.

Rickie Smith's IDG Supply sponsored Pro Mod Camaro

Rickie Smith’s IDG Supply sponsored Pro Mod Camaro

PS:

Smith is set to retire and may not even race at Las Vegas.  On the other hand, there are rumors that he indeed might don a drivers suit once again and drive in 2014 with IDG Supply sponsorship … so the story continues.

Daryle W. Hier

Home Of Motorsports Marketing

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NHRA’s Expanded Lack Of Coverage

Does every round count?

Fans of drag racing probably weren't happy this weekend watching the so-called expanded coverage - if you could find it.

Fans of drag racing probably weren’t happy this weekend watching the so-called expanded coverage – if you could find it … or stay up late enough.

The NHRA likes to say that every round counts but I would ask: Does anyone hear or see a round if it falls in the forest?  I hate to write these rants (see related articles), but since no one else seems to have the cojones to say what needs to be said about the NHRA, here I am again, delivering another quasi tirade about the TV coverage or lack thereof.  Kind of like ‘The Emperors New Clothes’ anecdote (go here for a refresher).  And remember the context for all of this is that the Countdown or playoffs are starting for NHRA drag racing in Charlotte this past week.

“Here’s what the viewers at home can expect when they tune-in this weekend.”

How the NHRA had the nerve to put out a press release noting the “expanded coverage” for this past weekend Carolina Nationals television broadcast is, well, quite appalling.  What was to be expected?  Here’s what actually happened.  IF, and I state ‘if’ because not everyone gets ESPN News – I mean, why would you since that is what ESPN and ESPN2 are in part, news outlets – IF you are lucky enough to have ESPN News, then you could watch the so-called expanded coverage of qualifying with 90 minutes at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time Saturday night into Sunday morning.  Additionally, there was another 90 minutes of qualifying at 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning on ESPN2.  $%&#!

Problem is ESPN News is a premium channel which is usually only available with special packages.  If you’re someone with basic channels or without the special  package, you probably don’t receive ESPN News and therefore could not have seen the expanded coverage.  However, you still had to stay up into the wee hours of the morning to watch the 90 minutes – how wonderful.

Rerun 

ESPN2 thought a rerun – yes, a rerun – of baseball highlights should preempt nearly a third of the NHRA qualifying, so you were only able to watch just over an hour of qualifying.  Think about it.  Four rounds of Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying condensed into an hour.  Yeah, it doesn’t work.

Nevertheless, Sunday’s a new day and we will be able to watch eliminations in “prime time” at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN2 even though that isn’t the normal time slot.  Still, the round-by-round coverage starts nearly on time and a great first round of eliminations take place with several upsets, especially in Top Fuel.

Second round begins with Top Fuel and a pair goes down the track with more on the way after this break.  We’re back with, uh, oops … what the … ?  You know, those Pro Stockers look a lot like NASCAR Cup cars.  Wait a minute.  Oh sorry, but NASCAR has moved their coverage over from ESPN to ESPN2 (due to rain delay) and drag racing is nowhere to be seen – unless you have ESPN News where they’ve switched the broadcast over to.  $%&#!

I’ve said this before but being a fan of drag racing and dealing with the NHRA/ESPN is like Charlie Brown dealing with Lucy.  Lucy has that football ready for Ohno_notagain-CharlieBrownLucyCharlie Brown to kick but every time Charlie finally agrees to run up to kick it, Lucy pulls the football and flat on his back he goes, once again being fooled by Lucy.

Only winners

There’s no spoiler alert here because you can’t view a replay of coverage anywhere that I know of and no one would have known where to tape the broadcast on a DVR.  The winners were Morgan Lucas in Top Fuel, Robert Hight in Funny Car, Jeg Coughlin in Pro Stock and Andrew Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle (source: Charlotte Observer).

So unless you’re lucky enough to afford traveling to the races during the Countdown, it appears watching NHRA’s playoffs may be as hard as sighting Big Foot.  Whether the expanded lack of coverage continues remains to be seen but certainly the drag racing world for fans is a tough one to live in.

Here’s hoping ESPN and the NHRA can offer just regular old coverage like during the season.  But somehow I doubt that what with football, NASCAR, baseball and pygmy preseason ping-ball shoving drag racing’s playoffs to some distant cable outlet to be shown in the early morning hours.

$%&#!

Daryle W. Hier

Home Of Motorsports Marketing

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Paul Candies: Piece Of History Passes Away

Candies & Hughes was one of the more successful teams in drag racing history.  When anyone thinks of famous race teams, certainly Candies & Hughes will always be mentioned.  Well, we lost a famous man as Paul Candies unexpectedly died over this past weekend from a heart attack at the age of 72 (source: St. Charles Herald-Guide).

How successful was Louisiana based Candies & Hughes’ team?  They were the first drag racing team to win a IHRA and NHRA championship in the same year.  They also were the first team to win a championship in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.

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Candies & Hughes Funny Car circa mid-’80s – driven by Mark Oswald

The modern version of Candies & Hughes’ Funny Car is being campaigned in the Nostalgia Funny Car circles by Jim Broome.  The car nicknamed the Cajun ‘Cuda has been driven by Mike Savage and  Mike Halstead in recent years.  However, famous names that have piloted the legendary car include: Mark Oswald, Leroy Goldstein and of course Leonard Hughes (up until the early ’70s).   

Candies & Hughes operated two cars when it was unheard of and early on, the infamous Roland Leong tuned the second car.  Richard Tharp came along in the mid-’70s to drive their new Woody Gilmore and Don Long built Top Fueler, which quickly became a world championship car.  Later, Oswald would pilot both their Top Fueler and then their Funny Car to huge wins in the ’80s.

Generally speaking, Hughes was the mechanic and Candies supplied the money.  Candies helped run a thriving marine transportation company that his father founded, Otto Candies, and that business acumen allowed Paul to add a significant business sense to the team.  Candies always kept the team not wanting – they constantly had all the best parts and pieces to go racing.  When Candies became President of the company he worked at in the early ’90s, the team soon dissolved.

As a young fan, I used to buy models of race cars such Candies & Hughes early Barracuda and was enamored by the Funny Cars during the ’70s.  It was certainly one of the iconic names in the history of drag racing.

Candies, who went to Southeastern Louisiana University and served in the Coast Guard, had additional passions other than drag racing.  He was a skilled sportsman that included fishing and hunting, especially in and around Grand Isle, Louisiana.  Candies lived in Des Allemands, which is just southwest of New Orleans.

He was a humble man known for his charitable ways and both his local community as well as the drag racing community have lost a significant icon.

Additional source: NHRA

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Bo Doesn’t Know Drag Racing – $#%@!

Daryle W. Hier

Home Of Nostalgia Drag Racing

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Bo Doesn’t Know Drag Racing – $%&#!

THE BO AND ROCKY SHOW

or – Lucy pulled the football away from Charlie Brown again.  $#%@!

I was enjoying the beautiful sunny Central Coast weather, working in the yard during the day.  It was on the hot side but I had to get some work done, including a little ditch digging.  That was okay because later in the day, I was heading off to a big cigar dinner gathering in Paso Robles with maybe the leading man on the front lines of trying to save the cigar industry: Rocky Patel.

I didn’t have the time to watch the NHRA drag racing qualifying at the inaugural event in Epping, New Hampshire (New England Nationals).  However, this isn’t a problem because I can DVR the ESPN2 show and watch later that night when I get back from the dinner.  Wrong.

The old switcheroo

There was a problem because unbeknownst to me, ESPN had decided that the show wouldn’t appear on ESPN2 but instead, they had it on ESPN.  See I’m used to ESPN and NHRA screwing with time elements of when they’ll show drag racing and I always make sure to add an extra hour – or even two sometimes – because you never know when the women’s ping pong show might run a little late and push drag racing back.  I’m not shitting you … it happens.

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However, moving the show over to another channel is a little hard to foresee.  So, I like millions of other drag racing fans instead, were able to watch all you needed to know about Bo Jackson.  Now, Bo was quite an athlete but when the schedule states drag racing should be on, don’t you think, well, I don’t know, that maybe … A DRAG RACE SHOULD BE ON!  $#%@!

and Todd too

Of course, I fast forwarded through hoping against hope that there’d be something looking like a drag race but no, it was Bo all the way through for an hour and a half.  The last half hour led into another segment on a different athlete and this one was worse, Todd Marinovich.  Ever hear a story about someone who was extremely gifted and talented but threw it all away?  That’s Marinovich.  BUT I DON’T CARE!

What I do care about it is drag racing, but obviously ESPN and to some extent, NHRA, just don’t give a hoot about the quality of coverage the sport gets.  Yes, I’ve ranted about this before but it doesn’t change the fact that as a drag racing fan, we are at best, second class citizens.  Why it happens, I have no idea but this has to stop.  Someone needs to get through to these nimrods at ESPN and NHRA that it would be nice if we had some rp-edgesemblance of regular television coverage.  That’s all.

I did get to meet and talk for a short time with Rocky Patel, which made the day not a total dud.  Anyway, my evening was spent outside having a late after-dinner cigar – a Rocky Patel, what else – with a good Zin.  So I guess I’ll just keep the wine ready and anytime I need to drown my sorrows again, I’ll be ready.  $#%@!

Daryle W. Hier

Home Of Nostalgia Drag Racing

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National Hot Rod Reunion – Fathers Day Weekend

Rat Trap powers down Beech Bend Raceway

Fueled Altered Rat Trap powers down Beech Bend Raceway
Courtesy of NHRA Motorsports Museum

This Father’s Day weekend comes the largest Nostalgia drag racing events east of the Rockies: The National Hot Rod Reunion (NHRR).  The race takes place starting tomorrow – although teams and vendors are there today – the event going from June 13-15 at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky (source: NHRA).

This is the 11th annual NHRR and was originally created to give those in the eastern half  of the country an ability to see some of what those that had visited the California Hot Rod Reunion (CHRR) were able to enjoy.  The CHRR is the largest Nostalgia drag meet in the world and the popularity was such that the NHRR was established.  In-turn, the NHRR has become such a success that there’s is now a third reunion that will take place at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire, as the New England Hot Rod Reunion.

The NHRR will have of course Top Fuel along with many of the other popular classes that Nostalgia meets have.  There will be a Cacklefest, which is memorable all by itself bringing back and actually firing up the original cars of yesteryear.  There’s a Show N Shine with all kinds of classic cars on hand, plus a swap meet and vendors for everything under the sun – in other words, something for everyone in the family to enjoy.  And don’t forget that Beech Bend is also an amusement park.

Companies such as Holley, AAA Insurance and Axalta Coatings are major sponsors of the event.  Preston Davis is the Grand Marshal  and gained his fame during the ’60s and ’70s as both a successful Top Fuel and Funny Car racer driving the famed Tennessee Bo Weevil throughout the southeast.

Reunions, unlike other drag meets, are a combination of drag race and get-together with some of the legends of the sport always on hand.  If you’ve never been to one of these magnificent spectacles, head on out to the rolling hills of western Kentucky and enjoy the time of a lifetime.  And no, I don’t get paid anything for saying that … it’s just the truth.  By the way, if you can’t make it out, the race is being broadcast through live streaming at BangShift.com.

Otherwise – Be There!

Daryle W. Hier

Home Of Nostalgia Drag Racing

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