By David G. Firestone
I hate to say I told you so, but based on some information I’ve been hearing, I may just have to. A couple years ago, the NHRA “upgraded” the design of Pro Stock cars from the traditional carburetor to low tech fuel injection. When I first heard the news, my immediate reaction was that this was going to harm the category, forcing drivers out, and leading to short fields.
Fast forward two years, and this is the case. Pro Stock has lost many part-time teams, and the fields are almost always short. V Gaines has retired, and Allen Johnson will be retiring at the end of 2017. What makes this even worse is the fact that while Dodge has languished in Pro Stock, Chevy has flourished, to the point it doesn’t make sense for teams to run Dodge in Pro Stock. Dodge has come up empty in 2017, and had minimal success in 2016.
In addition to the ill-advised change, the NHRA won’t promote the category…at all. The category is suffering, and sponsors won’t approach it. Yet something that could save the category is easy, and reasonable, but the NHRA won’t do it. Granted that sponsors prefer the nitro categories, but it’s not like they wouldn’t be getting less for sponsoring a Pro Stock. They would get the same national attention, and the drivers are happy to promote them. But the NHRA can’t or won’t put the effort into a category that has a fan base, and could make them a lot of money.
Is the NHRA giving up on Pro Stock? The recent rumors reporting that the category won’t run the full 2018 season, combined with the NHRA’s unwillingness to promote the category seem to say this. Add in that Dodge seems to have given up on the category, and you have a drifting ship with nobody at the helm. I’m a Pro Stock fan, I love the category, but it’s hard to ignore the signs that the ship is adrift.
Please don’t try to convince me that the Battle of the Burnouts isn’t a symptom of this. It’s plainly obvious that the NHRA saw that the fans loved the burnouts that Tanner Gray did, and decided that it would use that to promote the category. This is the NHRA’s attempt to promote the category, and while it is a good move, there needs to be more, maybe bringing in Toyota as a manufacturer, and promoting the sport to potential sponsors. It certainly wouldn’t hurt at this point.
Again, I hate to be the one who says I told you so, but based on all available information I have, I was right in 2015, and I’m right today. Sadly, I’m right at the expense of one of the better categories in the NHRA. I really wanted to be wrong, but I wasn’t.