GRADE POINTS

First of all, I hope that everyone is making it through these very trying times in our world, staying healthy and safe. It’s totally unbelievable what has been transpiring but we all have to live through it. Try to remain positive but even in those times, you sometimes have that little voice in the back of your head whispering, “Hold on there Kemosabe.” All we can do is help your neighbor and by all means, stay safe. I personally think the situation is a little overblown, but that’s just my opinion. I’m no doctor nor in the know about any of this. It just is what it is and I hope we get through it quickly. Just keep praying there will be plenty of time in the future for us to congregate; hopefully at the races.

Our plan is to keep doing what we have been doing all along. That includes producing stories and articles about our sport. We have to live our lives and that includes drag racing!

Okay, so Grade Points. And of course, if we don’t go drag racing, of which the latest rumor is it won’t be for a while, we’re not going to be able to acquire grade points anyway. What did I say though? “Be positive.” Screw that little voice in your head.

No, I didn’t (wasn’t) able to get an entry into the Gatornationals a week or so ago; seems like a lot longer with what has transpiring in our world. However, because I only had a grade point rating of five, it took a seven or eight in order to “apply” for an entry. This wasn’t much different in any of the core sportsman classes. Each event has a quota number of allowable entries. In the case of the Gatornationals, only 60 entries were allowed in certain classes.

I certainly don’t want this to sound like I’m complaining, even though it may appear that way. No, I’m just wondering if there is a fairer way.

For those of you not familiar with the process (a very select few I would imagine), the NHRA “awards” you one grade point for every Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series divisional event or a national open you enter. Roughly nine weeks prior to a national event, drivers with a grade point of eight, may pre-enter an event. At eight weeks, drivers with a grade point of seven and so on.

According to the NHRA, “Due to the growing numbers of contestants, constraints on pit space and scheduling time, a certain criteria must be met before a driver may enter an NHRA National Event. The NHRA grading system determines who gains entry to the National Events and subsequently, rewards National Event aspirants who support Divisional activity.”

I understand that and I failed to meet the criteria. No problem. Except here’s where it gets a little cloudy. Because the quota numbers are being dropped for whatever reason, it’s becoming tougher for the average guy to enter a national event. Attending even one divisional can sometimes be tough with the amount of money spent, time off traveling and work; let alone eight of those events. But I understand the NHRA’s need to limit national event sportsman entries. This might go hand-in-hand with my statement of eliminating sportsman classes from some national events (yeah, I know, watch what you wish for and at the risk of alienating my fellow racers. But are they in the entertainment business or racer business? – Anyway).

Back to Grade Points. The idea as they so eloquently put it, “rewards National Event aspirants who support Divisional activity.” As I said, “I get it.” But what about the racers who have supported their series for decades? It’s almost as if you’re forgetting those who have supported the NHRA by competing year after year, decade after decade. You know, the “gray hair” folks. As it stands, a new driver who just began racing yet attends those aforementioned eight divisionals gets an entry, when a person who has been around the block a number of times, doesn’t. The problem comes into, “How do you quantify those people?”

Or… here’s where the selfish part kicks in… allow former winners of the event an exemption into the field. Currently, only the past year’s winner is granted that exemption. Granted that if it were former winners, in the case of the Gators, that could mean 50 exemptions, but in reality how many former winners are still racing?

Lastly, because you receive one grade point for one entry, the system also sort of rewards those who might be fortunate enough to have two cars competing in two separate classes, i.e. Super Stock and a Stocker equals two grade points.

Now this may sound like I’m crying over spilled milk, but not really. As I said before, I understand the process and I didn’t fulfill the requirements. End of story. I’m okay with that. I just wish there was a fairer way. Is there? -JOHN DiBARTOLOMEO