Possibly one of the biggest stories in our sport this year has been the time off due to COVID. I posed the question in our latest print issue of Drag Racing Edge in my editorial, “Where were you?” If you get a chance, pick up an issue and read it. If you’re not a subscriber, please do so although that issue has been out already for a couple of weeks.
That question related to the fact that on March 12 of this year, the world as we knew it changed. But as of May 1, there has been a number of things in the drag racing world which I believe to be quite significant. Since that time, we’ve gotten back to racing with packed fields of cars which to me indicates a couple of things.
First of all, people want to get back to somewhat of a normal routine, be it drag racing or even just eating out at a restaurant. Now of course, since things have been reopening, there’s been a second wave of infections, but that’s another story. Although I doubt any of that is related to the races run, hopefully.
Secondly though, racers want to race. And maybe that falls in line with reason No. 1 but I also believe it shows how healthy the sport is. Up until this past weekend when the NHRA got back to holding a pseudo national event, there has been no Top Fuel. No Funny Cars, Pro Stocks, whatever. But there has been drag racing. I posed this question on our Facebook page last week asking what affect does not having NHRA professional drag racing have should there be no national events this year. A number of people responded with some valid points but maybe the real question is; and I hesitate to be this blunt but; does anyone really care if we don’t see NHRA racing?
Certainly the loss of NHRA professional drag racing would have an effect on the sport from a fan perspective, not to mention the loss of any jobs connected with it. However, that’s probably no different than the jobs lost to industries and businesses affected by COVID. Still, drag racing will go on. Right now that’s a proven fact.
Two weekends ago, you had 700+ entries showing up in Michigan for the SFG Million Race (more on that in a minute), 550 entries at the BTE World Footbrake Challenge in Bristol, along with a healthy field of cars reported at Maple Grove Raceway’s (PA) Independence Showdown bracket race and Kyle Seipel's California Gold Rush in Sonoma. Add in the countless amount of entries which have flocked to tracks all over the country since May 1 and I believe it to be pretty promising statement about the sport.
Now to talk about the SFG Million with its $1.1 million dollar payout to the winner of the race, Steve Sisko. First off, no he did not receive $1.1 million despite what the “big check” says. But what he did walk away with is the largest amount of money ever won by any one drag racer for winning one race. Let that sink in for a minute. Not Steve Torrence. Not John Force, Greg Anderson, nobody!
That to me has got to be the biggest story so far this year. There have been other Million Dollar races but up to this point, each are tied to the car count. Not this one. I don’t know how SFG’s Kyle Riley could go out on such a limb and guarantee the payout, but kudos to him for doing so. I’m sure that took a lot of… okay, let’s say it…b—ls. And I think it pretty impressive that he pulled it off. Naturally though, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in a Blog, Making Money, I’m sure there were a lot of costs involved with putting on that event. Hopefully it all worked out for him.
As for that “pseudo” national event in Indy this past weekend, it might not have been so “pseudo” after all. But with few fans and only Top Dragster, Top Sportsman and JEGS Super Quick classes termed as a national open, it might have seemed a little empty on the TV screen. I didn’t attend for two reasons which I’ll leave at that, but I did tune in to the TV show in the same manner as I watched the first NASCAR race in Darlington; to see what it looked like.
It looked to be the same old racing except for the masks. I understand the so-called need for them but I have to say the interviews appeared a little “muffled,” at times making it a little hard to understand what was being said. I can’t say I like it and like a lot of others, I hope we can get past this nonsense soon.
What do you think? -JOHN DiBARTOLOMEO