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 #39538  by ahensman
 Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:45 pm
For those who have been living under their rocks for the past few days, good old NHRA management has decided to curtail the Pro Stock Car class in 2018. Nine of the 24 races will have fields of 8 instead of the usual 16 cars.

What makes this interesting is that the most prominent Pro Stock teams sent a letter to NHRA management just a few days prior to the NHRA field-cutting announcement. Here is a copy of their letter:-

We would really like to talk to you about several things regarding Pro Stock and the health of the professional classes. From day one, we have been supportive of you guys and your decisions. We have continued to keep a positive attitude even when it affected us adversely. Having said that, we have seen a major shift in attitude and the focus has gone from participation, which we originally discussed in Denver, to "fan appeal". We were a little shocked with the sudden change in direction and we aren't sure exactly what that means. Collectively, we believe that we have a large fan base.
From a media standpoint, we are surrounded by negativity derived from the NHRA. We do the absolute best that we can within the rules that are laid out for us. We are not a boring class and we are not "slot cars". How can you grow fan appeal when Pro Stock is not promoted? We get a fraction of the TV time we should and get zero backing from NHRA when we try to self promote. The NFL, NBA, NHL, PGA, NASCAR, Indy Car etc., have figured out long ago that the athletes/drivers are the draw not the league or sanctioning body.
After our meeting in Charlotte, we have been unable to get a hold of you or Graham despite many attempts. In our humble opinion, this has become more of an attack, rather than a joint effort to fix our class.
This brings us to another point; Pro Stock is being picked on. We are not the only class that has low car counts. Just because Top Fuel and Funny Car have one or two more entries per race, does not mean they are so much better off. At Indy, the biggest race of the year, you had 10 full time racers in Top Fuel and 13 in Funny Car. The rest of the qualifying sheet was made up of one race entries or part time racers. That does not constitute health to us. Without Schumacher, Force and Kalitta, those classes do not exist. We want to make this point because it is clear that Pro Stock is not dying.
We have had more rule changes in the last 3 years than we have had in the history of the class combined. The rule changes were nothing but an expense to the teams and have significantly decreased interest and participation due to pure cost, yet we continue to push forward. We have dropped engine lease prices, bought additional cars and teams and kept cars on tour on our own dollar. We did this to keep our word to you guys and to help grow the class. We currently have multiple teams out there that we are running or helping and we feel that we are doing our part. On the other side of all of this action, NHRA has done nothing but harm the class. We have recently heard that you guys have gone as far as tell interested parties not to invest in our class at this point. This does not sound like working together to us.
We would like to also touch on the fact that it is not just the professional classes that have low car counts. The sportsman classes have been affected as well. Look at Competition Eliminator, a class that used to be stacked with entries. Manufacture's midway used to be booming. It was an awesome experience to go to the race and shop the midway for your project cars at home. T-shirt trailers have become scarce as well. At some point, we all have to hold our hand up and take some responsibility. Even when we had 35-40 cars entered in Pro Stock, we were never the star of the show. Not much has changed except the interest and efforts of the NHRA.
In closing, we want you to know just how many people you are impacting with this negative talk. Our programs employ approximately 100 people with wives and children. Over 300 lives will be affected by the decisions you guys seem to be taking so lightly. This is the 5 major teams out there. When you start adding in other teams, we are talking hundreds of more people. We won't even bring up the hundreds of millions of dollars we have personally invested, that can be discussed another time.
Wally Parks created a safe venue for people to race. It is the responsibility of the NHRA to foster the growth and well being of that vision. We obviously have some major problems that need to be discussed and worked on together. As the major players in Pro Stock, we have taken the time to discuss this and we plan to work together to do whatever it takes. In order for this to work, it starts at the top. We are clearly passionate and heavily invested. Lets reach across the aisle, put our differences aside and save the sport. Our sport is phenomenal, its the management we are competing with to keep it alive.
Regards,
Elite Motorsports / Richard Freeman, Erica Enders & Jeg Coughlin Jr.
KB Racing / Jason Line, Greg Anderson & Bo Butner
Harlow Sammons Racing / Chris & Lester McGaha
Johnson & Johnson Racing / Allen & Roy Johnson
Gray Motorsports / Shane & Tanner Gray

Clearly, these teams are correct in their observations about multi-car mega-bucks teams in the fuel classes and the major reduction in Sportsman class entries, but seem a little vague (or lacking) in suggestions as to how to resolve the Pro Stock dilemma.

It's going to be interesting because NHRA management just doesn't seem to be able to get a grasp on the fact that it is not shrinking fields that is the problem, but rather why it is that fans aren't attending races and spending money like they used to. Wake up NHRA! You've need to do some serious analysis of the situation.
 #39557  by ahensman
 Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:49 pm
Looks like the power of the almighty dollar has spoken and (finally) NHRA has backed down from their typical "butt heads" attitude.

Word around the pits and industry is the big Pro Stock teams finally had enough and, with the backing of their respective factories (aka Chevrolet in particular), told NHRA management that "It's their way or the highway!!!"
Word has it that those powerful enough to do it told NHRA to run the class the way they want it or there will be NO Pro Stock next year.

NHRA has back-tracked and now announced (following a meeting with the people with the money - teams and factories) that next year, there will be 24 races on the Pro Stock Car schedule, each one with 16 car fields. They also announced that they are working on a "different engine package" that they are evaluating.

Why the Bull Shit? That means "Mountain Motors", right? 800 cubic inch monsters that when running in the now almost defunct IHRA, were pulling times close to 5 seconds a few years back.

The other idea proposed by the team/factory guys is to allow the highly successful Chevrolet engine in various body styles. Their argument being that despite the different funny car body styles, all the cars run glorified Chrysler Hemis under the plastic.