NHRA's controversial new ruling regarding record-breaking goes against history and has upset competitors. Annie Proffit explains why, and is asking for drag racing fans' opinions.
When Jack Beckman earned the No. 1 Funny Car qualifying spot for Sunday’s 56th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals on the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, just one year on from not qualifying for this season-starting race, he was quick to lay into the sanctioning body for implementing new rules for 2016.
Until this year, drag racers had to back up their quick elapsed time to set their national records in order to make them official, and earned 20 points for the achievement. For this season NHRA removed the back-up requirement… and the points. And Beckman was not impressed.
“It’s now technically more important to be the third-quickest qualifier in the heat of the day on Saturday and get one bonus point than to set the all-time world record and back it up, because it’s worth nothing.”
In 2006, Tony Schumacher had to set a national record in order to earn his fourth Top Fuel title (third straight in a run of six) and did so. Last year Beckman set a Funny Car national record at the finals, but lost the title to Del Worsham, who won four of six events in the Countdown to the Championship.
In an admittedly unscientific survey, this writer spoke with quite a few NHRA drivers last Sunday morning and there wasn’t one competitor at Pomona who did not agree with Beckman. While they weren’t willing to put their comments on the record like “Fast Jack” – who is? – they all appreciated the fact that the Californian spoke up about the situation.
So what’s the consternation really about?
Throughout NHRA’s history, a quickest elapsed time has always required a one-percent backup to be a national record. Speeds on the other hand have never been measured for record-keeping purposes, something many would like to see changed. But every man and woman competing in this season-opening race - where it’s been way too hot to set any records - realizes the importance of being the quickest driver in the world has been heavily demoted by the NHRA’s new ruling.
And that, inevitably, has left a bitter taste for the professional drivers and teams competing in the 24 races each year.
It’s important, though, to also know what the fans think. We look forward to reading your comments below.