NHRA mandated that teams must not have their engines covered when in the pits, for the fans.
When it comes to rules in racing, there’s both the letter and the spirit of a new rule. In the case of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing, the series dictated new edicts for the Pro Stock class, intended to make the factory hot rods more interesting to spectators at each of the 24 races the National Hot Rod Association holds each season and to entice added publicity for the class.
Starting this weekend at the 28th annual Sonoma Nationals, held in the wine (not whine) country above San Francisco, Pro Stock entrants were told to turn their cars facing the paddock so that patrons could see the 500 cubic-inch engines that produce sufficient horsepower to get these cars down the quarter-mile drag strip at speeds in excess of 212-mph at under 6.5 seconds, as Chevrolet Camaro driver Chris McGaha did on Friday night (6.499 sec at 212.36 mph).
Some don't comply with new rules
The entrants were told to face the cars forward and not to cover the engines with anything, not a towel, not a fitted cover, not an air intake - nothing. A few teams complied with the order but the KB Racing team, sponsored by Summit Racing, elected to continue using towels to cover its (soon-to-be-gone) carburetors and intake and placed tool boxes in front of the engines. One can only assume this was done to discourage competitors from learning more about the cars, or at least to give the impression of having something to hide.
The Pro Stock paddock has always been the most competitive and secretive of all four categories in the professional ranks - these include Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle. While all four aren’t in the best of health - only Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle have more than 16 entries at this track and it’s just one more in those classes - Pro Stock, in particular, has been hurting of late, with long-time entrants pulling out and none coming to take their places.
In part, due to this exodus of paying competitors, NHRA has mandated the changes stated above for the balance of the 2015 campaign, along with manufacturer identification on the upper part of the windshield. Next year, competitors must use throttle body electronic fuel injection (vendor yet to be named), must rev their engines no more than 10,500 rpm and have other strictures to follow. NHRA is still working out some of the details, which is pretty amazing, considering they’ve been working on these changes for more than a year yet just announced them last week.
That KB and others (using their big nose intakes to cover carburation/intake) are thumbing their noses at this rule is very disturbing. It shows the disrespect they have for the fans that allow them to continue to participate in the racing they - and the fans - love and pay for 24 times each year. While it’s not against the rules to place toolboxes in front of engines, it does say to everyone passing by that “we don’t care” and invites patrons to ignore the Pro Stock paddock, something NHRA has been trying to change by making these rules.