The Old One - Energy Dynamics : Commentary - Import Racing
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T.O.O. comments on Import Racing

Widmer's Spin

Man vs. Machine

One thing that's always bothered me about import drag racing is the fact that et and mph seem to be all that matter. "Real" drag racing came into being because people used to race each other on public streets from signals or a drop of a "flag." The object was to "shut-down" or "out-drag" the guy next to you. It didn't matter who or what brand the car was because it was a simple one on one encounter that ended up with cars or money changing hands.

As brand loyalty grew stronger, the Ford/Mopar/Chevy competitions caused competition to grow. Nobody had a clue what kind of power numbers they had and it didn't matter either, as the object was to win.

I think that a lot of the race the dyno shit has come about due to the "class structure" that exists in a lot of people's minds, relative to domestic vs. import competition. This is also why the imports have their "own" races. The import racers need to have winning glorified and not et and mph slips. The magazines don't even show pictures of the "winner's cars, but the et-mph people get all the pics and attention.

Sometimes I think that the import events should rename the drags to "Timing Competitions" and the only reason to hold it on drag strips would be to be able to run two cars at once and speed up the process.

Back in the early funny car days, the crowds screamed for the winner and not the guy with the best numbers and, unless I'm mistaken, today's racing purses go to winners, regardless of the #'s. Ask Warren Johnson.

At some point in time, the import people are going to have to address this situation and, yes, reaction times will need to be taken into account. I know a kid in Dallas that ran an 11.90 et in his N/A Integra and beat a tube Civic that ran a 10.58 et. The reaction time was the difference and the 10 second car was eliminated...but he still got all the press.

When I drove the BOSS, our et's weren't always the best, but I won over cars that should have creamed me. The reason was the stagger in the front and my "cat-like" reaction times back then. Our fans (Ford people) only cared that we won ...and it was even sweeter if I out drove the quicker and faster competition. Being able to "cut a light" or "rip the throat out" of the competition was the ultimate embarrassment for the competition, so it meant that winning like that certainly caused rivalries to grow and anywhere you raced, the drivers you'd "drilled" at the tree, were always looking to run you to prove a made racing fun for us and spectators alike.

Import racing need to develop their systems' dependability to be able to string together "many" repeatable runs, so real racing can take place.

Import Hot Rodding?

Hot rodding hasn't progressed all that far in the last fifty years. We're still looking at the same basic rear wheel drive, V-8 derived platforms. The sole exception is what's currently happening with the import cars. This is, in my opinion, the first fresh change in direction since the fifties. With a typical Honda, you can triple the horsepower before you break parts.

You have to remember that hot rodding is hot rodding and the fact that these kids have chosen Japanese cars to work with is no cause to exclude them from hot rodding. When FWD cars are stretched and reconfigured to RWD for professional racing, they are no longer representative of what the industry is building and selling the public. In a broad sense, I do believe that the future is here and it's based on FWD and small multi-valve engines using computerized tuning. This new movement is reminiscent of Pro Stock in early 1970, where innovation and experimenting were the game. It's very exciting.

Thoughts on Domestic Racing

One the domestic racing front, I'd like to see the sanctioning bodies, specifically NASCAR and NHRA, standardize the bodies, so all the pro-category competitors would have similar relative chassis dimensions and identical aerodynamic shapes.

In Winston Cup, Pro Stock, and Funny Car, the paint, decals, engine / drive train, race set-up, and drivers would be the only real difference between the competitors, thus avoiding the expense of continuous aero-shape changes. This way, the competitors could escape the charade that is stock bodied racing today, with corresponding reductions in costs for both new and existing teams.

Overall, I believe that these changes would tighten the competition, which makes spectating more enjoyable for the rest of us.

- The Old Ono, December, 1999


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T.O.O. comments on Import Racing