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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Diesel Drag racing - how come the stands are empty? and how do we fill them???

I get asked this all of the time by racers and even sponsors! The photos they see posted on social media always has the grand stands empty of people!

Unless it's the Regional Nationals with 3 second cars and rails the NHRA has the same problem. Drag racing is a participant sport plus family members. The same goes for diesel drag racing unless you have a high purse or grudge match between racers.

It's tuff to get people in the stands at our events because most want to back their trucks up to the fences on both sides, put out their lawn chairs, grills and coolers to tailgate. Their lawn chairs with a cooler right beside them with even a pop-up tent over them for shade is better than sitting in the stands.

Unless they want to be right at the starting line which many of them do, but the majority are out lined up to the fences. Plus whenever something happens with a oil-down, spill, parts, etc., the crowd quickly leaves the stands and goes back to looking at the trucks, talking to vendors or getting something to eat/drink at concessions.

That is why we are so picky at teching to make sure no one is leaking on the track or has their AC turned on their truck while waiting - it causes a slow down in entertainment for the fans if something goes wrong.

I suggested years ago that we go to 1/8 mile track in order to make the racing go quicker plus less breakage on the 4x4 trucks. People made fun of the suggestion, said they would never come if it wasn't 1/4 mile and went on and on - on the forums what a stupid idea that was to go 1/8 mile.

Now it doesn't seem too stupid does it? It's about entertainment!

Sled pulling goes 300 ft, quick, lots of action and a new truck is up every 3-5 minutes. Lots of people have been watching pulls of some kind at fairs and small town events for over 60 years. The stands fill quickly and watch for over 4 hours the trucks pull down the track.

It's tough to do that in diesel drag racing. The faster trucks are not many in number, we need 30-40 10 second trucks running 1/8 mile to make it exciting to keep people in the stands. We are just not there yet!

What we can do better is make sure the people have exciting runs to watch, which means no breakage. Run at least 4 times down the track with only 15-20 minutes between high end classes so we fill in with slower trucks. Most of the higher end trucks want 45 minutes to cool down before the next run. Hard to get people to stay in the stands for 45 minutes with not much running. Find ways to quickly cool down the trucks plus make sure they can run multiple times.

As many of you know at some of our events we run sled pulling at the same time as drag racing right next to each other so the crowd can watch both or if there is a break in the action the other is still running. This gives them something to watch without getting out of their seats.

This has been an ongoing problem for over 10 years, with no solution coming soon unless I can find more tracks willing to put pulling tracks next to the drag strips.

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