Big News: NHRA Pro Stock Cutting Back to 18 Races!
Our friends over at E3xtreme.com have broken the news that the NHRA has made the decision to drop six races off of the Pro Stock schedule for 2018, leaving the factory hotrods with an 18 race schedule. We immediately reached out to Team Speed Society Pro Stock driver Alex Laughlin, who echoed the conflicted emotions reflected in the E3xtreme article. Said Laughlin, “I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, having six fewer races will make it easier to afford to run the whole series and compete for the championship, but on the other hand, there will be six fewer chances to race and I just want to race every weekend.”
Cutting the schedule can go one of two ways, one good and one bad. The shorter schedule could appeal to a greater number of independent teams who simply can’t afford to race the full 24 race schedule, enticing more cars to come out and compete. Obviously this would be the ideal outcome, as there hasn’t been a full 16 car field at four of the 11 events completed this season. However, cutting the schedule will also mean less exposure for the sponsors currently investing in the class and the cars that compete in it, meaning there’s a very real chance one or some of them could pull out, as they’re getting less return on their investment.
I‘ve said for years that NHRA needs to return to the roots of Pro Stock, a class built on factory bodied-cars that looked nearly identical to those available for purchase on dealer showrooms. My suggestion: Utilize the exact same COPO Camaro, the Super Cobra Jet Mustang, and the Drag Pack Challenger bodies seen in the Factory Stock Shootouts, drop them on a full tube chassis and power them with factory style fuel-injected engines. You could either go with a big-inch NA power plant, which would probably please the Pro Stock purists, or go with a small cubic inch engine with a power adder, such as the blown Hemi found in the Dodge Challenger Hellcat and the C7 Z06 Corvette. Obviously there is a horsepower difference there, but as with other classes, those differences can be offset with power adder restrictions and weight breaks. The main thing the class needs is excitement, and there’s no better way to live things up than with wheelstands, so get rid of the wheelie bars and, to make the tuners really earn their paycheck, allow them a maximum 12″ tire width, or maybe even a 10.5″ tire would make things even more exciting.
While we are hopeful this change will have a positive impact on the class, we fear it may be another nail in the coffin for the pro class that always provides the closest racing. There’s some irony in that last statement, but it’s certainly true.