• John DiBartolomeo


Last week I spoke about the future of .90 racing partly because I was asked my opinion. Of course, opinions are like certain parts of our anatomy, everyone has one.

The question raised during that “opinion” was about the legitimacy of an NHRA official stating that the .90 classes were “the most populated of the sportsman classes.” Of course, bear in mind that was spoken to me several years ago. Maybe even more than that as it appears as if time goes by rather quickly, flying by when you’re having fun; and even when you’re not.

Certainly, it might appear today the traditional Stock and Super Stock classes may be more populated than the .90 bunch. However, bear in mind the .90 “bunch” have gotten more options for them to play in than the Stock/Super Stock “bunch”. Some of those .90 racers, tired of maybe the on-and-off-the-throttle-type racing have moved into the newer Top Dragster and Top Sportsman classes. And still, some are chasing the big dollars available at the many high dollar bracket races. This naturally doesn’t mean those .90 classes are dying, but it has given them options.

Not so; at least until this year; have the Stock and Super Stock guys and gals have anything more than NHRA-type races to compete at. Actually, that’s not entirely true as there are several circuit-type races they can run across the country. But those are far and few between. With this year’s three big dollar races; the Southern Sportsman Shootout, Class Racers Revival and the Class Racer Nationals; Stock and Super Stock racers will have had the chance to be celebrated and compete for justifiable purses. Hopefully NHRA is keeping track of those happenings, so maybe, just maybe, things may become a little better for all classes.

So what is the future of those classes? Again, my “opinion”…

It’s apparent the influx of “new” cars; COPOs, Mustangs and Challengers; has breathe some new life into those classes, but they are expensive and maybe out of touch for a new racer (read as “young”). And naturally, those classes have changed in the way they run to almost become a somewhat bracket race, save for the occasional heads-up run where you had better bring enough oomph to the party.

The class was also built on strict regulations as far as what can and cannot be done to a vehicle. I don’t want to say that’s been relaxed at all, but it has somewhat changed. The “old guard,” the ones charged with maintaining the integrity of the class (tech inspectors), have either aged out or changed their attitudes towards what is legal and what’s not.

At the first divisional event I attended a “while ago,” (okay so it was in the late ‘70s) driving a very good friend’s Super Stock ’64 Chevy II, I was bounced in Tech Inspection for a simple infraction. That year of car, like many others of that era, used a cardboard glove box enclosure. With the glove box located in the dashboard directly under the windshield, as would typically happen, the windshield would leak and ruin the integrity of the cardboard forcing it to become part of the circular filing cabinet (the garbage can). I don’t remember the exact outcome of the encounter but I doubt something like that would be “caught” in today’s Tech Inspection world. In addition, I’m not sure that should even matter, but it just goes to show how thorough Tech was back then. This is certainly not to allude that today’s Tech is lax in any regulations, but it just shows how things were back then.

Granted, it does get tougher to maintain the rules of the class. Back in the ‘70s, you only had maybe 20-years of cars and engine combinations to keep track of, as opposed to today, where we’re going on 70 years of NHRA racing and almost that many years of car combinations.

So what’s the future?

As I stated last week, NHRA probably has more to concern themselves with than any of the sportsman classes. I believe that as long as the divisional events stay healthy; and they are now; any of the sportsman classes are safe and the future bright. Now that can all change in a heartbeat, but for now, I doubt the future will change much in similar fashion to the demise of Modified Eliminator in the early ‘80s.

Your turn. Flame away. Let me hear it.

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