Dead On – Have we made bracket racing too difficult?

Have we made bracket racing too difficult?

Before you think I have fallen off the cliff, let me start out with a brief history lesson on my personal experience when it comes to bracket racing. I have been racing since 1971 (I know a lot of you weren’t even born yet!), and back then everything was “class racing” of sorts. Weight of car, horsepower, how many modifications,  etc. I never bothered to understand it. I just wanted to race and make some noise. Winning a race was the last thing on my mind; it was about tuning the car, getting to know other racers and sharing things we learned. Without a doubt I had a lot of fun and it was not expensive.

Over the next couple decades class racing on the local level was replaced with ET Bracket racing. As a matter of fact I was part of the change over from class racing to bracket racing when I took over the lease at Eddyville Dragway in 1979 and we changed the entire program over to Pro, S/Pro, and Sportsman brackets as well as a strong motorcycle program I inherited. It was very basic as far as car prep and especially track prep. Entry fees were low, $25 to $35, and payouts were usually $500 to win and a special event was $1000 to win. It had every aspect a fun hobby entailed. Cars were home-built, engines were usually done in your garage or a friend’s. Head porting was usually done by the car owner or maybe a friend who liked getting cast iron dust all over him and his shop.

Over the years the sport of bracket racing evolved, as you are aware of, to something entirely different. Cars that are winning are usually professionally built and engines are probably a $15,000 to $25,000 investment. Toss in a bullet-proof transmission, converter, and new slicks a couple times a year and the basic S/Pro car that was clicking on win lights was a $40,000 to $50,000 investment in a hobby. Then came the four-link dragsters, which in most cases proved to be a better tool for fast bracket racing.

Did the dragsters change bracket racing or did WE let them change bracket racing? I would say it was a little of both. Personally, I have had three dragsters (still have one) and we have gone through six or seven pretty basic door cars. The dragsters were extremely consistent and if you were going to compete with them you had to have a very good door car. That meant upgrades to chassis and especially rear suspensions.

I think we are at a place right now in bracket racing that we either step back and clear the air, or go forward and watch the sport disappear on the local level. I know, there are certain geographic areas where bracket racing seems to be thriving but is it what it could or should be?

Here are my thoughts on stepping back a bit and taking a look at what can revive local bracket racing.

  • Track prep: We all want traction, but I feel the tracks are literally getting too good and spending way too much money and effort to make the track perfect. A fast expensive car can now get down the track every time and the slower, smaller budget cars pretty much don’t have a chance and they know it. That is why they are in the garage most of the time. I wish tracks would focus on keeping the tracks clean, spray out to 150’ and call it good. It would save the tracks about $1000.00 to $2000.00 a weekend and some of that money could go to lowering entry fees.
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