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 Columns & Editorials

October 24, 2000

How to Keep the Cost of Racing Down

First off... I'm one of those racers "in mothballs for some of the same reasons Jane brings up.I couldn't agree with Jane any more about keeping the cost of race cars down. We can't control costs of gas to get us to the track, and the price of replacement parts etc, but the promoters can do something.

I'll try to explain........ History has proven that each year (season), each division seems to add or change a rule that will allow more modifications. Each time this happens, the cost to the racer usually increases. I've seen this same thing happen since the 1950's! The evolution of each division is clear to anyone that's been around a few years. I'm more aquainted with the Street stock type of car, but the same principles apply to all divisions. The people responsible for the rules MUST remain firm and resolute in not letting the rules get more liberal.

The key to competitive racing is all the cars running nearly the same speed. They don't have to run faster to put on a show.T he spectators can't tell the difference between 75 MPH and 85 MPH. unless the cars are running in the same race! The cost to a racer is tremendously different for that much difference in speed. Some examples are: allowing headers where stock manifolds were in use or allowing aftermarket intakes where stock cast iron ones were in use. Allowing 8" slicks where DOT tires were in use. The racers are always begging for "just one more change". They don't always know what's best for the division. There are many areas of the rules that could benifit from some 'rethinking".

Many times the rules are written with the best intentions, but the end result is all together different from the purpose. Example: Rule states, No modification to the cylinder head. That was written to keep cost down, Now to enforce the rule, the head must be removed to facilitate inspection. Who pays for the teardown ? The racer. This rule also would prevent the use of screw in or pinned rocker studs that increase reliability, and are cheap. They also don't add speed. An alternative would be to restrict the carb and exhaust severly! No matter how the head was "worked" a small carb and small exhaust would remove most benifit. The head doesn't need to be removed to "tech" and the racer saves money. Any knowledgable engine builder will tell you that restricting intake and exhaust would remove any advantage the "big money" racer might have. Reliability would become far more important.

There are many items in everyones rule book that could be "re-thought". The progression upwards to a higher ranked division should be encouraged when possible. That's another subject for another time. My suggestion would be for the responsible parties to sit down with some advisors and review each divisions rules one by one.

The board of advisors should include: 1. One track SAFETY official. 2. One representative from the division being reviewed. 3. One representative should be one who has run that division in the past,but not now involved in that division. 4. One experienced tech inspector. 5. One race car parts supplier and builder. 6. The track race director.

Each of these"chosen " five should be given a set of rules to review for at least 30 days. The five would then have a sit down meeting and review each others inputs. They could make notes and have a lively disscussion! They would meet perhaps several weeks later to make final adjustments and to make rule proposals based on the predeeding discussions. These advisors would have ample time to listen to inputs from any interested parties. The Track promoter would have the last word of course.

The test that all rules should be subjected to are as follows: 1. What is the impact of this rule on safety to all concerned? 2. What was the original intent of this rule and is it still valid? 3. How will this rule impact cost to the racer? 4. Will this rule promote competitive racing ? 5. In the case of entry level divisions,will this rule help the owner/driver learn the skills and gather the resources to move on to a higher division? 6. Is the rule written in such a manner as to be easily understood by everyone involved? 7. Can the rule be easily enforced without extensive and expensive teardowns?

As you can see, I have given this area a great deal of thought over the years. This is just a start towards re-thinking the rule book. I'm sure there are as many views as there are racers.I think we all agree that something needs to be done at all the tracks and as soon as possible.

Dave Waddell
Melbourne, FL

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