The Sad State Of Motorsports
Just as we all have felt the pinch of the economy, many of the country's race teams and sanctioning bodies are falling on hard times. I don't know one form of motorsports that hasn't been affected by the lack of funding. As of this writing, we are right at the beginning of the '09 season, and by the time you read this we will be several races into the year.
Of course, drag racing is at the forefront of my interest. As of now, many professional teams will not be returning this year. Multicar teams have had to drop back to one car, and the NHRA for the first time in many years may not have full fields! Take, for instance, Warren Johnson and his son Kurt, who lost their funding from General Motors. Warren has vowed not to race on his own dollar. Greg Stanfield is also on the fence unless he finds someone to fund his program.
Now, down to the little guy: The sportsman fields are not even filling up the quota for events. Usually you can't make it into the opening West Coast races unless you have run north of five Divisionals to acquire grade points. The scarce dollars are keeping people from traveling, let alone ponying up the entry fees. Then if you do come to play, NHRA has lost around 30 percent of the contingency-paying manufacturers this year, which directly hits the sportsman racer in the pocket when he or she wins.
Finally, NASCAR will have a very tough time filling 43 car fields. NASCAR has lost Home Depot, Domino's Pizza, Kodak, and Enterprise as official sponsors. Home Depot has stuck with Joe Gibbs racing, but I don't know about the others.
In tough times there is always an opportunity. Race teams are looking for many smaller sponsors to make it to the races. The opportunity for smaller companies to get exposure on a nationally televised level has never been cheaper. This could be a great time for those companies that can take advantage of these opportunities and get their faces out in front of the buying public.
As for us little guys, stick closer to home. Support your local businesses, and race local to keep the money in the community. This fits right into my plan, since I just moved within 5 miles of California Speedway!
Q: Is the strength of the new Dart SHP block worth the price? I currently use a 0.060-over 350 block stroked to 388 cid. The water jackets are half filled with hard block, and I've got ARP head and main studs with iron Motown 220 heads, a mild circle-track-style mechanical roller, 4340 crank and rods, and Wiseco Pro Tru pistons. On top of all this I have an NOS Double Cross plate system controlled by an Edelbrock progressive controller. This engine is in my '62 Chevy II and runs 9.80s at 135-plus with this setup, 4.10:1 gears, and 295/65 M/T Drag radials. However, the guys I race with have larger-bore small-block Chevys and have a definite performance advantage on me. My stock block holds up well with what I do, but the big bore of the SHP block combined with the price is very tempting. Can you compare the strength of the SHP to what I have now in an honest and easy-to-understand way? Cost is very important to a low-buck guy like me. Thanks!
Big Lake, MN
A: After building my first legal stock eliminator engine, I don't wish block filling on anyone! The filling itself--and the waiting for the filler to cure properly--can be a pain. And if you don't wait long enough, things will move around when you're machining the piece. Also, it is hard finding a machine shop that understands that they can easily flex the cylinder walls where there is no support, at the top of the cylinder bores. It's very easy to screw up the concentricity and the taper of the bores. This alone would drive me to the new Dart SHP block.