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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

World Drag Racing Championships --
A Concept Discussion

By Ken Lowe

There are a lot of people make a living playing golf, tennis, baseball, or cricket. There are also many people make a living involved with F1 or other world championship motorsports. I don't play any of the ball sports and if you are reading this, I bet neither do you. For me, Championship Drag Racing is no hobby and if all you want from drag racing is a hobby then stop reading right now because none of this applies to you. If you want to make Championship Drag Racing your career then this is very important to you. Read on.

A World Drag Race Championship series would be good for the manufacturers and the competitors. This is a marketing opportunity begging to be used. Unlike other motor sports, where they have a small number of competitors (manufactures customers) drag racing is the world leader in competitor numbers. To sell more products you need more competitors so why not go to a marketplace that is an untapped resource and promote your products and the environment to use them in? It is these new markets where the WDRC will concentrate its efforts because the WDRC must produce good results for the manufacturers. If we don't, the manufacturers will not continue to support us.

Will the WDRC series produce results for the manufacturers? History has already proved that it will. What made drag racing grow to Championship Drag Racing in the US was Wally Parks and the NHRA guys taking a Plymouth station wagon and a trailer traveling through the country holding local drag races with the NHRA Safety Safari. Within a few years -- from 1955 to 1960 -- the growth of drag racing in the US was phenomenal. Hundreds of manufacturers sprung up to supply the growing industry. Names today that are the foundation of our sport started as small back yard businesses. Hilborn and Edelbrock are only a couple of the pioneers that started supplying a fledging industry. 

Today, how would a manufacturer like to be the first with his foot in the door to a new market? Any manufacturer or distributor who knows anything about advertising will see the power of this opportunity. Who would not jump at the chance to become the first name a new customer would hear as a product supplier? When this customer decides to purchase, whom is he going to call? Someone he knows something about.

The World Drag Racing Championships (WDRC) will create a marketplace of unparalleled opportunity.

We will select up to 30 manufacturers to be WDRC exclusive sponsors. In exchange for their sponsorship of the WDRC, they get an exclusive marketing right to the particular product they want to sell to the new market.

When was the last time they got a chance to be not only the first in the market but to be the only product of that type displaying in the market? Naturally, we will have a manufacturer's midway at all races to support the manufacturers who are supporting the WDRC. The WDRC is going to be the "Safety Safari" of the next millennium. New markets means new sales new opportunities.

Manufacturers in low population countries like Australia have a problem developing satisfactory sales levels due to the small population base. Why not go where the customers are?

Manufacturers in the US have a problem because the marketplace is so congested with competition.

Why not go where there is no competition?

The answer is the World Drag Race Championships WDRC.

If you are a manufacturer and want to be part of this golden opportunity, please contact me now so you can lock in your product as the exclusive for the WDRC. The WDRC will support up to thirty single products as part of its marketing structure. There will be no competing products displayed in the manufacturers midway.

What class structure will the WDRC have? A world drag racing championship is not a new idea. It has been a dream of many racers over the last 20 years. Most racers would like to compete on a world level. What is missing is the structure to support it.

Some of the problem is that most racers want to race the particular class they are currently in. We all have a soft spot for our particular class of race cars; after all, that is why we race that class isn't it?

I want you to think outside the square for a little bit. Lateral thinking is what it's called. What is being proposed may not be what you would particularly like to do, but it is a terrific spring board unique to drag racing.

A true world championship in drag racing is not a new idea. It has been discussed many times before, but barely went past the discussion stage. Why? Several reasons. Most drag racers want to promote "their" class structure: Pro Stock, Top Fuel, Top Alcohol, etc. Initially, the logical decision was to contest the top of the performance field in drag racing, the Top Fuel dragsters. Although it seems like a good idea at first, when you examine all the problems it soon starts to fall apart. At the top of the list is cost. Anyone who knows Top Fuel from the inside will attest to the costs. Top Fuel also requires carefully prepared surfaces that not everyone in an international environment can provide.

The biggest factor in the decision not to contest Top Fuel as an eliminator is the future participation factor of the spectators. Every racer today was a spectator before he was a racer. If none of the spectators in the stands think they could be successful doing what they are watching, they will never participate. Future participation is the key factor in the growth of Championship Drag Racing. So, let's say at this point the possibility of running Top Fuel in a World Championship Drag Racing circuit is not an option. Top Fuel as Exhibition vehicles to assist in promoting the show is a good idea but they cannot "carry the package" to achieve what the manufacturers need and it is the manufacturers' needs that must be met.

The next idea was Top Alcohol (Supercharged Methanol) (Dragsters and Funny Cars both have been considered). Much more financially viable than the fuel classes, but still no small financial challenge. The problems with Alcohol are that you still need high quality track preparation and the transportation challenge of both long cars and all the spare parts that you need. Supercharged Methanol could become the leading edge of the World Championship Drag Race promotions when the time is right.

Throw out all your prejudices. Lock away your personal likes and dislikes and consider something. (Lateral thinking). To generate interest around the world, you need a level playing field for all the competitors, where anyone with driving and tuning skill can win.

Dial Your Own is the answer. Open bracket racing is the answer to starting the World Drag Racing Championship series. It works for the racers and works for the manufacturers.

Local racer participation is the key to success of the WDRC and selling more products. Remember, we must make this good for the manufacturers who are supporting us. Dial Your Own is the only format where a local can have a real shot at winning a championship round.

The thought about starting the WDRC with DYO cars is only to create a level playing field initially. After the WDRC is a few years old, has some growth, and has stability, we could introduce heads up Pro type cars as headliners. But not at first, as some of the places the WDRC is going to race don't have the local racers to compete at this level. The local racers are the backbone of this concept.

Remember the manufacturers have to have someone to sell their products to. This is what the WDRC is all about --creating a format for the growth of drag racing throughout the world by using the marketing opportunities the new markets represent. If it costs less to race then when you win, you get to keep more money. A suggestion was made to make the international transportation of race vehicles for the WDRC more efficient.

The most efficient vehicle for shipping is the dragster. It has been worked out how to package four cars/teams to a container and the packing system allows the cars to be removed from the container in a few minutes and ready to race in less than an hour by a crew of just one person per vehicle. No other type of vehicle provides this opportunity. Four teams sharing transportation costs per container drastically reduces the cost to each team.

There is nothing that says you must have a dragster to compete in the WDRC -- it is just that a dragster stacks and packs more easily. You could get two Funny Cars, Pro Stocks, or similar cars in a 40' container as well. Shipping one 20' container is not 1/2 of a 40' but more like 70% of a 40', so therefore a 40' is much better value, if you fill it with race cars and not air.

The standard DYO car would be inexpensive enough so that almost everyone could afford one and some could afford two or more. They could have one "on the water" going from race to race and one at home for racing between WDRC events. How many Fuel or Alcohol teams could do this with their current cars? None? One or two? Therefore, it is not viable. A WDRC car would cost them less than they have in a spare engine. The DYO format levels the playing field to where even countries where drag racing is new have a real chance at winning the championship and if they don't, its not the money, its the skill and preparation that will win or lose the race for them. 

Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Germany, Sweden, UK, and anyone else who wants to participate would all be eligible. No other format is financially viable and this is the best way to introduce countries to Championship Drag Racing, not just racing street cars on a bit of asphalt somewhere. This is a level playing field where anyone with driving and tuning skill can win and anyone can practice at his or her local track every weekend. This makes the WDRC good for the local race promoters as well as it encourages local weekly participation. Besides, we may hold a WDRC event at their facility some day. A set of plans to accurately construct the stackable shipping carton would be provided so everyone could build their own shipping carton.

For drag racing developing countries, a recommended chassis design could be provided and both of these [chassis and shipping carton] would be made available to anyone who wants a set of plans and even to the local automotive publications for reprinting. A "how to" video could be provided as well. Locally available engines would power many of the cars, keeping the racer/builder in their comfort zone, thus encouraging participation.

Events with this international scope can be marketed and sold to international companies to create the prize money to drive the WDRC competitors. Sharing a quarter of the cost of a container in many situations would be equivalent to the cost of fuel in driving to Adelaide or Perth but this would be for World Championship Points and money.

In drag racing, we are so focused on quicker and faster that we overlook the opportunities right on our doorstep. Sometimes you have to take a step back to look for new opportunities. Drag racing has the quickest, fastest, and most powerful race cars in the world. Obviously, power alone does not make us successful. Indy car, Formula One, NASCAR, and Group A all pale by comparison when it comes to making horsepower compared to drag racing. Every one of the above mentioned types of racing generates more money for the racers than drag racing does. Why is that?

It is marketing and packaging that makes success. Drag racing needs some of this success. The WDRC was created to generate that type of success. There have been several current Professional class racers interested in participating in the WDRC for all the reasons that make sense. They would keep their current car for racing in their home country and keep a WDRC car on the road (water) going from race to race. The WDRC race in their home country would not be scheduled to conflict with domestic championship race schedules.

Once the WDRC is operational with DYO type of racing, the new countries will grow to where they can support supercharged alcohol as an exhibition class. Then supercharged alcohol funny cars, dragsters, and altereds could become the main event in a heads up race environment. The old adage applies: "You must walk before you run."

The current proposed structure of the WDRC would be a board of directors with two people representing each country. Today the Internet and email make this a piece of cake. Occasional conference calls will be arranged to keep everyone in contact with each other.

The WDRC will travel with its team of racetrack professionals who know how to operate a race from track prep to timing. The WDRC would have its own clocks, lights, and track spray. We would instruct locals on how to operate a race track and prepare the facility. There will be a list of equipment that the local promoter will have to provide to run the race. This will create the environment for the introduction of supercharged cars in the future.

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Current proposed race structure plan

The race structure currently on the table is:

Sixteen car fields with 25% of the qualifying spots held for contestants from the host country. The host country will have a series of race events with points awarded to determine who will compete in the local international race (WDRC). The top four "host nation" cars will be seeded into the qualified field based on performances on the day of qualifying. If a "host nation" top four car cannot compete then the next highest points earner will take its position.

As many "non host nation" cars / teams that want to contest the international event are welcome to attend.

Race Format: Main race

From qualifying positions Standard ladder 1-8 races 9-16

Three World Championship point per round

One World Championship point for low qualifier

One World Championship point for top speed.

Qualifying and points explanation

Qualifying based upon elapsed time. Should there be an identical time recorded then the tie is first determined by miles per hour and if that is identical then it is done based on which competitor performed the time first.

To encourage quicker cars we award one World Championship point for each position you qualify.

Low qualifier gets 16 + 1

Number 2 gets 15

Number 3 gets 14 and so on down to the 16 qualified car gets 1+1

Lane choice is determined by qualifying time or ET from previous round. Duplications are determined first by MPH but if that was identical as well then by whom ran the number first.

Disqualifications are based on first or worst.

Last chance race All the racers who lost first round use their ET for the losing run as a qualifying position for the "Last Chance" race.

Standard ladder 1 - 4 races 5 - 8

One World Championship point per round

It has been suggested that "non host nation" cars get a traveling allowance to offset travel expenses. That will probably happen based on certain performance levels. Either a certain non-qualifying position or a minimum performance level. There might even be a points program incentive for non-qualifying travelers.

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World Championship pay out at the end of the year would be determined by points. The total contested purse divided by the total number of points and then pay for each point earned.

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No bye runs break rule in effect. If you win your round and cannot return you get the points but the racer you defeated gets back in with a chance at the next round.

Money, travel, and time.

The WDRC will work once the money is right. This is not a hobby venture. This is full time professional racing. This means payrolls and overheads must be covered. The sale of the naming rights to the series and each race will create some money but the real power is with the promotion and marketing of the race teams and vehicles. In this format, the ad space on the car will be valuable and if a team sells their soul for $10,000 annually, they will be working for much less than the value of the space on the car.

It has been suggested we create guidelines that set up minimum values for the teams to market their services for. Obviously, if the team does well it is worth more. If the team manager is a better salesman then he deserves it.

Don't scoff at the money that is being proposed. We have to take ourselves seriously before anyone else will. One thing for sure, if we don't try to make it happen it never will. Race winning pay out is separate from the World Championship payouts. Race pay out structure is yet to be decided but the current consideration is $20,000 win down to $2,000 if you lose first round. I know this looks like a lot of money but I feel this is where we need to be if we are chasing World Championship points. 

The value of the naming rights for the World Drag Racing Championship series is under consideration at this time. We have been consulting various sources to ensure we do not undersell the value of the product. Current considerations set the value at $100,000 dollars. The value will increase as it grows. Host countries for the World Championship would be determined by the promoters in that county's ability to sell the advertising for naming rights to the World Drag Racing Championship in that country. The value of the naming rights to the race is $10,000.

Which countries do we race in?

Any country that can provide the "entry fee" into the WDRC is eligible to be considered as a WDRC points race venue. Sales of the naming rights to the event can be sold to generate the entry fee for the host country to the WDRC. Fifty percent of the host country's entry fee must be paid to get on the race schedule.

Pre-race promotion can be made available to support the host nation race promoter. Heavily sponsored racers would want to make Transportation / shipping containers. The race schedule would be set up to suit current local championship races, as well as the weather in some of the countries. The schedule also could coincide with shipping discounts for shipping on back load routes where ships sometimes carry empty containers in one direction.

I can see an international airline giving discount airfares to the participants to get to and from the races. Currently we are talking to an airline that is interested in being the WDRC designated airline in exchange for free tickets for race drivers and crew.

With good planning, we anticipate crews to be gone one week per championship event. It takes that much to make a race in Adelaide if you live in Brisbane and the shipping cost would equal the cost of fuel to drive to Adelaide. This for a World Championship event in another country!

Shipping Container Specs

SSC is a stackable shipping container long enough to hold the car and some tools, parts, and accessories.

SSB is a stackable shipping box made long enough to use the remaining space in a 40' container after the SSC is loaded. Large items could be placed in the SSBs such as extra wheels, engines, and transmissions or tools.

SSC - 1100 mm wide x 1100 mm tall x 8 meter long

SSB - 1100 mm wide x 1100 mm tall x 3.5 meter long

Current consensus is to make the SSC (stackable shipping containers) 8 meters long so later a TAD car will fit inside. When the organization grows, we can move up to class cars without having to remake the SSCs. Each team would have an SSB (stackable shipping box) to house the larger spare parts. The total combined lengths of the SSC and the SSB will just fit inside a 40' container. Therefore four cars / four teams per one container and one shipping price per container. Divide the shipping costs by a quarter for just one car (SSC) and one parts box (SSB). 

For example, it is reported that one Top Fuel team used one 40-foot container to ship their car and parts to Japan and back for $4000.00. This is a lot of money for one car but dirt cheap for four cars. The round trip took eight weeks. During this time, they had no race car at home to participate with in other events. With an economical DYO car, you would have an extra car at home to race with.

It has been suggested that it would be smart to purchase a used 40' shipping container for about $3000 dollars since it is always going to have to be shipped back to me with the cars in it as opposed to renting/leasing one.

SSC plan A

The stackable shipping cartons would have fork lift slots in the bottom of the sides so they could be picked up with a fork lift and then the car lifted out by putting the forks under the chassis and picking it up and putting the wheels on the car. Stick the headers on and you are ready to race.

SSC plan B

If you remove the rear wheels on the dragster and replace them with 34" tall cast aluminum wheels 2" wide (no tires) and then remove the headers the car is only as wide as the front axle. On KLRC cars, this is 900 mm and this leaves enough room to roll the car into the SSC from one end. Block the car up and clamp the chassis down and it is ready to transport anywhere. The space above the car in front of the driver could be made into a shelf to store the tires and headers and possibly some spare parts.

Most racers who have considered the WDRC have preferred plan B.

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Today you may have a Top Fuel, TAD, or a Pro Stock car at home but you race for the world championship in a reasonably inexpensive DYO dragster. In a few years, after the WDRC is solid, then heads up cars go on the circuit. A driver who has had experience in an ANDRA Pro car must surely do well in a simple DYO dragster. Winning is winning -- in a Top Fuel, TAD, or a DYO car; it will be a World Championship. Give it some thought if you want to be a World Champion

Is there support for the WDRC?

I have sent this via email to 150 people and organizations around the world. There are a few who are not interested, though most expressed interest in participating. Let me know what you think. Give me your ideas on the format and structure of the events and the series. I want everyone's opinion and ideas.

Ken Lowe
Email at kenlowe@onthenet.com.au or
Phone / fax on Australia 7-5573 4535 or 0411-699 535

NOTE: If the name Ken Lowe sounds familiar, you are right. Ken was a highly competitive Top Alcohol dragster racer in both NHRA and UDRA competition before moving to the sunny Gold Coast of Australia to start a chassis business, drag racing school, and now, the WDRC. bp

 

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