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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Fighting the Index in Oz

By Stu Bond

To put this stuff anywhere on the Drag Lists, Bill may need a new section called "moan of the week!" I told him that if he believed this off-the-cuff steam spout could in any way benefit Drag Racing and particularly Drag Racers in the long run, to please go ahead and publish it. Australia is a very small market and my skill base is limited, and announcing opportunities seem to depend more on relationships with the promoters than real skill and application, but what the hell -- let's ruffle some feathers.

By the way, you do realize that no one ever remembers the name of the child who told the emperor that he had no clothes on. They simply use the story to illustrate that even powerful people can be deceived.

I think it was the publisher of Forbes magazine who is quoted with saying that the biggest waste of resources in corporate America is YES MEN. He refused to pay people who agreed with him all the time because, he said, "Why should I pay someone to tell me what I already know! I employ people who have skills and knowledge well beyond mine. I am confident that my business is always ahead of the competition, and that I know all the bad news before my competitors. This way I can make the best decision for my business based on the best advice available."

Because our sport is, like all high level endeavors, dominated by people with extraordinary egos, and these people eventually become the administrators of the sport, or sport's administration is very ego driven.

This is not a bad thing until the information delivered to the administrators is filtered by yes men and friends in powerful places, each with their own agenda.

This is the danger we face when the emperor's ego prevents him from seeing that he has no clothes on, and all the emperor's cronies are too scared, talentless, witless, or naive to know how to tell him he is making a pig's breakfast of the issues.

In conclusion, I say, given careful reflection as I type this drivel, "DAMN THE TORPEDOES -- PUBLISH AHEAD!"

As far as classes to race in, we use the regulations of the Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA). You can check your car against the classes there. I think it is www.andra.com.au.

We have a general dial-your-own bracket called Modified, racing on handicaps with breakouts, and the national record classes like A/, B/, and C/ Dragster, if you want to set records and compete on our pig's breakfast indexing system.

Our indexing system is based on the theory that penalizing the fastest racer will create close, exciting, and affordable racing.

It does not!

It encourages a massive number of second rate racers to spend less money while maintaining their chance to win because the thinkers and spenders will be penalized for going too fast.

I believe this is one of the reasons the sport is losing popularity with the spectators. They do not understand the indexes. That is probably my fault for not fully explaining it to them over the PA, but when two cars from the same class race on different handicaps, and the guy who did not try too hard in the previous round gets the advantage, the audience gets restless.

We have also lost the commercial appeal of our qualifying, halving the duration of the show for the public. Our best and brightest racers now do battle for 3rd position on the ladder to get an easy run to the finals, and the guys who can go really fast run to 1,000 feet and shut off.

If we cannot sell the qualifying at a one-day show, the entire competition is only three hours long, and the public is reluctant to part with max bucks for a short show. The casual tourist will come along, but when the guy tries to justify the cost of admission for a three hour show to his mates, girlfriends, or even parents, it is easy to see why they only come occasionally at best.

Also, when I announce that someone is one tenth under their National record, and has the fastest doodad outside the USA, the crowd gets ready. Then when he gets a good leave but shuts the car down at 660 feet so he will not hurt his index, you can hear the crowd groan from a mile away. Sorry, but the audience hates this indexing crap. The administrators and promoters have forgotten that there is fierce competition from other ENTERTAINMENT venues, and the audience does not like to be pissed off.

Talk about bad calls, we worked for eight years to get our qualifying to reflect that of the USA with the easy pass in round one going to the top qualifier. We do not pay top qualifier in Australia; in fact, we do not do anything for them at all. Giving them the best position on the ladder seemed to me to be the best way to make them try to earn a reward, so that Australian Drag racing would finally have a qualifying show. The crowds went up, the audience got two shows in one day, and even the caterers were happy because people who arrive early eat and drink more.

Well, we finally got #1 to race #16 in round one, and guess what? Some #16 in Queensland bleated that they were always getting beat up by the top qualifier. Suddenly, with NO consultation, the seeding orders went back to the way they were in the 1970s, penalizing the top qualifier, and helping the no hoper.

The answer ANDRA should have given this whinger [Aussie for "whiner" bp] was, "Try harder not to be the bottom qualifier." Instead, they steal the show from the public, completely stuffing qualifying, and then four years later say, "We only did it because the top qualifier was going too slow in round one and we could not reset their indexes."

Now the fastest car is #3 qualifier and refuses to win by more than a wheel length.

All that administrational moaning done, the racers are the nicest, most positive people I have ever met in any motor sport, and in the West, the parties are huge.

We do it for the racers, and the administrators do it to the racers.

Stu Bond


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