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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Putting the "Show" into Drag Racing on TV

By "Motorcycle Mike" Cole

Big Daddy Don Garlits shoots for the moon. Photo by Mark Hovsepian
Big Daddy Don Garlits shoots for the moon. Photo by Mark Hovsepian

Mike submitted this response to Bret Kepner's Story of the Day of 9/07. Bp

Drop wheelie bars? First of all the success or failure of the sport doesn't hinge on any class that uses wheelie bars anyway. No TV viewer would ever notice whether there were wheelie bars or NOT since those cars that do have very little viewer appeal when televised. I DO agree with Bret on a couple of points and recently had a lengthy conversation with someone at NHRA regarding these very points.

Everybody complains about the TV coverage. Part of the problem with the coverage begins BEFORE the cameras are ever turned on. The PRESENTATION SUCKS! Think about this comparison ... the WWF takes two muscle bound goons and puts them in a roped off square and rakes in the money by PRODUCING EXCITEMENT. Whether it's fake or not it draws fans. 

The flip side with drag racing, put simply, you have two very powerful cars running real fast in a straight line. When it's televised, you have basically the same thing... two cars running real fast in a straight line...but you have two people TALKING about it. (We're STARTING with an exciting sport and cars and not doing anything with it). 

They need to put some SHOWMANSHIP into the presentation. They need to produce a SHOW instead of relying on the cars themselves to add the appeal. Example: How long and how big a draw would the WWF be if they hyped their show by shooting t-shirts at the fans and having parachuters flying in? Zippo. I'd like to see the main event of eliminations run on Saturday night with a show PRODUCED for prime time... Lights, smoke, lasers, good-looking women, ALL fuel, and NO door slammers. (And I'm not talking the WWF type in-your-face fakeness... just the fluff surrounding it... the pizzazz). 

You think a TV network wouldn't run that over fishing and bowling shows? Old timers probably wouldn't like the "Hollywoodizing" of the sport but unfortunately if it's to step up to better TV ratings (and thus more fans/sponsors) that's what it's going to take. Problem is, none of this is going to happen because to do a presentation like that would cost more and the TV shows they produce now are money losers.

The other point is a touchy one. The sport is WAAAY too predictable now. What used to make the highlight reels were the explosions, fires, and so on. In the past few seasons, do you really think they could produce a "Decade of Thrills" type tape with the footage they have? It'd be VERY limited. Nobody wants to see anyone hurt, obviously, but back when the sport was in its heyday, the EXCITEMENT of the unknown and unpredictable was what ABC and Diamond P would promote and it drew fans. Nobody knew what was going to happen next on a given run. 

NOW, with the exception of some tire smoke or an oildown, you can just about pick the winners when you see the ladder on Saturday night when qualifying ends. There just isn't any excitement that transfers to TV. 

Drag racing is unique in many respects but the main one in my opinion is this: With NASCAR, a guy pays his 60 bucks and gets to see maybe 60 cars run that he really WANTS to see. With drag racing, a guy pays his 60 bucks and sees for the MOST part, cars he DOESN'T want to see. (If he's a fuel fan). The majority of the cars at any national event are filler for the real draw, the fuel cars. (I'd include gas DRAGSTERS to see George Bolthoff if there were a class...LOL.)

Bottom line is, they need to take the exciting cars that we DO have and DO something with them instead of just letting them run real fast for two blocks. Now I'll get off the soapbox. LOL

"Motorcycle Mike" Cole


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