There were obviously several major questions to answer and only one day
to get a handle on them. The directors and officers of Classic Thunder met
in a raucous morning meeting from 10am through 2pm. Different opinions and
solutions were discussed in a lively debate. Items discussed were the
rules, payout structures, fees, racing categories, schedules, director
duties, officer duties, and member duties.
A solid program was developed
in that short time, however, and the details of the organization's
direction were presented to a full room of Classic Thunder members at
2:30pm. We are very happy to report that everybody who attended the
afternoon racer's meeting had nothing but positive things to say about
the direction of Classic Thunder for 2003.
The following paragraphs contain the plans and direction for Classic
Thunder nostalgia drag racing in 2003. There is so much information to
cover that we need to break it down into big chunks. Let's use the good
old basic questions of Who? What? When? Where? How? How Much? What Else?
Classic Thunder Board of Directors
Bob Gettys – Bob remains the National Director of Classic
Thunder. He will be the final say on all Classic Thunder matters.
Rickey Bowie – Veteran Funny car and Gasser racer Rickey Bowie
is Classic Thunder's Technical Director. Rickey will set and enforce the
safety and competition rules.
Rick Harrison – Rick is the National Event Director of Classic
Thunder. He will coordinate all race day activities at all Classic Thunder
Bill Pratt – Bill is the Director of Promotions and Marketing
(and the primary series announcer) for Classic Thunder. Bill is in charge
of all Classic Thunder PR, event reporting, and event presentation.
Classic Thunder Divisional Directors
Regional Classic Thunder directors will expand the reach of Classic
Thunder and will provide us with new members. This will give Classic
Thunder a national reach, making us more attractive to potential sponsors,
providing additional membership revenue, and providing additional cars for
Regional Directors will contact their local racers, will work
with local tracks, and will explore opportunities to expand Classic
Thunder nostalgia drag racing in their regions. For the sake of clarity,
Classic Thunder has realigned its divisions to match more closely the
well-recognized geographic divisions used by the major drag racing
Northeast (Division 1) – Rick Stambaugh - Funny car/ altered/
and fuel dragster racer Rick Stambaugh has signed on as the Northeast
division director, giving Classic Thunder a huge amount of credibility in
that division. Rick did not make this decision until after he heard the
results of the Atlanta meeting, so we are especially happy Rick has come
Southeast (Division 2) – Bob Gettys - In addition to his role
as the overall director of Classic Thunder, Bob will continue to act as
the Southeast division director.
Midwest (Division 3) – Mike Dolph – Veteran funny car racer
Mike Dolph will be rounding up dates and racers in the Midwest. With 20
years of match race and UDRA experience, Mike will do an excellent job.
Central (Division 5) – Bill Reichmann - Blown altered veteran
Bill Reichmann will get the central states nostalgia racers and tracks
lined up. The Central Division will not strictly follow the huge Division
5. Bill will cover the Eastern half of the area known as Division 5.
Classic Thunder will eventually want to create a Mountain States division.
In addition to coordinating the activities in their own divisions, Bill
and Mike will be looking do so some joint Midwest/Central division races.
Classic Thunder Category Coordinators
Each racing category will have a primary and eventually an alternate
point of contact that will work with the Event Director to keep the show
moving. Category coordinators will ensure that their fellow racers are
ready to run and will let the Event Director know if a team needs
additional time to make the show. Category coordinators also will help in
passing out information and in gathering the ideas and concerns of the
racers in their category. The initial category coordinators for Classic
Thunder are as follows:
Pro Classic Dragster: Glen Sommers primary; Rick Stambaugh
Pro Classic Altered: Jim Dickey
Pro Classic Funny Car: Rick Stambaugh
Pro Gassers: Rickey Bowie primary; Roger McConnell
What is a Classic Thunder show? We will have three types of
shows: Booked in, Open, and Special. The decision whether to go with a
booked in event or an open show will depend on negotiations between
Classic Thunder and the track owner. Our goal of course is to get the best
deal for our racers while providing the track owners an affordable show.
Every time we come to a win-win agreement, more drag racing fans will see
our show and will come back for the next one.
Booked in shows are where a promoter brings in all or a select
number of Classic Thunder cars for a guaranteed, agreed upon price. This
offers a guaranteed purse for members, but does not allow bonus payments
if the show is exceptionally successful. The track owner can select any
even number of Classic Thunder cars in any or all of the pro categories.
The Classic Thunder regional director will check with Classic Thunder
racers to see which are available. There is no entry fee for Classic
Thunder professional members at a booked in show.
Open shows are where Classic Thunder does not book in specific
race cars, but offers open fields in all the Classic Thunder categories. A
minimum purse will be posted, but there will be an opportunity for an
increased bonus purse through partnering with the race track in the
promotion of the event. Classic Thunder open events will not guarantee a
minimum payout for Classic Thunder members (it will guarantee
approximately half of the full payout).
However, the potential for additional prize money is there since
Classic Thunder will split with the track manager all promotional costs,
etc. The Classic Thunder organization itself will pay its racers as part
of the costs of the event. After the track's costs and Classic Thunders
costs are recovered (including paying all qualified participating racers),
the remaining money from the gate will be split between Classic Thunder
and the track owner. Classic Thunder will set aside a portion of all
profits for redistribution to its members...
There also will be special drag racing events to which Classic
Thunder members will be invited. We are proud to announce that Classic
Thunder is in negotiations with the National Muscle Car Association to
join their series of ten races. Classic Thunder cars will be featured and
will be booked in and paid by the NMCA. This affiliation with the NMCA is
very exciting. The promotional benefits to Classic Thunder afforded by
this affiliation are outstanding. The NMCA receives regular coverage in
the top drag racing and automotive magazines, and there is even a
television show in the works for 2003.
Classic Thunder is also planning to
attend the National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The payout, if any, for this event is not known at this time, but it will
provide a terrific opportunity for promotion of the Classic Thunder series
with coverage in many top magazines and in NHRA's own National Dragster
Classic Thunder classes will be PRO and SEMIPRO at this time;
SPORTSMAN classes are under consideration and will be announced shortly.
Classic Thunder will feature FULL classes in all categories. There will be
no bye runs. If seven cars show up for a category, it will be a four car
field. If 15 cars show up for a category, it will be an eight car field,
Further, we are considering a break rule. That is, in order to win a
round, you must defeat your opponent AND be ready to run in the next
round. If you are broken for the following run, the losing opponent from
the first round will return. Or perhaps the quickest losing racer from the
previous round will be seeded into the field. Log on to the Classic
Thunder message board to share your opinions on this.
The 2003 Classic Thunder Categories
The following are brief descriptions and do not
constitute the official rules for each category. The official Classic
Thunder safety and competition rules were solidified at the meeting and
will be published on the website soon. Each paying member also will
receive a printed rule book.
Pro Classic Altered: supercharged or injected altered race cars;
nitro or alcohol; stack injectors required on injected machines; no carbs;
no tunnel rams
Pro Classic Dragster: supercharged or injected dragsters; front
engine dragsters only; nitro or alcohol; stack injectors required on
injected machines; no carbs; no tunnel rams
Pro Classic Funny Car: supercharged or injected flip top funny
cars; 1979 or earlier body styles; nitro or alcohol; stack injectors
required on injected machines; no carbs; no tunnel rams
Pro Gasser: supercharged or carbureted gassers; nitrous
injection grandfathered for current Classic Thunder racers, but will be
phased out. Turbochargers under consideration but not legal at this time.
1964 or earlier body styles; full body required; fiberglass bodies allowed
for 2003, but must conform to the basic original lines (no slammed Pro Mod
A/Gas will be the first eight qualified cars running
heads up on a sportsman tree (1 races 5, 2 races 6, etc.; B/Gas
will be the second eight qualified cars (run on an index equal to one tenth
quicker than the low qualifier in B/Gas); C/Gas and D/Gas will
run if enough cars compete (24-31 cars required for a C/Gas field and 32
or more cars required for a D/Gas field).
Classic Comp Dragster (CC/D): any front engine dragster that does not fit
within the PRO rules; heads up qualified eight or 16 car field; runs
against Classic Comp altereds; roadsters; and funny cars
Classic Comp Altered (CC/A): any altered that does not fit
within the PRO rules; heads up qualified eight or 16 car field; runs
against Classic Comp dragsters; roadsters; and funny cars
Classic Comp Roadster (CC/R): any roadster that does not fit
within the PRO rules; heads up qualified eight or 16 car field; runs
against Classic Comp dragsters; altereds; and funny cars.
Classic Comp Funny Car (CC/FC): any 1979 or earlier funny car that does not fit
within the PRO rules; heads up qualified eight
or 16 car field; runs against Classic Comp altereds; roadsters; and
Classic Comp Doorslammer (CC/DS): any doorslammer 1979 and
earlier; must have a full body and doors (street roadsters not included);
heads up qualified eight or 16 car field; roof optional.
Classic Sportsman (C/S) and Classic Street (C/ST)
categories are under consideration, but we are trying to determine how
best to run these classes. We are trying to stay away from index racing,
but how do we break down these various machines fairly (and still be able
to get the show in)? Register and join the Classic Thunder online forum to
offer your ideas.
Nostalgia Super Stock (N/SS): The Midwest Nostalgia Super
Stock Association will run select Classic Thunder events in 2003.
Super Stock machines will adhere to all MNSSA rules and regulations and
will be run as a featured category within Classic Thunder events.
Membership dues, entry fees, and payouts will be handled by the directors
of the MNSSA. Further information on our partnership with the MNSSA will
We are in negotiations with the National Muscle Car Association to
race as a featured circuit within ten of their events in 2003. That will
give us a national stage with all the coverage that the NMCA gets.
The 2003 Classic Thunder calendar is being worked on right now.
At least four dates at three tracks are solid. We will publish the dates
for those events soon. If the NMCA deal comes through, that will be
another ten events right there. Not all events will be accessible by all
Classic Thunder members. We will continue to work on events in smaller
venues also. If you would like to have a Classic Thunder event at your
local drag strip, please provide Bob Gettys with your track owner's
Can Classic Thunder members race with other organizations,
promoters, or race tracks outside of Classic Thunder? This was
discussed briefly and initial discussions point toward any Classic Thunder
being able to race anywhere else they please, as long as they race as an
individual and not advertise their appearance as the Classic Thunder show
or a subgroup of Classic Thunder (e.g., the Southeastern Gasser Tour).
Classic Thunder will provide a race format information sheet to
be handed out at the gate for each event. The sheet will describe how the
event will run (including approximate times), what the entry fees and
payouts are, in what order the classes will run, etc.
Classic Thunder racers in each category should park as close to one
another as possible (and as close to the timing tower and staging lanes as
possible) to provide better coordination and information flow during the
events. If possible, this information will be included on the information
There will be ONE entry fee for all cars entering a Classic Thunder
event. There will not be separate entry fee for "test and
tune." Since all racers will pay the same fee, all racers might as
well attempt to qualify and race. Classic Thunder racers should plan on NO
additional time runs after racing begins. It behooves each racer to be
there on time and to make as many runs as possible during the open time
run session and the qualifying sessions.
Classic Thunder events will include a short open time run period where
any car in any category can shake out. However, this will be a very short
time. There will be at LEAST two qualifying periods at each event. It
behooves each member to make both qualifying rounds to ensure a spot in
The events will generally run with the slower categories starting first
and the fastest categories finishing each round. At this point, the
fastest cars in Classic Thunder are the Pro Classic Altereds. Depending on
the number of Gassers, Semipro, Sportsman, and Street categories, these
classes may run another round in between the other pro classes in order to
speed the show. This information will be provided on the event information
If any team in any category feels it cannot make the next appointed
round, the team must contact the Category Coordinator and /or the Event
Director immediately. The Event Director may give you extra time by
running a class or two out of order. However, the Event Director may
elect to disqualify you and enter an alternate for that round. This will
be at the sole discretion of the Event Director with input from the
Classic Thunder is a SHOW. As such, the PRO rounds will be set
to run as follows: First round: 7:00pm; Second Round: 8:30pm; Finals:
10:00pm. NOTE: EVERY ATTEMPT WILL BE MADE TO ADHERE TO THESE TIMES (OR
EQUIVALENT TIMES FOR DAYTIME RACES). THE EVENT DIRECTOR WILL NOT DELAY A
CLASSIC THUNDER EVENT FOR A CLASSIC THUNDER COMPETITOR WHO CANNOT MAKE THE
CALL. IF YOU ARE NOT READY FOR THAT ROUND, AN ALTERNATE WILL RACE IN YOUR
Classic Thunder will require annual dues from its members in the
amount of $65 a year. This will provide initial monies for
advertising, promotions, etc. None of this money is paid back to the
racers, but will support the activities of the organization in providing
the racers a place to run their Classic drag racing cars. There will also
be an additional associate membership $25 a year for non racers.
Each member will receive a membership card, two decals, and a set of
We are working on creating Classic Thunder merchandise,
including T-shirts, hats, etc. These products will be available at a
discount for Classic Thunder members.
It was discussed in Atlanta that if a racer
showed up and wanted to race just the one race with Classic Thunder, but
did not want to become a full member (for instance, a quick bracket racer
at a track wanting to run with one of the Classic Comp categories), that
he could do so for a premium. It was
tentatively decided that we would allow such a racer to enter the Classic
Thunder event on a "one time basis" for an additional entry fee of
We want to hear from paying members about this. Do you think it's
fair? Should the premium be higher? Alternatively, should we charge any
racer who wants to run with Classic Thunder the $65 membership fee even if
they run only one event with us? Log on to the Classic Thunder message
board and provide your ideas and comments.
Open Classic Thunder races will require payment of an entry fee for
every racer entering the event, Pro, Semipro, or Sportsman. (Booked in
Classic Thunder events will not require entry fees for Pro drivers.)
Classic Thunder entry fees will be paid at the Classic Thunder tech
inspection table. Each team will pay the track's entry fee at the gate,
but will pay no race entry fee until tech inspection. For open shows, there will be no
free admission for drivers or teams. For booked in events, all show cars
will be admitted free.
The entry fee for Pro Drivers at all open Classic Thunder events will
be $25 per entry (only one fee will be required per car being raced).
There will be a per race entry fee for Semi Pro, Sportsman, and
Street drivers at all Classic Thunder events. A majority of this entry
fee will be paid back to the racers in prize money. The final numbers on
the entry fees and payouts for semipro, sportsman, and street categories
are still being worked.
How much would you be willing to pay in entry fees
to get a certain purse? How much should the winner make compared to the
runner-up compared to the semifinalists? Should the winner get twice as
much as the runner-up or do you want a less drastic difference in the
payouts? Log on to the Classic Thunder message board to provide your
opinions and ideas.
There are several things in the works at this time. Here are a few
brief paragraphs about what's coming...
Based on the results of our Atlanta meeting, we are revising and
improving our press kit to show tracks and potential sponsors the
benefit of aligning with Classic Thunder.
We are putting together a promotional video. A professional
(network television quality) video production company has come aboard as a
sponsor and will be producing a free promotional video using existing
footage of Classic Thunder racing plus the high quality digital images
taken by Roger Richards and Brian Wood. Classic Thunder announcer Bill
Pratt will script and narrate the video.
In addition to this initial
effort, the production company has agreed to attend at least one Classic
Thunder event in 2003 to take raw digital footage of all Classic Thunder
racers for future promotional efforts and for a Classic Thunder feature
We are looking into purchasing liability insurance to cover
Classic Thunder in addition to the insurance provided by the tracks at
which we compete.
A newsletter was discussed at the Atlanta meeting. At this time,
we are going to publish updates on the website, but a printed newsletter
is anticipated for the future.
We are working on getting T-shirts made. Northeast Division
Director Rick Stambaugh will coordinate with one of the top motorsports
artists in the country on a design. The T-shirts will be available for
sale over the internet and at all Classic Thunder races. Classic
Thunder members will receive a discount on all Classic Thunder
We are going to be setting up Classic Thunder as a corporation this
year so that everything is "on the table." Our credo will
continue to be Honesty Above All Else. Establishing Classic Thunder as an
official corporation will allow us to enter contracts that provide
affirmation of our credo to our racers, sponsors, and track partners.
We will be looking into hiring a marketing professional to
obtain sponsors for various prizes as well as overall Classic Thunder
sponsorship. We are looking for cash or product awards for the following
or anything else we can think of: Winner, Runner Up, Best Burnout, Low ET,
Top Speed, Low Qualifier, etc.
That's easy! To bring classic, heads up drag racing back to the
people and to HAVE FUN DOING IT!!!
More info at www.classicthunder.net!