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Nitro Shots: A Little Like Can Go a Long Way

It can be easy to get down on NHRA if you read a lot of social media comments, where the perpetually disgruntled fans do nothing but talk about everything they dislike, or all the bad experiences they’ve had, or how it’s not like the old days, or how all the other kinds of drag racing are better. There are two very important things one needs to consider when reading these comments.

First, you are getting only one side of the story. The squeaky wheel is way squeakier than the well-oiled wheel. Or in other words, people who are unhappy about something are just more likely to be vocal, and sometimes way more vocal, than those who are happy. Sometimes in a forum like social media, these people feed off each other as well and amplify their unhappiness. One person comments and eight others agree and share their negative opinions as well. At times a dissenting, and satisfied, person will try to engage but when a feed is generally negative, it’s hard to change that momentum.

The big thing to remember in this situation is that while the 274 unhappy people commenting look like a lot, or even the 2740, for a sport where 15,000 or more are showing up at the track and a half million to a million are watching on television, what percentage of that does 2740 come out to?

Pro Stock remains a big point of social media discussion, much of it negative. (Photo courtesy NHRA)

The second thing to consider is that at the same time “(insert another style of drag racing here) is way better than this,” is a frequently used argument.  A visit to the social media for those styles of racing or to the tracks hosting those events reveals a similar cascade of comments. I wonder if those are the same disgruntled people? Even if they aren’t, the point is that it’s not just the NHRA being picked on.

NHRA drag racing does face some very real issues and there are valid points of criticism, but there are also many things that NHRA does right. Those things just come up as the topic of posts much less frequently it seems.

Social media occupies a space that didn’t previously exist, and I’m not always sure that space has been clearly defined. It can be a great tool that can put fans, racers and sanctioning bodies in touch with each other like never before, but it’s also a tool that needs to be taken with a grain of salt sometimes.

My little disclaimer here is that it was actually an event at the local drag strip, and the resulting social media posts, particularly criticisms, that got me thinking about this. The track in question is under new management and the negative posts made the day of the event concerned me. I was wondering if it kept people away or if it would discourage the track management from trying similar events in the future.

It worries me sometimes to think that people who are new to the sport or just considering giving it a try could see a wave of social media negativity and opt to not go to that race. It’s great to think that people would just go anyway and form their own opinion, but I’m not sure everyone is wired that way. Sometimes it’s a matter of not wanting to put out the money to go to something if “everyone” is talking about how bad it is. Sometimes it’s wanting to be part of the cool crowd and thinking the criticism means it’s not the cool thing.

You can’t keep people from speaking their minds so negative comments will always exist. They obviously aren’t unique to NHRA or drag racing as a whole either. Don’t believe everything you read and don’t let the negative form your opinions for you. Form your own opinions and if you like something, be just as vocal about the positive.

Hey Y’All, Watch This:

Congratulations to J.R. Todd on his first Funny Car win! Todd has nine wins in Top Fuel, but his team has struggled for much of the year after his switch to Funny Car, his first time competing in the class. Nothing like a Team Kalitta mosh pit.


QualifyingFriday, November 10, 6:30 PM ETFS1 (Live)
QualifyingSaturday, November 11, 6:00 PM ETFS1 (Live)
EliminationsSunday, November 12, 4:00 PM ETFS1 (Live)

About Toni Montgomery

Toni Montgomery
A writer for Frontstretch since 2002, and editor since 2006, Toni heads up the NHRA coverage for the site. She’s responsible for post-race coverage in the weekly Pace Laps multi-series round-up along with the weekly Nitro Shots column featuring news and features from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. An award-winning former writer for the Presbyterian Church, Toni works in web design and freelances with writing in North Carolina.

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  1. Quote “NHRA is doing many things right” But author couldn’t list any.

    • Author could, but chose not to, just as I did not list any specific things they are doing wrong, because it was not the point I was attempting to make. But I could make that the subject of next week’s commentary, because, as I was attempting to say, there is good and bad both. Off the top of my head without thinking about it–NHRA stays on the advertised schedule, unlike so many other events that run hours behind–supposed to end at 4PM on Sunday and you are scrambling to make it before curfew 10PM Sunday night. Weather excepted, this does NOT happen at an NHRA event. Nor do fans climbing into the stands to watch Nitro classes generally have to sit there for an hour while things run behind. Nitro and Pro Stock aside, car counts are good in other classes. 27 Pro Mods, give or take, show up on a regular basis trying to get into the 16-car field. (And I’d argue that class is one of the best shows in all of drag racing right now.) Both of these were among the big complaints at the non-NHRA event I reference attending in my article. We are no longer having to watch eliminations at 11 p.m. on Sunday night and that’s only if girls softball doesn’t run overtime. Safety is top-notch and always on the radar. Drivers are still accessible to fans, as are pits on the whole, making for a great fan experience at track. Granted accessible pits are a staple at all drag racing events. Tickets are not, in my opinion and compared to other events, racing and non-racing, ridiculously expensive and kids get in free, making it reasonable for a family to go to the track.
      All that being said, yes, there are issues. Pro classes are too expensive, leading to low car count and dominance by a select few mega-teams that have the $$ to compete–DSR, JFR, etc. The complete disconnect between ROI for a potential sponsor vs. cost in these classes. The shamefully small purses paid to these classes which does nothing to help with the aforementioned costs that sponsors won’t cover either. Whatever the hell is going on with the mess that is Pro Stock. The total inability to identify cars with manufacturers or competition among manufacturers.

      I’m not wearing rose-colored glasses, and I also said specifically in the article, “NHRA drag racing does face some very real issues and there are valid points of criticism” but the point I was trying to make is that it’s distressing when not ONE of the good points I mentioned is brought up on social media amidst a sea of things like “NHRA sucks” or “NHRA has ruined the sport” or “NHRA is nothing like it used to be” particularly when that’s IT and no further context is offered.