NHRA fan-friendly in variety of ways


This weekend's visit by the NHRA's professional tour offers something that NASCAR'S visit earlier this month didn't.

Both types of racing are speed contests with pageantry and thrills, but the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series offers much more to fans than the annual stock-car race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Here are 10 reasons while you'll enjoy a day of big-time drag racing more than an afternoon at a Sprint Cup race:

10. Traffic: Crowds each day at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals will approach 20,000. Fans tend to filter in throughout the morning, unlike NASCAR, when 140,000 tend to arrive about two hours before the race starts;

9. Break time: Leave your seat during a three-hour Cup race and you might miss the pivotal pass. Pro drag racing sessions last about 90 minutes, with each side-by-side race lasting about five minutes, including tire warming and prerace burnouts.

8. Attention span: Top Fuel and Nitro Funny Car runs last about 4 seconds. Even I can focus for that long.

7. Clear to the ear: The constant drone of NASCAR engines is replaced by thunderous but sporadic bursts of drag power, allowing fans to hear what NHRA announcer Bob Frey has to say. And no one in NASCAR is as funny as Frey.

6. Fast car show: Pick a car -- any car -- and you'll see it drag race. And these folks don't bang into each other, so paint jobs alone are worth the admission cost.

5. Stock cars: Funny Cars, like NASCAR stock cars, look alike, but Stock and Super Stock drag categories include original factory muscle cars such as Barracudas, Chevelles, GTOs and Mustangs.

4. Diversity: NASCAR dreams of having more championship-caliber drivers who are female, black or Hispanic. In NHRA, it is routine. Ashley Force Hood (taking the season off to have a child), Erica Enders and Melanie Troxel are top contenders; Antron Brown, who is black, has won nine Top Fuel titles; and brothers Cruz and Tony Pedregon have each won two Funny Car season championships.

3. No booing: Unlike NASCAR events, no NHRA driver will be booed during introductions.

2. Pit access: Every NHRA ticket includes a pit pass. Good luck getting that kind of access to a NASCAR star on race day. It's your fault if you don't get to shake hands with a top NHRA star. And you can be within 20 feet of watching teams rebuild engines in 30 minutes.

1. Horsepower: Top Fuel and Funny Car engines produce 8,000 horsepower, so each of the eight cylinders pumps out more horsepower than an entire NASCAR engine. Enough said.

■ DEDICATION -- This column and special section is dedicated to those responsible for the birth of drag racing in Southern Nevada nearly 60 years ago.

Fabricator Steve Kirby, who died March 21 at the age of 69, was among Southern Nevada's early drag racers. Each year on May 12, his birthday party was a gathering of our original drag racing community, and we hope that tradition continues.

Jeff Wolf's motor sports column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at jwolf@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0247. Visit lvrj.com/motorsports for more news and commentary. Follow Wolf on Twitter: @lvrjwolf.

 

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