Is TAD becoming A/Fuel dragster?

Discussion in 'System One Pit Buzz' started by rb0804, May 25, 2018.

  1. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

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    I witnessed the positive side of this this past weekend at the New England Nationals. Walking through the pits after Q4 I congratulated Dan Mercier on his driving. He has stepped up from A/F to T/F at select events this season, and this was his second time out with the big boys. He was aggressive in his driving, but made good decisions when the car told him to.

    Chris Saulnier - Team Tigges
    Mechanic Falls, Maine
     
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  2. JustinatAce

    JustinatAce Member

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    I'm loving this thread.

    Change is sometimes necessary, but we're also talking about appealing to a fresh generation of potential racers that the vast majority don't have an interest in anything that isn't on their phone or tablet screen. They want to be YouTuber's when they grow up. How can something that requires hard work and perseverance grab their interest? Full Size Traxxas TADs?

    I think we can all agree there is nothing cheap or easy about running any TA combo, let alone running a 5 second quarter mile. But, could be worse, could be spending more to run slower. But if you were a good bracket racer, why the hell would you want to go Alcohol racing? More venues for your racing, big money shootouts and usually drinking beer before we are at the track. A lot of bracket racers have no aspirations of running heads up classes. Be it the amount of work involved or even just the style of racing, even if money isn't an issue. If you really think about it, the only heads up classes that aren't having trouble filling fields are Pro Mods and Factory Stock. Even Comp is too heads up for most.

    BUT... I digress... Auto-Shifters have helped wreck a ton of Pro-Mods (and made some faster), and look how popular they are.... Will, there could be something to 'em.
     
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  3. nikkammerer

    nikkammerer New Member

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    In terms of Top Alcohol Dragster, I think the focus must be more narrow than “appealing to a fresh generation of potential racers”. The focus should be appealing to current non-TA racers that may be potential TA racers. While in a perfect world, we would try to attract a completely new batch to the sport, I think going after the millennials is a much greater challenge so we need to first give attention to attracting those individuals that have already made a reasonable commitment to fast drag racing.

    Heck, I have some young employees (say the under 25 crowd) at my company that will take PTO when the latest video game is released…I cannot understand it, but it’s their choice on how they spend their time and money. Nonetheless, I don’t think any of us should be staying up late at night on how to get them to like racing in a TA category. Let them tweet, play Xbox, or whatever they do.

    When you begin to look for racers that are the closet-aligned to TAD, it would be TD. While the TA combo is without a doubt pricey (no matter what the rules are or would be) and more national event oriented, despite the regional race structure being available, there are individuals in Top Dragster that do have the financial means and aspirations to pursue operating a TAD. I don’t believe they are under any fairy-tale illusions about how much work it is to run a TAD. In fact, some may have over-estimated the effort which is keeping them scared away. Sometimes a small nudge and an inviting gesture is all that is needed to get them to jump, which an innocuous auto-shifter seems like a pretty small item in the grand scheme of things, particularly when all items are considered and the fact that it would only be ‘permitted for use’ but not mandatory for racers to use one.

    Ironic that there are numerous responses that manual shifting is about “letting the driver’s drive” in TAD, when only 24.3% of the competitors in 2018 have actually had to shift anything. 75.7% of the drivers in TAD have not shifted a darn thing. This is based on all national events in the 2018 season (no regional races). 148 Entries of which 112 were AFD and 36 were BAD. I suspect that those three-quarters of racers this season definitely feel like they have been “driving”, and I would agree with them on that point.

    In regards to crashes, right-foot is typically the root cause...certainly other factors may compound the situation but those silly feet are what really get you in trouble because your brain may tell them to do something that no human is equipped to accomplish. Life in general is quite humbling at times.
     
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  4. rb0804

    rb0804 Member

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    In my experience it’s been that dragster guys are dragster guys, they don’t want to race anything else. Some of them prefer to race heads up and not bracket race but either (a) simply cannot not afford it or (b) the amount of work and possible carnage scare and rules them away. There used to be places where one could race a dragster heads up, but it seems those days are gone so either you have to run top dragster and “deal” with the bracket racing or step it up to TAD.

    No top dragster person is going to put together an A/Fuel combo on his/her own and try to run it. He/she is going to have to hire someone to give him a tuneup and show him how to run the car. A top dragster person can however take his/her Hemi that they already own, put a screw blower on it (some already have them) and go run TAD with a little bit of help, not establishing a whole new program.

    Just to touch on the auto shift deal, there have been a few bad blown Alcohol dragster crashes in the last 10 years which were early in the run. This is without auto shift, so I think you guys falsely blame the autoshift for causing lots of wrecks. That being said a lot of promods did get wrecked early on and a lot of them did have auto shift, but I think it’s more of an issue with the converter deal and engine braking while in gear. A transmission like the Liberty is safer because it goes to neutral when you lift so you get no engine braking and the tires stay on the ground. Again I’m not saying the rules should require you to run one of these transmissions or even require you to run a two-step or auto shift. All I am saying is the rules should allow it and it should be the choice of the end user if they decide to use it. If blown guys that don’t want to use these items and would like to continue to blow their stuff up all over the racing surface that’s their prerogative.

    We run a Blown deal and there have been times where it was just the two of us, the driver and myself, usually at the most we have 3, driver, me and a crew guy. There is a team in funny car that does the same and they run pretty good also with a minimal amount of work. So the point is, you can run the car and not pull the clutch every run and still throw up some decent runs and go some rounds (unless your at a D1 Regional).

    Thank you to the Gent above for throwing out the statistic of those who actually shift their cars vs. those along for the ride. Anyone have any info on oil downs blower vs. A/Fuel?
     
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  5. Will Hanna

    Will Hanna We put the 'inside' in Top Alcohol
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    I appreciate everyone participating in the discussion.

    I want to reiterate - I am NOT advocating every change I mentioned. But if a change can bring new blood to the class, it obviously needs to be considered.

    Turbo's seem to be a hot button. Let's say Pro Line catches wind of this, calls a few of their wealthy customers, says if they are allowed they have 10 customers that will build a car for next year. If half of those happen, the next question is it worth it? After that, how many will quit due to the rule?

    I honestly don't want turbos. I don't want auto shift. I don't want A/Fuel FC. I would just as soon they ban 2 step launch on converter car and make us leave on the pedal (like it was back when I drove last). I'm pretty good with MFI, so EFI would potentially take away some of my competitive advantage. That's the racer in me choices.

    But if any one of those changes, or others not mentioned, could bring more cars to the class. Not just 1 or 2. I would be on board considering them further. Obviously we have to depend on NHRA getting the rules right if we're talking a new combo.

    The problem I see potentially facing the class is the veteran/regulars retiring, coupled with the normal turnover, continues to exceed the amount of teams coming in. It's academic where that leads.
     
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  6. Will Hanna

    Will Hanna We put the 'inside' in Top Alcohol
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    Since I have raced TD quite a bit, I would be willing to bet almost every car with a roots blower or screw blower is driven by someone who at some level, aspires to have a TAD.

    Of the rest, I would probably say a good percentage have some sort of aspirations of running something heads up.

    One well funded nitrous team told me they would get an A/Fuel car but the two qualifying runs at regionals coupled with a lack of races in our area has deterred them from stepping up.

    Another stated he hasn't shifted anything in years and has the misconception that running competitive with a blown car requires constantly blowing shit up.
     
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  7. JustinatAce

    JustinatAce Member

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    This is what I believe the biggest deterrent to be, even to current alcohol racers.. Have to travel halfway across the country just to run a "points meet" race in your home region for very few opportunities to actually run even when the weather cooperates. Trying to justify time off and having a job/running a business gets difficult for basically going camping with a bitchin' race car that might get to make a lap for each day you took off work.

    As for the blowing it up to be competitive with a blower, I think there is still a huge stigma there leftover from all the oildowns and damage being done back when a large majority of the class was blowing their stuff up trying to run low 30's. Of course, we were still running division races then. I think it will take some time for that to pass.

    And the class becoming A/Fuel - well, look what kind of cars are renting rides out. Somewhat of a less busy cockpit, so a little easier to get the motions down... And while they sound like turds, there is more curb appeal to running Nitro vs. Alcohol, if for no other reason than to say you drive a Nitro car.
     
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  8. nikkammerer

    nikkammerer New Member

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    Yes, I understood that Will was not necessarily in favor of certain changes. I simply was appreciative of the accurate technical points you stated on the advantages of auto-shift, even if you are not necessarily a fan of it. Again, in TAFC, it is slightly different since everyone is running a supercharger with tranny combination. TAD has a different driver profile due to an overwhelming majority of cars having no transmission whatsoever.

    It would be nice if there were enough AFD and BAD cars to each have them as their own category but I know that is not reality and likely never will be. But it would be fun to see 20+ AFD and 20+ BAD at a national event trying to qualify in their respective classes...oh well, one can dream.

    As I mentioned in a prior post and a couple others eluded in recent posts, some racers have likely over-estimated the amount of work (ignoring finances) that is required. I am not implying it’s not a lot of sweat equity, but I have encountered a few that seem to paint a dire picture of running TAD being like the pro nitro guys which is silly but that perception exists even among those that I personally think would know better.

    Lastly, the proximity of races is definitely a huge deterrent to many as the regional schedule has really spread things out. I am spoiled as I live 1 hour from Noble and 1.5 hours from Tulsa, both of which host regionals. I am just about 4 to 5 hours away from both Topeka and Ennis, which offer both regionals and nationals. If you are a south Texas racer, up until this past season or so, there was not even a single TA regional race in the entire state of Texas. I know that not just NHRA factors into this, as track operators are a component, but I just can't imagine how a racer-rich state like Texas could not host an event. San Antonio or Houston to Iowa for regional points race is just crazy...going to Indy is literally closer.

    The economic effects of a decade ago are still rippling thru TA since it is a chicken or egg thing. Do we have to show NHRA and track operators that regionals have big car counts before we can return to divisionals but the only way to increase car counts is to have divisionals. I don't really know the magical answer and I know that is part of the idea of this discussion.
     
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