Bo Butner is not happy.
Sure, he has one of the best cars in the entire Pro Stock class. He has four wins. He has been the fastest qualifier twice. And he is leading the Pro Stock points. But Butner still isn’t happy.
Because the fans aren’t happy. And that just leaves a bad taste in his mouth.
When Butner traveled to the Houston NHRA event earlier this year, he went there as a spectator. Not as a racer. After NHRA cut the Pro Stock class from select races on the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour for 2019, some of the races were left without the once-traditional professional traveling class. And the fans noticed. And they weren’t happy about it.
“There are a lot of fans that aren’t happy. And at Houston, they were pissed off,” said Butner, the 2017 Pro Stock class champion. “I was down there to sell t-shirts and they were actually mad that we were not there. I was like, ‘hey, it ain’t our fault.’ But a lot of them had bought tickets well in advance and they didn’t know.”
In addition to some unhappy fans, the change to the class has also proven a disappointment for many of the racers who are left six races short of a full schedule. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, it has proven a bit of a hassle for many of the racers who make the class what it is.
“Of course it sucks. It sucks for Summit and the teams that want to be out here,” Butner said. “I miss Bristol, which sucks because everybody loves Bristol. I miss Atlanta. I will miss Epping. It is just different.”
To make up for that deficit, Butner has expanded his presence in the popular Factory Stock Showdown, a class many consider a potential future substitute for the traditional Pro Stock cars. And he has proven just as successful in that class as he has in his KB-powered Chevy Camaro.
“I thought I was going to be able to take some time off, but it seems like they put the Factory Showdown races at many of those,” Butner said with a laugh. “I won the Factory Stock deal a few years back before it was what it is today. I want to win in that and we have a chance to maybe sneak up there in points. It is competitive, it is fun, but it is very complicated.
“It is way different than Pro Stock. Right now, Factory cars are cool, but they are a lot of work. It is just Chevy versus Ford versus Mopar. Somebody needs to really take off with this class and run with it. Who knows where it will go.”
For now, Butner will balance races in both classes. This weekend in Norwalk, Butner will be bouncing between his Jim Butner Auto Chevy Camaro and his Cobra Jet Mustang, trying to see what damage he can do in either class.
So what is the answer to the Pro Stock scheduling dilemma? Perhaps the answer doesn’t have anything to do with that class in particular, but the series as a whole.
“I think NHRA in general should look at cutting back,” Butner said. “It would create more demand. The fans say the same thing. I’m sure the NHRA will get it figured out. I wouldn’t object to just cutting the whole series back some.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019