The NHRA is finalizing details for its return to action – although it isn’t 100-percent sure which month or which venue will kick off the ambitious re-revised 2020 schedule.
“We’re very much on the positive side of starting in Seattle and working through a schedule that starts there. There’s an opportunity for some events to go before that. I just don’t know if that’s going to happen. They’re talking through it,” Jeffrey Young, the NHRA’s vice-president of marketing and communications, said.
His remarks came on the eve of an expected announcement from NHRA headquarters at Glendora, Calif. But that announcement has been postponed until next Tuesday, June 2.
Reportedly, the remainder of the season will start with the July 31-August 2 event at Pacific Raceways, near Seattle.
However, race teams, sponsors, and the NHRA have been discussing the feasibility of staging a race – and possibly two – in July at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The racetrack actually is located at Brownsburg, Ind., just about a mile or two from many of the Top Fuel and Funny Car team shops.
“Even when we announce it, we might still change it, because of COVID and outbreaks and things like that. It’ll be subject to change, based on state health advice,” Young said.
The plan is to complete at least 18 events by year’s end. Two races already are in hand from February: the Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., and the Arizona Nationals, near Phoenix.
Young said the NHRA doesn’t want to force the announcement, that it prefers to wait “till we get everything in place. There are some things we need to work through. We’ve just got to work through some details.”
Earlier in the week, he said, “There are, like, 10 options. So the details are dicey, depending on what we decide to do. Everybody has not yet said, ‘Let’s go this route.’ I have a chart in Excel, and we’re on option ‘L’ – and we did start at ‘A.’ We talk to people at FOX daily. It’s a puzzle game, too, TV schedules. You can imagine they’re in disarray, too, without baseball and certain sports they had scheduled. It’s hard for everybody to pull the trigger because you’ve got to start the business back.”
At the moment, restrictions still are in place in Washington State’s King County, where Pacific Raceways is located. But Young said he’s optimistic: “As long as the window doesn’t change [for restrictions to end], we should be good to go.”
Pacific Raceways President Jason Fiorito also has said he is preparing for his regularly scheduled race, which traditionally is No. 14 on the Mello Yello Drag racing Series schedule.
To illustrate the continued fluidity of the situation, especially given the NHRA’s commitment to inviting spectators at its races, Young said, “What happens if Seattle is a no-go when we get there? We don’t know yet. We’re not going to do it if they [Washington State government officials] say no. We’re not going to force it. We’ll follow all the guidelines.”
The March 25 schedule that the NHRA released indicated that selected races – including the one at Seattle – would be two-day events for the professional classes. Now most of the races are scheduled as two-day affairs (Saturday and Sunday), with sportsman action Friday.
“If you’re going to ask people to travel,” Young said, “you’re going to have to cut the show down a little bit.”
But he understands the fans are eager to get back to business.
“Got to give people what they want. If they want some drag racing, got to do it,” he said.
Everyone will find out Tuesday when and where that is expected to happen.
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) May 27, 2020