Is it me or is the drag race action really off the chain in 2002? We have Pro Class cars running 200 mph; Hot Rod Class cars have demolished the 8-second barrier; Street Class racers are running mid-9s on DOT rubber-the scene is blowin' up.
The NHRA is hitting on all cylinders, the IDRC is as strong as ever, the IDRA is battling on and NOPI's NDRA has landed some impressive sponsors in its rookie season. There are a slew of new cars hitting the track and a number of wild rides in the works.
Shining stars include: the Turbonetics RWD V8TT Celica (which we will be featuring on the cover of the next issue along with a bonus pull-out poster), Chris Rado's FWD Celica, and Ara Arslanian's mirror-image Solaras, one which ran 7.22 and won the Pro Class at Atco. The list goes on. Somewhere in the pipeline and soon to be in the limelight are the Acura RSX of RJ DeVera, Adam Saruwatari's Civic Si, Len M. has a tube-frame Mitsubishi in the works and Extreme Motorsports should be back in the thick of it soon as well with its Pro Mirage (X-Files this issue) and unibody Talon.
However, there is a backlash, a "be careful what you wish for" scenario where SC drag racing has evolved past its grassroots beginnings. It is true an independent-a racer who owns, builds, tunes and drives his car-has a tall mountain to climb. Not running 9.50s in FWD unibody competition? You'll have a hard time advancing to the semis, and maybe even the second round. It's only a matter of time before we have an entire 16-car field qualifying in the 9s. Two years ago, having two cars make high 9-second passes against each other was noteworthy. Now, running a 9.1 may still mean you'll be on the trailer. It's intimidating. I know of a few cars and racers who have been out of the unibody classes for a season or less and, as a result, are so far off the leading edge they are considering dropping the sport altogether. When a sport goes big-time like SC drag racing has, there are often players left in the wake of progress; it's a Darwin thing. The best of the best will most likely concentrate on one series in hopes of a national championship, which means the one-man race team can still be competitive in events where the big guns don't show.
As impressive as the cars on the track have been this season, 2002 is an interesting time for sanctioning bodies. With the NDRA coming aboard, is there enough SC drag adrenaline to go around? Will someone fall? Will there be one elite series and three minor series or two elite and two minors, maybe three and one? Will the racers disperse and make four equally viable series? The only thing for certain is the racers will decide and, as has always been our policy, Turbo will follow the racers. Our plan from Day One has been to cover the opening event of each organization and at least half of the scheduled events of each.
However, unforeseen factors such as budget cuts, where the racers go, rainouts and the number of available pages may ultimately impact our coverage. In the scheme of publishing editors are the only ones looking out for the readership's best interest. I plan to be fair with all the organizations and all the racers but when it comes down to it my first concern is the reader. Without you there is no Turbo magazine.