The Future of Stock Eliminator Is In Your Hands

What is Stock Eliminator? Well, it means something different to just about anyone you ask. Some love the history, others love the American muscle, others love the competition. One thing is for sure though, we all want Stock to continue as a legitimate racing category. But racing classes can’t simply exist.

They require suitable participation, and for longevity, they must be attractive to up-and-coming racers. Fan and manufacturer appeal doesn’t hurt either. You may be shocked that the level of performance is irrelevant if you have an exciting formula. And Stock has what the people want. Fans can relate to the wide range of cars and trucks, there’s plenty of wheelies and quick runs and the competition is awesome.

Rolling it back, we know Stock Eliminator has been a grass-roots class for decades, the original spirit was to push American muscle cars to go as quick as possible. Most of the cars came from the showroom and were raced with seemingly few mods. Today’s cars are more “race” than “stock” but that’s not a bad thing. Stock has always evolved, but in the last 15 years rule changes and technology have allowed the performance level to plummet from 10s into the 8s, and from the low 130s to 170 mph. Amazingly, though, you can still arrive with a basic and affordable car on an open trailer and win.

But considering the massive leap in performance over the last three years, we have to wonder what the future holds? The wave of factory-built cars has certainly changed the face of Stock Eliminator, and that’s a separate debate. The Cobra Jet, Drag Pak and COPO Camaros have been met with great controversy because they give manufacturers the chance to hand-pick combinations and build cars that rock right out the box. And when introduced, they raced against cars that had decades worth of development. This pissed off quite a few racers. Ultimately, NHRA separated the classics from the 2008 machines.

Flip the coin and you’d see that these cars were necessary if NHRA and the racers wanted to have new cars on track. The problem, every new regular production muscle cars carries way too high a horsepower rating to be competitive. Plus, racers weren’t flooding the showrooms purchase a $30-50,000 car only to tear it apart to make it a dedicated Stocker, or Super Stocker for that matter. Of course, many racers would have been okay if no one built a new car, and Stock morphed into a nostalgic throwback class.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of classic and current muscle. I think the class needs both and it can have both. It’s been my intent since I began racing Stock in 1994 to help grow Stock and Super Stock through participation as a racer and a journalist. I feel lucky to enjoy the competition and to do a small part to help ensure there’s a future for our type of racing. Not everyone will agree with all my thoughts or opinions, and that’s okay.

When I started racing my 1987 5.0L Mustang, I drove it to the track, swapped wheels and tires and drove it home. I even raced it as a Stocker this way in 1994 and ran very close to the 13.00 L/S index. The rules mandated stock-type brakes, fuel tank, seats, etc. You had to have much of the factory gear and with that I was able to get involved with a street car. We know that’s not the case any more. So, if you’re interested in continued growth, not only from the angle of the super cars, but of all cars, we need to promote affordability and help get new people involved and keep it affordable for those without a big budget.

My solution is to make a few changes to the class structure. And in doing so, give racers the chance to have greater performance for not a lot of money. Hey, we all want to go quicker and faster, and here’s how I’d do it.

The first recommendation would be to combine sticks and autos and to allow a wider swing with weight breaks. Instead of moving through three classes, let racers go lighter if they can do so legally. Next, I think we should consider allowing any approved corporate engine to be used in any approved body/chassis and let the car run where it falls in relation to horsepower and weight. I know the purist’s heads just exploded, but hear me out. Engine swaps are the rage in the hot rod community, and it seems an easy fit for Stock. Sure, it goes against the purity of the class, but let’s face it, that purity has been out the window for some time now.

Swapping engines wouldn’t prevent anyone from spending money if they didn’t want to, but it might get some racers back on track. Want to keep racing your ’69 Mustang but you hate to cost of building an FE, now you’d have more options. When I hear the cost of a Stock Eliminator 396/375 Big-Block is upwards of $30,000-40,000, I cringe.

Go to any car show or cruise night, and you see ’68 Camaros with LS swaps, or classic Mustangs with a Coyote. People can relate to it. I would also be for allowing a crate engine or two from each participating manufacturer. This would ease the burden of locating parts and it gets Chevrolet, Ford and Mopar more involved in Stock Eliminator.

As with anything, these ideas benefit some and not others. But that’s the case with any modification to the rules. These are simple ideas to keep Stock Eliminator attractive to many racers, fans, future participants and manufacturers.

14 Comments to The Future of Stock Eliminator Is In Your Hands

  1. Bob Mulry says:

    Wow I can’t believe that everybody missed it……………………

    NHRA does not want Stock & Super Stock Eliminator to survive……

    NHRA sets quota that are so low that the quota in itself eliminates heads up runs…

    If NHRA sets a quota of 65 cars in an eliminator that contains 67 different classes how can we hope to have heads up racing….

    It appears that NHRA has a plan and Stock Eliminator is not part of that plan…

    If NHRA had an interest in undoing the damage that they have done with not allowing Stock & Super Stock to race because they are unable to gain entry to National events, they could undo it with the stroke of their pen or keyboard….

    NHRA just has to open the entry up to ALL Stock & Super Stock class cars that have at least 1 grade point. The reason for the 1 grade point is get the NEW racers trained in NHRA procedures…

    It appears that NHRA only cares about the timing of their TV dog and pony show and Stock & Super Stock are nothing more than a minor inconvenience..

    The racers want Stock & Super Stock but NHRA doesn’t….

    I don’t know how to fix this but it appears that the problem is caused by, and can only be fixed by NHRA….

    Maybe grass roots will take over and we will re-start after NHRA goes under…

  2. Alan Mackin says:

    I would think that GT/Stock would be the last final desperate step to take if Stock gets to the point that a 64 car field cannot be met on a regular basis at national events. Not a problem right now, but I would say GT/STK might be something to look into 5 years from now.

    The immediate problem I see right now are the OBD II cars (1996 and newer) listed in the NHRA Classification guide. There are a bunch of 1996 and newer cars in great condition for sale ( at a very reasonable price) that would make great Stock Eliminator entries if the factored horsepower was not so high. Racers are afraid to build these newer cars because they do not feel they will be competitive. So, they do not get built.
    Plus, the build cost is much less than a 60′-70’s car which are increasingly hard to find at a decent price.
    I did some research last year and found that not one single 1996 and newer Ford ( traditional Stocker) entry was given horsepower in the last 13 years.
    So it’s not like racers are building new “traditional” Stockers right now and going out blasting their index.

    Solution:___If NHRA would give all 1996 and newer models currently listed in the classification guide (that have not ran at least 1 tenth under index ) a 15-20 % reduction on the factored h.p. then that would attract more racers that are fans of these late model vehicles to get out there and build a newer model Stocker.

    That’s the area that needs attention, IMO

  3. Jeff Lee says:

    1) For Stock & Super Stock: Combine Sticks and Autos with no weight bias for any until you get to the “little engines” (those below maybe 305”). Then ad weight for manual transmission.
    2) Like Top Stock, Group three classes together with the middle class the new class; i.e., A-B-C = all run on B weight. All the way down the ladder. Maybe modify the structure for the lowest classes. It can be figured out.
    3) Reduce the HP on the “classic” muscle cars. Figure those years out should not be difficult. 20% is too much. I believe 5%-10% is fair and equitable to the newer cars and manufacturers that are supportive.

    I have spoken to many contingency sponsors and a few car manufacturer reps. My impression is they want to see more heads up racing and larger turnouts for Class. Paring down over 50% of the Classes as proposed would allow for this. Classes would be more competitive in nature. Fans would like it also.

    • Evan Smith says:

      Jeff, when we ran Jr. Stock in D1, the sticks and autos were pretty equal. What the stick has in efficiency, the auto guys more than make up for with high-tech autos and the radial tire. No need to add weight, just combine and see how it shakes out.

      • Jeff Lee says:

        I completely agree but past history has shown the first and loudest to complain about combining stick & auto are all the little engine racers.
        I completely agree with your premise that the future is definitely cloudy with a “chance of sunshine” and if only the personal agendas could be removed from the equation, it can be fixed. As an example, my own car, if raced in SS/H will be viable in the class. Combined with SS/HA, much less so. But I still believe it is better for the sport to survive to combine. Because above all, I really don’t want an over spent bracket car.

  4. Eric Snyder12 says:

    NHRA has lost sight for quite some time now,corporate $$ has become more important than the lagacy that it was founded on. Stock and super stock has become over priced bracket racing. I agree with allowing whatever motor u want to put in a vehicle, your racing on a handicap anyway, just keep cars “stock” looking. But what the hell do I know…I’m only a bracket racer.

  5. Jeremy Duncan says:

    Stock eliminator is the most populated class in NHRA racing. Why mess with it?

  6. leon philpot says:

    gt/stock would be a big step forward allowing for modern day tech. in older class cars. its all about bs. per rated hp. (also crate mts.)

  7. Robert Cooper says:

    Exactly who and where are these fans that relate?

    While seemingly exciting for those that participate, and maybe even for family and friends that go along, this is an arcane endeavor that even the sanction tolerates for one reason and one reason only, competitors pay and pay.

    Regardless of what the sanctioning body and equipment suppliers/builders choose to foist upon these regulars, they continue to show up, essentially to hang with the others that choose to show up and continue drag racing in this spectrum. Subsequent to spending massive amounts of money in some cases, many Stock racers have very little motivation to win the event they enter. If it happens, that’s wonderful but certainly not the main reason they attend. Qualifying at or near the the top is already a victory to many that compete. Beating a car next to you that happens to have the same letters on the window is another relished accomplishment. Never mind that drivers are making incredible efforts not perform at the maximum level the vehicle can achieve. No other racing option/sanction offers the credibility in the mind of the Stock racer and in support of this, they’re even on the same grounds with the big guy’s in many cases.

    Nope. There aren’t any fans and quite frankly, you’ll never see facilities crowded simply to watch this class. I certainly enjoy watching Stock, although the definition of the term has gone far astray from its original intent and maybe not for the betterment of the class. watching Stock on Television will never offer any appeal. These cars are SLOW! Even the Factory cars are pooches after viewing the pro junk, using whatever name they associate with this kind lit grenade.

    Keep in mind that many attendees that arrive to watch the mayhem displayed by these absurd pro category vehicles arrive in cars that can outperform cars competing in Stock Eliminator.

    Stock was a gas. Now it’s faster that the Gasser’s……… and Modified’s and Pro Stocks of not all that long ago.

    Enjoy track picnicking with friends of many years and enjoy a a few passes from time to time as well but don’t deceive yourselves with regard to the appeal of Stock. Only the racers themselves give a hoot and the sanction is constantly seeking ways to rid themselves of the pain this group imparts on them. If only they could replace the revenue.

  8. Terry Bell says:

    Sounds like a win/win to me but the old diehards will hate it. Stock just is not stock anymore. Just my 2 cents. Happy Easter to all.

    • lyn smith says:

      IHRA has Crate motor classes,and according to Nitro Joes stats less than 30 racers ran one last year.I do not think you will ever talk NHRA into making a place for them.

      • Evan Smith says:


        You’d get very few crate motor cars running, but it would open the door for racers who are tired of messing with 30-plus year old engines, and it allows the manufacturers to sell their products to Stock racers. These could also be sealed stock engine, like the NMCA and NMRA has.


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