Does anyone know when Indy is this year?
Oh, it happened already? Come on, really? I didn’t hear a thing about it! Every conversation about Indy I’ve had has gone exactly the same way. “So what were the highlights of the weekend?”, I’d ask. Without fail, all said EXACTLY the same thing. Welch got DQ’ed twice, Carson got protested and protested his protesters, the street Camaro’s are bullshit, the Pro teams are going to ruin Factory Stock, and it was cool to see a guy ship his car over from England. So what’s the point we’re all reluctant to admit? Stock Eliminator has gone stale….and for a great many reasons.
Isn’t it time we just bite the bullet we’re all scared to bite and make it a bracket race? No more Class (at one race a year), no more heads-up (less than 4% of races), no more spending countless dollars trying to find .02 in Elapsed Time. No more complaining about under-factored combinations. No more, “well anyone can build a Model T and go fast, but try and build a DeLorean like me and run the index.”
Without asking anyone to think too much, let’s get into some numbers from the Big Go. Last week at the 2018 Chevrolet US Nationals, 37 Stock Eliminator class winners were crowned out of 128 qualifiers and 171 total entries. Disregarding alternates, 42 races who paid $370 a pop to get in the gate went home on Thursday. Let’s pause right there. That’s one cool stat that I can find….as long as you are one of the 128. You were able to go fast enough to get in and 42 guys didn’t. Atta girl.
During Class Eliminations, 30% of the qualifiers walked away with an NHRA class trophy. 30% of the field got to take their picture in front of the coveted sign with their families, thank their engine builder, slide $12 in contingency money in their pocket, and put a “We did it!” picture on Facebook and get their 9 to 14.5 seconds of fame….depending on what class you won. In the eliminator, 126 rounds of competition were raced and 5 of those (or 4% of those) were heads-up runs. Does anyone know the percentage of races in our “performance-based class” that are heads up? It’s 2%.
Without sounding too lewd, is it time to shit or get off the pot? Do we really want to have 37 Stock Eliminator class “winners”? Follow me for a minute….even if you’re good and pissed off at this point. A/SA and A/S was moderately cool to watch, paid out over 3k thanks to Scheachter, and had some good competition. AA/SA, A/SA, B/SA. AA/S, A/S, and B/S combined had 32 cars. 32 of the fasters Stockers on earth racing the Indy Top Stock Challenge with a bit of marketing behind it could and would pay $10k to $15k, and god forbid, might interest a fan or two to watch! 35 E, F, G, H cars in Junior Stock class for similar. All the rest in the combo for $5k.
Imagine 5 or 6 class winners who get torn down to the oil pan and are proud to hoist the trophy (and a 6-foot check for thousands of dollars) sounds like it worth substantially more than, “I won AX/SSA at Indy. I only raced one guy who couldn’t make it down the track but look at my sweet trophy and sticker”. Ok, it needs to be thought out more than that but this is racing. It shouldn’t be a car show that gives away participation trophies.
I can hear the screaming already. “I’m not putting 200 pounds in my trunk, the car won’t run.” “I’m not taking 200 pounds out of my trunk, it won’t hook, and the car won’t run”. “I’m not running against the stick cars, they have an extra gears and run better in the heat”. “I’m not running against the automatic cars, they have torque multiplication and hook better on a hot track.”
So, like I said, unless we’re willing to try something new, lets just make is a bracket race and call it a day.