Input Wanted

Discussion in 'NHRA' started by none, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. none

    Nitro Member

    A recent discussion was centered on what is confusing about NHRA to the first time fan. As in "What could we do a better job of explaining?" And I'm curious as to what you guys (gender neutral term) think. I know that there are things that we as insiders or hard cores don't even think about that someone who is there for the first time doesn't get. So I'm curious, the last time you took a newbie to a National Event what did you need to explain to them? Especially things that you think of as second nature.

    A couple that I have run across include:
    1: On Saturday why do some cars "Race" each other twice while some "Race" different people?

    2: Why do they have to fix the track after 300 mph cars run before the 150 mph cars run?

    Thanks in advance,
    • Agree Agree x 1

    Nitro Member

    Great question!
    Hope I can recall enough to help!
    I always try to take new folks and either way I’m almost always helping those sitting near me. My jacket usually gets their attention so they figure I know something. :)
    I’m generally using Seattle for jarring memory.
    1) Well even for me the new blue staging lights are hard to see especially if the sun is behind them. I understand they are better for the drivers.
    It takes awhile for newbies to key to them. I watch those lights intently for I use them to determine when to jam my fingers in my ears. I’m usually sitting, probably, some 150’ down the track and at about 45* to the tree.
    I suggest a different color and/or brighter/bigger bulb on the down track side. This will probably need a blinder between it and the blue one.
    2) Same with the red lights. Bigger, brighter or both on the down track side. Newbies can’t spot them.
    In conjunction with this, better, bigger and more white lights for the win lights.
    3) Much better PA systems. Us older folk don’t hear as well and I have a Navy service hearing disability. If I can’t hear I can’t explain as well.
    I was in Reading in 2016 and I heard that system very well.
    4) In Seattle the Jumbotron is dang near useless to see on the pit side, worse when the spectators all stand up. Might be able to see 25% of it most of the time. It’s of no help to me to point out things to newbies.
    Need one on the spec side for us on the pit side.
    5) I’ll probably add to this.
  3. Paul

    Staff Member Nitro Member

    This year in Houston I took my neighbor with me on Sunday, he is a big Subaru STI guy and he didn't understand the concept of having to go back to the pits and rebuild the fuel cars. He was absolutely star struck of the power of the fuel cars, but he just assumed that you just take them back and put more fuel in them and run them again.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. none

    Nitro Member

    I appreciate the response, but I think you missed the point. I'm asking what is confusing to a newcomer. I doubt that anyone goes home wondering why the top lights are blue. The PA system used at Seattle is exactly the same as the one in Reading it's the NHRA owned system that we use at tracks that need it. The win lights are a track and scoreboard deal. And again I doubt that someone there for the first time leaves the track not understanding what a win light is. Same with the jumbotron, I can't change where it is and that's not what I'm asking. I'm asking what could we explain or illustrate better for a NEW fan that a long time fan understands as part of the sport.
    • Agree Agree x 1

    Nitro Member

    I understand that.
    My points are that they can’t really see the lights and so they don’t know what’s happening in staging and red lights mainly. They are tiny at a distance.
    I’m that close and they struggle to see them.
    You asked what they have problems with. These are some.
    They don’t necessarily leave with that issue because hopefully I’ve resolved it but those are issues they complain about.
    PA the same at both tracks or not Seattle’s are on the ground across the return road and I think Reading’s are at the fence and elevated.
  6. stitcherbob

    Nitro Member

    Some of the things that a newcomer would need help on have already been discussed over and over in the booth...holeshots, general info about the cars, and redlights during qualifying.....groan!

    A newbie once asked me "Why does the fastest qualifier run the slowest? Doesn't seem fair..." They thought the top half of the ladder should race each other and the bottom half run each other....

    When there's a rain delay in NASCAR they always walk the pits looking to fill time -how many interviews can you do with the stars that we haven't heard already?
    Jack Beckman seems to be one of the few that can make an interview or tech piece interesting, even if it has been discussed before. Probably because he teaches drag racing. Any piece he has done has been fresh no matter how many times I have heard the info.

    Also a newbie might want to know about all of the other drivers, not just the TV regulars. Asking what makes Bob Bode or Jeff Diehl or any of the others in the other classes do what they do would be nice.
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  7. Nick Name

    Nitro Member

    How the first car to the finish line can loose
    Why some cars leave, then nose over for a second, then go again.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  8. .

    Nitro Member

    You asked about newbs at national events..... Well, this may not be a problem with the pros, but sportsman racers also run a national events and the biggest, most common question I hear is "that car crossed the finish line first, why did the other guy's win light come on?" It' a very hard question to answer in the first place, let alone when the person asking doesn' know anything about drag racing to begin with. It makes for a very long and (frankly) boring answer that the person usually doesnt fully grasp anyway. They usually leave the track still confused about why people who "win" the race, don't actually win the race. Lol. In fact, this question is SO common, I can't believe Alan didn't post it as one of his examples.

    Edit: I see Jay treed me while I was typing my reply. Lol
  9. TooTall999

    Nitro Member

    The whole index/ breakout thing is very confusing to newcomers, and pretty difficult to try to explain. Also the throttle stop starts of the super classes.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. stitcherbob

    Nitro Member

    forgot about the stutter cars!
  11. Jeff White

    Nitro Member

    We get a lot of interaction with newbies in our pits at nationals. I think you guys say all of the right things on the PA's, but probably the newbie doesn't hear them .... does there need to be a simple newbie app, or corner of the web sight where they can have a reference point on their phone?

    I truly think most newbies are enthralled by the visceral nature of the sport and realize they won't get it all immediately.... when this comes up (I've explain bracket racing many, many times) I usually bring up my ignorance of the finer points of baseball and all seems fine with the world to them.

    Another thing for the app/web site .... give em a list of things to make sure they check out at their first national event 1) smell of PJ1, 2) smell of nitro exhaust 3) meet a driver from each class, 4) get a sportsman racer to give you a tour of their rig and give a basic explanation of their program ..... sort of a scavenger hunt.

    I've always thought it would be cool to combine the aspects of Pokemon GO with keeping the younger set interested in touring the pits at a drag strip .... probably too expensive, but a way to integrate the ever present cell phone into their day at the races.

    We really enjoy meeting the fans at the races, and for whatever reason the newbies seem very willing to talk and ask questions .... While I'm packing up ... rarely late enough in the rounds for my own liking .... I would say that I spend at least an hour each race engaged with people new to drag racing who want to understand more. While I don't let grown men get in my wife's top dragster (I can't even get in there), I'm sure I've had over 100 kids and mom's in her car during the 17 divisionals/nationals we ran this year. Typically after our racing day is over, but I really enjoy that part of the sport.

    I will say that most of the newbies I talk to have kids in tow, and I think mentioning how many people enter the sport via Jr drag racing would be interesting to the newbies(we did, kids are chasing girls now, wife is racing cars) .... you actually do a good job of that too, but I often find myself pointing people to wherever the Jr dragsters are showing their stuff in the pits and pointing dads to racing and, etc. So many come to the race purely as spectators and leave realizing this is the everyman's sport. To me there are two types of people at a race ... those looking for a reason to party, and those looking to expand their love of cars
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  12. cantdrive55

    Nitro Member

    Pretty much the basics:

    How does a slower car win?
    Why do they call them Funny Cars?
    Who's John Force? and why do they always talk about him? (I'm actually not kidding)
    What is nitromethane?
    What's a red light?
    Why do they do a burnout?
    What's that white stuff they're putting on the track?
    What are they spraying on the track?
    What's a break out? (for those who actually give sportsman cars a chance)
    Why did that car slow down and then speed up again?
  13. mgty3whlr

    Nitro Member

    There are many confusing things.
    I try to bring a Newbie to either Englishtown or Maple Grove. When sitting in the stands, They seem to be confused with the staging process.
    So when the Fuel classes come up, I tell them to listen for when they turn on the second fuel pump when the engine rpm drops and gets a bit quieter. Then they are prepped for the run.
    The index racing is a bit more tough to explain because as said before, They scratch their head as the one car that hits the finish line first lost.
    With a Newbie, The look on their face with the throttle stops, They think that there something wrong with the car.
    The pits on the other hand are a sensory overload to a new person because you can't get that from a NASCAR race! You can actually get an autograph or picture from a driver, crew member, or owner without a piece of plexiglass between the two of you.
    I do like that when you are sitting in the stands, Sportsman or Pro, There is a bit of Bio. of who the driver is.

    Alan, Maybe next season, lets say on a Friday, Do a Pro-Stock University or a Super Class University to give the Newbie a better understanding of those classes.
  14. you

    Nitro Member

    How someone can win 1/3 of all the races and then tell them they didn't earn the championship. That's still mind boggling to this veteran.
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  15. Jim

    Nitro Member

    Alan - Great question (BTW: You do a great job every week).
    Jeff White's suggestion of some kind of App (or Apps) is a great idea. Don't know if WiFi is available at most tracks but a link to the tower would be great.
    As far as the "stutter cars" are concerned - I've been going to the races for decades and still can't 'figger 'em. Never seen a cogent explain of the throttle stops, timers, brakes and the whole "head game" that is integral to all those classes. Perhaps a video (with graphics and examples) could be run every week before the transition to those classes (Maybe by the end of the season even I will develop some greater appreciation of the skill and science that folks in those cars have.)
  16. ironpony

    Nitro Member

    Just read here on this forum and see what all the seasoned veterans complain about, holeshots, red lights, etc and you will see you are covering most of it so good that we are tired of it, LOL.

    IMO, newbies are there to see the nitro show and are not really interested in "real racing" ex. sportsman, they want the show, they are not going home and build a car to bracket race. Entertainment only.

    The people that want to become involved are going to their local track and learning what is going on in the different classes.

    JMO based on years of observation.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. Reese

    Nitro Member

    Agree Jay. Super classes are the hardest. Break outs is second for me to explain.
    Alan, y'all do a great job explaining the pro classes but I really think it is up to us the hard core fans to fill in the gap. I really enjoy doing this but sometime Joe Blow trys to correct me by saying the throttle stops cars are stumbling off the line and they don't suppose to do that and it pisses me off.
  18. Jimbo

    Nitro Member

    When there are delays in the program why does it always seem like the Alcohol guys pay the price by loosing a round of qualifying?

    Some how this never seemed very fair to me.

    Jim Hill
    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. PJ

    PJ Staff Member
    Staff Member Nitro Member

    Many good points. I like Jeff's idea of a newbie ap or even a game. Maybe they can send in questions live that can be answered over the PA or hire a racing ambassador like me to help the newbies :)

    I actually like when newbies sit near me that are interesting in learning. The hardest thing to explain is throttle stops, they keep thinking the car is breaking. I've never had someone confused about bracket racing once it is explained.

    It's not so much newbie as it is drunk know-it-all, but not knowing the difference between qualifying and racing is sometimes funny to watch.

    For a newbie, getting them there is the hook. Once in, the sights, sounds and smells of a race will blow them away and lead them to wanting to learn more. I think you guys do a good job of explaining the basics as well as the deeper stuff in order to keep everyone involved. The difficult part is not what is being said, it is that depending on the track and where you are sitting if you can hear anything that is being said or, as a newbie, hear enough of it to learn.

    I like Plugphones, so that I can hear the PA and get ear protection for a cheap enough cost. Having a cheap option on hand at races for people to buy would be great. The info is there for the most part, making it easier for the person to hear it would increase the learning.
  20. Dennis

    Nitro Member

    I brought this up in another thread, but I would love for NHRA to scientifically sample crowds at national events and apply that knowledge to every aspect of the sport (format, TV package, track announcers, etc.). I'm not sure that NHRA can say with any certainty who their fans are.

    I think that track announcers have to keep some things in mind. 1. Not everyone there knows every technical term or rule. 2. Someone in the stands on Sunday may not have been there on Saturday. 3. Some people there don't care about points implications, they just want to see that race. I used to live in Massachusetts and before Epping came into the fold, Englishtown was my "home track". Fans there love doorslammers and I can't count how many bets were made during qualifying ("I got $10 on that guy in the far lane").

    Having said all of that I think:
    1. The track announcers need to make use of the replays to explain things out of the ordinary, multiple times throughout the event
    2. There should be a social media hashtag (or some means of communicating) that is permanently displayed on the jumbotron for fans to ask questions real time. It may be a pair or two later, but it would be cool for the production crew to spool up a video and the announcers answer any questions (would also be great during downtime)
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