Welcome to the year 2017 where everything believes that you have to have a big engine with a power adder if you want to go racing. Everyone that is, except for those brave souls that want to prove that with the right cubic inch, compression, heads, intake, suspension etc. you can crack off jaw dropping times and enjoy it too.
For the past 25 years, I have seen trends come and go in the world of drag racing. In the early 90's is was the fear of the turbo and its voodoo magic. In the late 90's it was huge blowers from Procharger, Vortech, Paxton, and more. The entire time nitrous was like that girl in the class that we all wanted to take out on a date but we were all too afraid to. And then there were those n/a rides. The ones that did it with cubes and a carb, or a h/c/i and an Anderson PMS.
Fast forward to about ten years ago, and it seemed like the technology, along with the idea of going fast without a power adder was fading away. No longer did we have men and women trying to come up with h/c/i combos that worked, or porting programs to get the absolute most out of every component. We started to move away from the brain portion of racing, and into the reliance portion of racing.
Now stop! This is not a bash on those that use power adders! I love all combos out there. This is just an observation on where we were, where we went, and where we are going. The fact is that long gone are the days of most people spending a couple grand on heads, a cam, and an intake for performance. Now they are going on Ebay and finding the cheapest piece of crap turbo kit they can, bolting that on and trying to go fast. Long gone are the when people called UPR, Calvert, Team Z. and others to get the right suspension for their car before trying to make 600 hp.
Over the last ten years I have seen classes like NMRA Pure Street and NMRA Hot Street go away, only to now be making a resurgence in a way. While I am saddened by the fact that there will not be a Pure Street class anymore, I also understand that it's because of the trends. It's because people want instant gratification and no longer want to work at getting every ounce out of their combo.
Well just when I had started to lose all hope that we would see the n/a world make a triumphant return, my hope has been restored. It started with the change last year to EFI in the NHRA Pro Stock world. It was a move that was long overdue. For quite some time NMCA has been running the N/A 10.5 class, which is a highlight of the n/a world. Now is the opportunity that we have been waiting for. With NMCA also adding a new Pro Stock class, ADRL and PDRA both having a Pro Stock class, and NHRA having a Pro Stock class, it looks like we have finally turned a corner. That corner that leads back to engineering and making the most of what you have without having a power adder.
I am sure there are those of you that think I am insane for even caring about this. For the most part you might be right. Here's why it's important to me, and should be to you as well. If you look at some of those that have spent countless hours working on making heads work better, intakes flow more, and getting everything out of something, you can look at people like Bischoff, Glidden, Musi, Uratchko, and others. With rules like you have in n/a classes you force even more innovation. The same can be said for power adder classes. So that means we have the most brilliant minds working on improving products for more than just power adders. Value Springs, Cams, Heads, flow numbers, etc.
If you look at up and coming engine builders like Cory Voss at Voss Racing Engines. It's nice to see the next generation of engine builders not only doing power adder builds, but also trying to innovate in the n/a world as well. It's the best thing we can hope for if we want to see performance continue to improve. You see racers like Alex Hays and his Slick Rick racing heads powered Mustang ripping off blistering times. Showing that the young guns love the challenge too.
Something to think about as we end this conversation for now. The famous Nikola Tesla once said:
“The progressive development of man is vitally dependent on invention. It is the most important product of his creative brain.”
To me it is glaringly obvious that without the inventive minds that we have found in drag racing over the last 50 years, we would never have, nor would we continue to find forward progression. Drag racing didn't start with turbos and nitrous. Starting with two cars and a will to be faster. That will, lives even stronger today in all forms of n/a drag racing. From Mountain Motor Pro Stock to NHRA Pro Stock to NMCA N/A 10.5 and beyond. Embrace naturally aspirated combos. Learn to make your stuff go faster and quicker. Innovate new ways of doing things. The n/a inventors of today may become the power adder icons of tomorrow. So, don't ever forget, there is no replacement for good old displacement.