Well, the mid-season NMCA rule changes are out, and once again there is a huge change that apparently couldn't wait until the end of the season to make. Xtreme Street, a class that was once at the forefront of the NMCA is being moved backed to an 1/8th mile class in an attempt to draw more cars. Is this a misstep on the NMCA's part, or a stroke of genius?
For years, the NMCA seems to be playing catch up with the movements in drag racing. Whether it be 1/8th mile racing or even radial racing, fact is that they do take their time in making changes. This isn't always the case, but this might be one of those cases where a move should have been made prior to the season and not mid season.
I had been told by sources before the official changes came out that the class would be moved to 1/8th mile mid-season. I said no way to the notion that they would make a change in the middle of the season like this. Then I got to thinking about it and wondering, could this just be exactly what the NMCA needs?
I have been around since before the current edition of the NMCA, back before it was a ProMedia organization. It's actually what got me interested in drag racing. The issue has also been and continues to be a lack of organized competition for the NMCA to fear. If you have nothing to fear, you have no reason to not just do whatever you want. At times in the last 17 years or so, that has been the case. This seems different though.
I had to know why this change was made, and why it was made mid-season. So I reached out to my friend Rollie Miller, who is the General Manager at NMCA and pretty much the guy in charge beside Steve. Rollie stated that this change was a couple years in the making. It all started when Ultra Street, and 1/8th mile radial class run at most large radial races was coming up in popularity. The team adjusted the rules at that time to more resemble the rules of Ultra Street as some of their competitors like Eric Kenward enjoyed racing both the 1/8th mile Ultra Street, as well as 1/4 mile Xtreme Street. After a couple years though, the Xtreme Street cars were going faster and faster. Once that happened, Rollie stated that there were chassis certs either expiring or no longer valid due to ET or Speed.
There was a long conversation with Ultra Street creator John Sears and Rollie, and both agreed that moving the rules closer to Ultra would be a great thing for Xtreme Street. Ultra typically gets a large gathering at every race they have it at, so this appears to be a step in the right direction. Rollie stated that this is the first step in the future growth of the class. And based on the current turnout this season, we need some growth.
I looked at the points for the class and we don't even have a top ten this season. Nine racers in Xtreme Street is not what we were used to seeing. I remember when Bob Kurgan, Bob Curran, Bill Travato, Dave Meister, and so many more were running Xtreme Street. This move, based on where NMCA races, could be a huge deal. The south and midwest are littered with Ultra Street racers. Guys like Alex Hays. Shawn Pevlor, Joel Greathouse, Enrique Perez, Tony Alm, Mike Freeman, Walt Drakeford, Bill Gregan, Ryan Mally, and so many more.
The one thing that NMCA is going to have to do if they are going to actually attract Ultra Street racers is that the purse is going to have to increase. And before you get on the contingency bandwagon, my answer is that I don't care. A check or cash weeks or months later doesn't put fuel in the rig for the drive home. The payout right now is $1000, and my first suggestion if we are being honest and serious about positive change is that it needs to be $2500.00 Winner and $1000.00 Runner Up. This isn't 2002 anymore folks, these drivers aren't going to run $100k cars to win a nice jacket. Not with all the competition there is out there between promoters to get racers to show up. So it's time to get serious, if you want it to grow, crack open the piggy bank and start paying out. If not this rule change won't do much of anything.
So tell us folks in the Ultra Street world, does the change to 1/8th mile with rules closely comparing to Ultra Street rules make you want to come out and play in one of the best drag racing organizations ever? Or is this just another thing that will get skipped because of low payouts? From my view, I see this as a huge stepping stone in the right direction for the NMCA and their drivers, fans, and everyone involved with the NMCA. Personally I welcome the change and look forward to seeing what it will bring in terms of car counts.