Dave Cavender’s View On Four Wide Drag Racing

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This altered that Dave Cavender owned was driven by his son. It was fast and cool looking.

(photo courtesy Dave Cavender)

Workingonmyredneck editorial note:

The following article was submitted to Workingonmyredneck on request.  Dave Cavender is a long time friend, retired airline pilot, and a long time drag racer.  His thoughts are pointed and present another viewpoint to the four wide drag racing.  I felt that it is important to get a drag racer’s view on four wide drag racing, and publish it for all to read on this monumental change that may be coming to the NHRA.

So here is Dave’s article, I hope that it will enlighten you all.


Why I am not a fan of four wide Drag Racing.

One of the biggest complaints of drag racers is, “I just don’t get enough seat time”.  This is not a problem with most motor sports, but consider a drag racer’s day.  If he is running a 10 second car (covers the 1/4 mile in 10 seconds) and say he is fortunate enough to have six runs in the day, that means he will actually be racing for 1 minute, for the whole day.  Of course there is burnout and staging time, which may add a minute to his run, that will bring his total seat time to 7 minutes for the day.

With that in mind, now lets consider 4 wide racing from both the racer and the spectator’s point of view, I will use top fuel as an example.  There are a total of 16 cars that will qualify, and they will be pared off in sets of 4.  So the first round will see 4 sets of 4 go down the track, and out of each set, 2 cars will advance.  In the second round there will be 2 sets of 4, and 2 from each set will advance to the finals.  In the finals there will be only 1 set of 4 and first, second, third and forth will be determined by how they finish.  That means that all elimination will be determined in 7 rounds of racing.  Compare that with racing the same number of cars in sets of 2 and you can see it will take 15 rounds of racing to determine the winners.  So in the conventional 2 side by side racing you will get to see more than double the rounds of racing.

I have been involved in drag racing either as a spectator or competitor for years, but there is no way I can keep track of 4 cars going down the strip at the same time.  It is difficult enough to keep track of 2 cars, especially if you are looking for, reaction time, dropped cylinders, tire shake, and a host of other variables.  If you are watching 4 cars go down the strip, it is impossible to keep track of all this in less than 5 seconds.  As a driver you want to concentrate on 1 opponent you can see, not 3 when you can only see 1.  Granted each driver races his own race, and goes through his own routine in the car, but it is still necessary to be able to see what is happening to your opponent.

A few years ago I attended Frank Hawley’s drag racing school, (http://www.frankhawley.com/home_s.html) and I can tell you it is one of the best things I have ever done.  I recommend it highly to anyone interested in driving a drag car, even if you don’t intend to own your own car, it is a real drag racing education.  If you have ever had the desire to drive an 8 second car and make it a learning experience at the same time, there is no better way, whether you own a drag car or not.  Having said that, when Frank Hawley a two time world top fuel funny car champion, and drag racing teacher watches you run down the strip, he only watches 1 car at a time.  Now if someone with his experience and qualifications only wants to watch one car at a time then how can a occasional spectator ever expect to grasp what goes on with 4 top fuelers going down the strip at the same time.  Lets keep it 2 cars at a time, that way we have more than twice as much racing for the same price, and we might actually be able to see most of what is going on.

David Cavender

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