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NHRA’s Rule About Top MPH Pass Calls Regulations Into Question | Presented by Nitto Tire

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A Recent NHRA Call Causing a Driver to be Disqualified from a Record Has Some People a Little Fired Up Over the Racing Organization’s Regulations

By Elizabeth Puckett

Photos Courtesy of NHRA/National Dragster

NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals invaded the zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina late last week, and the stage was set for some thrilling racing action. Almost as if to build suspense to what would turn out to be an extremely suspenseful weekend, the rain taunted drivers and spectators, causing a lull in track prep time. During the event, the teams got four rounds of qualifying throughout Friday and Saturday, with eliminations on Sunday. While there were many notable runs down the track, it was a top mph run in E3 Spark Plugs Pro Modified that had people on their feet, and then quickly became the biggest news to come out of the weekend.

Rick Hord and his Xtreme Racing Engines powered C7 Corvette Pro Mod car stepped up to the line during Q2 in his class. The lights dropped, and Rick took his rocket of a car into new territory for the class; the car was the first ever to run a 260 mph NHRA legal pass. This set the car up as the fastest pass, not the quickest (to be fair) but the fastest. It also put the Corvette in the number one spot with a 5.711 ET.

Carl Stevens, owner of Xtreme Racing Engines, is known for having a magic touch when it comes to making big numbers, so it felt natural that one of the cars he built would be the one to crack the record. However, the celebrations would stop short as the NHRA and the owner of the car would fail to come to agreement on a key factor.

In order to verify and legitimize the record, the NHRA has to go through the car with a fine-tooth comb. If there were anything found on the car to indicate cheating, they would be booted from NHRA events, and disqualified from holding any records or standings. That being said, every part of the Corvette, down to the wheelie bar, was checked off by the officials doing the inspection, until it came time to hand over the data logs.

For record runs, the NHRA has to go through all of your data logs and ECU to make sure everything is squared up. That’s not even exactly where the problem began. Where the line was drawn for the owner of the car, Rick, is when they asked for a hard copy of the tune on a thumb drive for further review, this is a part of their 2018 regulations. At this point, the team owner refused to give them the data, and the run was disqualified.

The team was allowed to remain in competition with just that particular performance removed from the qualifying ladder. Rick failed to make the 16-car field in the remaining qualifying opportunities after coming off a career best NHRA Pro Mod finish with runner-up accolades the weekend before during the NHRA race at Royal Purple Raceway.

We reached out to Carl Stevens, who is fairly neutral on the controversy, because it wasn’t exactly his call to make. “The owner of the car didn’t want the NHRA to have a hard copy of the tune, so I honored his wishes and declined to offer a hard copy to the NHRA”, explained Carl Stevens. We’ve also reached out to Rick Hord, and will offer his input when we speak with him.

This is a tricky situation, and we understand both sides of the coin. When you’ve discovered the winning combination to making record setting passes, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to jeopardize that secret formula by handing it over to someone else. However, the NHRA rules are just that, the rules. If you don’t agree with those rules, you have to accept the consequences, but many are calling for this particular regulation to be tossed.

Tuning a racecar is a fine art, and can ultimately be the ticket into the winner’s circle. While the NHRA’s rules aren’t in place to sabotage drivers and steal information, they are asking for a hardcopy of intellectual property, which can make some people uneasy. The compromise here could be reviewing the information on the owner’s computer and with them present, but they go much further than that when they ask for a thumb drive of the data. We’ll see how this plays out, and if the NHRA will change the regulation.


Mike Galimi
Mike Galimi
Mike Galimi is the Director of Content & Marketing at ProMedia Publishing and Events with nearly 20 years of experience in motorsport writing and photography.
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