Want to get Chris McGaha fired up? Talk about the health of NHRA Pro Stock.
McGaha, the No. 1 qualifier two weeks ago in Gainesville, Fla., wsas the recipient of a first round bye because there were only 15 entries. A member of the media posed the question, “Are you more excited to get a first round bye or disappointed only 15 teams showed up to race?”
This was the question McGaha was waiting to answer.
“I see a lot of talk about health of this class on the Internet,” started McGaha. “I hear a lot from the Competition eliminator ranks, and how this class and that class is going to replace it. I can remember about five or ten years ago when Top Alcohol Funny Car got that way, but it’s still here and people are still building cars and show up.
“I think eventually people will weigh their odds and start to build Pro Stock cars. To me, now is the time to do it … especially when [NHRA] evened out the playing field like they did by changing the tires and the fuel. To me, that wiped the slate clean for so many and helped people like me come back in. I feel like it is even again.”
What about the extreme cost of campaigning a Pro Stocker? McGaha believes the cost is relevant with the increasing price of doing business.
“Back in 1995 you could get a Steve Schmidt motor for $10,000,” said McGaha. “That was the going rate. A gallon of gas was $1 - $1.25. Now gas is about $4. You could rent top tier stuff for about $40K. The ratio is about the same. I know people, who in 2003, had a one-million dollar budget. I know you can still do it. A lot of people talk about the cost, and yes, it is expensive. There’s no doubt about it. It’s always been expensive.
“My family wanted to do it in the mid-90s but couldn’t do it. We ran Comp. It’s an economy deal … not real sure.
McGaha had an option when he couldn’t afford to race Pro Stock, but believes too many options for drag racing isn’t necessarily a good thing.
“I think the whole overall deal with drag racing is there’s too many options,” McGaha explained. “To many guys have made too many [classes]. Here’s a 10.5 car over here that a guy can race within 150 miles of home. Let’s make this series over here, and it’s really hurting the sport. I’ve told our local guys, and I am a supporter of our local Mean Street racing, that they need to get behind NHRA even though they aren’t associated with them.
“We all need to get behind every class and everybody needs to work together. We don't need to be separated; that's the biggest problem and always has been. We all need to band together. That's what this has always been about – nobody needs to replace anybody, nobody needs to go anywhere. We all need to stick together.”
If anyone knows the pain of replacement, it’s McGaha. McGaha made his move into Pro Stock after racing Pro Stock Truck, a class which was shelved in 2001. The decision to drop the class resulted in a lawsuit between a group of former disgruntled drivers and the sanctioning body. McGaha regretfully was one of the plaintiffs.
Talk of NHRA dropping Pro Stock reopens old wounds for McGaha.
“I was a Pro Stock Truck racer. I built a Pro Stock Truck – they don’t want to go there,” McGaha warned. “If you was to take Pro Stock from me this time … it wouldn’t be pretty. You would definitely see me make a big stink about it.”
While McGaha was pretty amped with his response, he further clarified.
“We just want a place to race. Naturally aspirated racing needs to have a place to race. That's the main objective there. I guess I'd stand out in front of the race with a picket sign or something if Pro Stock went away, but you would have to do something to get your point across. Legal action isn't going to work, there is nothing to be gained that way.
“I understand the car count is low. There’s no doubt about it. There’s a lot of people with potential to come in here. It is funding holding them back. Besides, how many Funny Cars were there [here in Gainesville]?
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