Read on as special PEAK Blog guest star, Dan Fletcher, revisits the 2022 racing season.
Oh hey PEAK Squad, Dan Fletcher here again for a quick visit and status update on the 2022 racing season. For those of you unfamiliar with my deal, a brief refresher may be in order. I’m a professional NHRA sportsman class racer and an erstwhile Big Buck Bracket chaser. PEAK was my major sponsor for many years, and I’m super proud to still be affiliated with the Squad as a blogger. NHRA Stock and Super Stock classes are where I’ve made a name, and career, for myself, but the cost of travel vs. potential earnings has made that a pretty rough go these days. The Big Bucks Bracket events are plentiful, but somewhat akin to high stakes poker; you’re betting on yourself and just have to hope to catch the right cards at the right time.
We moved to North Carolina from Rochester, NY a few years back, and while I don’t often make the right decision, that one was certainly one of the few. I mean for real, if you’re a racer, there’s no better place to be. While my wife is busy thawing out the turkey for Thursday’s festivities, I’m filling the motor home with water and loading race cars for one of those afore mentioned Big Bucks Bracket events this weekend in Darlington, South Carolina. This is a perfect example of what I mean by the “Big Bucks” style events; it’s $380 to enter for two $20k to win races. The way these deals work is you have to win three rounds to start getting money back, so you don’t actually have to win the entire event to potentially turn a profit.
I used to travel ten plus hours to go to this sort of thing, and with the current $6 a gallon cost for diesel fuel that would clearly be off the table. With the move south its “only” 300 miles round trip, which still makes for a stiff nut on the fuel expense, but it makes it somewhat affordable for a guy like me to do. Frankly, this sort of race is right in my wheel house financially, but you have to be careful not to get caught up crack head style entering too many of the even bigger events. I gave the poker analogy earlier; well a sports gambler analogy is also quite appropriate. ”I’m going to win this time, this is a sure fire bet, yada, yada, yada”. There should be a 1-800 number on the bottom of some of these event flyers, “if you think you have a problem”, because a man can literally go broke just paying the entry fees!
To that point, I’ve actually been to three separate events in the last couple of years that have paid a guaranteed ONE MILLION DOLLARS to the winner. But the entry fee alone was $3000; as in three thousand American pesos! And that wouldn’t be the only race of the weekend, it would generally be bookended with “smaller” events that were a several hundred to enter. Bottom line, if you didn’t do well, one could easily be down $5000 after, including travel expenses. And let’s not even talk about if you had a problem with the truck, trailer, or race car!
So while NHRA might not pay as well as it used to, which is a sad deal, at least it’s only one entry fee and one loss. Financially and emotionally it can only hurt just so bad and that’s it. And there are far less cars and far less rounds needed to win. Case in point, PEAK legend John Force only needs to win four rounds to hoist the NHRA Wally. When I won Stock eliminator at the Charlotte event this past September, I only had to win six rounds. At some of these huge bracket events there can be 400 to 700 cars, no exaggeration. It can be ten, sometimes eleven rounds to win the event!
So speaking of the Goat, Mr. John Force, do you know he is the winningest racer in the history of the NHRA? I bet as good PEAK Squaders you probably do, but do you know who is second on the all-time list? Take your time, it could take a while, he’s not all that famous, lol. Well, if you guessed the guy punching the keyboard writing this blog, you’d be dead on the mark! I will never challenge Force for the top spot, as he has a mind numbing total of 155 National Event wins, but with the recent Charlotte win I assumed sole possession of second place with 106 wins. And while 106 is a pretty stout total, just think about it, Force has half again as many wins as I do. If we were street racing, I guess you could say I’ve been gapped, lol.
Here we are entering the holiday season, and while it doesn’t snow here in Raleigh to any appreciable level, it does get below freezing quite often in the over nights, but I actually like that. Crisp and clear with the fireplace lit is all good in my book. But snow, no thank you, my buddies back home in Buffalo can have all of it, and all of it they did. I might have been bragging earlier about living here in regards to racing, but holy cow, they literally got SIX FEET of snow! Can you imagine that? Six Feet!
It took me way too long to figure it out PEAK Squad, but a little word of advice; it’s a free country, they let you live wherever you want. Pick someplace where Wally World doesn’t sell shovels or snow brushes. Pick someplace where the Lowes or Home Depot doesn’t have snow blowers on display out front. Simply put, if the race tracks are closed for more months than they’re open, pick another location!
Well, I guess I’m going to go inventory my PEAK product shelf and see if a trip to the parts store is in order. With the season wrapping up it will soon be time to winterize the race cars and check over all the street whips. Maybe next month we can do that together.
Happy Thanksgiving y’all…