Story by NHRA Division 1 Photographer Phil Hutchison
Photos by Diane Kubicke, David Smith, and Phil Hutchison
For our second installment of our NHRA Sportsman Racer Advisory Council (SRAC) series, Kent Hanley Stock/Super Stock rep took some time out to discuss his role on the board and his take on how it’s been going.
What made you volunteer to be the rep for Stock/Super Stock?
We had a great Rep with Evan Smith, he was very in tune with the sport and class racing when he moved to Florida. I was asked if I would be interested in running and I thought if I could help, and if I could make a difference, I would at least try. I am vested in the NHRA drag racing and have racing since 1976. I have a couple of cars and a son who has been racing Juniors for 8 years and now looking at getting into a big car. I want to see our sport continue to improve and grow.
What issues have you had?
I would guess that the Stock/ Super Stock group is the most active racers in our sport when it comes to rule changes, concerns, issues and challenges. With ever-changing rules and new combinations, it’s always in motion. The biggest challenge over the last few years is the reentry of factory built cars for Stock and Super Stock. It’s great to see Ford, Chrysler and now Chevy back in the sport but because our classes are all about parity, it’s thrown the racers quite a curve with the initial factory horsepower rating.
In handling all of the concerns of the racers with the new cars its been a little stressful. In order to accommodate and to quickly while accurately adjust the NHRA horse power to the new cars, a modified version of the Automatic Horsepower Factoring System ( AHFS) had to be created. Needless to say your never going to make everyone happy including the factories. That was one of the bigger issues and I must say I think the SRAC and NHRA worked very well together. We have a system that has made some very significant HP adjustments to the new car combinations and under factored combinations over the last 2 years
How have the other racers responded to your being their rep?
I think and hope positively. I try to listen to their concerns and get back to them on issues. The key in my eyes is communication. I, along with other SRAC reps have set up databases of active racers and keep them informed on things that are going on behind the scenes with periodic emails. Whether it’s walking the staging lanes taking surveys, or taking a poll over email, I get their opinions. This is not about my opinion or what I want, it’s about what the racers in D1 want and the majority rules. I feel my job is to communicate their ideas, suggestions and concerns to the committee and committee chair to represent them the best way I can.
Has this position helped the racers and the NHRA?
Absolutely! I also think it’s a work in progress. When I first got on the committee there was very little communication between committee members let alone with some NHRA official outside of Bob Lang. We had a great meeting with Graham Light who shared with us, he wants this program to work and feels it’s a valuable asset. The only problem was there was no follow-up from that original meeting. Since it seemed like it wasn’t going anywhere on a national level, Bob took it upon himself to organize meetings with just the D1 reps with a plan to make D1 the best place to race.
Since then with Bob pushing and with meetings with NHRA Vice President of Technical Operations Glen Grey at Indy in 2010, the group is now having monthly conference calls with all the SRAC reps, the chairman of the committee, Dave Mohn and most recently the head of the Stock/Super stock committee in California. So yes, I would say it’s benefiting both the racers and NHRA. We have moved forward in the past 4 years. I am very optimistic that it will only continue to improve as long as we are respectful and carry on in a business like manner.
Did the group have any input for the Stock Shootout at Indy?
What do you see in the future of NHRA Sportsman Racing?
In my personal opinion, I think sportsman racing has to be concerned about the rising costs of the sport. As much as we want to go fast and try the latest and greatest, everything keeps getting more and more expensive and we have to be concerned we don’t price the sport out. There are lots of options for racers these days between great local bracket programs to great regional sportsman racing associations and events . We have a couple of the best in the nation right here in D1, like the All Star Racing Association, East Coast Stock Super Stock Association and the Combo in the Hills.
D1 has the best and the biggest group of Stock Super Stock racers in the country they live and die by the sport of NHRA drag racing. All you have to do is look at the entry lists of the D1 races vs. any of the other divisions (yes I know D3 and others will take offense to this one ). Bottom line is as long as we can keep the costs down and make the sport affordable for more family and racers, I think the sport will grow as the economy does. I do think we need to get our Junior cars and program more involved in the Lucas Series so we don’t lose all those great kids to other forms for drag racing. The sport can never have enough of the younger generation involved even if they do beat up on us on the track.
As for the future of the SRAC, I see it just getting better. I say that because of the conference calls, email updates, the SRAC using internal NHRA forms to submit requests, a good and well balanced group of SRAC reps, NHRA Chairs participating on the calls and via email. So yes it is moving forward and I am glad to see it. We all need a good communication vehicle so we can all enjoy this great sport.