Apples to Oranges
No matter what track you call home, there is always a group of guys who say if you can win here, you can win anywhere because we have the best racers in the country. While Jed and Luke have discussed this on their podcast (spoiler alert: there are good racers everywhere), there is a similar argument between big money bracket racers and touring NHRA sportsmen on which side is more difficult to win.
We can break down this argument in a few different ways. One way is to look at the typical winning packages. A winning package in one of the super classes is usually in the 0.02 – 0.04 range while on the big money bracket scene, the packages seen winning are closer to 0.01 – 0.02. The level of concentration this takes to do consistently round after round is just insane. Point team bracket racers.
Another way would be to look at winning percentages of the top drivers and comparing actual wins and losses. While looking at the top of the current national standings in the sportsmen ranks the drivers are turning on the win light anywhere from 75% – 90% of the time they go down the track. These statistics for bracket racing are extremely hard to find given the number of events, buybacks and double entries the top tier drivers have throughout the year, but I would venture to say that most of the well-known bracket racers are above the 75% win rate. I would say it’s a toss up for this statistic.
One could also look at the different conditions between rounds. Bracket races are typically all completed in one day with as few as 20 minutes between rounds. This leads to cars being very consistent and the drivers being able to stay focused. While on the NHRA side, there could be one or two rounds a day for 3-4 days in a row with conditions varying from extremely hot mid-day runs to dew settling night rounds. Not only does this cause performance variation for the car but for the drivers as well. It is tough to bring the same level of focus and effort every single round over that much time between rounds. Point team sportsmen.
One more way to break it down is the tension in high pressure situations. On the NHRA side, the highest pressure situation is racing in the finals of a national event. Typically, this entails running right before the pro class finals with a decent amount of fans in the stands and Fox TV cameras rolling. While the prize money pales in comparison to the bracket racing side, the coveted Wally trophy is also on the line. Pretty tough atmosphere for those who are not used to it. On the bracket racing side, the finals of a big money main event are pressure cookers as well. These typically occur late on a Friday or Saturday night with most of the other competitors on or quite near the starting line with a swing in prize money upwards of $50k – $100k. A lot of these big events are also live streamed online with friends and family watching from home, which also adds to the tension. For this category, I would say this is a toss up again.
For those keeping score, that leaves us with a 1-1-2 record on both sides. I am sure there are a ton of other ways to break it down and try to compare with each side having statistics that lean their way. At the end of the day though, we are all still drag racing. As for where I land on this issue, I’ve been cracked by the best of them on both sides of the fence so I’m not sure where I stand. For those who are adamant that their “team” has the better racers, try going to some of the other events and testing your theory. I guarantee the other side is not nearly as soft as you may believe. -Franklin DiBartolomeo